Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If Not You, Who?

Punahou Bulletin > Winter 2006   filed May 22, 2012
If Not You, Who?
Description: 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 ( 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
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
Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth
By Lester R. Brown
Books and updated  chapters available at
For those interested in joining local efforts on sustainability, check out Sustain Hawaii at
Earth Policy Institute at
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
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
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