Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Musings: Good and Bad Things

I initially opposed the Green Energy Hawaii biomass plant, which officially opened yesterday.

It seemed archaic to burn wood chips, and I doubted whether it would work. Frankly, it seemed like a scam, with its hefty federal loan guarantee.

But my primary concern was its request to lease 2,000 acres of state ag lands at Kalepa, which I thought should be saved for small farmers who could help Kauai become self-sufficient. I believed, like many in the “anti-GMO/aloha aina” movement, that affordable land was the primary obstacle in the advancement of local ag.

If land was available, I believed, the farmers, and the food, would follow.

I was wrong.

In the decade since Green Energy sought its Kalepa lease, no new farmers have requested land there, even though plenty is still available. And it's good land, with water, roads and reasonable terms. What's missing are farmers.

Green Energy initially wanted a 2,000-acre contiguous parcel of irrigated land. But local ag advocates — guys who actually farm and don't just talk about it — pushed back. Two-thousand acres was too much for a non-food project, they argued, and the irrigated acreage should be retained for small farmers. In the end, the state Agricultural Development Corp. approved a 1,000 lease of non-irrigated land.

Green Energy fixed the roads because they don't want their trucks to take a beating, and that benefitted the ranchers and banana farmer who have Kalepa leases. But one of their biggest contributions has been clearing albizia, eucalpytus and other weedy trees from prime agricultural land, both at Kalepa and on other former sugar lands.

These invasive trees quickly take over when active cultivation ends. Those who want to kick out the seed companies, and cheered the demise of HC&S on Maui, should keep that in mind. Once the jungle takes over, it's tough to knock it back.

I was up at Kalepa about a month ago, and was stunned at the massive piles of wood chips. That amount of clearing would have been prohibitively expensive for small farmers. Ultimately, the stumps will be removed so the land can be returned to production. And that — along with reducing the island's dependence on oil — is a good thing.
Just one of the massive chipped wood piles at Kalepa.
Not so good was The Garden Island's coverage of the Joint Fact-Finding Group's meeting. I don't know why the reporter failed to include more relevant comments from members, and instead gave space to such irrelevant players as Gary Hooser, Don Heacock — how, pray tell, is he still on the state payroll? — and the redshirt-clad, sign-holding Mahana Dunn, who sputtered, nonsensically: “We want a total ban on all of this until it has been proven safe.”

Well, girl, you ain't ever gonna get that, so you'd best start managing your expectations.

Dunn went on about how the JFFG report and “bureaucratic nonsense” was “getting us all riled up again.”

Actually, it's the repugnant rhetoric of people like Hooser and Earthjustice's Paul Achitoff that are getting the ignorant and gullible all riled up. Hooser recently took to his blog to claim credit for the reduction in seed cultivation locally — uh, sorry, Gary, but even you and your fistees are not as powerful as world commodity prices.

Both he and Achitoff are promising more lawsuits, which is great for groups like Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety, since that's how they make their dough and keep their propaganda-fundraising machine chugging — at the cost of our communities.

I was on HPR's “The Conversation” recently, responding to Achitoff's BS rhetoric and threats for more lawsuits. As I told the host:

It's so sad for me to see the fear-mongering and divisiveness that's been created and people are suffering, local taxpayers are suffering, and really, it's just to promote the agenda of these special interest groups. I'm sad to see this continuing in my community. Until people really wise up, it's going to go on.”


Anonymous said...

The big anti-GMO push was made on Kauai because it is particularly susceptible to bullying and bullshit and had council members with scant education in the natural sciences who needed a political hook: bingo- Bynum and Hooser. When you look at the County of Kauai's part of the JFFG's recommendations, you can see that the battleground has shifted to the State of Hawaii. Much 2491 testimony noted that that is where the issue rested to begin with, since EPA devolved pesticide regulation to the states- not to counties. And the Federal District Court agreed invalidating the county's ordinance. So we have spent $500,000 more or less chasing chimerical health alarms like pesticide-caused excessive rates of various diseases, cancer clusters, environmental disasters, potable water alarms, etc., etc. only come to the realization that Hooser and Bynum's statistical data are deceitful bunkum in a bullshit sandwich to begin with. JFFG's recommendation is that the County of Kauai enumerate pesticides used on county property, provide notice of the use and appoint a member to the State Pesticide Review Committee. Say what? That's it after all the Kouncil Kabuki? Let's look at who brought us to this: Bynum- gone; Furfaro, who allowed the outrageous behavior of the anti's on the Council floor- gone; Hooser- needs to have his political career finished in November. Chock- the arranged vote who should join the rest. Yukimura- gets a pass for the nasty threatening behavior towards her and Nakamura that Furfaro permitted at the vote. In the end, Kauai was a pawn in a larger game staged by cynical people and organizations amply mentioned in this blog and elsewhere but beyond the reach of the Kauai voters; and the Governor and state officials and the legislature should recognize this. But we can and should take care of our own problems in November.

