World-Renowned Systems Ecology Expert Charles A.S. Hall Speaks in Hilo

Richard Ha writes: 

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 Investment (EROI).

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 Hawai‘i.

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.