Shale Gas: Should We Take Their Word For It?

Do we really want to bet the Big Island’s future on the Energy Information Agency’s projections? It’s much more prudent to hedge our bets. Have a look at what people are saying about recent projections.

From the Post Carbon Institute:

Shale Gas Reality Check

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released its Annual Energy Outlook 2015. How have their projections and assumptions changed over the last year, and how does it hold up to scrutiny against up-to-date production data from key shale gas and tight oil plays?

In 2014, Post Carbon Institute and David Hughes published the most thorough independent analysis of U.S. shale gas and tight oil production ever conducted, and now that analysis has been updated to assess the most current thinking from the EIA. 

The update shows that the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2015 reference case suffers from even greater optimism than the previous year—raising what were already highly questionable projections for cumulative shale gas production through 2040 by nine percent…. Read the rest

This recent Los Angeles Times article is one example of some of the reality:

U.S. officials cut estimate of recoverable Monterey Shale oil by 96%

By Louis Sahagun

Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California’s vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national “black gold mine” of petroleum.

Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said…. Read the rest

Steve Horn, Research Fellow with DeSmogBlog, also wrote about the EIA’s projects. This article, Drilling Deeper: New Report Casts Doubt on Fracking Production Numbers, appeared in the Huffington Post:

The report’s findings differ vastly from the forward-looking projections published by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), a statistical sub-unit of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

…”The Department of Energy’s forecasts–the ones everyone is relying on to guide our energy policy and planning–are overly optimistic based on what the actual well data are telling us,” Hughes — a geoscientist who formerly analyzed energy resources for over three decades for the Geological Survey of Canada — said in a press release about the reporting’s findings. 

“By asking the right questions you soon realize that if the future of U.S. oil and natural gas production depends on resources in the country’s deep shale deposits…we are in for a big disappointment in the longer term….” Read the rest

Guest Post: Rat Lungworm Disease in Hawai‘i

  • Did you know that 90 percent of the confirmed Rat Lungworm cases in Hawai‘i are found in people from East Hawai‘i?
  • That you should remove lettuce leaves by hand before washing them, not chop them off the core? (That one stopped me, careful me, in my tracks.)

We have a guest post today written by Marlena Castro Dixon, M.S., an epidemiological specialist with the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, Hawaii District Health office.

Marlena was born and raised in Hilo and received her education from the University of New Mexico. She works for the Disease Outbreak Control Division, Disease Investigation Branch.

She’s well qualified to tell us about Rat Lungworm disease, which, of course, is especially prevalent here on the Big Island. She tells us what it is, how it happens, and especially how to prevent it.

Rat Lungworm Disease in Hawai‘i

by Marlene Castro Dixon, M.S.

One of the benefits of living in Hawaii’s great climate is having access to fresh produce year-round. However, a rare disease called Angiostrongyliasis or Rat Lungworm Disease (RLWD) has gained the attention of the community, especially on the Big Island. The severity and symptoms of Rat Lungworm disease varies from person to person and can be a very devastating illness to the patient and their families.

RLWD can affect anyone — residents, farmers, visitors, even other animals such as dogs. All face the risk, especially if they are not aware of this illness. Prevention is crucial, so that all can enjoy our local produce without being infected with the Rat Lungworm. RLWD cannot be passed from human to human, making prevention crucial.

There are lots of facts to know, but understanding how this disease transmits from rats and other vectors to humans is important. RLWD is caused by a parasite, Angiostrongylus cantonensis. Adult worms reside in the lungs of rats, hence the name “Rat Lungworm.” Infected rats pass the larvae in their feces which are then passed onto hosts such as slugs, snails, fresh water prawns, crabs, flatworms, frogs and other vectors by consuming the infected feces. Humans can become infected when they eat raw produce containing slugs or snails or eat undercooked fresh water shrimp or crab, other infected vectors or contaminated water.

Once consumed by a human, the larvae cannot finish their lifecycle. The parasites invade the nervous system and the brain tissue, causing specific neurologic symptoms depending on where in the brain they migrate. Neurologic symptoms such as parasthesia, hyperesthesia (severe sensitivity to the touch) skin pain, sensitivity or numbness, and photophobia subside as initial damage is done by the migration of the worms.

