All posts by Richard Ha

Making Life Better, Part 2: Hawaii in the Information Age

Consider how history has impacted us here in Hawai’i:

Around 1000 AD, people were sailing back and forth to Hawaii. At the same time, the Crusades were taking place. Around the time Captain Cook arrives, in 1778, the Declaration of Independence has just been written.

By 1860, the Pony Express was delivering mail from New York to San Francisco in 10 days.

In 1908, Ikua Purdy, Archie Kaaua and Ben Low take the top award at the Cheyenne Rodeo – the pinnacle of rodeo competitions in the world.

In 1952, KGMB was the first TV station in Hawaii.

In 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

In 2010, the “like” button was added to Facebook.

This timeline gives us a hint of how much Hawai‘i and its people have assimilated into the world around us.

This is not a bad thing. This country elected someone who grew up here as President of the United States. We enjoy our iPhones.

Our young folks under the age of 20 or so don’t remember a time before we pressed electronic buttons.

The Information Age

We are in an information age; an electronic one. It’s an age of learning by doing, which is what Hawaiian have done for eons. And it’s exactly what our group PUEO (it’s short for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities) is reaching for.

When my friend Rick Blangiardi, general manager of Hawaii News Now (HNN), spoke at the Hawai‘i Island Economic Development Board’s annual meeting he gave an impressive talk about the history, as well as the future, of HNN under his leadership.

He said the most impactful thing to happen to the news industry was, “This.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his iPhone.

Shortly after that, there was a stand-off on Maunakea about building the Thirty Meter Telescope. Movie stars and sports heroes jumped on board and the story went viral.

Welcome to the world of real time news and to the Information Age. There’s no backing away now. We cannot pick and choose in which areas we interact with the world, or hide as though there are no outside forces affecting our lives here in Hawaii’i.

We’re all still adjusting, but this is a good thing. We aren’t only taking in information. We have something that is unique to the core of Hawai‘i, our aloha, that we can share instantaneously as well.

photo: Calerusnak at English Wikipedia

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Hawaii Energy Picture: Making Our Lives Better

How do we make the Hawaii energy picture, and our futures, better?

I sense that young folks know something needs to change in our modern world. And I see lots of folk helping each other cope.

This is all very encouraging, so I want to have a conversation: What can we do to make things better for all of us? I’m going to be posting about this in the next few weeks.

I’m going to talk about it being important that we take care of ourselves here in Hawaii, because nobody else is going to worry about us. In a world of declining energy, the pie is getting smaller and everybody is jockeying and fighting for a smaller piece of pie. This is when you get discontent. Look, for instance, at the current presidential election.

But the solution is not fighting with each other like what’s going on right now.  The solution is helping each other.

The bottom line is that in whatever we choose to do, the pluses have to exceed the minuses.

This is why I look at the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) as a plus. It supports education, and that helps us develop new technologies. Technology is not energy, but it helps us to extend energy. Also, investment in the TMT is all coming in from foreign dollars, instead of us taxing ourselves. All pluses.

Another thing we have that’s clearly a plus in terms of energy is geothermal. We will be over the “hotspot” that provides us with geothermal energy for 500,000 to a million years. That isn’t going away. A huge plus.

And GMOs are a plus because they help us find different ways to keep feeding ourselves, which of course is critical.

This is what it all boils down to. This is the graph that changed my life.

Hawaii Energy

I first saw it during the 2007 Association for the Study of Peak Oil conference in Houston. It shows, simply, that we have been using much more oil than we’ve been finding.

Obviously there will be consequences if we don’t either:

  • conserve what oil we have
  • find affordable alternatives
  • or use technology to extend what energy we have.

It takes energy to do work and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measurement of work, so this graph implies the world GDP may be challenged if we don’t find alternatives.

It was clear to me that this was going to be the biggest challenge facing Hawai‘i.

I continued studying this and also attended four more ASPO conferences. And I realized I was the only person from the state of Hawai‘i that was attending these conferences and hearing all these experts, and Hawaii energy became my kuleana. It’s not that I wanted it or needed it; I just felt stuck with the knowledge and knew I had to do something with it.

My friend, Professor Charles A.S. Hall, who is known as the father of Energy Return On Investment (EROI), was someone I found clear and easy to understand.

Hawaii energy

What it’s about and what we can do

I am going to revisit a lot of what I’ve learned since I started studying about this problem in 2007, and write about it here. For example, it takes energy to get energy (for example, to get oil up out of the ground) and net energy is decreasing as we use increased amounts of energy to access more difficult sources.

Is it surprising that World GDP is lessening? Not many of our leaders seem to be paying attention to these things.

So to get back to my question above: What changes can we make? What can we do to make things better for all of us?

People have ideas, and I’m going to write some posts about what makes sense to me (and others). Stay tuned.

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Pro TMT: Didn’t Just Fall Off the Tomato Truck

Through their former attorney Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman, some of those who feel the Thirty Meter Telescope should not be built atop Mauna Kea suggest I helped form the pro TMT group PUEO, short for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, on the spot – that we just popped up out of nowhere.

You can read that in this Civil Beat article about the TMT Contested Case Hearing, which starts Tuesday.

From Civil Beat:

Apart from the TMT itself, the only intervenor that has taken a stance in favor of the TMT’s construction is a group calling itself PUEO, short for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, Inc. As described in its petition for standing, PUEO’s purposes “include furthering ‘educational opportunities for the children of Hawaii in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.’ Its board members and beneficiaries include native Hawaiians that reside in the Keaukaha-Panaewa Hawaiian Homesteads located in Hilo, Hawaii. PUEO’s board members include native Hawaiians who seek knowledge and understanding and exercise customary and traditional native Hawaiian rights on Mauna Kea.”

The original petitioners have objected strenuously to PUEO’s admission as an intervenor. In a memorandum opposing Amano’s decision to admit PUEO, the original petitioners’ attorney, Wurdeman, claims that PUEO was formed for the sole purpose of intervening in the case.

“[G]iven the timing of its formation, the P.U.E.O., Inc., was obviously formed solely to try and participate in the contested case hearing and the Petitioners submit that such an attempt is clearly improper,” Wurdeman wrote.

The Reality

The truth, of course, is that I have been a very vocal supporter of the Thirty Meter Telescope for many years.

For years I’ve written at my blog and elsewhere about the Adopt-A-Class program. We formed that program to help kids in schools that cannot afford field trips. The program, which expanded after awhile to cover every class on the Big Island, paid for buses and admission to send students to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center once a year, where they learned about the world-class science on Mauna Kea as well as our traditional Hawaiian culture. My first of many posts about Adopt-A-Class was nine years ago, in 2007:

My friend Duane Kanuha and I have this big idea, and we’re asking for your help: We want to send Keaukaha students on excursions that broaden their horizons and help them develop excitement for learning and positive attitudes about their place in the world. It’s my opinion that if Hawaiian kids are comfortable with their place in the world, they will not hesitate to participate in that world.

I’m specifically thinking about excursions to Hilo’s new astronomy center ‘Imiloa. ‘Imiloa is particularly powerful because it situates the Hawaiian culture and scientific knowledge in parity with the highest level of astronomy. It is a “discovery center” that celebrates both science (the world-class astronomy atop nearby Mauna Kea) and Hawaiian culture (including the marvels of traditional Hawaiian voyaging, navigation and much more).

It’s a place where Hawaiian kids see that there are careers and avocations directly related to their culture, and that these cultural traditions are important enough that they are celebrated in a world-class museum. And that the people pursuing these careers and passions are people who look just like them and their families.

I’ve written about Kumu Lehua Veincent asking me “What about the rest?” (of the students) since at least 2009, and many times since:

What I keep coming back to again and again is what Kumu Lehua Veincent told me the first time I asked him what the TMT should offer the Big Island as an introductory, good faith gift. I asked him if it would be appropriate to ask for “full ride” scholarships for at least five native Hawaiians to attend the best colleges in the nation.

