Tuesday, June 12, 2012


VATICAN RAG   by Doc Berry
Chapter 1 Gone

“Gone?” Fumigalli asked, his eyes sweeping the room.
“Gone.” I said, shaking my head.
What the hell, the room was empty. And nothing is hard to get a grip on.

Lorenzo Fumigalli wiped his glasses on his sleeve and frowned at me. He was about 45, well set up, big shoulders, a slim waist, lots of curly black hair, and a well trimmed moustache. his chin anchoring a handsome Italian mug.   “No one saw them leave?” he said, half question, half assertion. After all, he commanded the Vatican’s Swiss Guards and the pope’s security detail.

I shrugged, “You’re asking me? This is where I left them.”

“But how? If no one saw them leave.” He said it again, as if disbelief required repetition.  “There’s no other way out of here, just one door and the security guards just outside.”

Reality sometimes has a way of arriving slowly, especially when something or someone is missing. I followed Fumigalli to the window, and we both looked up and down the four story facade of the Apostolic Palace. One of the cops from the Vatican’s Corpo della Gendarmeria posted below looked up inquisitively as we leaned out, and Fumigalli circled a finger, signaling him to turn back to guard duty. Fumigalli had already questioned all the papal cops, but I guess nothing requires repeating.

We leaned on the railing and looked up. Just above on the roof another cop shook his head. No pope up there either.

“When did you leave,” Fumigalli asked, a hint of suspicion in his voice.

“About two hours ago, around eleven.” I said, looking at my watch.

“We’ve already questioned all of the security guards.” he said. “They saw no one except you leave, but we’ll have to question them again. Rome’s carabinieri are sending a specialist to examine the walls and floor for hidden panels and passages.”

That surprised me.  The Vatican Swiss Guards had no secret panel or passageway experts. Presumably the Vatican had mapped all of the passages and entryways long ago. But if so, why would he call in an outside expert? Fresh eyes?

Back in the center of the room, I stared up at the ceiling, then let my eyes wander around the walls, every square inch of surface covered with religious art – angels with full feathered wings, St. Stephen being stoned, John the Baptist waist deep in blue waters as he baptized a robed figure, Mary hearing the words of a white bird representing the Holy Ghost, thin lines of cracks running through the fictional figures. The presence of so much aging art made it blur toward a kind of visual equivalent of background noise, something your eye and mind tuned out because it was everywhere.  The only visual relief lay in the hardwood flooring and the window.

We stood in front of Jimmy’s heavy oak framed, seven foot tall, funhouse mirrors, four of them freestanding mid-room. Pope James the First had gone to considerable lengths to keep these elongated glasses a secret by limiting access to this room. News about a pope checking himself out in funhouse mirrors would likely set journalists off into wild speculation. Amid the lavish religious art, the grandeur of the architecture,  and the long faces that clergy wore in the Vatican, the mirrors turned this papal room into kind of a secular mini-funhouse. Jimmy had told me he checked his papal self out in them several times a week, a sure cure for narcissistic solemnity.

The mirrors dated back to his days in Boston rescuing the diocese from bankruptcy caused by multiple pedophilia scandals. He’d bought them from a carnival that went bankrupt. A long look at yourself in one or more of these distorting glasses guaranteed genuine comic relief. He said that beyond the reflection of the surrounding religious art all distorted out of shape,  it was hard not to stare at your uniquely distorted image.  Moreover, it became impossible to imagine that the reflection of the guy with the pointy head or the fat face suggested anything authoritative, much less infallible. Because humility remained an elusive commodity for popes, or    in the Vatican ranks generally, Jimmy systematically made sure he laughed at himself.

Lorenzo Fumigalli, fully outfitted as Commander of the Corpo della Gendarmeria and the Swiss Guard, now appeared in one mirror grotesquely  shortened, a squat  frog of a human.  In the mirror next to him my torso and head stretched ever thinner to a sharp point at the top.  I couldn’t help but smile.  Vanity has inevitable visual limits.   Each of us at some point is a cartoon.

Two tall men, Pope James the First, formerly Cardinal James Maloney, and a young Mexican street magician named Jesus de Jesus, had just vanished, disappeared like two clouds evanescing from the sky. But the pope’s elongated image lingered there in the funhouse mirror because his identical twin brother, yours truly, Kevin Maloney, now stood in front of that mirror.  The pope may have disappeared, but he’d left a doppelganger, me.

Despite feeling considerable pride in my brother becoming pope, I had slowly begun to realize that my appearance as his twin carried a number of hazards. Think about it. Aside from Elvis impersonators, who wants to spend even part of a life being repeatedly mistaken for an internationally famous figure, much less be taken for the pope, or accused of being a papal pretender. Worse, I could not ignore the succession of papal assassination attempts on previous popes.  But here I was at Jimmy’s request, and here he wasn’t.

I had to smile.  In tiny blue felt pen letters on the bottom of the mirror reflecting me as a human spear, I discovered that Jimmy had written “Nothing matters.” I pointed out the lettering to Fumigalli, who raised his eyebrows in surprise. We couldn’t tell when Pope James might have written it, but I knew it was his printing. I had visited this room fairly often with him, and I had never seen it before.

Despite threats on his life and the criticism for his changes in Catholic practices, Jimmy had been in great spirits this morning, and happy during what I saw of his meeting with Jesus de Jesus, the street magician. They had been laughing and enjoying each other.

 Jesus, a charismatic Mexican, had arrived in response to Jimmy’s request after Jimy and I saw a video of his street magic, especially his ability to disappear small objects.  Jimmy said the Vatican, which claimed to have a lock on miracles,  could probably use a legitimate magician.

Jimmy and I had had an ongoing back and forth about the nature of nothing dating back to when we were kids.  Nothing matters, Nothing’s funny.  Something for nothing. Nothing much. Nothing left.  Nothing to do. The Buddha’s great line -- nothing is permanent. It sure was, as nothing kept coming up.

By themselves, Jimmy’s scribbled words “Nothing matters”  could suggest someone depressed,  maybe even thinking of suicide. But knowing my brother, I told Fumigalli  that “Nothing matters” offered us a clue that Jimmy had left, recognition that his absence would obviously raise a clamor. And certainly Jimmy would have registered the irony, in celebrating the obvious.  After all, when in recorded history had a pope just disappeared?

Appearances did matter to Jimmy, as his papal refusal to wear any church robes demonstrated. Early on in his papacy, Jimmy asked What Would a Contemporary Jesus Wear? Then he answered his own rhetorical question and said that Jesus was not a clothes horse, so Pope James wouldn’t be wearing the rich robes and papal kingdom paraphernalia.  We now had a pope saying mass in khaki pants and blue shirt, sometimes even a blue sweatshirt, and as you’d expect, that set off worldwide reactions.  He repeated a line from Doubting Tom, who had said, “A clothes horse is always more clothes than horse.”  

So while he happened now to be king of a tiny country, Jimmy had consciously set out to tether  his pride and vanity. His daily appearance in khaki pants, brown shoes, a blue shirt, no tie, on the altar and off, had triggered around the world just what you’d expect -- everything from a robeless pope being called the Anti-Christ to tens of millions of men suddenly dressed in khakis and plain blue shirts, some of them priests. The Vatican had gone from hundreds of guys wearing dresses, okay, robes, to almost all of them in casual slacks and sport shirts.  The miracle? Well,  the Vatican had become a male fashion center.

Mulling over his disappearance, I felt a little miffed that he hadn’t let me in on the secret of his getaway. Maybe he had discovered a threat that required him to duck out, but if he knew of a threat, he most likely would have warned me about it as well. Maybe the cause for departure had come up suddenly from Jesus de Jesus.

 In the mirror, though, there stood his image, closely impersonated by your truly. Jimmy would know I’d be conscious of seeing him in my own image.  More, he’d enjoy leaving me that kind of cryptic, ambiguous two word note. Images aside, with no pope there, and no Jesus de Jesus, the nothing they left for us to deal with mattered a hell of a lot.

I repeated to Fumigalli, “Lorenzo, I think it’s a signal to me that he’s okay. He’s having a laugh here. But because he’s disappeared, we probably ought to keep this writing to ourselves.  The paparazzi might think it sounds suicidal.”

“Some laugh!” Fumigalli frowned deeply.  Then a look of exasperation swept his face as he stood up from his crouch by the mirror. “A pope I’m supposed to protect goes missing, forcing us turn the entire Vatican inside out, and he leaves a clue that says ‘Nothing matters. ’”

“He may have written it days ago.” I announced, but Lorenzo was already walking toward the door, as if to say, “Nothing? That’s pointless.” [A1] 

He stopped by the closed door to the hall. The room held just the weird mirrors and a single bed, plus an all but empty closet and the one large window with a door out onto a tiny balcony overlooking Piazza San Pietro.  Fumigalli turned to me and said, “While I dislike intruding into the pope’s quarters, we’ll bring in the carabinieri detectives to go over it again. I’ll accompany them.”

“You’d better remove the mirrors first. The pope wants them to stay private.” I said.

Fumigalli added: ”Nessuno. Nobody. Popes don’t just disappear.”

After a pause, I nodded. “One just did, and if you’ll recall your church history, Jesus of Nazareth also disappeared, Lorenzo. The church says he went into a tomb, then he escaped and  wandered around randomly, then went   airborne, ascended bodily into heaven, with lots of disciples watching. This pope, “ I added, “didn’t have a pilot’s license, much less astronaut ambitions. And only a young guy named Jesus witnessed what the two of them did.”

A sudden disappearance begs for an answer. Otherwise, here in the place where the church certified and declared miracles, where church investigators beatified and sainted the lives of ordinary people, the Vatican chief of security didn’t want to consider what looked like a miracle – the pope and Jesus vanishing. If the pope could simply vanish, Fumigalli might lose his job. The church would not like dealing with the biggest missing persons case in history.

Pope’s were like queen bees. Without a queen, a hive might collapse. I had more to tell Fumigalli, but not just yet.  Why Jimmy had disappeared held more of my attention than how he had slipped out.
In the next few days, the select Corpo della Gendarmeria and Rome’s Carabinieri searched every room and closet of every building and grounds area in the Vatican, marking a map as they went. They made a systematic sweep, then a comprehensive surprise inventory of who wasn’t there, catching numerous bureaucrats taking an unofficial day off. They searched every car and again went over the grounds of the Vatican Gardens. Nothing. They searched the nooks of St. Peters, the Catacombs, and the Castel San Angelo nearby. More nothing. But as it turned out later, they overlooked one place.

Next Fumigalli contacted the FBI, Interpol, and invited in the head detective Iliani Portobello of Rome’s Carabinieri, together issuing  an all points missing persons bulletin. Portobello, a tall, broad faced, dark haired man of fifty,  personally questioned  cardinals, bishops, the pope’s personal  secretary and his two assistants, janitors, bodyguards, anyone having contact with or within proximity of the pope.  And he questioned me at length. When he turned up nothing, his investigation shifted to Jesus de Jesus, the Mexican purveyor of legerdemain now becoming the mystery man. 

From a private meeting at the Vatican on a sunny Thursday morning, October 22, after two hours or less alone together, James the First, a six foot four, 47 year old man given to wearing khaki pants and a blue shirt,  and Jesus de Jesus,  another 6 foot four gentleman in his  early thirties wearing jeans and a dark green shirt,  both former outstanding athletes, were suddenly no longer there. Just plain gone.