Secondary damage is done by the inflammatory response to the presence of dead and dying worms. This inflammatory response causes swelling of the protective covering of the brain and the spinal cord, a condition known as Eosinophilic Meningitis. As previously mentioned, symptoms will vary from person to person, making Angiostrongyliasis or Rat Lungworm disease very difficult to diagnose.

Diagnosis of the disease can be difficult and involves an extensive look at the patient’s food history and possible environmental exposures. Currently, the only way to test and confirm a case of RLWD is through a spinal tap. Due to its invasive nature, not all patients come in for testing. As a result, some potentially infected patients are not seeking a proper diagnosis, which has contributed to the low number of confirmed cases.

Between 2007 and 2014, Hawaii has had 42 confirmed cases of RLWD. However, the Big Island of Hawaii, particularly the east side, is disproportionately affected by Rat Lungworm Disease, accounting for approximately 90% of these cases. Because of this, the Department of Health (DOH) partners with other agencies to work on educating the public in various ways to be sure there is public awareness, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy our local produce safely.

The DOH has also worked on things like testing for RLWD locally. The DOH can now test for RLWD here in Hawaii, instead of having to send specimens to the CDC, enabling physicians to make a diagnosis and treat the patient earlier. Despite our efforts, we still have a long way to go.

Fortunately, there are precautions that can prevent transmission of the disease. Always carefully rinse fresh produce with potable water, and discard any that looks like it may have the presence of slugs or snails. It’s easier than you might think to miss a tiny creature in the folds of a leafy vegetable. For leafy greens, open up, peel off each leaf (do not chop off the core), and rinse each leaf one by one to the base of the stems. Visually inspect the produce while rinsing. Use a steady stream of water as there currently is no product or solution to wash your produce that will kill this parasite.

Cooking vegetables will kill the parasite. Boil snails, freshwater prawns, crabs and frogs for at least 3-5 minutes. Never handle slugs and snails with your bare hands. Control the slugs and snails on your property as well as the rodent population. Proper filtering and maintenance of catchment tanks and a proper cover is important for prevention as the parasite can survive in water. Prevent children from putting objects in their mouths, especially when playing outside. Bring food and water dishes for your pets indoors at night if possible.

Whether visiting or living in Hawaii, enjoy the local food, but know the exposure risks and keep in mind that there are preventative measures that can prevent a devastating disease from harming you and your family.

For more information, please visit:

or call 808-586-4586.
For details on slug and snail control visit: Control and management of slug and snail vectors, with special reference to species in Hawaii.

Could Big Island Feed All Its People Using Traditional Methods?

Sometimes, here on the Big Island, we hear someone say this:

“The Big Island used to feed a population about this size by farming without the use of GMOs, pesticides, and other farming aids, and we can do it again.”

But could we? We examined this from several angles. 

Dr. Bruce Mathews, interim dean of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, says research shows that in pre-Western contact times, most Hawai‘i Island residents spent most of their days on activities related to agriculture. He says this would be a big shock if we tried to return to a subsistence type of lifestyle.

“I’ve seen a lot of times at the College of Agriculture where people want to spend a day in the field, doing agricultural things, and they end up saying, Gosh, I’ve never worked so hard in my life.”

“It sounds very, very challenging,” he says, “just in terms of the amount of labor to grow all that food without mechanization and without fertilizers. I don’t know how many people today really want to spend a lot of time on drudgery labor. Going in the forest to clear, digging holes, sticking mulch inside them, waiting awhile for everything to rot, and to transplant.”

He says it would be even more challenging these days, because now we have imported diseases, pests, and other invasives.

“I’m okay if people don’t want to use GMOs and chemicals, but I’d want to know who’s going to do all the labor,” he says. “Who’s going to pull all the weeds and control all the pests? Because if you’re going to do that naturally, you’re going to have to be out there every day spraying with natural products and pulling weeds all the time. I think it’s delusional, unless everybody’s going to only be involved with agriculture and there’s no other forms of livelihood.”