Anonymous said...

As one commenter noted about the TGI article about the JFFG meeting, it's pretty B.S. of Hooser to say we need to move forward in unity, when he's the one who threw multiple grenades into the middle of this whole mess.

It still amazes me, how the people who are pro-2491 and anti-ag by and large paint themselves as liberal and/or progressive and decry those they oppose as repressive, yet their tactics over and over again smack of fascism. As I've said before, the are using the Karl Rove playbook. And when you confront them about their behaviors, you are met with silence, because their minds are made up.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Lets vote out Hooser, Chock, and Yukimura! They have torn this island apart and they are a waste of our Precious Paradise Oxygen. They have cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and plan to waste more of it with mentions of new lawsuits. REALLY? REALLY? WTF ALREADY WITH THESE PEOPLE? HOW MUCH LONGER WILL US LOCALS LISTEN TO THESE MODERN DAY MISSIONARIES TELLING US HOW WE SHOULD LIVE? Go back to wherever you came from on the mainland and make it the way you want it to be there.

John Kauai said...

The anti-GMO push is because people don't trust either corporations or government to tell them the truth.

Agent Orange
Love Canal
Nuclear testing
Iraq Invasion
Bush v. Gore
2008 banking crisis
ACD (Climate Change)
with little effort I could go on... and on

I surely have no idea how to resolve the animosity between the different GMO groups. But, two years ago, those opposed to the fact of Climate Change were very vocal. Somehow those denials don't sound so strident when 97% of Climatologists have declared that global warming is 95% attributable to Human activity.

On the other hand, the voices against the use of Thimerosal in vaccines have been silenced as the consequences of not being vaccinated have been made clear.

I think it a mistake to declare (for instance) Don Huber and Bob Streit charlatans because they are trying to bring attention to preliminary data on a host of issues that might indicate the dangers of dependence on GMO grains. They may be wrong on some. They may be right on some. Huber and Streit did not make it up. Streit presented some compelling evidence to support his position. It was preliminary, but what the hey... that's what farmer's have to deal with.

I kind of think it is like your neighbor calling you about the smoke that is coming from your house. Maybe it is just the BBQ in your backyard, but maybe there's something else going on. Me -- I'd look into it. Which is why I support the recommendations of the JFFG.

OTOOH, yes, that Indian lady that was here several years ago seems to be running a scam. Kind of like Hillary Clinton when she accuses Bernie Sanders of being opposed to Gun Control, or to have voted against the Auto Bailout, or to claim he doesn't know anything about "Dobbs-Frank". Clinton does herself no favors through these "lies" (which get excused by being "politics as usual")

Still, I don't understand this need to insist that one side or the other is "right" when few of us have enough knowledge to actually enter into the debate. Those of you who are "pro-GMO" might be better served in describing the costs of proving GMO safe vs the consequences of it being found not safe.

Joan Conrow said...

John wrote: "Still, I don't understand this need to insist that one side or the other is "right" when few of us have enough knowledge to actually enter into the debate."

Then why do you continually enter the debate and try to prove your side is right? Because it's so apparent from everything you write that you are anti-GMO, even though you claim neutrality. Part of your problem is you seem to think all biotech is corporate and round-up ready, and it's not.

Anonymous said...

John, nothing is ever proven safe, not even clean water. Bio-enhanced crops on the market have been found safe by the vast majority of evaluations. Yes, testing, evaluation, and approval are expensive for companies, especially regarding biotechnology with the time delays due to the creation of fear for the financial benefit of anti-modern ag groups.

And yes, Huber is acting like a charlatan with his secret micro-organism that only he can see. Whether he is doing that intentionally, or he is unaware that his claims are bizarre, unsupportable and discredited by his peers - that is the question.

Anonymous said...

is the green energy power plant tied to the Kokee fires?

Anonymous said...

Joan Conrow said... "Part of your problem is you seem to think all biotech is corporate and round-up ready, and it's not."

I can't wait to hear about the mom and pop biotech companies.

C'mon Joan...

Joan Conrow said...

4:44 -- There's a lot of public sector work going on around the world with indigenous plants and small crops that the multinationals aren't interested in, but that are still important regional food sources. They are also working on a lot of climate-friendly traits, such as improved nitrogen uptake, drought tolerance, etc., which have nothing to do with pesticides. Even much of the corporate biotech is insect-resistant Bt varieties, which can allow farmers to reduce pesticide applications by 60-80 percent.

John Kauai said...

That's the problem Joan. I believe Huber and Streit. You don't. I've met them, talked to them, questioned them. As 4:20 points out, perhaps Huber is "seeing things" WRT his micro-organism, but that doesn't mean his other claims are in error. (And I'm sure Pete Antonson will discredit the Autism correlation. Perhaps. But the correlation exists. Why?)

I believe there are some good GMOs and some bad. You appear to claim that they are -all- good.

I am not anti-GMO but I am anti-corporation (in many if not most situations) which in the case of Kauai probably makes me appear to be anti-GMO.

I am not anti-GMO but I am anti-glyphosate, which again confuses the issue when much GMO development is only to make the plant glyphosate tolerant. And in this case, "anti-glyphosate" isn't really accurate, but more like "glyphosate-wary" in that there are lots of articles suggesting the negative aspects of glyphosate. And few articles to refute those claims. When the cause of CKDu is shown to not be caused by glyphosate and the rise of Celiac disease is shown to not be caused by glyphosate and it is proven that glyphosate does not cause leaky-gut, then I'll change my mind. In the mean time, I have not used it for the past several years, although that would not stop me from using it if the situation really suggested there was no other choice.

If you want to point fingers at home use of glyphosate (or county use) as being a bigger problem than what the companies on the West Side use, sure, you're probably right.

I'm not anti-GMO, the rainbow papaya was a success. Golden Rice however has been sold as a success, but apparently is not living up to the hype.

Your "problem" seems to be that you think I think all biotech is corporate and round-up ready. I don't. But that is what all the "discussion" on your blog always devolves to with a lot of name calling.

Heck, did you hear about the computer made with brain cells? Sounds great to me. Of course, it means "Skynet" is that much closer, but since we're in the 6th extinction...

I believe all of your posts are pro-corporate. So, of course my posts are going to conflict with that position. Post something that presents a more nuanced position and I'll work hard to agree with you.

Bt is problematic for me when it means I'll be eating it. The application of Bt by organic farmers is external to the plant and (supposedly) can be washed off. Whether or not this is important hasn't yet been shown conclusively.

Joan Conrow said...

You have no idea what I believe, John, nor what I stand for. I don't care about corporations, though I won't be so phony as to say I'm anti corporate because I support them with my purchases. My interest is in countering efforts that are fundamentally aimed at banning all GMOs, destroying Hawaii AG and communities in the process.

Anonymous said...

How in the world can John Kauai be anti-corporate? Weird. Posted this message using a phone or laptop or desktop on the internet over phone or cable while eating food bought at some retail outlet and sadly transported here via ship or air from someplace else. Drives a car, buys gas, blah blah blah. Hmmmm. Maybe just stop at "anti".

Anonymous said...

What was with the comment continually repeated at the JFF public meeting. "We cannot prove and we cannot disprove" When you are talking about facts, a fact is a fact, they are not debatable. In a science experiment you do no prove or disprove. Your hypothesis is right or it is not right. What are they trying to prove?

Anonymous said...

4/6 @ 6:29 PM, your fourth paragraph is so full of so many kinds of wrong, it isn't funny. Golden Rice has not been a full success yet because anti-GMO activists have been working round the clock to block testing and development, because its success would undermine their world view and livelihood. And you've been eating Bt since you were a little kid, because it is ubiquitous in soil. No, organically applied Bt cannot be washed off, and whether it is internal or external to the plant is meaningless anyway. If you are concerned about Bt, it is safer to get it from GMO plants because they only have 1-5 Bt proteins which have been thoroughly tested; organic Bt has thousands of Bt proteins, which have not been tested nearly as well as the GMO sources.