Two days later Fumigalli scheduled a press conference in the big auditorium where the pope usually held his audiences. Because my presence there as the pope’s twin would raise all sorts of questions, he asked me to stay home and keep a low profile that day.

Disappearance has a power all its own.  When something or somebody goes missing, you can’t help but question your memory and the evidence of your senses.

Vanished? Dead? Kidnapped? Hiding out? Off on a sudden secret quest? Presence required elsewhere? Playing a prank? Nobody knew, but once word went out to the world,  sightings and reports of Pope James the First came by the hundreds every day, swamping Vatican authorities and Rome’s Carabinieri. Pope James was sighted in more places than Elvis. In the era of satellite photography, TV security cameras, sophisticated tracking devices, hand-held phones  with cameras, high tech reading tablets linked to GPS, FACEBOOK and YouTube turning the world into  paparazzi patrolling celebrities, the world remained completely ignorant about where Pope James the First and young Jesus de Jesus had gone. 

 Vatican Secretary of State Calvo Bastardi wanted to put out reward for information leading to finding and returning  the two men, but the Cardinals in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith voted no. A reward might encourage other Vatican kidnappings, false demands for ransoms, and trigger lots of ugly press. Just what the hell was a pope worth anyhow?

It didn’t help at all that Jesus de Jesus, the street magician from Mexico, had a considerable reputation for his illusions and magic tricks. The newspapers had carried descriptions of Jesus in front of crowds or hundreds of witnesses in Mexico, where he disappeared everything from a glass of iced tea, to a small dog, to a plate full of food, to, well, past that, there were lots of rumors and even more video footage of unexplainable tricks. As you can imagine, Il Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, didn’t know what to say, so it said nothing, and that left the impression that they were probably covering up something.

Because no living Vatican staff members had ever faced a missing pope case, the Vatican didn’t have investigators to chase down leads. Vatican officials had to rely on reciprocity from various law enforcement and covert government agencies around the world to find the two. With speculation rife, Internet traffic ran rampant. The Mossad leaked that witnesses had glimpsed the two holed up in a monastery on the all-male Mount Athos peninsula in Greece. The CIA leaked that a Russian prison in the Gulag held the two.  Hamas said that an Islamic Imam had sequestered them in Tehran. The French Surtee had them in a remote part of Morocco’s desert. None of the sightings of the two tall men turned up anything other than misinformation, no photos, no fingerprints, no DNA. I kept my own suspicions to myself. Given the politics of religion, or for that matter the history of religion, you had to expect disinformation touted as fact.

The American columnist Andrew Verse, using his syndicated column  Mirabile Dictu , compared the vanishing to magicians Siegfried and Roy  disappearing an elephant in Las Vegas, then to uber magician David Blaine making a girl’s teeth disappear then reappear, and finally to David Copperfield making a 747 jetliner disappear. Jimmy, wherever the hell he was concealed, doubtless loved the comparisons. Verse added that for generations the Vatican, facing everything from banking scandals to global pedophilia run rampant, had practiced misdirection, the core of getting people to believe the impossible, and he described the Vatican vanishing as “finally a real showcase miracle for the Devil’s Advocate to explore.”

Theories about the disappearance ranged from kidnapping, to murder, to a homosexual liaison,  to a romance each had  with women who had lured them off,  to a secret papal mission, to voluntarily abandoning the papacy because of the constant, intense criticism and threats of assassination James the First received. One wag said it was the Second Coming somehow botched and transformed into the Second Going.  That made as much sense as anything, especially with someone named Jesus involved. Some explained the vanishing as a sudden mental illness, others as an offer the pope couldn’t refuse from the Cosa Nostra. But whatever the instant and global speculation from news media, James the First, Jimmy Maloney, the kid from Santa Barbara, the revolutionary new liberal pope had hightailed it. And with him went a guy named Jesus, a celebrated and much loved figure out of Mexico. Big news, as often proves the case, delivered nothing factual other than their absence, and as Jimmy had reminded us, nothing matters.

Within a week the Pontifical Committee of the Vatican City State,  what passed for the tiny country’s legislature, tumbled suddenly into chaos via the absence of its leader.  The Committee called a consistory of cardinals to appoint a camerlengo, a cardinal to function as  chief operating officer and election chief until the church either found James the First or elected another pope. The camerlengo’s name, Calvo Bastardi, the Cardinal from Spoleto, Secretary of State, 71 years old, and a sophisticated bureaucrat. He was a small man with a tiny nose, so small  that it left his grizzled face looking, for all of its wrinkles, heavy gray eyebrows,  and sagging skin, as if his mother had denied him that essential appendage. Given his almost noseless mug, Vatican jokers referred to him as Cyranose or Sansnez.

Sansnez Calvo Bastardi had had some of the edges on him removed by 22 years as a Vatican functionary, and he had seen enough changes of regimes to gravitate toward power and move inexorably through the Curia bureaus.  Eventually he had come to power as Secretary of State. Recently Jimmy had moved him to chief of the Congregation for the Clergy, overseeing the conduct of priests, an office Jimmy had promised he would close.  Now Bastardi would acquire a very powerful leadership role as camerlengo. 

I didn’t trust him., but then I didn’t know much about Bastardi, and now he wanted to see me daily. Perhaps because I’d been working as trouble shooter and an insider for Pope James the First,  and more likely,  because I’d been the one who advocated bringing Jesus de Jesus to the Vatican. Having vetted Jesus, I had vouched for him. But first, I think Cyranose wanted to see me because I was the mirror image of the missing pope.
Who could tell the difference? Maybe I was the actually pope and it was his brother Kevin who had somehow hidden out with Jesus de Jesus.

I now had far more attention than I wanted. Because the Maloney twins looked so much alike, Bastardi and some of the clergy initially argued that, despite me not being a priest, they could cover up Jimmy’s absence with me somehow suddenly a substitute as pope. Kevin the counterfeit, the look alike pope would come off the bench and save the game. Not likely.  

Appearance was everything for these people. It didn’t matter to Bastardi that I was an atheist, or that they’d be marketing a stand-in pope. When that kind of pressure started for me to play Jimmy, I called a conference of international newspaper and TV reporters and told them about the substitution scheme that specific cardinals had proposed, and that I’d refused to have any part in it. The press went wild with the accusation, almost as if an earthquake had shaken the church. And that made me perhaps the only guy in modern history to turn down being pope.

Given the uproar, Bastardi didn’t take my refusal very well.  I suspected that he probably wanted to advance himself into the papacy, but by way of misdirection, he would give me and concerned clergy signals in the opposite direction. His advanced age would have raised a barrier, but once elected, his age would no longer matter. Popes are expected to die on the job, which says something about both the age at which they usually take office and the stresses on them.  Papal retirement is actually allowed by Canon Law, and  the  church has lots of ugly history in its struggles over who will be pope. Via political intrigues Benedict IX was pope three separate times, but tradition holds that retirement is not an option.  My point to Jimmy exactly – why take a job where death is the expected form of retirement?

Furthermore, in three meetings with him, I privately laid into  Bastardi for how  the Vatican was dealing with Jimmy disappearing, particularly the speed with which Bastardi wanted to replace Pope James if he didn’t soon reappear. What would the world do if Jimmy returned to find Catholicism suddenly had two popes?  I thumped the tub hard about Bastardi’s pending possible embarrassment if he tried to rush a new pope into place.

So I still had my Vatican job trouble shooting, and I told everyone within earshot that I expected my brother the pope to return.  But I’m getting way ahead of myself.  Let me lay out the unusual way we got here, what led up to the greatest vanishing act of modern times.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If Not You, Who?

Punahou Bulletin > Winter 2006   filed May 22, 2012
Description: http://www.punahou.edu/images/space.gif
If Not You, Who?
Description: http://www.punahou.edu/uploaded/News_Content/Bulletin_Winter_2006/Doc_Berry.JPGBy Paul "Doc" Berry
What makes Hawai‘i paradise? Perhaps it’s time to answer that question, to examine where we are, and where we appear to be headed. Then add more questions: What will it take to move you toward sustainable living? $7 per gallon gasoline? No gasoline at all? Beaches closed or simply gone? Not enough food? How much of paradise can we lose before it no longer feels like Hawai‘i?
Somewhere along the way, we crossed the line from a largely self-sufficient society on islands far at sea to a high-end consumer society heavily reliant on distant resources. Most of the goods we rely on – food, energy, medicines – all come from overseas. And so do our visitors, the core of our economy. 
In some ways, Hawaii’s residents are like the cargo cult natives in Papua, New Guinea. When U.S. military began bringing consumer goods into the New Guinea jungle during WWII, people assumed that if they just imitated the soldiers, the same cargo god would bring them the same goods. They still believe, and they’re still waiting. 
In our case, we assume that enough visitors will continue to come to Hawai‘i, and more, that they will leave us enough dollars and yen to lure Matson steamers around Diamond Head with our groceries and goods – our “cargo.” That we don’t have enough food or energy or other goods to sustain ourselves without deliveries from overseas rarely crosses our minds. We feel entitled to what the cargo god provides, and that makes sustainability difficult to grasp. 

Despite our cargo-cult beliefs, however, we remain vulnerable to global changes that we cannot control: a shipping strike, a global recession, an epidemic shutting down visitor traffic, and on another scale, changes brought by global warming and climate change. Climate scientists have determined that a one-meter rise in sea level equates with the sea moving inland 1,550 yards. Notably, they say this rise is doubling in speed. 

Imagine Hawaii’s major airports and docks awash, think of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu flooded, then wonder why we denied the possibility. How could we ignore the early signs and fail to cut local greenhouse gas emissions drastically, or fail to begin moving now toward sustainability? 
A new State Task Force on Sustainability (www.hawaii2050.org) is developing a state plan with the hope of moving us in the right direction, but they must work with the community to make the picture of sustainability possible. Hawai‘i State Legislators Russell Kokubun ’66, Lyla Berg ’69, Laura Thielen ’79, Fred Hemmings ’65, and Bill Kaneko ’78, President and CEO of Hawai‘i Institute for Public Affairs, among others, are leading the way.
Plan as we may, however, unexpected consequences always outnumber the expected ones. Sustainability will require creative thinking and a willingness to adapt to surprises. 
After all, I believe the alternative to sustainability is a Hawai‘i in denial, one stumbling through painful losses of what makes this place paradise. Denial or delay won’t change our present course. 
So if not you, if not me, then who will make Hawai‘i sustainable?
Where As-Is Growth Leads
Population Density
We have 79.6 people per square mile (psm) nationally, 188.6 psm in Hawai‘i, and 1,460 psm on O‘ahu, creating a population density more than 18 times that of the continental U.S. 
Population Growth
Population of Hawai‘i in 2005:  1,275.194. Projecting growth at roughly one percent per year means that the population will double in 72 years to 2,550,000 residents or 1.8 million residents on O‘ahu alone. 
Doubling the population means: doubling the sewer capacity, sewage, and trash; doubling the traffic and energy demand; doubling the number of residences and land area covered by housing. Doubling would mean 2,920 people per square mile. We already anticipate reaching maximum daily water yield on O‘ahu between 2018 and 2022.
Growth in Tourism
Tourism in 2005 grew 6.8 percent to 7.49 million visitors. At this growth rate, tourism numbers would double in 11 years to 15 million by 2017, requiring doubling the hotel room capacity, rental cars, etc.
Human Consumption
Humans presently consume at a rate requiring 5.6 acres of natural resources per person. Americans, however, consume natural resources at 23.7 acres per person. That's you and me. With 6.5 billion people, the world population is presently consuming the natural resources of 1.2 worlds.
In 2030, when this year's high school graduates turn 40, will tourists still visit O‘ahu? Will you still want to live here? 
To participate in the Hawai‘i State Task Force on Sustainability planning process, go to www.hawaii2050.org.
Resources and Reading for Sustainability

