Archive for the 'Island Vulnerabilities' Category

(Chronologically Listed)

Turn up the volume: continuing conversation about Kauai’s energy futures

conversdation about KIUC

In case ya missed it, here's a podcast of KIUC's CEO Randy Hee and me on Doug Carlson's "Energy Futures" HPR radio show.

This was from September 2009.

I pushed "ramping up" our conversion to renewables (21:45), highlighted the demand destruction by Kauai customers (26:15) and the integration of sustainability challenges in energy, transport, food, water and building (30:30).

I also noted the "smart money" now going into efficiency (36:50), and the food-vs-fuel land issue on Kauai (45:30).

Good fun!

We've been missing Randy around KIUC these past months, yet the issues and challenges remain the same.

Published by Ken on February 6th, 2011 tagged Community Initiatives, Energy, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

military spending must shift to reflect climate security

guns vs green

With our military budget now approaching $700B annually, a new report from IPS urges Obama to shoot for a minimum of $30B in each of the next 20 years for climate change initiatives, including R&D and retrofits for government facilities (via grist).

Grist's Kate Sheppard notes that this need not be a zero-sum game, since climate action could be funded from carbon cap revenues (if they ever emerge from Congress).

Still, 'twould be smart to ratchet down on the gunboats as we ratchet up the green generators. Even with the stimulus package, Obama's military spending is still 9 times higher than climate action.

Published by Ken on August 1st, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

ahoy Senator! boaters want emission reductions, too

west marine founder

Citing the horrors of ocean acidification, a major boating company has launched a 'call-your-Senator' campaign to push for a climate bill even stronger than Waxman-Markey. Kewl!

West Marine sent emails to its customer base making the connection between CO2 and ocean acidification, noting that "solving one will solve the other", and urging boaters to "demand far greater emissions reductions than were able to pass the House."

"As one friend who got the email said, it's "interesting to see them step up with a position!"

Especially with 'Big Coal" flooding the Senate with cries for even more loopholes, this is a heartening sign.

Published by Ken on July 28th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

Hawaii social investment: ulupono initiative for sustainability

kyle datta and ulupono initiative

Let's hope Hawaii's social entrepreneurs are lining up for this: a significant source of funding for new business models in "indigenous renewable energy, local food production, and waste reduction", through the Omidyar's just-launched Ulupono Initiative.

Now settled in the islands, Pierre and Pam Omidyar are plunking down heavily to support "Hawaii's transformation to sustainability", and it's not just about money…more about catalyzing change.

As leaders in "social investment" with nearly $1B already committed planet-wide, Omidyar intends this island team, led by Kyle Datta and Robin Campaniano, to help "grow a 21st century economy where economic progress and environmental stewardship go hand in hand."

Published by Ken on July 24th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

Maui beach scientist’s swan song: retreat and relocate

Zoe Norcross Nu`u, climate specialist

As Zoe Nu`u leaves the UH's research program on sea level rise, where she has focused on Maui's beach erosion, Rotarians in Kihei/Wailea got to hear a parting shot about what's coming.

We're already seeing ocean inundation in low-lying areas, says Nu`u, and it may only be a few decades before rising seas will necessitate 'fortification' of many beach areas.

Longer term, says Nu`u, Hawaii must plan for retreat and relocation.

Nu'u spoke to the Rotary Club of Kihei-Wailea on July 8th, 2009.

Zoe Norcross Nu'u Rotary Club Talk on Vimeo.

Published by Ken on July 18th, 2009 tagged Adaptation, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

we’re insanely unsustainable, so where are the shrinks?

planetary craziness

Psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren is outraged that mental health professionals are not out front in the effort to change behaviors that threaten our planet (via huffpost).

“Scientists all over the world are warning us about the threat of catastrophic and irreversible climate change”, says Van Susteren, so “I am stunned that this threat to the health of the planet and the public is so underplayed.”

Van Susteren wants to know “Why are these organizations and their members, those most skilled at exposing the danger of denial and destructive behaviors, so silent about this crisis? Are they in denial themselves?” Good question!

Published by Ken on April 28th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

nextgen leaders focus on Kauai sustainability

leadership kauai logo

Friday last I confab'd with Hawaii's best as Leadership Kauai's current 22-member class immersed in the National Tropical Botanical Garden and focused on sustainability.