Jeff Melrose, who authored the Hawai‘i County Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study 2012, agrees about the tremendous amount of work it would entail.

“‘Back in the day,’ everybody played a part in the farming and feeding process,” he says. “We didn’t have students, we didn’t have scientists, we didn’t have retail workers; none of the specialization we have today.” He points out that means no one would have time to work in our hospitals; our ancestors kept sick people at home, wrapped in poultices, and they died much younger than people do today. “Everybody had to be involved in this process of feeding, catching, storing, preserving, whatever.”

“There are certainly some people today that aspire to be more self-reliant and live off the land, and fish and hunt, and do,” he says. “They also still go to town and do what they gotta do, and that’s fine. But it’s not for everybody.”

There’s also the practical matter that in pre-contact days, Hawaiians had a very different system of land use. “We have [private] land ownership now,” says Mathews, “and we don’t have a king mandating what people should do and grow. You don’t have a king to say, ‘This ahupua‘a shall be managed as one big contiguous unit.’”

Mathews points out that, initially, Hawaiians cultivated the most fertile Big Island valleys – Waipi‘o, Waimanu, and Pololu – and then when the population grew larger and they needed to feed more people, they needed other areas to cultivate.

They sought out “sweet spots” in terms of rainfall, which turn out to be places with about 50 to 60 inches of rain per year. This is enough that the soil is broken down and will have sufficient nutrients to sustain good crop growth, but not so much that it leeches the nutrients out of the soil. Much less rainfall than that, though, and the crops fail. This is what led them to develop the Kohala Field System. (In contrast, Kauai’s population never got that large, so that island never needed to develop its uplands and only farmed its valleys.)

“[Ecologist] Peter Vitousek did plenty of work looking at whether the Big Island’s [field] systems were really sustainable, and his work questioned that,” says Mathews. “Because when there were periods of drought the yields were low, and that put tremendous pressures on the population. Furthermore, when he looked at soil samples underneath the rock walls as compared to the former fields themselves, he found that despite all the best practices the native Hawaiians were using, be it fallows and mulching, etc., they were still depleting the soil fertility. So if Hawaiians hadn’t had contact with Western society, that would have really put a lot of pressure on those lands.”

Eventually, Mathews says, that system, too, would have broken down. Just as the population had outgrown its system of cultivating food in the valleys, they too were in the process of outgrowing their field system of agriculture. What would have happened next?

(As an aside, anthropologists tell us that in pre-contact times, you’d have to have good relationships with people that have food for when times of drought came or upland crops failed, or else be able to exert power for trading purposes. There’s evidence that this island had very severe droughts.

Some anthropologists think it makes sense, therefore, that the strongest political power – Kamehameha, the only chief to unite the islands – emerged on Hawai‘i Island. If you’re the leader of a place that’s under stress for food and security, you have to be tougher politically and militarily.)

Because we don’t have mineable sources of fertilizer on the Big Island, says Mathews, trying to farm without it would come down to trying to concentrate animal waste. And there’s science behind that.

“Generally in modern times people rely on organic methods, but they are usually robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he says. “You’ve got the organic farmer going down to a livestock enterprise and getting the manure and putting it in their garden, but those nutrients came from somewhere else. Eventually those systems where those nutrients are being captured, even if they rely on biological nitrogen fixation for nitrogen, they begin to collapse because they’re removing the phosphorous, the potassium and eventually the nitrogen fixation. Biologically, nitrogen fixation doesn’t work so well when the soil becomes depleted of phosphorus and potassium.”

“We could grow mulch crops like nitrogen-fixing trees,” he says, “and use them for mulches to release nitrogen and nutrients to the soil for the crops to grow in between them. But one of the dilemmas with that is that the microbes don’t always release the nutrients in synchrony with what the plant needs and when the plant needs it. And if you get a heavy rainfall, it just washes everything out and then you’re stuck. If you have fertilizer, you can go out there and correct it immediately.”

We have also diverted, changed and blocked many of the old waterways. “In many of those old ahupua‘a in the Kohala area, the water was diverted long ago and the streams and water conveyance systems have dried up,” he says. “It would take massive reengineering and restoration, and even then, there’s been some climate change. It would be challenging.”

Fishing made up a large part of the traditional, pre-Western diet. Could that work again on a large sale?

Not anytime soon, says Mathews. “When you talk to native Hawaiians and others who fish, a lot of our fisheries are overfished and depleted. The near-shore fisheries are really in bad shape. Everybody tells me they aren’t in anywhere near as good a shape as they were a hundred years ago.”

On a practical level, Melrose points out that our contact with the outside world has dramatically changed who we are.

“If you were to say, ‘Let’s just eat what we grow,’ well, we have a very seasonal and limited body of products that we grow,” he says. “I can just see your kid with his iPhone. ‘No, Mom, not ulu again.’ ‘Sweet potatoes, AGAIN?’ ‘Poi again?!’”

“We have evolved substantially into a much more discerning people,” he says. “You’d have to change fundamentally who everybody is.”

The bottom line, according to Mathews: Conditions have changed drastically since those pre-Western contact days, and if for some reason we were cut off from the U.S. Mainland, we’d have to eat a lot of wild pig and Parker Ranch cattle for awhile while we figured out what we were going to do.

“I think there’s a lot of romance in Hawai‘i,” he says. “A lot of Eden-like thinking that it was so good back then, back in the day.”

Mathews, who has children in high school, says he thinks it’s “a little bit tragic” that sustainability from an agricultural standpoint is not taught better in Hawai‘i’s school system. He sees a bias against new and modern technologies in general, and a general assumption that all new things are bad without evaluating them on a case-by-case basis.

“They really don’t get into how sustainable we are now and how sustainable it was in the past,” he says, “and I wish the schools would teach sustainability science with much deeper thought and understanding.

“I don’t like all new technologies,” he says, “but I think these blanket bans are not good.”

photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 AlaskaDave

Is Our Culture Falling Backward?

This editorial ran in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald today. In case you didn’t see it, I’ll run what we sent them here.


The purpose of the Big Island Community Coalition is to work towards reduced electrical energy costs on the Island of Hawaii – where we pay up to four times the national average for our power.  We are particularly sensitive to electric power rates as very high rates serve essentially as a regressive tax on our population while greatly reducing the probability of generating jobs in any sector that is dependent on electricity.

There are occasions when events are so alarming that groups such as ours feel compelled to move beyond our primary task.  This is such a time.

We have observed with increasing alarm as our community has taken steps that inexorably blunt the forward movement of our economy and even move us backwards.  These include:

  1. Anti-Geothermal activists encouraged County government to ban nighttime drilling, effectively stopping expansion of a major source of renewable and inexpensive electric power beyond already-existing permits.This action was taken despite the existing plant meeting all applicable noise standards.  It appears that government officials took this action without first going to the site to verify that the noise was disruptive.  Once they did go to the site, some years later, government found that the noise was less than other environmental sounds (i.e., coqui frogs) and essentially no more than typical background noise.
  2. Anti-GMO activists lobbied to stop any new GMO products from being grown on the island – despite the fact that the vast majority of scientific, peer-reviewed studies found such products to be as safe, and in some cases more nutritious, as their non-GMO counterparts.  Legislation even prohibited GMO flowers – not consumed by anyone – from being grown on the island.  Thus family farmers lost the most effective new tools needed to reduce pesticide and herbicide usage while increasing productivity needed to keep their farms competitive.
  3. Now we have anti-Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) activists taking steps to stop construction of the most advanced telescope in the world.  If successful in stopping TMT, despite its sponsors following every legal requirement over a seven-year period, we will lose our world leading advantage in understanding the universe.

All of these actions share similar characteristics:

  • The arguments used to justify such actions are consistently anti-scientific.
  • “Anti” groups often obscure the lack of scientific evidence to support their position by using emotional pleas intended to incite fear.
  • The only “win” for many of these groups is to completely stop, thereby making them completely unwilling to consider any facts that refute their position or to make any reasonable compromise.
  • Long-term consequences are significant both culturally and economically.