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
A revolutionary blueprint for a new sustainable economy. A companion video of the same title. Authoritative and practical.
Plan B 4.0:
By Lester R. Brown
A superb, extraordinarily readable book looking at our basic sustainability problems and practical changes we can make to deal with them. Must reading. Chapters of this book are available in PDF at earth-policy.org.
Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth
By Lester R. Brown
Books and updated  chapters available at www.earth-policy.org
For those interested in joining local efforts on sustainability, check out Sustain Hawaii at www.sustainhawaii.org
Earth Policy Institute at www.earth-policy.org
You'll find up-to-date, authoritative, readable articles on a wide range of global sustainability issues, from population and water scarcity to global warming and other issues and data.

Rocky Mountain Institute at www.rmi.org
A think tank/consulting business focused on sustainability and ingenious conservation approaches. You'll also find books on energy-efficient green buildings, distributed alternative energy sources, sustainable building, reducing business and community energy uses, and lowering carbon emissions for profit.
Worldwatch at www.worldwatch.org
Lots of up-to-date, valuable information on sustainability issues such as energy, economics, food security, fisheries, transportation, and health.

Paul “Doc” Berry writes books and documentary films. Chapters from his 1993 book, In The Wake of Dreams: Reflections of Hawai‘i, became editorial pieces in the Sunday Honolulu Advertiser, initiating a community discussion on sustainability issues. Berry is a former Punahou teacher and is presently working on sustainability education and collaborating on a book exploring the consequences of globalization.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Population:Think About It

Population,  Thinking About It.   May, 2012
Global population reaching 7 Billion . . .
Hawaii Hawaii visitor officials talking about adding 5 million Chinese visitors atop our present 7.2 million annual visitors . . .
The 2010 latest census telling us we’re growing 12.3% per decade, that is from 632,772 in 1960(statehood) and 240,000 visitors  to 1.32 million of us ni 2010, and over 7 million visitors, i.e., a visitor population of 150,000 any given day).
Are we headed toward doubling to 2.64 million of us in less than 60 years……….and 14  million visitors?
Oahu’s 2010  population at 953,207 up 8.8% since 2,000—
population density at 1468 people per square mile on Oahu
U.S, population density 88 per square mile: Oahu 16 times more densely populated

Consumer Price Index in Hawaii 166.4  versus 100 nationally
Hawaii electricity costs 35+ cents kwh versus nationally 9.8 cents.
Higher food, housing, and gasoline  food prices.
Oahu residents consume about 150 gallons of water per day.

We add roughly 20,000 cars a year statewide, roughly 75% of those on Oahu, i.e., 15,000/year, or 150,000 more cars every ten years
to the same constant miles of road.
We have over a million cars on Hawaii’s 1,102 lane-miles of roads, the fewest miles of road per car in the U.S. Oahu has 761 vehicles per 1,000 population.  1.5 miles of  roadway per person.

Honolulu Bus ridership has declined from 180,000 in 1980 to 130,000 in 2009.

6,000 homeless in Hawaii, and 10% of us, or 135,000,  receive food assistance. Homelessness has increased 61% since 2000.
Drug convictions are 51.4% of all criminal convictions.
Oahu infrastructure, 350 water line breaks in 2011 mean $2.5 billion in repairs, plus $4.7 billion for sewers and sewage treatment facilities, plus road repairs NOT TO MENTION RAIL @ $7+ BILLION
Honolulu Debt appears to be far outgrowing the population that can pay for it.

Pearl Harbor aquifer, source of 60% of Honolulu’s drinking water, measures at half the volume it had a century ago. We consume 150 gals of water apiece per day and rely heavily on water overseas to produce our imported food. Meteorologists tell us that Hawaii is in a long term drought.
92% of our food is imported. About 92% of energy  is imported.

Beaches in Hawaii now erode at 6 inches per year, and erosion is speeding up. Sea level rise is at this point predicted conservatively to raise seas by 3 feet by 2100, invading the fresh water lens under the island and inundating low lying areas as much as half a mile inland -- including Honolulu airport, the Sand Island Sewage treatment plant, parts of downtown, Iwilei, and all coastal roads, plus most of Kailua and Waikiki.

1500:  earth's population is estimated at 500 million
 2011: 7,000,000,000
In my lifetime I’ve seen the world population roughly triple, add roughly 4.8 billion people

Births minus deaths.

Roughly 250 births a minute worldwide, and about 105 people dying each minute.  You and I are part of huge species-wide ebb and flow.
With 50% more people than the U.,S. has (EU 457,000,000  vs. US. 309,0000,000 )   the EU’s birth rate is 8.69 per minute, versus the U.S. at 8.07 births per minute, i.e.,U.S. HAS A  40% higher birth rate

In the EU the death rate exceeds the birth rate. Hence Western Europe is at Zero Population Growth.
UN Dept of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division

U.S. average age 36.9 versus globally 28

Population Change  Source U.S.A Population Clock
       World           United States      European Union
Births/year 129,886,900.00  4,242,000.00        4,570,000.00
Per Minute      252                        8.07                   8.69

                        World           United States    European Union
Deaths/year 56,595,880.00  2,475,000.00    4,615,700.00
Per Minute        107                  4.71                     8.78

Annual Increase 73,291,000    1,767,000           -45,700  
Per minute   “           145                3.36               -0.09

Population in 2006 6,446,000,000 300,000,000 457,000,000
Global population hit 7 billion at 11:27PM Sunday Oct.30, 2011, Halloween Eve.

And Hawaii ?                         Hawaii                                      US
2010 Census  population 1,360,301                                 308,745,538
Population, 1960     1970      1980        1990         2000             2010
      Total 632,772  7 69,913  964,691 1,108,229 1,211,537    1,360,301
Change                 137,141    194,778  143,538    103,308        148,764

 Percent Change  21.67%      25.30%  14.88%       9.32%             12.3%

So where do you think this pattern leads for Hawaii?
impact of global warming and sea level rise
land use
water availability & use, including global droughts
waste disposal and sewer requirements
energy demands and costs
roads and traffic
farm production and 8%  food self-sufficiency 
health  care availability
businesses, the visitor industry in particular   
statewide security and way of life in a shipping strike or natural disaster

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Water For Thought

Water for Thought
by Paul “Doc” Berry | Mar 28, 2012
Supplies of drinking water are dwindling worldwide, but in our remote island state, water security is particularly crucial. The Legislature is being asked to fund the governor’s new plan to protect watersheds--the sources of our drinking water. If our reps turn him down, we face a thirsty future.
Hawaii’s waters of life, ka wai ola, are the very essence of life and culture in Hawaii, what we survive on and must pass along as a sustainable legacy. In the lyrics to “Aloha Oe,” Queen Liliuokalani tells of the rain falling onto the blossoms of native ohia trees in Hawaii’s mountain forests. Wai– fresh water– has always been sacred to the Hawaiians, as it was to the Greeks, another island people who worshipped springs. In our rush to development, we’ve imperiled this resource that’s essential to all species’ survival, from our own to the ‘iiwi bird that feeds on the nectar of ‘ohia. We’ve done so by failing to adequately conserve our natural watersheds, the mountain forests that collect and filter the water we drink.

