Tag Archives: Civil Beat

Coping With Our Agriculture and Energy Problems

There was a good article about agriculture and energy in today’s Civil Beat. Eric Pape interviewed me and also Kyle Datta of the Ulupono Initiative for this article:

Living Hawaii: What Is Sapping The Energy Of Our Farmers?
Even with low oil prices, the deck is stacked against farmers like Richard Ha on the Big Island. But some argue new strategies can turn things around.

One solution to the problems we are having with energy and farming on this island is to do more cooperative buying and selling, where people join together and help each other.

We are an island of small farmers, and if big farms don’t work here, the only way to approximate being big is to join together. It’s cooperation. It’s really our only option, because otherwise we cannot compete on a large scale.


Civil Beat Article about Richard & Co-op: ‘When People Power Meets Electricity’

Did you see this Civil Beat article that ran yesterday about Richard and the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative? It’s a good look at how the price of oil and electricity affects agriculture.

When People Power Meets Electricity On The Big Island

NextEra Energy’s proposed takeover of Hawaii’s century-old utility has sparked a renewed effort to establish an electric utility co-op on Hawaii Island.

At Hamakua Springs Country Farms on the Big Island earlier this year, rows of aging arched white awnings covered surprisingly barren soil along the dirt road that leads into the farm.


Our Right To Farm

Richard Ha writes:

Thirty members of the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives just introduced the Right-To-Farm bill, which the Big Island Farmers and Ranchers United support. Farmers just want to go back to farming already.

From Civil Beat:

New Bill Would Strengthen Hawaii’s Right-To-Farm Act

Hawaii Rep. Richard Onishi from the Big Island has introduced a bill that would give Hawaii’s 2001 Right to Farm Act more teeth. 

The law currently protects farmers from nuisance lawsuits, stating: “No court, official, public servant, or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason if the farming operation has been conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices.”

Onishi’s bill would take the protections a step further and declare that the counties can’t pass laws that limit the rights of farmers and ranchers…. 

Read the rest

The anti-GMO bill that recently passed on the Big Island would prevent only Big Island farmers – and not their competition – from using biotech options and solutions to agriculture situations. It’s a disastrous bill that threatens our island’s food security, rather than strengthens it, which is where our focus should be.

Everybody is happy that this new bill came up, and really pleased so many legislators signed on. We feel that they recognize that we really just need to get back to our farming.

If the Right-To-Farm bill passes, then finally we can have the very important discussion about food security that we have not been able to. Agriculture and energy are inextricably tied together, and the question is:

How will our current and future energy situation affect our food security? And what can we do about it?


Bill 113: What’s Next

Richard Ha writes:

Someone suggested that my change of plans re: putting 264 acres into preservation land smells of sour grapes – that I made a knee-jerk decision because I was upset that the anti-GMO Bill 113 passed.

But that’s not the way I make decisions. I am always looking five, 10 and 20 years ahead and planning what we need to do now to get where we need to be. Suddenly the future of farming on this island looked different, and I needed to be sure we have some flexibility at the farm.

Since I last wrote about this, though, I spoke with the USDA and found an option I didn’t previously know about. We can do a conservation easement that is less than the entire parcel. This will allow us to have a few small parcels that future generations could use for safety valve purposes, and still put land into the conservation easement. We will probably do this.

On Tuesday, the Hawai‘i County Council will decide whether to form an ad hoc committee of council members to analyze GMO issues and give the council recommendations for action. Otherwise, the mayor will do the analysis in-house.

It is no secret that I would have preferred for Mayor Kenoi to veto the anti-GMO Bill 113. But the reality is that the mayor did not have the votes to support a veto, and in this set of circumstances, I support the mayor over the council. He signed the bill, rather than wimping out and letting it pass without his signature. He was concerned about the rift in this community, and he assured the farmers that they would not get hurt.

And most of all, I know the Mayor is fact- and data-driven, something that is sorely missing from our current county council.

