…of ferry tales and wings (part 1)

Superferry for Hawai`i

Who knew an inter-island ferry service for Hawai`i that would offer a marine alternative to air travel could generate so much heat from "green" residents?

Yet, the Sierra Club and just about every other environmentalist on the neighbor islands is up-in-arms over this prospect.

The "hot buttons" are potential impacts on local traffic and breeding whales, plus dispersal of alien species-- "unknowns" rendered more ominous by an EIS not having been (required or) prepared.

This may be another good arena for all of us to practice "systems thinking".

Set aside, for the moment, the question of what an EIS might reveal and all the prospective problems and integral issues.

Instead, imagine we were constructing a "system dynamics" model of, say, transport impacts in Hawai`i, and we wanted to examine a scenario in which water replaced air as the principle mode for inter-island travel. (Note: This "what-if" could soon become a "what-if-we-had-to".)

Such a model would include some feedback loops related to politics and regulations, and other loops related to markets and competition. Yet, most importantly, it would include a loop related to "ecological footprints".

This concern with "footprints" is sustainability's new "bottom line," and it constitutes a whole different measure of "environmental impact." It offers an instructive way to "add things up".

Now, we know (in broad terms) that a ferry's "footprint" trumps that of a plane-- simply because of its enormous advantage in energy and emissions.

So, if that is a good thing, what other negatives could a ferry bring that might possibly offset these "footprint" benefits?

(Coming in Part 2: adding it up)

Published by Ken on October 2nd, 2006 tagged HI-specific, Systems Thinking

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