In tight budget times for Hawaii, some might challenge the timing of a watershed initiative that will run millions of dollars a year. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) counters that our future is at stake. “We need to be incorporating into our thinking Hawaii’s water needs 50 years from now,” says William Tam, deputy director of the Commission on Water Resource Management. Besides, some key funding for the watershed protection plan may come from a 10-cent surcharge on single-use bags at retail stores. This new revenue source is provided for in SB2511, which, along with SB2782 (authorizing funding for DLNR’s watershed programs), has passed the Senate and is now pending in the House. Right now is the crucial time “to let our legislators know that we support watershed protection and these bills, because each bill only has one more public hearing to go–before the House Finance Committee,” says Mark Fox, director of external affairs for the Hawaii chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
Why the urgency? Our fresh water supply is declining, according to the DLNR’s The Rain Follows the Forest plan, which adds: “If this trend continues, future generations will not have access to water at reasonable rates, and may face tight restrictions.”
Retired state forester Mike Buck puts it bluntly: “Our watersheds are arriving at a tipping point with water the source on which our lives depend.”
Here are some of the supporting facts:
In December 2011, the US Geological Survey (USGS) announced that Hawaii is in a long-term drought, “severe” and even “extreme” in some parts of the state.
Half of Hawaii’s prime watershed forests are gone, and of the 840,000 acres remaining, only 10 percent are now well-protected from serious assaults by invasive species, DLNR’s plan reports.
Hawaii’s thirsty population is now more than double that at statehood, and set to double again in another 60 or so years.
Climate change and sea level rise threaten our aquifers with saltwater encroachment, and there are questions about the sustainable yield in some aquifers.
Our heavy reliance on global food sources puts us at serious risk.
You and I are roughly 60 percent water, by both volume and weight. The human brain is 70 percent water, so here is some water for thought.
As Gov. Neil Abercrombie put it in announcing the plan, “The best time to start protecting our mauka watersheds was decades ago. The second best time is now.” The governor added, “Investing in the protection of fresh water sources must be the highest priority for Hawaii’s public leaders.” Emphasis: “highest priority.”
Growing our own
We need a comprehensive planning system that incorporates protecting watersheds and water sources, stimulating far more local farming, smart growth linked to transportation and more clean energy. Water links all of these,” says Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz.
According to a new Ulupono Initiative survey on local food production, more than 90 percent of Hawaii residents see growing far more of our own food as either “Extremely Important” or “Important.” Similar surveys show voters supporting more watershed protection just as heavily. Without secure water sources, local diversified agriculture can’t expand to provide better food security. With a bill on food self-sufficiency currently making its way through the House, the legislature has yet another opportunity to contribute to food security–by funding water security through SBs 2511 and 2782.
For 1.36 million Hawaii residents plus 150,000 daily tourists, 92 percent of everything we eat is imported. Aside from macadamia nuts, according to farmer Charles Reppun, we plant only 5,000 acres of diversified agriculture to produce food for local consumption. But Hawaii grows some 15,000 acres of genetically engineered seed corn, all for export. Other sources say we have at most seven days of food available should a disastrous earthquake, a tsunami or a shipping strike stop our regular food imports.
Our 92 percent imported food (plus nearly 100 percent imported energy) represents a disaster waiting to happen. Heavy reliance on imported food means that, in effect, we also import the water it takes to grow that food, water from national and world sources now undergoing dramatic changes via global warming.
Do we have the water needed to grow most of our food? Only Maui and Oahu presently face questions of water scarcity. Islanders use somewhere between 100 and 200 gallons of water apiece daily, with our recent per-capita water consumption declining slightly. On the other hand, rising population, increases in visitors, climate change and sea level rise, a long-term serious drought, and a siege of invasive species threatening our watersheds create a kind of perfect storm of risks.
Bread and water
About half the calories humans consume globally come directly from grain, with grain-fed meat and egg products a significant part of remaining calories. The world adds 76 million more people a year, the equivalent of Hawaii’s population every 6.5 days. With seven billion of us now scrambling after the same water and food resources, scientists tell us we already consume as if we had 1.5 worlds to draw on. Some 3.5 billion people live in 18 countries that are seriously overdrawing their aquifers, countries that include the US, Mexico, China and India. Huge new deserts are forming in Northern China and Africa. The race between available global water and food versus global population has long since set off alarms Hawaii needs to heed.
Alexander Mueller, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) director general of natural resources, projects that by 2050 food demand and water use will both soar by 70 percent. Mueller is signaling us that the era of cheap food is ending, and that without what he calls “more crop per drop,” serious water scarcity will likely become the norm. Seventy percent of freshwater allocations globally already go to farmland irrigation, and swelling megacities compete for that water.
According to water analyst Peter Gleick, testifying before Congress, “Climate changes are increasingly threatening water systems and water resources everywhere,” an opinion supported by more than 60 top international scientific organizations. Gleick goes on to cite a critical challenge in “inadequate investment in critical water infrastructure,” i.e., watershed protection.
Amid this challenging, waterlogged scenario, Gleick reminds us that it takes 1,000 tons of water to grow one ton of wheat, a gallon of water to grow the wheat for a slice of bread, 150 gallons to produce a 1/3-pound hamburger and about 70 gallons to produce a glass of beer.
Lester Brown in World on the Edge puts it succinctly, “We are one bad harvest away from chaos in world food markets,” those same markets which you and I expect to feed us.
Hawaii rainforests need more protection
All this global gloom obviously argues for a comprehensive effort to grow far more food here for local consumption, something ancient Hawaiians mastered with their ahupuaa system and comprehensive approach to protecting water resources.
Gov. Abercrombie, DLNR water officials, plus 11 existing watershed partnerships and important contributors, such as TNC and Coordinating Group for Alien Pest Species (CGAPS), all advocate doubling our rainforest watershed protection.
As US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently reminded us, on a national scale, one out of 12 jobs relates to farming. Hawaii, however, has a meager 7,500 people employed in farming. Hawaii needs these jobs as much as we need locally grown food and farm income circulating in the islands.
On the water delivery side, Honolulu’s Board of Water supply just announced a major initiative to repair and replace aged water pipes. Honolulu water prices will rise 70 percent in the next five years.
The silent invasion
Currently, 11 watershed partnerships effectively protect only 10 percent of the priority watershed areas, about 90,000 out of 840,000 mauka acres. This level of partnership management has taken 40 years to develop. In The Rain Follows plan, DLNR has set a goal of doubling the area of protected watershed areas in just 10 years. Invasive feral pigs and goats, plus deer, feral cattle, and a few feral sheep ravage our watersheds. Feral pigs reproduce as early as age 6 months; one pig can multiply to as many as 500 in four years. These ungulates devastate indigenous plant species, creating puddles that harbor avian mosquitoes and spreading non-native strawberry guavas. A feral pig can devastate a forest area the size of a football field in a week.
According to Christy Martin of CGAPS, 200 invasive plants pose serious threats to the balance of watershed forests. “In the long run, how effectively we deal with these invasive species holds a key to our future,” Martin says. Invaders include:
Salvinia molesta, a South American water fern which can double its mat in 7 to 10 days. Control and eradication costs, $1 million a year.
Miconia calvescens, a 30-50 foot tree producing millions of sand-grain-sized seeds per year, eliminating other plants and keeping the water from reaching the rain forest floor to recharge the watershed. Cost, $3 million a year and growing.
Coqui frogs, whose sound can reach 90 decibels, and concentration can reach up to 10,000 per acre. Moreover, they don’t eat mosquitoes.
Strawberry Guavas, which grow to 15 feet and now engulf 495,000 acres, causing serious losses of rare endemic flora and fauna, as well as consuming water that never reaches the rest of the ecosystem. Feral pigs spread the guavas.
Total annual Hawaii losses to invasive species are estimated at $300 million, not counting the loss of water in island aquifers.
Inspecting cargo flights to Maui, Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture found an average of one new insect species arriving per day. Grossly underfunded inspection and prevention measures mean higher watershed protection costs.
Hawaiian watershed wisdom
Sam ‘Ohu Gon III, senior rainforest scientist and cultural advisor for TNC Hawaii, says, “Our forests are in danger of losing the natural balance that supplies us our water.” In The Rain Follows plan, he adds, “Hawaiian traditions regard these mauka forests as sacred, and the plants and the animals within them as our ‘aumakua–our elders and ancestors. Damage and loss of these forests chips away at the foundation of our cultural identity.”
Hawaiian cultural analyst and practitioner Ramsay Taum adds an important perspective, “wai, fresh water, carries within it the word for food, ‘ai. All living things, mankind, plants, animals, are connected by the waters of life. Waiwai refers to wealth of any kind, to high value, and kanawai means the law, rules requiring respect.”
Today, some 71 county, state, federal, private and non-profit entities such as Kamehameha Schools and TNC collaborate in partnerships to manage jointly owned island watersheds. Historically, a single konohiki managed land and resource use in each ahupua’a, a watershed management area defined by geographic features from mountain tops to the sea.
In the Hawaii Watershed Guidance Final, the Hawaii Office of Planning Coastal Zone Management adds: “Traditional Hawaiian management adopted a holistic approach that recognized the interconnectedness of land and sea, the interactions among species, the rhythms of the seasons, and the impacts of overuse on resources.”
It is these traditionally sustained interconnections, from the clouds to the mountaintops, through the aquifers and down the streams through our buildings and farms to the sea that we need to retrace and fortify along with our ties as neighbors sharing wai.
Watershed Management Tactics
The loss of interdependent native rainforest plants can put an entire area ecosystem’s survival at risk. Beyond fencing out feral animals and hunters, and reducing pigs and other feral ungulates, watershed management experts have gone high-tech, employing helicopters with aerial paintball guns that can deliver herbicide to a specific plant. Moreover, as tested by TNC Kauai Director Trae Menard, new high-resolution cameras can provide aerial maps with details specifying exactly which plants require removal.
As The Nature Conservancy’s Mark Fox recounts, priorities dictate first steps:
1. Add fencing to keep feral animals out, and reduce feral animal numbers significantly;
2. Remove invasive weeds–miconia, strawberry guavas, etc.–and prevent new invasives;
3. Monitor/control other threats–diseases, predators, fire;
4. Restore and plant native species in priority areas;
5. Establish benchmarks and monitor success;
6. Educate Hawaii residents
7. Promote land-use decision-making protecting watersheds
8. Allocate priorities to native wet and semi-wet forest moisture zones according to land cover type.
What can you do to foster DLNR’s watershed protection plan?
1. Download and read The Rain Follows the Forest plan. [hawaii.gov]
2. Contact your state representative and senator to advocate funding Rain Follows. To track watershed funding bills and committee hearings, go to [capitol.hawaii.gov] and under Bill Status, type in SB2511, SB 2782, or HB2703 (the food self-sufficiency bill). Read the bill, then submit your testimony, live or by email. “Write, email or telephone members of the Finance Committee telling them you support these watershed protection bills and encourage them to hear them,” says TNC’s Mark Fox. [Capitol.hawaii.gov]; chair, Rep. Marcus R. Oshiro, [email: repmoshiro]
3. Support local farmers by buying local and urging the state’s Agriculture Development Corp. to increase incentives for more local farming. Support HB9 advocating more funding for food security and HB156 preserving agricultural lands.
Watershed saving partnerships
These private/public, non-profit watershed partnership collaborations allow those who know the land best to develop the most effective remedies for the unique problems each watershed faces. As such, the 11 partnerships offer a unique model of tactical, localized land and water governance.
For example, the East Molokai Watershed Partnership includes 15 different state, county, federal, private and non-profit partners including Kalaupapa Historical National Park, Kamehameha Schools, and TNC. On Oahu, the Koolau Mountains Watershed Partnership has 15 partners ranging from the Oahu Country Club and Bishop Museum to the U.S. Army, TNC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Benefits of these partnerships include economies of scale in planning, fence building, feral animal and invasive plant removal, and efficient uses of resources and staff–results dedicated funding can generate. Hawaii’s watershed partnerships include:
1. Kauai Watershed Alliance–25,000 acres
2. Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership–undetermined
3. Koolau Mountains Watershed Partnership–9,000 acres
4. East Molokai Watershed Partnership–25,000 acres
5. Lanai Forest and Watershed Partnership–3,100 acres, 17.5 miles of fence
6. West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership–21,000 acres plus new 10,100 acres
7. Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership–11,000 acres
8. East Maui Watershed Partnership–3,500 acres
9. Kohala Watershed Partnership–6,600 acres
10. Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance–512 acres
11. Three Mountain Alliance Kau/South Point–12,000 acres
Present funding for Hawaii’s 11 partnerships is an inadequate $1.25 million.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Absence makes the mind wander

This blog has sat dormant for three years, with no readers. How fortunate no one wasted time reading what I'd written.

Doc Berry

Friday, December 26, 2008

Learning from the Collapse of Chesapeake Bay

The news in late 2008 cites the impending collapse of Chesapeake Bay after a generation of unworkable, non-binding agreements.
After 25 years Bay authorities now call for:
* Changing development patterns to reduce sprawl.
* Reducing agricultural pollutants.
* Improving fishery management to improve bay health.
* Requiring pollution reduction on a river-by-river basis.
* Reducing individual pollution loads.
But they wonder where they will find the funds.

Just when the environment reaches the tipping point, we wonder if we can afford to help it survive. Ironically, as Jared diamond points out repeatedly in Collapse, without a healthy, functioning environment, no economy survives.
The D.C/Baltimore/Virginia watershed has over 5 million inhabitants, plus the effluent from industrial sized pig farms (an apt metaphor for some of the behaviors in D.C.) .

Western industrial society is self-destructive in ways Marx failed to observe, but ways fortunately that Paul Ehrlich has identified for us, and Jared Diamond has adroitly chronicled. The total weight and diverse forms of toxic pollution from that disperse from that large and technologically reliant a population reshape everything in the environment. How far they reshape nature we continue to discover.
The consequences of 5 million people polluting a watershed have been predictable from Rachel Carson onward. Actually predictable from Semmelweis onward, as Semmelweis may be the original observer of how toxic pollution disseminates and what must be done to limit it.

In a political analogue, consider the rule of law as the environment that makes possible the function of a democratic government, the underlying necessity on which government relies. .
Then consider how blind we will be (how blind in fact Nancy Pelosi has been) to ignore the need to prosecute the breaches of the law and the constitution by Republican public officials sworn to uphold the laws and the constitution. Congressional Democrats have argued the pragmatism of passing needed legislation instead of dealing with the collapse of the rule of law under W. Two years after recapturing their Congressional power, Democrats have little to show for having been in power. They fail to observe that like Chesapeake Bay, what is necessary for survival, the rule of law, has eroded and risks collapse, perhaps passing a critical tipping point.

The precautionary principle has to operate in democratic politics the way it is supposed to operate in science. Otherwise we should not expect a functioning democracy to survive. The history of democracy shows it always in danger of collapsing into autocracy combined with chaos. So we are rowing against the current, but row we must. Like the environment, democracy has tipping points that must be observed.

And in passing, it appears that a non-binding agreement turns out to be an oxymoron, a euphemism for no agreement at all.