Cultures that survive and thrive embrace new technologies carefully, thoughtfully and steadily.  Cultures and economies that thrive are innovative beccause they generate ideas and solutions, solve problems and take calculated but careful risks.

Cultures that fall backwards are those that fear advancement, fear change and cling to a mythicized view of yesteryear.  The net result is loss of their brightest and most hard working youth.  Those youth that remain find fewer and fewer jobs – those jobs having greatly diminished economic value and lower wages.  The downward spiral becomes inexorable.

As we look to tomorrow, we need to ask ourselves whether we wish to give our children the exciting and invigorating job market typified by Silicon Valley or a job market that is much closer to the poorer regions of third world countries.  It is up to us to point one way or another.  Driving TMT out will be one more major step to cultural and economic poverty.


Big Island Community Coalition

Richard Ha, President,

David DeLuz Jr., Rockne Freitas, Michelle Galimba, Wallace Ishibashi, Noe Kalipi, H.R “Monty” Richards, William Walter.

10,000 Hours and a Mountain

Editor Rory Flynn wrote a really interesting editorial in the June 2015 edition of Farmers and Friends.

He talks about Malcolm Gladwell’s theory (from his book Outliers) that 10,000 hours of practice, plus determination, helps some people develop excellence in their field. He cites concert violinists, the Beatles, Bill Gates, and Hawai‘i’s Kolten Wong.

And then Flynn adds to the equation the importance of place.

He takes us through a really interesting look at what the Hawaiian islands’ geography has meant in the past – to Polynesian explorers, 18th-century British explorers, Americans, Chinese, and others, and what opportunities and livelihoods have been generated here from all those interactions.

And he writes about what advantage geography offers Hawai‘i today, Mauna Kea being one incredible advantage.

“It beckons to a fascinating cohort of 10,000-hour people – accomplished astronomers from around the world. This is where the natural resource of a mountain summit 2-1⁄2 miles high intersects with the excellence of people at the top of their game.”

There’s a lot more. Really good article; I recommend it.

It’s easy to forget all the people and opportunities and livelihoods that were here before. Like the people who came before us, we have amazing resources and we should use them in the smartest way we can.

Read Rory Flynn’s article.

Checking in with UH Geologist on the Aquifer

There’s been so much talk about the Big Island’s aquifer lately, with the Thirty Meter Telescope about to start construction on Mauna Kea, that I thought I’d repost this March 2010 blog post.

Spoiler alert: We don’t need to worry. The aquifer is not in any danger.

This post is about research Don Thomas, a geologist and volcanologist at the University of Hawaii has been doing. He’s learned that the island has a tremendous amount of fresh water — much more than we realized in the past.

I asked Don what they’ve learned in the five years since then, and he told me this:

We did start the drilling program and we found high level water in the first test hole. Based on the results of the first hole, the regional water table appears to be standing at an elevation of ~4600′ above sea level in the central Saddle region.  That elevation of the water table is more than adequate to allow fresh water to displace seawater to 10,000′ below sea level (and a good deal deeper if there is adequate permeability in the rocks underlying the island).  That test hole also found that significant water bodies can be present as “perched” aquifers – where low permeability layers can intercept rainfall recharge and hold it at much higher elevations than we had generally assumed. 

My 2010 blog post:


Richard Ha writes:

Don Thomas is a geologist and volcanologist at the UH Manoa and UH Hilo. Talking to him is so interesting; it’s kind of like an Indiana Jones novel. He is quiet and unassuming but the stuff he talks about just blows me away.

One day, he mentioned to me that he was looking for fresh water for the military at Pohakuloa. He told me about this neat instrument that can look down and see the electroconductivity of rock.

He told me that dry rocks have a certain signature and wet rocks a different one. He said that salty wet rocks and hot rocks have signatures that are hard to distinguish from one another. So one could locate heat zones?

Hmmm, I thought—maybe we can find hot geothermal zones?

Don just drops these kinds of info. I had no idea that geology could be so fascinating.