What I know about the county council is that its members have proven that they cannot separate fact from fiction, and therefore they are unqualified and unable to prepare us for the future.

In the recent Bill 113 debacle, our county council called Jeffrey Smith as its premier expert. This is an individual who has self-published two books about GMO foods but has zero scientific credentials and has been thoroughly debunked as any sort of credible GMO expert. He specializes in yogic flying (a kind of cross-legged hopping done in hopes of reducing crime and increasing “purity and harmony” in the “collective consciousness”). They allowed Smith to testify about GMOs for more than half an hour.

Three University of Hawai‘i experts on GMOs, on the other hand, were given a total of three minutes, between them, to testify. This averages out to one minute each.

If we are taking science into account, the Seralini study – which linked genetically modified maize and the herbicide RoundUp as having an increased cancer risk, and which was always widely pointed to as proving GMO foods were unsafe – was recently retracted by the scientific journal that published it, and rejected by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for having serious defects and failing to meet scientific standards.

County Councilwoman Margaret Wille made a very inflammatory remark in a comment following a Honolulu Civil Beat article written by University of Hawai‘i professor Michael Shintaku. In her comment, she accused Professor Shintaku, as well as Dr. Susan Miyasaka and Dean Maria Gallo (also of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture), of being “unmistakeably caught in the predicament of becoming the mouthpiece for the GMO biotech industry that provides much of the funding for their employer.”

Michael Shintaku responded with a polite comment that detailed how she was incorrect. Many scientists voiced outrage at the inaccurate and flippant comment that impugned their integrity.

It seems, unfortunately, to be par for the course for some who are anti-science and anti-GMO. Have they made up their mind without regard to truth? Have they dug in their heels, refusing to ever even consider new evidence?

I haven’t. If suddenly there was real science that showed harm from GMOs, I would cross that off my list and move on to the next best solution that would help our island. To date, though, there has never been any such science, not anywhere.

Our county council clearly does not understand farming. Councilwoman Wille likes to show how many letters she has in favor of banning GMOs, but the smaller stack from people opposing the ban was from the farmers who produce more than 90 percent of the calories grown here on the Big Island.

Why is she listening to the gardeners and not the farmers? There is such a difference between gardening and farming. I compare it to cooking turkeys. Cooking one turkey is easy – you just turn the dial for the right time and temperature, and then poof! It’s perfect. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Cooking one turkey is similar to gardening.

Farming, on the other hand, is like cooking 20 turkeys an hour every hour. They cannot be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. And they must be ready on time or your customers lose money. And every so often the power goes off or the house blows down and you have to start all over again. Farming is much more complicated than gardening.

Some anti-GMO people proclaim that we should all just eat organic. But have a look at Table 2 on page 19 of this Baseline Food Sustainability chart from the county.

Based on that table, we compared prices between a Kona supermarket and a Kona natural food store. The annual budget for a family of five at the Kona supermarket was approximately $20,000, while at the natural foods store it was slightly more than $42,000.

We did a similar comparison in Waimea, and the results were substantially the same. It is clear that most folks cannot afford organics.

Senator Ruderman, who owns a natural foods chain, claimed our price comparisons are wildly inaccurate, but they are not.

A few days ago, we learned that the Florida citrus industry, which has lost more than a million acres to citrus greening disease, may have found a GMO solution.

Although anti-GMO folks like to say they are on the side of farmers, if citrus greening disease makes it to the Big Island and we are not legally allowed to use the Florida GMO solution, it is only homeowners and small farmers who will be hurt.

Read this link for a sample of what some of the people who testified on the anti-GMO/County Council side of the argument were doing in the background. It is mean-spirited and it’s not who we in Hawai‘i are. There is no aloha in this.


Huffington & Omidyar Visit Hamakua Springs

By Leslie Lang, blog editor

Thursday was such an interesting day. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, and Pierre Omidyar, founder of Honolulu’s online newspaper Civil Beat (and founder of eBay), spent some time at Hamakua Springs Country Farms.