He asked me, in a very sincere way, “And what about the rest?”

I felt so stupid that I could feel my ears getting hot.

That is the essential question: “What about the rest?” This is about the keiki, the future generations—all of them.

Three years later, University of Hawai‘i President McClain has announced that if the TMT comes to Hawai‘i, in addition to its other negotiations there will be an annual, $1 million benefit package for education emphasizing K-12. It will be effective for the life of the project—50 years—and will begin as soon as all the permits are in place.

It will be set up to address Kumu Lehua’s question: “What about the rest?”

The Process

The first time I wrote about Patrick Kahawaiola‘a, and what I learned from him about how important the process is as we talk about TMT, was also in 2009:

We talked story in the community a lot, and over and over we heard from Patrick Kahawaiola‘a, President of the Keaukaha Community Association, that the most important thing was “the process.”

And as we thought about this, we realized that if the process is most important, then all contributors to the process, no matter what side of the issue they are on, made for a better product. And so we always need to aloha the loud voices, too, who early on told us that things were not quite right. It was about us. All of us. Not me against you.

So when we had our first sign waving in support of the TMT, nearly 150 people showed up. We told everyone that we were meeting to celebrate the process and told them to bring their kids, and they did. It was very significant.

I also wrote about it six years ago in this 2010 post:

As we went around visiting people, Patrick Kahawaiola‘a,
 president of the Keaukaha Community Association, told me that it’s about “the 
process.” And since the process would result in the best possible result, we
 need to aloha everyone who participates in the process, no matter which side of 
the issue they are on. Therefore, we must mahalo Kealoha, Nelson, Debbie, Paul,
 Ku, Hanalei, the Kanaka Council, Jim, Cory, Moani and many others. We would not 
be here today had it not been for their passionate advocacy.

The whole state has noticed that we on the Big Island are
 doing this differently. Our approach is based on mutual respect, collaboration 
and trust. The TMT folks, led by Henry Yang, did it the right way. It
 would not have worked any other way.

And I’ve been writing about the TMT’s money for education, which became the THINK Fund, many times since 2009:

If we teach our keiki the values they need to make a society that is successful and thriving “when the boat no come,” we will have done our jobs. This $1 million that will be dedicated to keiki education annually is key to the survival of future generations. It is no longer about us – it is about the future generations.

We must learn and perpetuate what it was that allowed Hawaiians to survive for hundreds of years out in the middle of the ocean without boats coming in every day with goods from someplace else.

In the future, our values will need to revolve around aloha. We will need to assume responsibility—kuleana. We need to make more friends and stay closer to our families.

We live in the modern world, so how do we use what we have and meld it with the values that worked? We need to have a balance of science and culture in order for all of us to do what we do to help our greater society.

My Pop told me: “There are a thousand reasons why ‘No can.’ I only looking for one reason why ‘Can.’”

What it really all boils down to, as I wrote above, is the process. In the last six years or more, I’ve spoken and written about how it’s all about the process many, many times. If the process is pono, and we aloha everyone on all sides of the issue, then we’re good.

Let’s proceed with the process.

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Declining Energy Continues, is Significant

Above all the local Hawaii issues, we still have the worldwide consequences of declining energy resources. The Bakken Field situation is nothing new — it’s something I’ve been well aware of over the years as I attended five Association for the Study of Peak Oil  conferences.

From Charles Hall, who is a world-renowned systems  ecologist:

The Death of the Bakken Field has Begun: Means Big Trouble For The U.S.

The Death of the Great Bakken Oil Field has begun and very few Americans understand the significance.  Just a few years ago, the U.S. Energy Industry and Mainstream media were gloating that the United States was on its way to “Energy Independence.”

Unfortunately for most Americans, they believed the hype and are now back to driving BIG SUV’s and trucks that get lousy fuel mileage.  And why not?  Americans now think the price of gasoline will continue to decline because the U.S. oil industry is able to produce its “supposed” massive shale oil reserves for a fraction of the cost, due to the new wonders of technological improvement.

I actually hear this all the time when I travel and talk to family, friends and strangers.  I gather they have no clue that the Great Bakken Oil Field is now down a stunning 25% from its peak in just a little more than a year and half ago:

bakken-field-oil-production-sept-2016

The mighty Bakken oil field located in North Dakota reached peak production in December 2014 at 1.26 million barrels per day (mbd) and is now down to 942,000 bd.  This decline is no surprise to me or to my readers who have been following my work for the past several years.

I wrote about the upcoming crash of the Bakken oil field in my article (click on image to read article)– Published, NOV. 2013:

the-coming-bust-of-the-great-bakken-oil-field

I ended the article with these sobering words:

There are only so many drilling locations available and once they run out, the Great Bakken Field will become a BUST as the high decline rates will push overall oil production down the very same way it came up.

Those who moved to the frigid state of North Dakota with Dollar signs in their eyes and images of sugar-plums dancing in their heads will realize firsthand the negative ramifications of all BOOM & BUST cycles.

Well, the Bust of North Dakota economy has arrived and according to the article, “The North Dakota Great Recession“:

Unfortunately by April 2015 it was clear that the oil markets were in a secular decline brought on by oversupply in the global energy markets fueled by a deep recession in China. As a result, companies started to lay off workers, and over the following months caused a massive exodus of people as jobs were eliminated. Nobody is exactly sure how many people have left the state, but some put estimates as high as 25,000.

The strongest real estate market continues to be Watford City with the weakest in Minot. However, even in Watford City the price of a three-bedroom rental home has come down from $2,500 in 2015 to a current price of $1,400. This represents a 44 percent decline of the rental price in the market.

Some folks believe the reason for the decline in oil production at the Bakken was due to low oil prices.  While this was part of the reason,the Bakken was going to peak and decline in 2016-2017 regardless of the price.  This was forecasted by peak oil analyst Jean Laherrere.  I wrote about this in my article below (click on image to read article)– Published, APRIL 2015:

what-will-the-death-of-the-great-bakken-look-like

I took Jean Laherrere’s chart and placed it next to the current actual Bakken oil field production:

bakken-oil-decline-vs-jean-laherrere-forecast

As we can see in the chart above, the rise and fall of Bakken oil production is very close to what Jean Laherrere forecasted several years ago (shown by the red arrow).  According to Laherrere’s chart, the Bakken will be producing a lot less oil by 2020 and very little by 2025.  This would also be true for the Eagle Ford Field in Texas.

According to the most recent EIA Drilling Productivity Report, the Eagle Ford Shale Oil Field in Texas will be producing an estimated 1,026,000 barrels of oil per day in September, down from a peak of 1,708,000 barrels per day in May 2015.  Thus, Eagle Ford oil production is slated to be down a stunning 40% since its peak last year.

texas-eagle-ford-oil-production-sept-2016

Do you folks see the writing on the wall here?  The Bakken down 25% and the Eagle Ford down 40%.  These are not subtle declines.  This is much quicker than the U.S. Oil Industry or the Mainstream Media realize.

And… it’s much worse than that.

The U.S. Oil Industry Hasn’t Made a RED CENT Producing Shale

Rune Likvern of Fractional Flow has done a wonderful job providing data on the Bakken Shale Oil Field.  Here is his excellent chart showing the cumulative FREE CASH FLOW from producing oil in the Bakken:

bakken-cumulative-negative-free-cash-flow-likvern

I will simply this chart by explaining that the BLACK BARS are estimates of the monthly Free Cash flow from producing oil in the Bakken since 2009, while the RED AREA is the cumulative negative free cash flow.  As we can see there are very few black bars that are positive.  Most are negative, heading lower.

Furthermore, the red area shows that the approximate negative free cash flow (deducting CAPEX- capital expenditures) is $32 billion.  So, with all the effort and high oil prices from 2011-2014 (first half of 2014), the energy companies producing shale oil in the Bakken are in the hole for $32 billion.  Well done…. hat’s off to the new wonderful fracking technology.

