Archive for July, 2008

Hawaii’s GHG task force less a force due to neglected tasks

hawaii GHG emissions reduction

We know Hawaii's new Task Force for greenhouse gas emissions reduction is busily at work, if only because DBEDT says they are.

Still, it's thoroughly frustrating trying to track their progress, given dead links and serious time-lags in posting to the DBEDT site.

Imagine my surprise, for example, on learning that McKinsey (of abatement fame) had completed a study on "Reducing Hawaii's Oil Dependence and Greenhouse Gas Emissions"...via the forthcoming August issue of Environment Hawaii.

That's right, the Task Force saw this document at their June meeting and got into followup questions at their July meeting. So, why can't we see it?

Published by Ken on July 31st, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Ecological Footprint, HI-specific | Comments Off

dude, get yer carbon goggles! on footprinting in second life

carbon goggles inside second life

Wanna "learn about real-world emissions, get a feel for the relative carbon cost of a kettle or car, without reading a spreadsheet?"

Try Carbon Goggles, a new project from Jim Purbrick, inside Second Life (via beyondthebeyond).

Now we're talking! You can tap or tag real world carbon footprint data to the virtual counterparts of objects like a Prius or a Learjet.

"The nice thing about doing it in Second Life," says Purbrick, "is that there are already lots of models of real-world objects that can be overlaid" (via poptech).

Published by Ken on July 31st, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint | Comments Off

new widget for your what’sit: footprinting gets easier

How's this for a kewl tool that can help you learn about your 'ecological footprint': a widget that shows emissions for a variety of products and services (via GilFriend).

That's right, a firm called EcoSynergy makes this widget available in four flavors. I'm showing the one for food, and there's also a widget for household stuff, buildings and offices. Check 'em out!

Published by Ken on July 31st, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint | Comments Off

grill Kauai candidates on sustainability this go-round

malama kauai

Here's your chance to see who knows what and has a vision for a sustainable Kauai: the Eco-Roundtable Candidates Forum.

Next week Tuesday starting at 5:30PM in the Lihu'e Convention Hall, you can meet and greet and grill all three mayoral candidates and most of the 22 good citizens running for the 7 County Council seats.

This is part of the quarterly roundtable sessions initiated by Malama Kauai (MK) to facilitate networking among over 50 sustainability-oriented organizations.

Says MK's Andrea Brower, "it is critical that the community knows where candidates stand on the important issues that affect all of us: the economy, land use, development, energy, transportation, waste, affordable housing, and the environment."

Published by Ken on July 30th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

building community from the bottom up: starting in my nabe

WKNA logo

Residents on the eastside of Kauai have never had a community association, although our island history is full of wonderful leadership stories coming out of such groups in Kilauea, Koloa, Kekaha and other towns (via TGI).

That's changing now as the new Wailua-Kapa`a Neighborhood Association takes form...and I've agreed to join its new Board of Directors.

WKNA got some great coverage of our July meeting with our State Highways director, so I decided to donate some time getting a website up.

Now, eastside Kauai folks can signup for membership or to be placed on the email update list, and contact the directors directly.

Published by Ken on July 30th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | Comments Off

export subsidies for biodiesel: the ‘splash-n-dash’ scam

splash n dash biodiesel scam

Betcha didn't know US taxpayers fork over a $1 subsidy for every gallon of biodiesel that is blended in the U.S. for export later.

The idea was to give a nudge to the U.S. biofuel industry, yet here, too, America's ill-fated biofuel policy is boomeranging (via transforminghawaii).

To make that extra buck, oil tankers full of biodiesel can simply stop off in a US port for a 'splash' of regular diesel before 'dashing' to the EU. The US company nominally 'importing' this oil gets credit for the full load.

Published by Ken on July 28th, 2008 tagged Systems Thinking, Transport | Comments Off

put that heavy stuff behind you: get a bike trailer

carry freedom flatbed trailer for bicycles

You know that trailer I got for hitching onto my recumbent ebike? Yeah, the one that I use to haul all my shopping and laundry between Kapaa town and our treehouse.

It seems others are seeing the value of such a switch. Now, folks in Canberra can borrow a bike trailer from their local sustainability organization (via canberratimes).

For me, it translates into about 50% fewer car trips. For Canberra folks, it's part of a wider goal to reduce members' carbon emissions via their 'Eco-Challenge'.

That's right! The bicycle-towed trailers available from See-Change will have odometers to measure the emissions they save.

Published by Ken on July 28th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Transport | Comments Off

what’s ethics got to do with sustainability?

ethics and sustainablity

We know there's a moral and ethical dimension to climate change and resource shortages, yet we seldom think or talk about it.

After all, a sustainable human support system economically smart, ecologically safe, and fair to all our communities (via kauaianinstitute).

So, the sustainability ‘prism’ incorporates ‘fairness’, and this includes equity between nations, peoples, generations, and species (via friendsoftheearth).

Future humans and other species have rights, too. It is unjust to foul the atmosphere for those who come after or appropriate all of the planet's bio-productivity for humans, and the burdens and benefits of development should be equitably shared.

Right off the top, we need to consider whether it is moral to continue spewing carbon long after we know it does irreparable damage to the planet.

Published by Ken on July 28th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

electrifying crab story, and crabbin’ about Kauai electricity

crabs dead on kauai beach

Good news and bad this AM for readers of tea leaves.

The bad news is thousands of crabs turning up dead on Poipu beach (via KHNL).

The good news is KIUC gets top rankings for solar power capacity among all utilities nationwide (via pacbiznews). The bad news is KIUC's so small this can't be good news.

Good buddy Jean Souza (of NOAA) collected about 700 crabs Tuesday on this favorite public beach, and "a water safety officer was quoted as saying there were thousands all over the beach park on Kauai's southeast shore".

Published by Ken on July 25th, 2008 tagged Energy, Island Ecosystems | Comments Off

blood and gore in the blogosphere: on Al’s all-in speech

gore gets icy treatment

Sheesh! Ya woulda tho't Al Gore had enough cred by now to avert the slings and arrows.

Wot matters most is that he's pushing greener, sooner, cheaper...80% by 2020, versus the G8's 50% by 2050.

Wot matters least is whether Gore's the best advocate for this more urgent sustainability agenda.

David Roberts slams Tom Brokaw for his "awful" questioning of Gore on Sunday's Meet the Press (via gristmill). He also decries Gore's "let down" performance. Watch Van Jones, instead, says Roberts.

Roberts' editor asked him to suggest some alternative questions Gore should have been asked (via gristmill). Here's my favorite:

Published by Ken on July 24th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

steffen fetches foresight for one-planet prosperity

alex steffen at etech conference

Just in case ya missed it, here's a link to one of my heros with some words of wisdom and some perspective on our pickle that everyone should see and hear.

Alex Steffen, who runs the worldchanging operation, is among the best at tying it all together.

Not surprisingly, this video is from the recent 'Emerging Tech' conference.

Yeah! Now you can watch this great mind in action...and never leave your seat. (Unless ya wanna stand up and cheer!)

Steffen asks and answers the question top-most in our minds: What might a sustainable future look like?

Published by Ken on July 22nd, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, Sustainability Science | Comments Off

why do we want some sustainability?

sustainability thinking required

Like breathing, sustainability should be unremarkable. So why is our daily discourse filled with concerns about the sustainability of our human support system?

Face it, we couldn't have done a better job at creating unsustainability if we had planned it. Here comes catastrophic climate change in the ecology sphere, and peak oil in the economy sphere, and social unrest in the community sphere.

Sheesh! Now, we gotta figure our way out of this mess. We need a new way of thinking that makes unsustainable practices unthinkable.

...This is how I start my first post on a new blog called asKen...go there.

Published by Ken on July 22nd, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Sustainability Science | Comments Off

is Gore’s plan affordable? on money for renewables

jerome the wind guy

Let's see: at $343 million for each day of the Iraq war, we're throwing $125 billion annually down that hole.

What if we had that amount to invest in renewable energy generation? Would that be enough to achieve the 10-year goal Al Gore spelled out in his speech last Thursday? (via huffingtonpost)

Yup, says Jerome Guillet, an investment banker specializing in wind project finance (via theoildrum).

Says, Guillet, Gore's plan "would require boosting investment in wind production capacity to about $100-150 billion per year, a significant number but hardly one that would require a complete retooling of the US economy."

Published by Ken on July 22nd, 2008 tagged Energy, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

on giving ecosystem services the value they deserve

ecosystem services special issue of pnas

What a difference valuation of our ecosystems makes! How so?

Writing in the current PNAS, Stanford’s Pam Matson and Gretchen Daily note "a growing feeling of Renaissance in the conservation community" that "flows from the promise in reaching for new approaches that align economic forces with conservation, and that explicitly link human and environmental well-being."

After all, ecosystems are natural capital assets that supply valuable services to people. Leaders worldwide face the challenge of developing incentives and institutions to guide wise investment in ecosystems.

Say Matson and Daily, "scholars and practitioners are seeking to make conservation economically attractive and commonplace."

Published by Ken on July 21st, 2008 tagged Ecosystems Research, Sustainability Science | Comments Off

blue green convergence: on footprints and politics

red and blue states and green scores

The same states ranked by Forbes among the 'greenest' also happen to be 'blue' states, notes John Laumer (via treehugger).

Note the average scores of 'red' and 'blue' states, and check what sets the 'red' states apart. According to Forbes, ‘red’ suffers from "a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it."

Says Forbes: "Expect them to remain that way." Says Laumer: "some states just have a green wish."

So, how did Hawaii rank 4th ‘greenest’ if it’s carbon footprint is only “slightly better than middle of the pack”, you ask?

Published by Ken on July 21st, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, HI-specific | Comments Off

click here for relief: making gas signs for the frustrated

gas price sign

My scifi fav Bruce Sterling promises that "gosh, these are fun!  (via beyondthebeyond)"

Wudja believe an online widget that lets you create your own version of the sign that advertises gas prices at your local station?

One year ago, I posted this version of the sign showing prices ranging from "Arm" to "Leg" to "Both", with a comment on what little difference the newly Democratic Congress were making in the realm of energy policy.

Now, you can make yer own sign, and promote yer own policy by clicking here (via atomsmasher). This is mine.

Published by Ken on July 20th, 2008 tagged Community Initiatives, Energy | 1 Comment »

Hawaii’s interisland shipping getting greener

hoomaka hou barge

Who knew that new barge plying the Kauai channel twice weekly was part of a green thing at Young Brothers.

Yup, the Ho`omaka Hou and its sister barge Maka`ala represent "a new generation of barges, which are modern, fuel efficient and environmentally sensitive," according to Glenn Hong, president of Young Brothers (via honoluluadvertiser).

Kauai got the first barge last November, and now Hawaii Island will get the second on Sunday as Young Bros. (YB) spends $186 million to replace all 4 barges in its interisland fleet.

Better hull design and increased size enable YB to cut the fuel and emissions per ton of cargo.

Published by Ken on July 18th, 2008 tagged Energy, HI-specific, Transport | Comments Off

dude, where’s the reef fish? on Hawaii’s challenge

reef transect in hawaii

Gotta confess I couldn't make much of the reef study recently published by NOAA. Lots of data, maps and charts, and no clear summary of the implications for our islands.

Now, we know what it all means for Hawaii, as two of our top researchers presented the findings at Waikiki Aquarium (via honoluluadvertiser).

Sure, there are multiple threats to our reefs from ocean acidification, warming, runoff, and invasive algae, yet ecologists Alan Friedlander and Eric Brown focus on unregulated fishing practices, noting that 75% of our reef fishes are depleted or in critical condition, and this disrupts the ecological balance of many reefs. Why?

Published by Ken on July 18th, 2008 tagged HI-specific, Island Ecosystems | Comments Off

Plan B: cutting emissions 80 percent by 2020

time for plan b

We know what needs to be done to reduce CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2020, says Lester Brown.

In 5 steps, Brown shows how a "worldwide mobilization at wartime speed" could get'r done (via treehugger).

"None of these initiatives depends on new technologies", says Brown. "All that is needed now is leadership."

Calling Plan B 3.0 "the alternative to business as usual," Brown sees these steps as the only way to prevent CO2 from exceeding 400 ppm.

"We cannot afford to let the planet get much hotter", says Brown, as would the G8 call for 50% cuts by 2050.

Published by Ken on July 18th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

efficiency as a business: on sustainable energy utilities

oregon energy trust as SEU

Halfway through composing this post on sustainable energy utility (SEU) initiatives popping up in Vermont and Oregon, it began to look like Hawaii had already launched something similar…Or did we?

Here's the deal: you pay, say, 3% on top of your electricity bill to fund an SEU whose business is to save (not sell) you energy by offering free energy audits and technical advice, low-cost financing, and discounts on energy efficient products (via IEEEspectrum).

The point is to get this business out of that other business, and this approach helped Vermont become the first state to reduce energy demand through efficiency measures alone.

Published by Ken on July 17th, 2008 tagged Energy, HI-specific | Comments Off