From Don’s email to me:

We’ve always assumed that the understanding of groundwater in Hawaii was pretty well established.  The old timers, the guys I learned from when I was a student at UH, did a really fantastic job at interpreting the geology and groundwater hydrology. But, they didn’t have any data to tell them what was going on deep below sea level.

With our deep borehole, we found that some assumptions that were made about the flow of water below sea level was much different from the assumptions made by the earlier hydrologists.  The most significant finding was that freshwater was found much farther below sea level than anyone had expected.

For water to be that deep, it meant that seawater had to have been forced out by much higher pressure freshwater than was expected.  In order for those pressures to occur, it meant that freshwater was piled up much higher inside Mauna Kea than we had assumed.  To prove that, we’ll need to drill a hole from a much higher elevation – in the Saddle.

But, because drilling is pretty expensive, I teamed up with some folks from the mainland who are experts in a type of measurement that can “look” downward into the ground and determine the electrical resistance of the rocks at various depths below the surface.  Dry rocks are pretty poor electrical conductors; when they get wet with fresh water, they are better conductors; and when they are wet with sea water, they are even more conductive.

That exploration method is pretty expensive itself – but we were able to make measurements at about thirty stations across the Saddle – with the data we were able to collect, we were able to identify a couple of locations where the conductivity of the ground was similar to that of fresh water saturated rock at about 3000′ above sea level.

That doesn’t guarantee that we will find water there – it’s like in the detective stories – the conductivity of the rocks is only “circumstantial evidence” – it’s possible that other geologic conditions are responsible for the conductivity.  The only way we can prove the presence of water at that elevation will be to drill into one of those zones.  But, if there is water there, it will mean that we have a pretty large resource stored inside the island.

It’s also important to realize that another of the findings of the deep hole was that the local conditions – where ever you are on the island – will exert a strong control over where groundwater flows.  So the conditions in Kona, whatever they are, will likewise have an impact on the water.

It’s just a guess, but my guess is that there is a lot more water stored on the Kona side of Mauna Loa than we have generally expected based on the relatively thin groundwater lens found near the coast.  I’d bet that there are buried formations that are controlling groundwater flow – similar to the ones we found in Hilo – that may be forcing fresh water to discharge from that are deep below sea level.  But, again, we don’t the necessary geological data to be able to prove that.

Richard again:

This really captures my imagination. It points out the value of education and science in a very practical way. Combine that with getting HELCO to use geothermal as base power—we can get that water at a reasonable cost.

This article predicts that the wet side of the island will get wetter and the dry side drier. If this is the case, then Don’s efforts could be the basis for solving our long-term problems.

I want the people to know the role Don has played and is still playing for the Big Island people’s benefit!

How OPEC’s Decision Affects Hawaii

Richard Ha blog
The OPEC flag

Last week, OPEC decided to maintain oil production at 30 million barrels/day. Robert Rapier comments on the issues involved at his blog Energy Trends Insider:

OPEC Crashed the U.S. Rig Count

 By Robert Rapier

June 10, 2015

The OPEC Free Fall

 There is a popular narrative going around that I want to address in today’s article. Last November, after several months of plummeting crude oil prices, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met to discuss the oil production quotas for each country in the months ahead. Many expected OPEC to cut production in order to shore up crude prices that had been falling since summer. This was the strategy favored by OPEC’s poorer members, as many require oil prices at $100/barrel (bbl) in order to balance government budgets…. Read the rest

Here’s recent background: In the latter half of 2014, oil prices were declining steadily, influenced mostly by large supplies of U.S. shale oil. When OPEC met in November to decide on production quotas, lots of folks expected it to reduce production in order to push oil price higher, but instead the organization decided to maintain market share by maintaining production at 30 million barrels/day. The price of oil dropped from a high of over $100/barrel to mid-$40/barrel. There was lots of speculation as to whether or not shale producers could sustain themselves at $40/barrel. As it turns out, above $70/barrel or so is where shale production increases and below that price it decreases.