The background is that Huffington Post and Civil Beat have teamed up to start HuffPost Hawaii (and they asked Richard to blog for the new online news organization. Here’s his first HuffPost Hawaii post, by the way.)

So this week, Arianna and Pierre were making the rounds in Hawai‘i for the big HuffPost Hawaii launch. They spent Thursday on the Big Island, where they were welcomed with a big reception at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

The only other Big Island stop they made was to Richard’s farm. They had asked if they could come and meet Richard and learn about what he’s doing. So that happened Thursday afternoon, and Richard invited me to join them there.

What a completely fascinating day. There’s something about being around really smart people who are doing big and really interesting things, making things happen and making a difference. Richard is completely like that, too, as you know if you’ve been reading this blog. It’s invigorating to be around that kind of energy.

Both Arianna and Pierre are very friendly and down-to-earth, and both are interested in issues of sustainability and what Richard is doing.


Richard told them about his background — flunking out of college the first time around and ending up in Vietnam, coming back and trading manure from his father’s chicken farm for bananas to start what eventually became Hamakua Springs Country Farms — about seeing prices start rising, rising, rising and wondering why; about attending five Peak Oil conferences and starting to learn what was happening. He talked about how he forces the changes needed to get to where he needs to be five or 10 years in the future.


He talked about the current threat to Big Island farming from anti-GMO bills, and Pierre asked some very salient (and polite) questions about some common GMO fears, such as of:

  • Commercial control of seeds. Richard replied that in many cases, such as with, for instance, the Rainbow papaya, virus-resistant seeds are developed by the university and not controlled by any big business at all. This, he said, is often the case.
  • Cross-pollination, or “pollen drift.” Richard responded that due to numerous studies, we know how much drift there is for different crops. Farmers work together, he says, to plan what is planted where, plant so many lines of “guard rows” and it’s completely manageable.

They asked about Richard’s new hydroelectric system, and we took a dusty, bumpy country road drive out to see where the water runs through an old sugar cane flume, and then through a turbine.



Arianna and Pierre were very interested in this, and in how, when the switch is thrown very shortly, the farm will be saving perhaps almost half of its monthly electric bill, which now averages $10-11,000.


Pierre asked about returning excess power to the utility, and was shocked to learn that due to a technicality, Richard will not be paid for the power he feeds to HELCO. Pierre kept returning to that and said, more than once, “That’s just not right.” Richard finally replied, “Well, at least it’s not wasted.”


Richard Ha, Arianna Huffington, Pierre Omidyar, Leslie Lang, June Ha

Richard talked about how they have converted the farm from growing mostly bananas to being a family of farms, which brings in local farmers who then have a close-to-home place to farm. This, in turn, means the farm produces a more diverse crop.

He told Arianna and Pierre about growing their current experiment growing tilapia, to learn how to add a protein component to the food they produce and also use the waste as fertilizer. Workers can fish for tilapia there and take some home for their families.

Arianna and Pierre both seemed sincerely interested. They paid close attention and asked good questions.

Richard told them about talking with Kumu Lehua Veincent, who was principal of Keaukaha Elementary School back in the early days of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) push. He told them that he asked Kumu Lehua, “What if we ask the TMT for five, full-ride scholarships to the best schools in the nation for your best students?” He told them that Kumu Lehua thought about it for a minute and then quietly asked, “And what about the rest?”

This was a turning point, explained Richard, who said that at the time he could feel his ears turning red. He told Arianna and Pierre that that phrase, What about the rest? gives him an “unfailing moral compass.”

It always brings him back to the rubbah slippah folk, he told them. The “rubbah slippah” folk are in contrast to the “shiny shoes” folk. When he explained this, Pierre looked down at his own shoes.

“I wore my shiny shoes today,” he said, “but I meant to change into my sneakers before coming to the farm.” He mentioned his shiny shoes a couple more times during the visit.