Our panel with Kaipo Lum (Vision Foresight Strategy), Josh Stanbro (Hawaii Community Foundation), Jerry Ornellas (East Kauai Water Users Coop), John Harder (Zero Waste Kauai), and Chipper Wichman (NTBG CEO) was moderated by Keone Kealoha (Malama Kauai)...and went on (fairly fruitfully, I tho't) for nearly 3 hours, despite the deafening downpour on the metal roof.

Sustainability as changed thinking was my focus, and I shared some 'eye candy' to illustrate systemic failure and the urgency of transition initiatives.

Published by Ken on April 22nd, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

does Hawaii have the personality to rally ’round resilience?

hawaiian obama

Hawaii residents may be among the least extraverted, conscientiousness and open, yet we're fairly agreeable and not all that neurotic, according to a new study in social psychology showing how our personality is shaped by institutions and social norms, which in turn shapes group behavior (via sightline).

Turns out, a sample of personality profiles in each state shows a "strong relationship" with state-level indicators of crime, social capital, religiosity, political values, employment, and health, according to researchers.

This is a useful data point as we islanders focus on the resilience of our communities, where personality might shape our successful transition.

Published by Ken on April 15th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

too big to flex: resilience thinking about collapse

flex tree

Ever since E.F. Schumacher, we've polished this sense of the ugliness of BIG...with good reason.

Now, with national looting by corporations "too big to fail", we 'get' that size matters.

And, from a resilience perspective, we see that big versus small invokes "the difference between brittle and graceful failure", says Jamais Cascio (via fastcompany).

Says Cascio, "Resilience implies both strength and flexibility; a resilient structure would bend, but would be hard to break. Resilient flexibility means avoiding situations where components of a system are 'too big to fail'--that is, where the failure of a single part can bring the whole thing crashing down."

Published by Ken on April 11th, 2009 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

banking on sustainability: three spheres for reinvestment

e3bank logo

As long as we're bashing the banks for squandering our wealth, we might envision a new kind of bank that actually fuels the sustainability transition.

A bank like, say, e3bank, recently formed in a suburb of Philadelphia, which operates on the triple bottom line business model (via sustainablepractices).

This 'green' bank's mission is to "strengthen enterprise and restore the environment, while increasing social equity". Kewl!

Hold on to your hats, now, 'cause e3bank's founders go on to assert that "the financial industry has a critical role to play in the societal shift to a sustainable world". I mean, pinch me!

Published by Ken on April 9th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

we’re in the money: on printing currency for local resilience

detroit cheers

When Gannett's USAToday gives primetime coverage to the local currency movement, you know we're either desperate or waking up.

Never mind they featured Detroit's "Cheers", the 'scrip' now printed by downtown businesses in that particularly desperate place.

Fact is, Kauai's version (called KISSES, for Kauai Island Self-Sufficiency Economic Trading System) could enhance our resilience for the tough times coming.

Think of this as another way to retake control of our local financial resources.

Yet, we shouldn't stop at swapping local for national bucks, when we can monetize the community work we're already doing to create new money.

Published by Ken on April 9th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

Hawaii legislature doesn’t ‘get’ the urgency of sustainability

ag fair at capitol

With such low regard for government, perhaps it's no surprise that I haven't been tracking sustainability measures at the Hawaii legislature.

But, then, I haven't missed much. Fact is, the nation’s financial collapse has largely pushed the "green" stuff off the state legislative table. Fancy that!

The "S" word is rarely heard at the capitol this year..except for an on-site Ag Sustainability Fair last month...and that was more about self-sufficiency.

And, don’t expect anyone to run for governor next year on the HI2050 Sustainability Plan platform, since that effort failed to get funding for tweaking the policy and metrics.

Published by Ken on April 8th, 2009 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

does cancerous capitalism merit life support?


The last time capitalism was restructured (in the 1970s), our 'social contract' was shattered, and the only way it survived was by appropriating all the productivity gains to capital, while the workforce continued to borrow in an ill-fated attempt to keep up the appearance of 'progress'.

This is "identical to how cancer co-opts the host's systems of cellular metabolism to grow rapidly", says John Robb (via globalguerrillas).

"The value created by doubling productivity went to global capital markets instead of doubling incomes for employees", says Robb.

What Robb calls "parasitic predation" looms again as capitalism now struggles to survive the financial meltdown.

