Archive for December, 2006

gone kauaian: volunteers boost holiday cheer

kauai festival of lights

You've seen this on national TV, although it has little to do with sustainability.

It's more about community volunteers contributing lasting value.

In this case, our good friend Elizabeth Freeman rescued Aunty Josie's famous collection of Christmas lights, and moved them to the County Building for the now famous "Festival of Lights"...which ends tomorrow night.

Freeman is celebrating the 10th anniversary of this project which involves hundreds of volunteers from our high schools, prison, and community groups.

This year's theme is "Santa's Gone Kauaian," with Santa and Mrs. Claus waiting for keiki to visit their magical Fern Grotto, surrounded by island flora.

Published by Ken on December 30th, 2006 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | Comments Off

carbon reduction clue: start with travel habits

search for energy savings

The NY Times focuses on a useful metric for assessing how we might reduce our carbon footprint.

Their calculations of savings from ten alternative steps helps put in perspective the huge footprint of our travel habits.

Sure, efficiency moves around the house can stop demand growth.

Yet, altering our transport looms much larger.

For example, every 1 mpg savings with a vehicle is worth about a dozen new low-energy light bulbs.

In terms of CO2 reductions, we note that switching to a vehicle that runs of E85 (ethanol) is equivalent to a car that gets 3 mpg better mileage.

Published by Ken on December 30th, 2006 tagged Climate Change | Comments Off

south park on global warming: be afraid

south park on global warming

Suppose we're gonna see more and more of this: poking fun at the apocalyptic view of global warming.

Still, it's funny.

South Park looks at the fear factor.

Also, here's a cute short on the impacts, which makes some sort of point about taking care how you draw it up.


Published by Ken on December 30th, 2006 tagged Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

policital leadership on sustainability: anyone home?

anyone home

Since I posted a 3-point sustainability agenda for our island (Kaua`i, 6 weeks ago) that included switching to a ‘green building’ code, it seems that every week brings news of other communities doing just that (even Babylon).

My Google alerts brings daily news of green building innovations and community initiatives.

One might view this as a ‘no-brainer‘ for all the Hawaiian islands.

…Especially given that our islands’ significant materials supply chains and energy footprints are so tightly wound into our particular form of climate change vulnerability.

Published by Ken on December 30th, 2006 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

Hawaii bungles prevention of invasives

conrow on snakes on a plane via honolulu weekly

And you thought the war against invasive species was Hawaii's strong suit. Not.

Fact is, our island efforts are nearly laughable when viewed from the perspective of another island nation that takes it more seriously.

Check out my good friend Joan Conrow's piece on Hawaii's bungling and how New Zealand is getting serious (via HonoluluWeekly).

Conrow interviewed Paula Warren, a biosecurity expert from Wellington, New Zealand, who travels the world advising countries on how they can do biosecurity better, and recently spent two weeks in Hawai‘i.

Bottom line, from Warren's perspective:

Published by Ken on December 29th, 2006 tagged HI-specific, Island Ecosystems | Comments Off

what happens to your recycled batteries?

another face of carbon

Sathi shows another face of carbon.

Sathi is eight years old and lives in Bangladesh.

Her natural face is not this dark; the color comes from the carbon rods she and hundreds of other children extract from batteries at recycling factories.

She earns about US$3.50 a month for this work, inhaling carbon dust all the while (via WorldWatch).

Published by Ken on December 29th, 2006 tagged Systems Thinking | 2 Comments »

get your Gore here (updated)

gore on youtube

Wow! Gore's documentary on YouTube? [Update: Yes, again!]

And you can get the DVD for free here (via climate change action)

Or you can watch a video of Gore's original slide presentation here.

Plus, watch bonus footage with Gore talking about how you can fight global warming.Oh, and here's his funny story about driving himself around these days.

Now that's wot I'm talkin' about!

Published by Ken on December 28th, 2006 tagged Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

altered oceans: latest science in multimedia

altered oceans via la times

Here's a compelling five-part series on the crisis in our seas by Ken Weiss, who has been covering the oceans for the LA Times.

The multimedia presentation migrates from narrow policy issues such as catch limits to concerns about the long-term health of the seas.

This is a great way to browse scientific findings for a gradual but profound transformation of the world's oceans.

You’ll learn about the decline of fish and marine mammals and the proliferation of primitive life forms — algae, bacteria, jellyfish, as Weiss travels widely — to Australia, Panama and Jamaica; to Midway, Palmyra Atoll and the Hawaiian Islands; and up and down the coasts of California, Washington, Florida and Georgia.

Published by Ken on December 28th, 2006 tagged Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

not Santa’s reindeer: starving with climate change

nenet reindeer

The Nenet reindeer herders of Western Siberia are the latest people to feel the impact of global warming (via BBC video).

Sudden thaws followed by quick freezes are leaving their reindeer with nothing to graze on.

These indigenous people migrate annually with their reindeer.

Sudden warming resulted in 24 hour rainfall then sudden freezing, which iced over pastures making it very difficult for the herders to dig through.

The nomadic lifestyle of the Nenet tribe will be altered by changing climate.

Published by Ken on December 28th, 2006 tagged Climate Change | Comments Off

kids help reforest with Hawaii Island TREE

TREEs uluwehi nursery

Kona's Tropical Reforestation and Ecosystems Education (TREE) is working to restore native forests at four Big Island sites.

TREE also has five tailored programs that connect people to the land by linking education to restoration, with a specific focus on the responsibility of stewardship.

TREE is propagating native rare and endangered trees and plants in its Uluwehi Nursery.

Built by students, the nursery facility is located at Kealakehe High School.

During the school year, students learn methods of seed collection, propagation, growing, and planting for native Hawaiian species.

Published by Ken on December 28th, 2006 tagged HI-specific, Island Ecosystems | Comments Off

wot to do with a former rock quarry

rock quarry hotel

Here is a fine example of an ultra modern facility fitting into it's existing natural environment (via coolhunter).

Set in a spectacular water filled quarry in Songjiang, China, the 400 bed resort hotel is uniquely constructed within the natural elements of the quarry.

With underwater public areas and guest rooms, the resort also boasts cafes, restaurants and sporting facilities.

The lowest level runs with the aquatic theme by housing a luxurious swimming pool and an extreme sports centre for activities such as rock climbing and bungee jumping which will be cantilevered over the quarry and accessed by special lifts from the water.

Published by Ken on December 27th, 2006 tagged Community Initiatives | Comments Off

grasp the scale of climate crisis? ration carbon

ration book

What if humans could only emit 80 billion tons more of carbon dioxide before drastic climate change were a certainty?

What if we're now emitting 25 billion tons per year?

What if the U.S. were responsible for 25% of this?

Sadly, this is precisely our situation, and carbon rationing now looms (via treehugger).

So, how much could/would you reduce to avert global warming?

Published by Ken on December 27th, 2006 tagged Community Initiatives | Comments Off

too late for heroes: hawken on bottom-up future

paul hawken

Why do we need "far more than an environmental movement?"

Because we must "touch the needs and suffering of every single person on earth."

So says Paul Hawken in a 'What's Next' piece on WorldChanging.

Calling for a "community created world", Hawken urges us to "stay in community and embody kindness and inclusivity in everything we do."

Says Hawken:

"We are experiencing something greater than 'greening.'"

Why? Because we are replacing a world fostered by wealth and privilege.

The language of sustainability is about ideas that never end:

Published by Ken on December 27th, 2006 tagged Systems Thinking | Comments Off

envisioning a warmer future: scifi as tool of choice

imagining adaptation in warming world

So what if we're all going to spend the rest of our lives on a planet in the grip of massive climate change?

Alex Steffen has begun to parse what this means (via worldchanging), and notes top science fiction writers are now applying their story-telling skills to a warming future.

Steffen calls it "climate foresight"...a critical thinking tool for the 21st century.

As the recent UN discussions in Nairobi made clear, we all need to focus on strategies for adapting to wild weather, sea level rise, eco-refugees and disruption of supply lines.

Says Steffen:

Published by Ken on December 26th, 2006 tagged Systems Thinking | Comments Off

on pollutant molecules: every breath we take

carbon dioxide molecule

Even if carbon dioxide is only every 90 thousandth molecule (or 11 parts per million), each breath we take still contains more carbon dioxide molecules than the population of 50 million planet earths!

Now, the creativemethods website turns the plethora of parts per million data into letter grades for air quality in each U.S. county with "A Molecular View of Air Quality"...a wonderfully composite view and exposition based on 21 measures from EPA.

Maps and gradesheets grade US counties from A to F on 10 measures of ambient concentration and on emissions of 11 pollutants.

Published by Ken on December 26th, 2006 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

gift in the wind: bird people support lesser evil

birds and wind turbinesListen up, all greenies stuck in narrowville: time to take stock of priorities.

So says John Flicker, the Audobon Society's president, as these prominent bird counters moved to endorse wind energy.

Why? Global warming is more bad than wind turbines. Duh.

"With a coal-fired power plant, you can't count the carcasses, but it's going to kill a lot more birds," says Flicker (via lime).

I mean, pinch me. Who knew it might be possible for old-line environmentalists to embrace a culture of fact-based openness and cooperation with wind energy interests?

Published by Ken on December 25th, 2006 tagged Systems Thinking | 1 Comment »

16 tons and wot do ya get? deeper in carbon debt

grinch of carbon emissions

Carbon is the new grinch this season, and it's time to bring this home to the islands.

Hawaii residents are responsible for 16 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per person each year.

OK, so that's lower than 36 other states and 20% below the national average.

...Which is like telling the officer: "No, he ran into me!" Either way, it's a wreck.

Never mind that Vermont residents spew 46% less or that Wyoming residents emit 88% more. It's far too much.

Right. So, we never had to think about our "carbon budget" before.

Published by Ken on December 24th, 2006 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

what’s the new duck-and-cover? kids are worried

duck and cover days

Kids these days may be more worried than parents about global warming.

They may have shorter attention spans, but they know about species doom.

What they need most is adults acting like grown-ups, says Katherine Ellison in a marvelous essay on global warming-era parenthood (via common dreams).

Unlike nukes, where someone shoots first, all we need do now is ignore the warnings.

"Our children aren't dummies", says Ellison, and "like so many of us who grew up not talking about the drinking dads and depressed moms, what always makes it worse is when adults pretend nothing's wrong."

Published by Ken on December 24th, 2006 tagged Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

drought down under: Aussies coming around

drought in australia

Sure, Australia has some of the world's most erratic rainfall-patterns.

Yet, five years into their worst drought in memory, the government is jumping on the greenhouse bandwagon (via BBC).

Like the Bushies, Prime Minister John Howard refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol, but now believes that serious environmental trouble is brewing.

Howard's government is now saying it wants to lead the drive for greenhouse gas emissions globally in a very aggressive leadership way.

...Which is sorta like singing loudest in the choir without joining the church.

Published by Ken on December 24th, 2006 tagged Climate Change | Comments Off

green take-down for hotels: Hawaii shows how

wrecking ball

Deconstruction is the new green wave for reusing Hawaii’s old hotels.

Twice in recent years, major island hotels have been carefully taken down, and virtually all materials found other uses.

First on Kauai, where Peter Robson handled the reuse of the Waiohai hotel.

And now on Maui, where David Cole's vision of upcycling the Kapalua Bay Resort is complete.

At the Waiohai, which had been closed since Hurricane Iniki in 1992, all the fabric, wallboard, concrete and steel was recycled, and there was almost no input to the county landfill.

Published by Ken on December 23rd, 2006 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | 1 Comment »