Archive for August, 2007

SusHI’s on a (blog) roll…and lovin’ da links

SusHI logo

At the 11 month mark of blogging here, SusHI is blessed to have been discovered...and blogrolled...by lots of special folks.

As our daily readership climbs toward 2k, I am grateful and wish to acknowledge these other luminaries in the blogosphere whose inclusion of my work may well have brought YOU here.

So many of my island friends tell me, "Oh, I saw you on Treehugger", or some such, and its good fun to be an active participant in this sharing of our learning.

Wot's truly amazing is the breadth of interest SusHI seems to attract (see below).

Published by Ken on August 31st, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | Comment now »

flip fear and remorse into love and dedication

overdosing the earth

My heroine's successor at the Sustainability Institute pens a marvelous essay on breaking out of our "cocoon of self protection" to relearn that "fear and grief and remorse are the mirror images of love and dedication" (via common dreams).

We're overdosing the planet, says Elizabeth Sawin. "Every day we pour twice as much carbon dioxide into the air as the Earth can absorb." Yet, "we shy away from our fear and grief about climate change because they are so huge."

Still, "the hugeness of these ‘dark’ emotions reveals the hugeness of our love for our world and our sense of responsibility for it.”

Published by Ken on August 31st, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

Hawaii’s really a ‘red’ state: extreme weather comin’

climate change index on world map

Hawaii most often votes Democratic, yet a new "Climate Change Index" shows this is definitely a 'red' state.

This new research by Michèle Bättig of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, allows anyone to compare the severity of the predicted effect of climate change in different parts of the world (via new scientist).

Red areas on the global map show where extreme weather events will occur most frequently toward the end of this century.

Says Battig, "we hope the CCI will help policy-makers gain a quick overview of the scientific facts without getting lost in the detail."

Published by Ken on August 31st, 2007 tagged Climate Change, HI-specific | Comment now »

on ecological implosion: will China be first?

collosal eco damage on china econ growth

China's greatest achievement is also its biggest burden, says Wang Jinnan, one of its leading environmental researchers, noting that collosal inputs of energy from a staggering expansion of heavy industry and urbanization has created "a very awkward situation."

As reported in the Sunday NY Times, "just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents."

Now, Glen Barry predicts China will be the first country to ecologically implode (via earth meanders).

Published by Ken on August 30th, 2007 tagged Climate Change | Comment now »

studying reef impacts without making impacts

hiialakai embraces the sea

Speaking of reefs, Hawaii's oceanographic research vessel used for conducting studies of coral reefs got a mention the other day as an 'eco-friendly' ship (via treehugger).

The Hiialakai is NOAA's Hawaii-based ship for conducting coral-reef ecosystem mapping, bio-analysis assessments, and coral-reef-health and fish-stock studies.

The ship's name is Hawaiian for "embracing the sea," and, true to its moniker, has been dubbed the most environmentally friendly ship he's been on by Allen Gary, its chief steward.

"I've been sailing quite a awhile and I've seen the evolution of the old sailors who dumped everything and now we're to a point where we need to be concerned about Mother Earth," says Gary.

Published by Ken on August 30th, 2007 tagged Ecosystems Research, HI-specific, Island Ecosystems | Comment now »

think land’s expensive? wot HI reefs are worth

reef at hanauma bay

Hawaiians often refer to the reef as their refrigerator, and have long relied on reefs for food.

Yet, one not so surprising result of a pioneering study of reef valuation is that this is vastly more than a food source.

A recent NOAA-funded research project finds the 'asset' value of Hawaii's coral reefs is $9.7 billion, of which the 'food' value is less than 1%. Hmmm!

For Hawaii's 410,000 acres of coral reef, that works out to nearly $24,000 an acre...and rising.

The simple fact that the reef is there for viewing (eg., snorkeling) constitutes 83% of the total asset value.

Published by Ken on August 29th, 2007 tagged HI-specific, Island Ecosystems | Comment now »

who’s the enemy? green leaders rethink strategy

redefining the enemy in sustainability movement

Environmentalism's former 'wunderkind' has gone to work with WalMart, and wot are we to make of this?

"Adam Werbach's conversion is not just unpopular, it’s incomprehensible to many environmentalists", writes Danielle Sacks in a widely read and commented piece for Fast Company (via common dreams).