Published by Ken on April 7th, 2009 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

will the last boomers out leave the sustainability door open?

collapse scenario

My recent "Factors" column in Kauai People highlighted the implications of retiring boomers for island demographics in the decades ahead.

The boomer wave now cresting on these shores will double the share of seniors by 2030.

Then, the world will start to collapse, according to the updated World3 model (originally published by Donella Meadows etal in 1972).

Says British researcher Dolores García, "in the 'business as usual' scenario, the pattern is one of collapse of human population, food production and industrial output. The decline is gradual, starting somewhere around 2030".

So, boomers die, collapse ensues.

Published by Ken on April 3rd, 2009 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

how do we know when we’re sustainable?

getting to one planet living

The best available measure of sustainability is the ecological footprint. After all, there's only so much planet to go around. And, the first thing we learn when calculating our footprint is how many planets it would take if everyone lived as we do.

So, if sustainability is defined as "one planet living", then we can use the footprint method to determine how much we need to cutback in order to achieve it.

Americans who haven't looked into this, be forewarned. Our footprint is flat out ugly! Would you believe 4 to 6 planets, depending on your income and household members? (Some footprint calculators may vary.)

Published by Ken on April 2nd, 2009 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

don’t bet on stimulus working: the prospects for unrest

social unrest

We may have serious reason to doubt the Panglossian spin most analysts put on the global economic outlook.

Virtually alone in publishing dire forecasts is the Economist Intelligence Unit, which sees only a 60% chance the stimulus initiatives by developed countries will work.

The EIU puts the odds of global depression with massive social unheaval at 10%.

Sadly, due to what John Robb calls "legacy thinking", this may also be too rosy, especially because we don't know how unrest will play out (via globalguerrillas).

We know there's a tipping point where folks simply wig-out and things spin out of control.

Published by Ken on March 31st, 2009 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

collapse can’t happen here: on doctrinal rigidity


Are we so stuck in our beliefs that we simply cannot see the catastrophe of crony capitalism roiling around us?

John Robb calls this "a failure of decision making due to doctrinal or ideological rigidity" (via globalguerrillas).

We're well into "parasitic predation of oligarchs", says Robb, just like other "emerging markets", yet we still think this won't and can't happen here.

Uh, "trillions of $$ given away to bank/hedge funds/etc. without the slightest reform or accountability"...after “two generations of American wealth was squandered by capital markets in a frenzy of excess”…that's not predation? And, yes, we’ve seen this movie.

Published by Ken on March 27th, 2009 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking | 1 Comment »

where’s the beef? on moving wall street to main street


Main Street is 'ground zero' in the financial meltdown, says Dave Korten, and the "Wall Street casino" should be replaced by an economic engine that supports local economies (via huffingtonpost).

This is crucial because sustainability is a place-based science, and sustainability will be achieved place by place.

So, Main Street is also the frontline in our efforts to transition toward sustainability. This is where we'll need all the financial and social resources we can muster.

Instead of "phantom wealth" that doesn't create anything of value, let's prioritize the real economy, says Korten. And, he’s got specific proposals for doing this.

Published by Ken on March 26th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

give it up for sustainability: where’s the sacrifice?

sacrificing overconsumption

Think we'll have to sacrifice to break our addiction to fossil fuels?

That's exactly backwards, says Robert Costanza: "It is a sacrifice not to".

Costanza writes about moving toward a new sustainable economy as the only viable option (via commondreams).

Why? Because quality of life is vastly more important than quantity of consumption...and our vaunted market orientation omits "the full range of resources that contribute to human well-being", says Costanza.

In so doing, the market disconnects from reality so that we don’t know what our assets really are and their true value…as we are now learning from the stock market.

Published by Ken on March 26th, 2009 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking | 1 Comment »

dude, where’s yer tribe? on cementing ties

ohana on tapa

With Dave Pollard in one ear, talking about "walking away", and John Robb in the other talking about "finding your tribe", I'm burdened today by the certainty of collapse.

Plus, I'm going visiting with my grandots next week, and I'm agonizing over my obligation to tell them what we've done and what's coming.

Says Pollard, "It is not in me to struggle for years to try to make hopelessly broken and dysfunctional systems work a little better."

Says Robb, "tribal organization is the organizational cockroach of human history...proven (to) withstand the onslaught of the harshest of environments."

Published by Ken on March 13th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »