Archive for July, 2009

resilience path: turning cost centers into savings vehicles

bootstrappin communities

The thing about investing in your own energy or food production is that you not only reduce your monthly costs but also end up owning productive assets.

John Robb sees this as financially bootstraping communities seeking to bolster their resilience (via globalguerillas).

According to Robb, owning a windmill, solar array or garden is superior to owning a retirement account...especially in the likely inflationary economy of the near future.

Robb expects that the monthly savings will far exceed the monthly returns on your 401k/IRA accounts. Moreover, notes Robb, "as returns accumulate, it makes possible new investments in productive systems with additional cash flow opportunity."

Published by Ken on July 30th, 2009 tagged Island Ecosystems | 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

Mayor as playuh: Kauai’s lineman for county sustainability

kauai mayor

Pinch me! For the first time, our island's political leadership is stepping up to the sustainability challenge, and I'm feeling better about our chances with this big guy up front.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho isn't just mouthing the "S" word...he's serious about preparing Kauai for the sustainability transition coming down on his watch.

Carvalho is launching a series of newspaper columns on sustainability and is learning to fold-in the sustainability theme with his daily "stories" as he moves from appearance to appearance.

Ya gotta like Carvalho’s chances as a cheerleader for the behavior changes that are integral to these transition times.

Published by Ken on July 26th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

fulfilled with little: more low-hanging fruit

fulfilled consumer

'Tis hard to sense loss as the financial sector reels...if ya got no portfolio to lose.

Hard, too, to stay focused on holding-on to 'stuff' if ya got nothin'. And, it's hard to stop givin' back to community if that's all ya got.

Sure, I'm an economist, yet I've let all the recent financial news just wash over me. (I gave up 'stuff' after Hurricane Iniki.) I'm amazed that so many folks who've worked hard to "make it" are now not much better off than the rest of us.

Reading Nate Hagens, I'm wondering if it's all about "self" (via oildrum).

Published by Ken on July 26th, 2009 tagged Systems Thinking | 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

learning about sustainability: on creating courses for Kauai

sus courses at KCC

Can't recall more fun than conceiving effective methods for communicating the scope of what we're learning about sustainability...and shaping this into accessible short-courses!

That's been my focus for the the past several months, and I'm delighted to report that the inaugural learning opportunities will launch in 3 weeks at Kauai Community College through the Office of Continuing Education & Training (OCET).

Fortunately, I've had some practice with previous seminars for Kauai leaders, yet this field is advancing so rapidly that it's truly challenging and inspiring to sum up what we're learning, especially regarding the challenges facing this small rural island.

Published by Ken on July 23rd, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

Hawaii climate change funds escape guv veto

HI climate change

Bravo for state legislators who last week overrode Governor Lingles' veto of SB266!

So, there will be a climate change task force to study the potential impacts of rising sea levels, eroding coast lines, ocean acidification, fiercer storms, and other expected affects of climate change, and to suggest response strategies...all funded with $100,000 a year to be diverted from the state tourism fund (via gristmill).

Grist's Jonathan Hiskes notes that the fed’s climate change report forecasted severe effects on U.S. Pacific islands if climate change continues unchecked.

Lingle had argued that the state's emissions reduction task force was already addressing climate change.

Published by Ken on July 20th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Climate Change | Comments Off

runup to Copenhagen: agreement on planes and boats?

ships planes on copenhagen agenda

Forgive yourself if the rush of high-level pre-Copenhagen gatherings leaves you befuddled about the prospects for an achievable climate change deal to supersede Kyoto. We just hope it all works out, right?

Now, Gordon Brown has called for $100B annually from developed nations to help developing world 'leapfrog' to cleaner energy technologies, with funding from a new tariff on airline and shipping industries (which were excluded from Kyoto). Kewl! (via newscientist).

Guess that means emissions from flying and shipping would become the 'cash cow' for the green fund, rather than coming under the umbrella of national emissions targets. Double kewl!

Published by Ken on July 20th, 2009 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change | 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

sustainability is not the absence of un-sustainability

ehrenfeld book cover

"Greening" is about making us less un-sustainable. Sustainability is something else", and "we'll need both", says John Ehrenfeld (via sloanrev).

Ehrenfeld's new book defines sustainability as "a positive vision of the possibility that human and other life will flourish on the planet forever…It is an emergent property that only appears when the whole system is functioning properly.”

Greening, or working on eco-efficiency, is critically important, yet this is not sustainability. This is perpetuation of our 'quick fix' obsession, which might reduce our un-sustainability, at best.

"Creating sustainability requires a new story of how the world works and how humans act", says Ehrenfeld.

Published by Ken on July 17th, 2009 tagged Sustainability Science, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

unsustainability = not thinking of the whole system

kalo connection

While being interviewed for a forthcoming Ode article to feature Hawaii's influence on Obama and his thinkng about sustainability, I mentioned that, in the Hawaiian patheon, the `aina ("nature") is a sibling.

The interviewer chuckled, as if this was a 'cute' concept.

I'm guessing that the interviewer missed the message: our 'modern' thinking has led to a loss of consciousness about our place as a part of natue.

As John R. Ehrenfeld stressed in his marvelous presentation at Delft last April, we cannot even see that our 'consumption' has become a form of addiction that is destroying nature itself.

Published by Ken on July 15th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

where we’re headed: top minds on past/future perspectives

speakers sterling + orlov

The best guy to envisage the near future gave the closing keynote at Reboot's "Practical Visionaries" conference last month, and now you can watch Bruce Sterling's fascinating 40 minute presentation. Kewl!

And the best guy to remind us about the lessons of the near past gave a marvelous romping speech in Dublin last month, and now you can watch Dmitry Orlov draw parallels between the demise of the Soviet Union and America's current state of affairs. Kewl.2!

Either way, our outlook is so screwy that these views just might help you get your mind around the grimness of what’s coming…

Published by Ken on July 13th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

King Coal has no clothes: don’t bow down on climate change

big coal

What's up with "Big Coal" marauding through Congress as if it's a stuck pig? The concessions wrung from the House were enough to gut the “climate change” bill's effectiveness, and now their Senate lobbying sounds like "life or death" (via wbcd).

"The idea that coal lobbyists are out there complaining that they need more is just appalling, because they already got so much" says Friends of the Earth's Nick Berning.

Fact is, we (and other nations) must get off coal if we've got a shot at achieving the required near-term global emissions reductions. So why is Congress so susceptible to the "stuck pig" thang?

Published by Ken on July 13th, 2009 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change, Energy | Comments Off

sustainability thinking is crucial says Prince Charles

prince charles

Prepping for teaching short courses on sustainability thinking at KCC, I'm struck by the cacophony of  voices saying we need a new way of thinking...now including Prince Charles.

Last Wednesday, Charles concluded the Dimbleby Lecture by advocating "a much more integrated way of thinking and perceiving the world", noting that new technologies and lifestyles won't be enough (via bestfootforward).

"We are still conditioned by Modernism’s mechanistic thinking...invariably seeking a solution to one problem without thinking of the impact this will have on the whole...which has led to our disconnection from the complexity of Nature", says Charles.

Published by Ken on July 11th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

think science and markets drive policy? look at climate change

william rees

Bill Rees invented the ecological footprint concept, and in the dozen ensuing years has become one of Canada's leading public intellectuals.

Now, Rees wants to see science and markets drive climate policy, yet he's bumping up against climate denial and market hypocrisy (via themark).

Both Canada and the US are science-based and market-based societies, right? Says Rees, "if you accept this conventional wisdom, you’d be wrong on both counts."

“Public policy on climate at both the federal and provincial levels bears almost no relation to current climate science”, and “ecological dysfunction represents gross market failure.” We’re “wallowing in deep denial.”

Published by Ken on July 9th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

Lihue sustainability: AIA submits planning recommendations

lihue mill artist conception

Recall the AIA confab last Fall that focused on sustainability in Lihue's Development Plan? Well, the SDAT team has just filed their recommendations, and they're worth a look (via KPAA).

"Focus on long-term sustainability", "meet uncertainties head-on", and "consider a pause on development activity until the plan is fully worked out" are three of their top recommendations. Oh, and, “stick with it”, once adopted. Kewl!

One especially intriguing suggestion focuses on the abandoned Lihue Mill, which the planners think might perform a great "gathering" function if it were redeveloped as a microbusiness incubator and food distribution center (as illustrated).

Published by Ken on July 7th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives | Comments Off

KIUC forecast update: on cooking the numbers

KIUC forecast update

You're anxious to know what's in KIUC's updated Equity Management Plan, right? You want to know how rate increases and investment in renewables will impact our coop's financials in the years ahead, right?

Good luck! Although it was approved at the Board's April meeting, this document is still not available on the KIUC website.

Good news! It is available as an appendix to KIUC's request to the PUC for a rate increase...though it's not easy to get (go to this PUC Documents page and search for 2009-0050, then click on Volume I of the Verification Exhibits and go to page 315...whew!)

Published by Ken on July 7th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Energy | 2 Comments »

war-time footing: bring back rationing…for carbon

WWII ration stamps

My wife was an impressionable 6 years old when WWII ended, and has a clear and favorable recollection of rationing.

This week, on returning from her mother's funeral she showed me a prize find from her stored stuff: a ration book with her name on it.

The stamps shown here are for oils and grains, yet what she remembers most clearly is the stamps for chocolate...none of which remain in this ration book (duh!).

Actually, her fondest memory is of plenty bubblegum when the war ended (doh!).

She firmly believes Americans need some new stamps for carbon rationing.

Published by Ken on July 3rd, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Community Initiatives | 1 Comment »

Abercrombie to KIUC: face up to climate change

abercrombie at KIUC

Sheesh, it's only been 18 months since Councilmember Jay Furfaro interrupted my speech to the Filipino Chamber of Commerce on Kauai's sustainability challenges with his own rant about the uncertainties of climate change and the need to proceed with caution.

And it was only last week that The Garden Island published a puff piece on KUIC's lobbying on behalf of "Big Coal" against the climate change bill now working its way through Congress

So, it was great to see this morning's headline with our Congressman, Neil Abercrombe (the apparent front-runner in next year's governor race) lecturing the KIUC board on how they must "face up to the question of climate change".

Published by Ken on July 1st, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Energy | Comments Off

ebike love.2: on days without cycling

stokes ebikin'

Back to e-bikin' (yeah), after Bionx sent me a replacement wheel under warranty and suddenly the days are fun again. Bob Stehlik at Blue Planet Surf and Bionic Wheels was super at expediting the exchange (mahalo!).

Oh, and, Stehlik's got more ebikes on Oahu or can put one together for ya...if you're ready to step up your own cycling.

Mine is built by Sun (EZ-Sport CX) and powered with BionX (350 watt hub motor). Stehlik

Going a few weeks without cycling is one of the toughest things I've done, and I'm surprised at how depressing the car-only option really is.

Published by Ken on July 1st, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Energy | Comments Off