To be fair, Werbach has provided clear signals of his shift in thinking ever since he rocked the green world with his provocative speech three years ago, which asked the question "Is environmentalism dead?"

In that seminal speech, Werbach (who then headed the Sierra Club) asked a number of searing questions:

Published by Ken on August 29th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

some blue jeans leave blue streams

blue jeans runoff in the stream

Talk about choosing appearance over survival...better check your denims.

Turns out, the eco cost of that 'worn' look is staggering (via lime).

Yup, the process of stonewashing, which includes treating denim with chemicals to create a softer, broken-in feel, is polluting Mexican towns with its run-off (via Guardian).

In particular, toxic run-off caused by 'distressing' denim is poisoning the water and irrigation canals in Tehuacan, a region in Central Mexico where more than 700 clothing manufacturers sell jeans to popular U.S. companies.

Published by Ken on August 28th, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

raising islands: new eco blog for Hawaii

jan tenbruggencate

Jan TenBruggencate has left the building...as in retired from writing the environment column for the Honolulu Advertiser.

So ends two decades of remarkable coverage of Hawaii's environment, conservation and science issues by one of the islands' most respected journalists.

Yet, fear not: now you can read the TenBruggenBlog, called 'Raising Islands', where Jan's beat continues. Yeah!

TenBruggencate's farewell column includes some tasty quips on how far we've come since the 1980s:

Published by Ken on August 28th, 2007 tagged HI-specific | Comment now »

ignorance no excuse: on cost myths of green building

green building and the cost myth

At the GreenBuild conference two years, I watched a presentation by McGraw-Hill on the first survey to explore the cost of green building.

Wot'd it say? Green building adds more benefits than costs.

So, why are developers still struggling with the misperception that green building is "too expensive"?

Now, none other than the World Business Development Council for Sustainable Development is on a kick to right this wrong (via GlobeNet).

Why? 'Cause "such misjudgment of the costs of "green" construction creates barriers to more energy efficiency in the building sector".

Published by Ken on August 26th, 2007 tagged Green Building | Comment now »

banning ads for unhealthy stuff: wot a concept

fast food tv ads banned in britain

Wot do junk food, eggs and infant formula have in common? They're banned on British TV, that's wot.

Why? Lemme guess: Is it 'cause they're bad for ya?

Sure enough, tho the Brits have a noble tradition of banning adverts that "go against the nation's progressive values", writes Erica Barnett, they've lately gotten into "an ad-banning frenzy" (via worldchanging).

Wudja believe ads for online gambling and violent video games are also banned on TV, as was the word "bloody" (for a while).

Hey, this is also the birthplace of progessive ideas like "carbon labeling" and the "congestion tax", so check it out.

Published by Ken on August 26th, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives | Comment now »

is bio-fuel the 8-track of transport energy?

solar powered electric van

Ya wouldn’t install a solar system for your home until you’d cut the inefficiencies in your electricity use, wudja? So, why would ya create an alternative fuel system before ya tweaked your propulsion technology for maximum efficiency?

Steve Clark of Clean Energy Action, thinks this is the paramount issue in the biofuels debate (via celsias).

Clark points out that, “given the current state of the automobile, there is no possible way that biofuels will ever provide more than a small portion of the energy needed by such an inefficient technology.”

Why? Because “the problem is the engine, not the fuel.”

Published by Ken on August 25th, 2007 tagged Ecological Footprint, Transport | Comment now »

how to slash your burn: on climate pricing

sightline institute logo

The Sightline Institute up in Cascadia has tweaked its assessment of carbon policies...to great effect.

Now, with Sightline's improved primer on climate pricing, you can get real clear on cap and trade, carbon taxes, and other exciting ways to slash our greenhouse gas emissions.

As a bonus, Sightline offers a clear and simple summary of each option's pros and cons. It's a helpful resource for "understanding the issues without getting buried in the weeds".

Sightline's Eric de Place notes that "this stuff gets complicated quickly." But take a look at what they've got and feel free to chime in.

Published by Ken on August 25th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

wot’s an island good for? Lanai does wind/sun energy

hawaii windfarm

This Murdock story won't make ya wanna scream, 'cause it's about David, not Rupert (who spells his name differently).