Of all the states, Hawai‘i is the most dependent on oil. As soon as oil prices plummeted in November, we knew it would be good for us. The University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) has forecasted that Hawai‘i County will have economic growth for the next several years.

So what will happen between now and OPEC’s next meeting? If demand increases, then when oil hits $70/barrel, U.S. shale will start to crank up and that will hold the price around $70. If demand is not sufficient, prices will decline. Either way, it’s good for Hawai‘i.

What about the next OPEC meeting in November? Robert Rapier says that OPEC will probably be dealing with the effect of Iran’s increase in supply if a nuclear deal is made. This means lower price pressure, assuming the world’s political problems remain manageable.

Now if we can find a solution to our liquid transportation problem sooner rather than later, we in Hawai‘i will be well on our way to energy security. Think hydrogen for ground transportation and the Big Island will be in the best possible position to achieve energy security.

False Alarm, But Let’s Keep Our Cool

Richard Ha blog

An article posted online by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald on June 8th says that, according to a Subaru Observatory spokesperson, the hole I wrote about in the last post was caused by the door “hitting a bolt sticking out from an intake manifold next to the side entrance.”

Thank goodness it was a false alarm. It’s a huge relief.

This warning did cause us to all pay closer attention to what is going on around us. It also made us realize we are all in this together, and that we need to dial down the temperature of the discussion going on about Maunakea.

The protectors are doing their best to  maintain kapu aloha on the mauna.

As we go forward, let’s all choose our words carefully as we engage together.

Bullet on the Mountain – Where are the Leaders?

Someone seems to have shot a bullet into the door of the Subaru Observatory at the summit of Mauna Kea over the weekend.

Richard Ha06-07-15_7 Bullet hole

06-07-15_1 View of east door-2
Richard Ha
This is what I’ve been talking about when I say we need Hawaiian leaders to dial down the temperature on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) issue in the anti-TMT camp for the sake of safety.

Now it looks like someone has shot at one of the observatories. What next? Where are their leaders?

We have also seen posts like these:



I contacted Lanakila and he told me he advised the police about that second post. We are both concerned about safety for all on the mauna.

My concern is not the folks from the Big Island, but people who may come from off-island.

This is really getting out of hand.

Dialing Down the TMT Temperature

Here’s a sample of some recent comments I saw about something I wrote about the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Facebook:

Richard Ha

Richard Ha

I’m certainly not trying to tell people they need to change, or think like I think. Everybody can have their own opinion and say what they want to say, but I’d like to see the communication be more respectful than this. We need to keep the spirit of aloha with us.

I cannot remember a time when Hawaiians were attacking other Hawaiians loudly and in public. We need to dial the temperature down. Our native Hawaiian leaders need to step forward and lower the temperature.

I do know the Royal Order of Kamehameha stepped up early on and prohibited the use of the war god Ku up on the mountain. Before they did that, Lanakila was running around with an image of Ku. We need more such positive leadership examples.

If folks want to protest or engage in civil disobedience, that is their choice. People have given their lives so they can do that. But we all know that the TMT will start construction and it’s important to remember that it’s a dangerous environment on the mountain. We all need to be careful and respectful and abide by kapu aloha.

What some of the anti-TMT people are not hearing is that my point is really about the maka‘ainana. I always, always advocate for the maka‘ainana, the “rubbah slippah folk,” who are a huge part of Hawaiian culture.

I often wonder how many of the anti-TMT folks have studied up on and understand why so many of us consider geothermal, GMOs, and the TMT important to the Big Island’s future. We hear so many of their arguments based on incorrect assumptions.

We’re also hearing a lot about sovereignty and Hawaiian Kingdom issues wrapped up in the TMT. I don’t take a position on those issues. They will be decided over time. We’re talking here about the TMT.

Too often in the discussions surrounding geothermal, GMOs and astronomy in general, the consequences to the rubbah slippah folk are not taken into consideration. Too often the end justifies the means whether it makes sense or not. I don’t agree with that.

I’m open to discussion about any of these topics. My Facebook page has always been set to public. I’m pretty active there and also respond here at my blog. But for safety’s sake, we need to see the temperature dialed down a bit.