Archive for the 'Island Vulnerabilities' Category

(Chronologically Listed)

on greed and resilience: sustainability as counter strategy

greed vs resilience

Resilience guru John Robb is riffing on moral conflict, game theory, evolutionary biology, and behavioral economics to get us thinking in new ways about greed.

Robb notes the "striking" rise of "greed as the ultimate descriptor of much our economic behavior" and argues that "greed as a universal survival strategy...results in the type of massive economic collapse we are seeing today" (via globalguerillas).

It follows, says Robb, that "a counter strategy to greed will emerge, as the people not driven solely by greed seek protection against its revealed excesses."

Robb’s got some ideas what this strategy will be. Wudja believe sustainability?

Published by Ken on January 29th, 2009 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking | 1 Comment »

deluding ourselves with misplaced concreteness


Now that 'impossible' has become commonplace, folks are fussin' about 'black swan' events. You know, stuff that couldn't happen...but does.

Things like 40 days of rain breaking Kauai’s dam. Or, the collapse of the global economy.

Fact is, our deciders operate in a statistical world where probabilities are for focus, and 'extreme' events aren't factored in.

Turns out, any assessment excluding the unlikely is "worse than useless. It's delusional", says Joe Romm.

Referencing a Harvard economist's critique of climate modeling, Romm notes that "climate disaster is virtually certain with business-as-usual emissions."...Which is why I'm inclined to call-out BAU as the real threat.

Published by Ken on January 29th, 2009 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

no quick fix for sustainability: on green stimulus

thursday thicket.


quick vs green

There will apparently be little policy debate about the composition of PE Obama's stimulus package, since all that seems to matter is spending heavily and quickly in a Keynesian boost (via gristmill).

Fair enough, yet the quick may be the enemy of the green unless we're spending on stuff that moves us toward sustainabilty.

Why? Because we know that delay is increasingly costly on sustainability measures, and because some of what we're spending is for stuff that will have to be undone.

If we agree that propping up this economy is paramount, then we haven’t learned a thing about sustainability.

Published by Ken on January 8th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »

oasis of calm: why Obama’s aloha spirit matters

obama body surfing

Sure, it matters that PE Obama learned how (and when) to use his sharp elbows from “navigating the thorny terrain of Chicago politics.”

What matters more is that Obama'a mood embodies the Aloha Spirit, "a peaceful state of mind and a friendly attitude of acceptance of a variety of ideas and cultures", says Jeff Zeleny in a wonderfull Christmas Eve essay (via NYtimes).

"More than simply a laid-back vibe, many Hawaiians believe in a divine and spiritual power that provides a sustaining life energy", says Zeleny. "When Obama gets on television, the national pulse goes down about 10 points”. Why?

Published by Ken on December 26th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

green stimulus consensus: can Kauai be far behind?

save our environment green stimulus

Save $160 billion of that bailout money for ‘green’ public works projects, says the economic recovery proposal from the new National Coalition for the Environment (via NWF).

The ‘green stimulus” package put together by 20 of the largest environmental advocacy groups urges Obama "to bring our economy into the 21st century with green, environmentally-sensible jobs that lay the foundation for shared prosperity in the economy of the future".

Half the amount would go to a "Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit" ($30B) plus five priority projects focused on transit, infrastructure and green energy, and Kauai could learn some things by perusing this list.

Published by Ken on December 16th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

where there’s smoke…don’t yell “FIRE” in peak oil theater

IEA and peak oil

Calling for a "global energy revolution", the IEA's Fatih Birol urged world government leaders to prepare for "difficult days".

Which is fine and dandy...except his organization has labeled "peak oil" as the province of "doomsayers"...until now.

In fact, the differences between this year’s and last year's Outlook are dramatic, with twice the rate of oil supply declines and oil prices twice as high as previously expected.

Birol insists the IEA “never said we would always have oil”, in an interview with George Monbiot (via ukguardian).

According to Matt Simmons, the IEA report was toned down to avoid creating alarm. YIKES!

Published by Ken on December 16th, 2008 tagged Energy, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

Maui readies for stimulus: on greening the do-list

Save Our Environment website on green stimulus package

Should Obama go with the emerging consensus on green stimulus, gigabucks will soon be flowing to public works projects.

Now, local governments are scrambling to rewrite their 'ready list' for sustainability projects, and Maui is leading the pack in Hawaii (via mauinews).

Mayor Charmaine Tavares just announced a $200M 'green' stimulus package for the 'friendly' isle that includes over $60M for solar energy projects at county community centers, swimming pools and fire and police stations, plus island-wide electric vehicle charging and energy storage infrastructure.

Tavares got a jump-start on “ready-to-go" infrastructure projects through the Conference of Mayors "Main Street Recovery" initiative. Kewl.

Published by Ken on December 15th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

offshore wind energy for Kauai: closer than you think

offshore wind for kauai

Brad Parsons looks at offshore wind energy potential for Kauai and ends up more than a mile off the Na Pali coast (via alohanalytics).

Howzat? Turns out, that's where the best winds and shallowest seafloor are. Fact is, we could tap Class 6 winds (600-800 W/m2) out there at a depth of less than 40 meters.

Parsons figures we’d need a cable from the turbines to, say, PMRF...and imagines a DoD interest in (and potential funding help for) same.

Still, we only need Class 4 winds (400-500 W/m2) for commercial viability, and these zones are available just offshore along most of Kauai's southern shoreline from Mahaulepu to Hanapepe.

Published by Ken on December 2nd, 2008 tagged Energy, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »

it’s official: Hawaii’s recession now 2-4 months old

boom-bust cycle

Carl Bonham has been closely watching the recent Hawaii economic indicators, and yesterday acknowledged that our recession officially began as early as July (via HNLadvertiser).

Using standard methods for defining recessions in terms of large employment declines and unemployment increases, Bonham pegged the “peak” at somewhere in the July-to-September period.

Now ya know! And, for those tracking the "boom-bust" cycle, this is Hawaii's 6th recession since 1980.

Sadly, island economists are better at pegging these historical measures than at forecasting what comes next. Bonham's UHERO forecast (echoing similar DBEDT and First Hawaiian Bank numbers) expects at least a year of declines.

Published by Ken on November 21st, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »

on financial collapse and peak oil: one follows the other

peak dollars

Gail the Actuary made Hawaii headlines by questioning our sustainability some months back, and now she's dishing an "I told you so" on the non-coincidence of peak oil and financial collapse (via oildrum).

Says Gail, "it is not a coincidence that just as we are hitting peak oil, world monetary systems seem to be edging toward collapse. Monetary systems are debt based, and depend on growth to continue. Resources are finite, and we are reaching limitations on them."

So, Gail wonders what happens if we don't find technological solutions. "Many of us have predicted that monetary systems may collapse”, says Gail…

Published by Ken on October 14th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

don’t peak! on sex and the Simmons soothsayers

oily cassandra

Having trouble focusing on peak oil? Don't watch this video, and if you do, don't turn the volume down (via treehugger).

This is "education by any means necessary", says Oily Cassandra. She's hot...about our complacency. And, yes, she uses her body to get your attention.

"What we see around us is a system that is burning up all we have left", says Cassandra

Just so, Matt Simmons, with his dire warnings that gasoline reserves are so low in the US that if everyone topped up their tank we would see “a run on the bank”. We gotta “beat a fast retreat.”

Published by Ken on October 3rd, 2008 tagged Energy, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

is it safe? on health impacts of global warming

health effects of global warming

My stump speech on sustainability thinking incorporates the latest framing by suggesting public safety as the appropriate criteria in the ecology sphere.

As I run down the litany of ecological threats, I go: "Is that safe? It's not. You know." So when health impacts of global warming start showing up in major US media, I jump for joy (via usnews)!

Folks need to know this stuff, and not just because it might prompt them to act sooner with more radical changes in their daily practices. Turns out, scientists around the globe are observing changes that impact individuals' health and creating models to predict where we might be headed.

Published by Ken on September 20th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

coming soon to airports near you: far fewer fearless flyers

sunset of mass air travel

Those who live far from family, or work for the airline industry, or depend on tourism or airfreight for an income will have few options, says Richard Heinberg (via globalpublicmedia).

Why? The airline industry has no future, and this includes airfreight. "In a few years jet service will be available only to the wealthy, or to the government and military", says Heinberg.

As Hawaii knows intimately, "cheap airfare has helped facilitate the geographic dispersion of families and businesses alike", says Bradford Plumer (via newrepublic).

Now, Daniel Lerch reports that the airline industry is coming out against airport expansion (via postcarbon).

Published by Ken on August 18th, 2008 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Transport | Comments Off

3 bins for single stream recycling: new math for waste diversion

single stream recycling from ecocycle

Let's see how 3 bins can be simpler than 2 once you get the hang of 'single stream' recycling (via gristmill).

Confusing at first, yes, yet when you learn that 'single stream' refers only to the recyclable material, like paper, plastic, glass and metal, you gotta be liking it already.

Why? 'Cause all those recyclables go into a single sorter in communities now adopting this new approach from the grassroots non-profit recycling group Ecocycle.

Now you can use the second bin for all your food waste, which will go to the composting pile.

Published by Ken on August 15th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »

on sustainability and planning for post carbon communities

HCPO conference on maui in september

Sustainability will be top-o-mind when the annual conference of Hawaii Congress of Planning Officials (HCPO) convenes on Maui next month, as reflected in the choice of keynote speakers.

Both Michael Shuman (SmallMart) and John Kaufmann (Portland Peak Oil Task Force) will address the network of island planners, and then participate in a breakout session on globalization and relocalization.

Oh, and, yours truly (ThreeSpheres) will join Shuman and Kaufmann for this session and contribute some local color and data. Kewl!

The session will explore Hawaii's particular vulnerabilities to 'peak oil' and how to re-orient island economies to better prepare for this transformation.

Published by Ken on August 11th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

wither real estate? on Kauai’s prospects as economy tanks

paul brewbaker and ron margolis

Good buddy Ron Margolis blogs on the latest outlook for Kauai real estate from Bankoh economist Paul Brewbaker (via activerain).

Don't hold your breath for a rebound. Brewbaker anticipates the question at a recent gathering of Kauai realtors, and quips, “October 26, 2012”. Then he repeats it (heh).

"Sheesh, we were just getting used to the island real estate biz growing almost as big as tourism, now both are threatened.

Margolis notes that the fortunes of both tourism and real estate in these islands are inextricably linked.

Says Margolis, "for now, appreciation is basically done but nobody is really bailing." Yet.

Published by Ken on August 7th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

Kaya coming to Kauai: the renewable energy messenger

maurice kaya

Guess Kauai's in for a bout of 'Mo' messianics, as Maurice Kaya leads the presenters at KEDB's upcoming Renewable Energy Conference.

Kaya ('Mo' to friends) recently played his new theme of energy independence at a Hawaii Island gathering sponsored by Kohala Center and others.

Says Kaya, “the crisis is here and it’s going to be a long one. It’s about time we started doing something about it.”

Of course, Kaya is taking some heat for not doing more to get us there when he was with DBEDT (via konablog).

Published by Ken on August 6th, 2008 tagged Energy, HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

hear that fiddling? sounds of anti-leadership in government

lead follow duck mobius

Yesterday, whether you were at the Tokyo G8 meeting or the Kauai County Council meeting , you'd have seen otherwise well-meaning governments pulling that Nero thang.

Never mind the amazing shifts in corporate and community leadership toward urgent sustainability initiatives, our governments can't seem to figure out where it stuck its head.

The planet is burning and they're still fiddling. I saw that movie, and it ended badly. So, you'll understand my smouldering unrest with the state of governance.

Still wonder why many thoughtful folks have given up on government? Consider these two cases where we really needed government to step forward.

Published by Ken on July 10th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

is Hawaii tourism sustainable? here come airline cutbacks

abandoned airport

A cute graphic got prominent play last month, showing that Hawaii is expected to lose more airline seats this Fall than anywhere else in the US (via USAtoday).

Based on an analysis of domestic airline schedule data from the Official Airline Guide for October 2008, the data reflects the ongoing reductions in flying capacity that airlines are making in response to high fuel prices and a slow economy.

Overall, Hawaii is expected to lose 28% of airline seats vis-a-vis last year, with Honolulu losing 25%. Of course, most of Hawaii's decline is attributable to the demise of Aloha and ATA this past Spring.

Published by Ken on July 2nd, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »

Q&A: RU ready to spend 20% of income on $7 gas?

chart of gas cost per vehicle from CIBC forecast

Thirty five years ago, during the first OPEC embargo, I watched Americans switch 10% of their food budget into their driving budget...and decided I didn't want to play that game. I have not owned a car since.

Soon thereafter, as an elected official (in New Haven), I advocated a sharp increase in parking rates to explicitly discourage driving into downtown, and I have long hoped for a significant jump in gas prices to goad Americans into smarter transport choices.

Finally, I'm getting my wish, and it will be interesting to see how Americans...and Kauaians...adjust, following decades of heavy investment in auto-dependence.

Published by Ken on June 28th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »