On Friday, Professor Charles A. S. Hall gave two free
lectures at UH Hilo. Hall is a world-renowned systems ecology and biophysical
economics expert, and is considered the father of modern day Energy Return on
Here is a video, approximately 30 minutes long, from a previous talk of Professor Hall's.
At UHH, he talked about a systems approach to energy issues here in
A “systems approach” is a fancy way to say: Use what you
have to come to a good result. It’s about using all we have available to us, in
a commonsense way, to move in the right direction. It’s not rocket science.
For a long time now we have known that the resources
supporting our world population are finite. Professor Hall approaches these issues from a scientific
point of view, i.e., one based on data. His analysis and conclusions can be
duplicated by others.
Friday night’s audience was made up of legislators,
environmentalists, proponents of Hawaiian culture, University of Hawai‘i staff
and students, etc. When Professor Hall advocated for a “systems approach” to
our resource issues, they broke into spontaneous applause.
He was startled by the response, but the folks in the
audience knew that if we do not start working on commonsense solutions, we’re
going to be in deep Kim Chee in the future.
We’ve begun a conversation now about bringing together
multiple disciplines, such as agriculture, engineering, energy and more. The
idea is to cut to the chase and work on solutions.
For example, in food production, we know that the
micronutrients that might be deficient are zinc and boron, and the
macronutrients that might be limiting are nitrogen and potassium. Phosphorous
is there; it’s mainly tied up in the soil. So, as we attempt to solve energy
issues, how can we simultaneously address issues of food production?
And maybe we should be teaching this to our keiki, so that
by the time they are ready to run things, they have a true view of the world.
We all need to be on the same page, solving real problems
for all of us—not just for a few of us.
The folks in Professor Hall’s lecture were all realists. This is why I say that I am optimistic about our future here on the Big Island.