Murdock heads Castle and Cooke, which happens to 'own' the Hawaiian island of Lanai, where the prospects for generating renewable energy are fat.

First, we hear about a $750 million wind farm that could generate 300 to 400 megawatts of power, and now comes word of an $18 million solar farm that could generate 1.5 megawatts (via solar buzz).

Of course, with so few residents and a single resort complex, you might wonder why Lanai needs so much energy in the first place. It doesn't. The energy is for export.

Published by Ken on August 24th, 2007 tagged Energy, Island Vulnerabilities | Comment now »

sustainability preferences: Hawaii surveys residents

sustainability challenges

Hawaii residents may not know what sustainability looks like or how it might be achieved, but we sure want some.

That's the buzz generated by a recent survey of citizen attitudes toward sustainability and the future of Hawai'i (via akamai politics).

The Hawai'i 2050 Project which commissioned the survey to find out what kind of future we want and what we can do now to prepare for that future.

As Jerry Burris points out, "such efforts have had limited success in the past...The gap between aspiration and actual achievement has been large."

Published by Ken on August 24th, 2007 tagged Best Practices, HI-specific, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

flying toward pandemics: spreading new diseases faster

bird flu virus

Here's another bleak picture of future threats with science struggling to keep up.

WHO, the world’s leading authority on health, is warning that we'll face a new deadly threat on the scale of Aids, Sars and Ebola within a decade (via common dreams).

New diseases are emerging at the unprecedented rate of one a year, they are becoming more difficult to treat, and they are spreading more quickly than at any time in history, says WHO’s just released annual report.

The report, A Safer Future, identifies 40 diseases unknown a generation ago, and reveals that during the past five years the WHO has verified more than 1,100 epidemic events worldwide.

Published by Ken on August 24th, 2007 tagged Island Vulnerabilities | Comment now »

RU a terroirist? putting sense of place in food

slow food movement

Think Kona coffee tastes like any other coffee? Of course not.

Fact is, the French have a word for the special characteristics that geography bestows upon different foods: Terroir.

Loosely translated, terroir means as "a sense of place" which is embodied in certain qualities, and the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product.

Now it seems the idea that the social-ecological context of a food’s production shapes its character - is spreading to the USA (via resilience science).

According to ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan, who cofounded the US Slow Food movement:

Published by Ken on August 23rd, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | 1 Comment »

cut emissions or cut travel: US airline’s choice

more fuel for air travel

The Bushies want you to believe we can continue to grow the aviation industry and expand our airports with impunity...certainly without regard for climate change (via climate science watch).

The EU at least accepts that emissions must come way down if airline miles are to triple by 2030, as projected (via wash post).

Fact is, the EU now includes air travel in its climate change policy, yet America's NextGen aviation strategy team has nary a word on the topic.

FAA director Marion Blakely is now threatening WTO action against the EU for its 'arbitrary, inflexible' stance of airline emissions.

Published by Ken on August 23rd, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »

the system becomes ‘degenerate’: on tipping points

tipping points make systems degenerate

Timothy Lenton does lay folks a great service in parsing climate science on the question of tipping points…those pesky "non-linear transitions" where a small change can make a big difference.

Lenton goes beyond a thorough review of the literature to catalyze a new consensus on which "tipping elements" we should be most concerned about (via real climate).

Says Lenton, "climate policy should be more concerned with what tipping elements might be triggered by human activities in the future, and whether their tipping points can be avoided."

Lenton lists the seven most important potential tipping elements relevant to policy makers:

Published by Ken on August 22nd, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

climate’s changing: mebbe we oughta change with it

nature bats last

As some wag once quipped, there’s nothing like a hanging to focus the mind.

Now, Mr. Bioneer, Kenny Ausubel, rips some tasty quips of his own in a (understandably biased) review of 11th Hour (the movie).

Here's a sample (via common dreams).

"Nature bats last, and it’s her playing field. We would be wise to learn the ground rules and how to play by them, if we want to stick around for the long haul."

"A crisis of consciousness has deluded us to somehow believe we are separate from nature, immune to natural principles."

Published by Ken on August 22nd, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comment now »