worst case scenario: why sustainability matters for Hawaii

yin yang mitigate adapt

Part of our shift toward less unsustainable ways of living, traveling, and doing business in the islands involves mitigating our footprints.

Another part involves adapting our systems.

These threads are interwoven.

Our island living is threatened by global warming, resource wars, and social unrest, just like everywhere else.

And our way of doing things in business, households and governance must change to fit the special challenges of our tropical islands.

Stuff we tho't doesn't affect us...does. And stuff we never had to think about...we do.

Our weather's gonna get weird, the sun's gonna get nasty, and our lowlands are gonna flood. Our oil barges, container ships, and overseas airliners may not come, and our big box and supermarket shelves may go empty.

We may have to prepare for living on more of an emergency footing. And it will take lots of time and practice to build up our resilience to these potential shocks.

God forbid we should have to grow our own food, generate our own electricity, and make our own stuff.

Right? How bad could that be?

Still, it's gonna take time.

As islanders, we come to these challenges with a fair degree of confidence, because we have faced these shocks before. We know the risks.

We have some practice with working together when systems fall apart, and we have significant reservoirs of trust and initiative in our communities.

We also expect that the outcome will be up to us...not just because many of our 'snow birds' may go away, but also because we may be truly isolated in the middle of the ocean.

We want to vigorously pursue a mitigation strategy for the islands, not simply because we face resource shortages on the one hand, and climate change on the other, but especially because this is the path toward strong sustainable systems.

We also want to vigorously pursue an adaptation strategy, not simply because we face near-term anomalous weather on the one hand, and prospective supply disruption on the other, but especially because this is the path toward resilient sustainable communities.

Nothing is more important now than asking the footprint question...about everything we do.

And nothing is more important now than pushing the systems envelope...in the way we do everything.

Perhaps most crucially, we need to look far forward. And, this is also new for most of us. It is also newly mandatory because we see now that we have already set in motion a systematic degradation that will take us decades to slow and (hopefully) reverse.

Just so, in our communities, it will take us decades to adapt...with retrofitted infrastructure, relocated facilities, local food and energy production, and collaborative ecosystem management practices.

This much we already know: each day that we delay only brings tougher challenges ahead.

Published by Ken on September 24th, 2007 tagged HI-specific, Systems Thinking

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