According to Rune Likvern in his article on the Bakken, he stated the following:

Just to retire estimated total debts (about $36 Billion, including costs for DUCs, SDWs, excluding hedges and income/loss of natural gas and NGLs) would require about 7 years with extraction and prices at Jun-16 levels.

Nominally to retire all debts (reach payout) would take an (average) future oil price close to $65/bo (WTI) for all the wells in operation as of end June – 16. This is without making any profit.

For the wells in production as per Jun-16, the total extraction of these will decline about 40% by Jun-17, and depletes their remaining reserves with about 20%. By assuming the operations remain cash flow neutral, total debt remains at $36 B in Jun-17.

As from Jul-17 this would now require an average oil price of about $73/bo (WTI) for these wells to nominally retire all debts (reach payout). Additional wells will add to what price is required to retire the total debt.

What Rune is stating here is that the $36 billion in total cumulative debt will occur by June 2017.  Thus, it would take an average $65 a barrel to just pay back  the debt in seven years.  With the way things are going in the U.S. and world economies, I doubt we are going to see much higher oil prices.

Furthermore, the work by Louis Arnoux and the Hills Group suggest the price of oil will fall, not rise due to a Thermodynamic Collapse.  More about this in an upcoming interview.

The United States Is In Big Trouble & Most Americans Have No Clue

As I have been documenting in previous articles (going back until 2013) the U.S. Shale Oil Industry was a house-of-cards.  Readers who have been following my work, based on intelligent work of others, understood that Shale Oil is just another Ponzi Scheme in a long list of Ponzi Schemes.

From time to time, I look around different websites that publish my work and read some of the comments.  I am surprised how many individuals still don’t believe in Peak Oil even though I explained the Falling EROI – Energy Returned On Investment quite clearly.

For some strange reason, some individuals cannot use deductive reasoning to destroy lousy conspiracy theories.  Moreover, if they do believe in Peak Oil, then they think there is a wonderful “Silver-Bullet Energy Technology” that will save us all.  I gather they believe this because the REALITY and IMPLICATIONS of Peak Oil are just too horrible, to say the least.  So, holding onto HOPE that something will save us, just in the nick of time, is better than accepting the awful reality heading our way.

And the awful reality of Peak Oil will be felt more by Americans as their lifestyles have been highly elevated by the ability to extract wealth and resources from other countries through the issuing of massive amounts of paper Dollars and debt.  Basically, they work, and we eat.

Unfortunately, the propping up of the U.S. market by the Fed and the domestic shale energy Ponzi scheme is running out of time.  This is why it is imperative for investors to start moving out of Bonds, Stocks and Real Estate and into physical gold and silver to protect wealth.

For the wealthy investor or institution that believe a 5-10% allocation in physical gold is good insurance, you are sadly mistaken.  While Donald Trump is receiving more support from Americans in his Presidential race, his campaign motto that he will “Make American Strong Again”, will never happen.  The America we once knew is over.  There just isn’t the available High EROI – Energy Returned On Investment energy supplies to allow us to continue the same lifestyle we enjoyed in the past.

So, now we have to transition to a different more local or regional way of living.  This new living arrangement will be based on capital that is “STORED ECONOMIC ENERGY or WEALTH.”  This can only come via the best sources such as physical gold and silver.

If individuals and countries have been acquiring physical gold and silver, they will be in better shape and will be able to enjoy more options than those who have been selling their gold and accumulating lots of debt and derivatives.

Check back for new articles and updates at the SRSrocco Report.  You can also follow us at Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

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Why Jennifer Doudna Has Trouble Sleeping

In my last post, Hilo High Grad Makes Crispr ‘Discovery Of The Century,’ I wrote about the amazing Dr. Jennifer Doudna and her CRISPr gene-editing technology, which is taking the science world by storm.

I also wrote that it can be controversial. Today I want to share an article by Dr. Doudna, one of CRISPr’s discoverers. She wrote this article for Nature, the international weekly journal of science. It’s about her concerns over the philosophical and ethical ramifications of genomes that are easily-altered.