I think you are getting your information from activist websites, rather than peer-reviewed scientific literature, and I question whether or not you have the knowledge or education to make informed decisions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joan for standing up against the idiot johns of the world. These guys think that they are so good and know so much when they are really nothing more than the beneficiaries of the original big corporate ag land grab of 1887 and then 1893. Beat it John beat it fern beat it Dustin. Go back to where you are indigenous and connect with your roots. Here you're nothing but a missionary. I'm leaving Kauai in two weeks because I love this place and the Hawaiian people and I can't bear my own hypocrisy anymore. Aloha Kauai I love you

Anonymous said...

John Kauai - You are either new to the island or have only recently become involved in Kauai happenings.
Joan has been involved in many issues over the years. Many.
When Joan came out suggesting some balance in the Pesticide hullabaloo, the Hooserites, NS Crystal Gazers, Unicorn lovers and other Commie types went berserk. Their Heroine had betrayed them. How could she? She who had done so much for the 'cause" actually think that those greedy big Ag guys may not be evil incarnate.
Until recently, Joan was the environmental queen for so many.
And is commentary like yours, that always put GMOs and herbicides together in one breath that add to the confusion. Herbicides are herbicides and GMOs are GMOs, they do occasionally meet, but they are absolutely different. Two separate things.

John, I will know that you are from Kauai if you can tell me what a "babooze" is.
A name doth not maketh you one Local.

Anonymous said...

For the places where john's been. We all could speculate why he's been chasing the BBD.

chasing corporation, military, been dropping by corporate only to chase a BBD. Education system looking for more $$$

Hypocrite, A snake talker. Longwinded. Why all of a sudden he's writing on your blog like he's been here forever.
Keep your friends close, your enemies at arms length.

Just saying Joan.

Anonymous said...

Long winded heckler.

So much talk, diluted discussion.

Anonymous said...

John, if you are genuinely concerned and have enough time to spam comments on almost every blog post here, why don't you spend some of it educating yourself?

For example, in response to your query "But the correlation exists. Why?", I submit to you this gem of a site. Ask yourself that same question with respect to correlations such as this. Hopefully you will learn the meaning of the phrase "correlation is not causation" in relatively short order.

You seem to feel that scientific consensus should carry the day with respect to the cause of global warming. If so, why not the same treatment with respect to the safety of gmos, for which there is an even greater consensus?

Reading your posts I can't help but think about a quote by one of my favorite authors:

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge"
-- Arthur C. Clarke

In all seriousness, with any technology (new or old), there are many legitimate and important points of discussion that we as a society should have regarding acceptable and ethical applications.

If you are genuinely concerned with genetic engineering or agri-chemical technologies such that you insist on pushing your point of view at high volume, at least demonstrate a minimal level of respect for others by ensuring that the views and positions you're advocating are well-reasoned and informed.

Come to the table with something meaningful and hopefully useful and informative to others who choose to engage in or observe the conversation. Don't just show up, declare your ignorance and thus immunity from accountability for any inaccurate statements that you make, demand that others do the work of providing you an education that you can and should work to provide for yourself through some minimal level of study, and proceed to throw your metaphorical toys at anyone who challenges your point of view.

Anonymous said...

Tools of the trade, farming trade that is . A proven school to farm program on Whidbey Island, Washington State. A necessary component to assist future farmers. Requires work.
Pete Little

Anonymous said...

Joan Conrow said...

8:09 -- Yes, if you want to see just how far Gary has gone off the delusional deep end, then read his most recent blog. As one friend observed:

It's the big lie strategy writ large. Tell it over and over again, add glory, memorialize the movement and its leaders ... repeat, repeat.

And as another friend noted:

This latest piece from Gary borders on hysteria. For some reason, I keep thinking of Adolf Hitler in the height of his lunacy.

Anonymous said...

Joan, just read Gary's most recent blog post. It is clear his (and his colleagues') capacity for self-reflection is severely inadequate.

Anonymous said...

Just saw that picture of mulch piles... If Coconut Rhino Beetles get to Kauai, that's where I'd look first! When do they start burning? ;)