From Nature.com:

Genome-editing revolution: My whirlwind year with CRISPR, by Jennifer Doudna

22 December 2015

Some 20 months ago, I started having trouble sleeping. It had been almost two years since my colleagues and I had published a paper describing how a bacterial system called CRISPR–Cas9 could be used to engineer genomes (see ‘Based on bacteria’).

I had been astounded at how quickly labs around the world had adopted the technology for applications across biology, from modifying plants to altering butterfly-wing patterns to fine-tuning rat models of human disease. At the same time, I’d avoided thinking too much about the philosophical and ethical ramifications of widely accessible tools for altering genomes.

Questions about whether genome editing should ever be used for non-medical enhancement, for example, seemed mired in subjectivity — a long way from the evidence-based work I am comfortable with. I told myself that bioethicists were better positioned to take the lead on such issues. Like everyone else, I wanted to get on with the science made possible by the technology….

 Read the rest

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Hilo High Grad Makes CRISPr ‘Discovery of the Century’

Are you familiar with CRISPr gene-editing technology? It’s been called the discovery of the century, but it’s not well known yet outside of science circles. From time to time I’m going to write here about what’s going on with it.

At ScienceNews.org, they talk about it this way:

Scientists usually shy away from using the word miracle — unless they’re talking about the gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. “You can do anything with CRISPR,” some say. Others just call it amazing.

An interesting fact: Dr. Jennifer Doudna, credited with discovering this technology and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, graduated from Hilo High.

Jennifer Doudna, CRISPr

She and a colleague “helped make one of the most monumental discoveries in biology: a relatively easy way to alter any organism’s DNA, just as a computer user can edit a word in a document,” according to The New York Times. People are saying she may get a Nobel Prize for Chemistry for it.

The New York Times article also states:

The discovery has turned Dr. Doudna (the first syllable rhymes with loud) into a celebrity of sorts, the recipient of numerous accolades and prizes. The so-called Crispr-Cas9 genome editing technique is already widely used in laboratory studies, and scientists hope it may one day help rewrite flawed genes in people, opening tremendous new possibilities for treating, even curing, diseases.

But what is it? In an article called “Everything You Need to Know About CRISPR, the New Tool that Edits DNA,” Gizmodo writes:

CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?

The short answer is that CRISPR allows scientists to edit genomes with unprecedented precision, efficiency, and flexibility. The past few years have seen a flurry of “firsts” with CRISPR, from creating monkeys with targeted mutations to preventing HIV infection in human cells. Earlier this month, Chinese scientists announced they applied the technique to nonviable human embryos, hinting at CRISPR’s potential to cure any genetic disease. And yes, it might even lead to designer babies. (Though, as the results of that study show, it’s still far from ready for the doctor’s office.) 

In short, CRISPR is far better than older techniques for gene splicing and editing. And you know what? Scientists didn’t invent it.

CRISPR/Cas9 comes from strep bacteria…

CRISPR is actually a naturally-occurring, ancient defense mechanism found in a wide range of bacteria. As far as back the 1980s, scientists observed a strange pattern in some bacterial genomes. One DNA sequence would be repeated over and over again, with unique sequences in between the repeats. They called this odd configuration “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” or CRISPR.

This was all puzzling until scientists realized the unique sequences in between the repeats matched the DNA of viruses—specifically viruses that prey on bacteria. It turns out CRISPR is one part of the bacteria’s immune system, which keeps bits of dangerous viruses around so it can recognize and defend against those viruses next time they attack. The second part of the defense mechanism is a set of enzymes called Cas (CRISPR-associated proteins), which can precisely snip DNA and slice the hell out of invading viruses. Conveniently, the genes that encode for Cas are always sitting somewhere near the CRISPR sequences….

Read the rest

Although the technology is not without controversy, it is a very interesting subject. It’s going to be huge. I’m following the topic and will occasionally write about it here.

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PUEO to Rotary: TMT Offers Educational Opportunities We Shouldn’t Miss

Keahi Warfield, president of the native Hawaiian group Perpetuating Unique Education Opportunities (PUEO), spoke at the Rotary Club of Honolulu Tuesday. He said the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) offers educational opportunities we shouldn’t pass up.

PUEO
Keahi Warfield, PUEO President

Rotary sign

PUEO
Mitch D’Olier, past president of the Rotary Club of Honolulu

From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

Pro-telescope group touts educational benefits

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press

August 17, 2016

Building a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea will come with educational opportunities that Hawaii shouldn’t close the door to, the president of a Native Hawaiian group that supports the project said.

Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities President Keahi Warfield told a Waikiki hotel banquet room filled with members of the Rotary Club of Honolulu on Tuesday that he believes there’s a “silent majority” of the public who support the Thirty Meter Telescope….

Read the rest

And I strongly agree – both that the TMT has educational opportunities for our Big Island keiki that we cannot pass up, and about the “silent majority” in favor of the project.

IMG_2212
Richard Ha, Keahi Warfield

I introduced Keahi before he spoke and here’s what I said:

Who are we? I’m from the Kamahele family in lower Puna. My great-great grandfather had 12 boys and one daughter. All the Kamaheles are related.

I’ve been farming for 30 years. Our farm is Hamakua Springs, which is on 600 fee-simple acres. I describe us as being a triple bottom-line farmer. To be sustainable we need to be socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. The “social” aspect includes culture and education. It includes all of us, not just a few of us. This is the part I am especially focused on.

The County of Hawaii has the lowest median family income, and the highest suicide and homelessness rates. The game changer is education. It’s not the largest, strongest or the smartest that survives – it’s the ones who can adapt to change.

The pluses have to exceed the minuses or you go extinct. That applies to organisms and organizations as well as civilizations.

Education is the game changer that allows us to adapt.

Regarding the TMT: Henry Yang is the president of the TMT. And he’s the type of person you can do business with on a handshake. He and Jean-Lou Chameau, the former president of Cal Tech and now president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, visited the Big Island 15 times. They became well known in the community.

One visit to Keaukaha was memorable. They dropped in unexpectedly at a Kupuna Day function. They had become so familiar that the people greeted them with, “Come, come, come, go eat.”

Keiki education is the common denominator that everyone on all sides of the issue can agree upon. That’s how the THINK fund was born. The THINK Fund is a one million annual contribution to Big Island student education from the Thirty Meter Telescope. They left it to the community to choose the direction.

I’ve been in the middle of this issue for nearly ten years, and I am very pleased that PUEO has taken a seat at the table.

I have noticed in the last few months that public opinion is shifting. In the Ward Research poll just released, the number opposed to the TMT has gone down from 39 percent to 31 percent. I have a Facebook page that talks about ag and energy and I’ve noticed many more Hawaiian surname “likes,” compared to just three months ago. I also notice more young people participating. This is the most encouraging part to me.

My role now is support. I can see the young people starting to come out and I could not be more pleased.

The PUEO group is made up of very credible native Hawaiian people. In all my years of knowing them, they only talk about the community, the keiki, and future generations. I am very proud to be allowed to work with these people. 

Keahi is the perfect leader for PUEO. I’ll do everything I can to support his efforts. Aloha

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Ceremony for Lau Ola Groundbreaking a Success

We gathered at the farm yesterday for a Lau Ola groundbreaking ceremony. We stood where the 25,000-square-foot facility for our medical marijuana growing operation will be built.

It was a nice turnout; around 60 people. It was great to look around and see so many of our friends and neighbors from the community.

Lau Ola groundbreaking

I spoke about how we are a triple bottom-line company. I said we believe in sustainability, and for our company to be sustainable it must be socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. “Socially” includes our workers and our neighbors, and I told the people there I want them to be comfortable coming to talk to me any time they need. I really mean that.

Keahi Warfield set an inclusive tone while he gave the blessing. He chanted while he and I walked the dirt where the new growing facility is going in and he blessed it with pa‘akai.

Lau Ola groundbreaking

We took some pictures with shovels and invited everyone to take a shovel and be a part of it.
Lau Ola groundbreaking

Lau Ola groundbreaking Lau Ola groundbreaking

It was really a nice gathering. Everyone felt great afterward. We are off to a good start.

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IfA Director Insists on Strong Hilo Astronomy Program

Guenther Hasinger, director of the Institute for Astronomy (IfA), really impresses me.

I first met him when I sat on the selection committee for the new IfA director. On that committee, I was looking for someone who would understand us here on the Big Island, and who would advocate for the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo astronomy department.

Hasinger just announced that undergraduate students at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UHH) will get viewing time at Mauna Kea observatories for the first time, up to 16 nights per year.

You can read more about this in Saturday’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald:

Guenther Hasinger, IfA director, said it’s unusual for an undergraduate astronomy program to be granted dedicated viewing time. Typically, observing time is reserved based solely on the caliber of research.

But few programs sit at the bottom of one of the world’s top telescope sites.

“From my point of view, it is absolutely necessary to have a very strong astronomy program in Hilo,” Hasinger said.

“We want to ground the telescopes in the community.”

Read the rest

Accomplishments

He impresses me for several reasons.

First of all, he was scientific director at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics near Munich, and received numerous awards for his research and contributions to space science. These include Germany’s most significant research prize and the international Committee on Space Research award.

Also, he wrote a book called Das Schicksal des Universums (Fate of the Universe), which explains astrophysics and cosmology to a wide audience. It won the Science Book of the Year award in Germany and was popular in Europe. I asked him how he did it. How does an astronomer write a book that’s popular with the general public? He told me he can relate to the average person. Right there I thought, “This is the guy for the IfA.”

And furthermore, before he applied for the IfA position, he went to a ceremony at Halema‘uma‘u to show respect. He didn’t talk about it in his official presentation; we had to drag it out of him.

Historically, the IfA is O‘ahu-centric. And here on the Big Island, we’ve always had to fight for anything we get. With Dr. Hasinger, we have someone who is respectful of the Big Island.

Hasinger advocates for growing the UH-Hilo Astronomy department.

“From my point of view, it is absolutely necessary to have a very strong astronomy program in Hilo,” he said in the Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald article.

Read the University of Hawai‘i Memo of Understanding about this change here:

Memo of Understanding

 

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Are You Familiar with the Concept of Security Cows?

Ben Adlin wrote a story on our new cannabis operation for leafly.com and in it he talks about our security cows.

Leafly calls itself “The world’s cannabis information resource” and publishes news and other information about the cannabis industry.

Here’s the article:

‘Security Cows’ Will Guard This Hawaiian Cannabis Farm

To keep his licensed medical cannabis crop safe, Hawaii farmer Richard Ha is going beyond the security measures — surveillance cameras, an alarm system — mandated by the state. He’s hired cows. Security cows. 

It’s not quite what neighbors had in mind when they asked whether guards would patrol the grounds of his new grow site, one of the first to be awarded a state license. But Ha believed that armed guards would do more harm than good. 

“We’re not going to have armed guards,” he told his neighbors, “because we’d end up shooting ourselves.”

…The grow site for Ha’s medical cannabis venture, Lau Ola, sits on a 40-acre plot lush with branches and undergrowth — ideal camouflage for burglars. The cows, he says, will act as enormous bovine lawnmowers, clearing brush and increasing visibility. 

“We know cattle ranchers,” Ha said. “It’s a win-win for us and them. They get to raise their animals, and we don’t have to do the weeding and maintenance, grass-cutting and things like that.”

Ha knows the cows aren’t exactly watchdogs. So to up the intimidation factor, sometimes Ha refers to the cattle as “wild bulls.” He even plans to post signs to that effect.

“Everybody’s afraid of bulls,” he explained dryly. “Nobody wants to be caught in a pasture with a wild bull.”

Lau Ola, security cows, Richard Ha

Read the rest of the story to get the full picture.

Lau Ola, security cows, Richard Ha

photo by Pikaluk – Flickr: One Gorgeous Cow, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1460977

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