“I felt they absolutely got what I meant when I advocated for the ‘rubbah slippah’ folks,” Richard told me, “and completely support that idea.”


Richard’s daughter Tracy had laid out a beautiful spread of Hamakua Springs produce back by the office, where there was a tent set up, and Arianna zeroed in on the longan.

“What’s this?” she said, and Tracy explained that it’s a delicious fruit. She handed one to Arianna, along with some wipes (they are juicy and messy), and Arianna loved it.

Arianna gives the impression of being very family-oriented. “At what point did you and June get married in this long process?” she asked, when Richard was explaining how he got started farming 35 years ago. (The answer: 32 years ago, and when June joined the family she took all the farm receipts out of a big banana box and straightened out the accounting.) Arianna asked Tracy if she had siblings. When she was introduced to Richard’s grandson Kapono, she looked at him, and at his parents, and asked, “Now, are you Tracy and Kimo’s son?” (Yes.)

She gave June a copy of her book, On Becoming Fearless.


Both Arianna and Pierre are such interesting people. One of the things Richard talks about is forcing change, and that is something that both his guests are all about, too: Looking down the road and fixing things, forcing the change instead of letting things bumble along.

It is refreshing to be in the presence of such interesting thinkers and doers. Great day.

This is a video Civil Beat did with Richard recently, before Arianna and Pierre’s visit. It’s really nicely done and you get to hear a bit about some of the topics they discussed yesterday (while seeing gorgeous views of the farm).


Arianna Huffington & Pierre Omidyar Coming to Farm; New Blog

Richard Ha writes:

Have you heard that Huffington Post and Honolulu Civil Beat are partnering up to launch a new online site called HuffPost Hawaii?

As part of next month’s launch, Arianna Huffington and Pierre Omidyar are coming to the Big Island, and they have asked to visit the farm to learn more about the nexus of energy and agriculture here in Hawai‘i.

They have also asked me to write a HuffPost Hawaii blog, starting during their launch week. I’ll link to that here when it’s available.

We are in such a unique position here in Hawai‘i, with our own set of energy issues, limitations and resources and how all that relates to our situation in terms of sustainability (being able to produce what we need here, vs. being dependent, for example, as we are, on 85 percent of our food being transported here from the U.S. mainland) and food security (being able to get adequate and sufficient food, regardless of where it comes from).

Both Arianna and Pierre’s farm visit, and our HuffPost Hawaii blog, will be great in terms of helping show how Hawai‘i fits into the big picture of energy and agriculture.

They are also great opportunities to continue our GMO discussion and to discuss other sustainability practices.

We might have a lot to gain once HuffPost Hawaii starts up. We will have additional, knowledgeable, people in Hawai‘i, as well as worldwide, reading about our energy/ag situations here and possibly helping us make informed decisions as we chart our course.

What an exciting venture this HuffPost Hawaii is.

HuffPost Hawaii Is Coming Soon!

Posted: 05/29/2013 12:07 pm EDT  |  Updated: 05/29/2013 2:16 pm EDT

NEW YORK CITY AND HONOLULU – May 29, 2013 – The Huffington Post and Honolulu Civil Beat today announced a partnership to create HuffPost Hawaii, a site that will bring together the resources of The Huffington Post and CivilBeat.com. The new site, expected to launch this fall, will give a global audience access to the wonders of one of the world’s most famous destinations and the authentic community of Hawaii, including its Aloha spirit. The site will explore Hawaii as an oasis for unplugging and recharging. It will also offer Hawaii residents local news and perspectives, along with Pulitzer Prize-winning national and international coverage…. Read the rest


Civil Beat & Huffington Post Coverage

Honolulu's Civil Beat came to the Big Island and interviewed Richard for this really good article on energy and Hawai‘i – and then today it was picked up by the Huffington Post. Wow. 

From Civil Beat:

Energy Prices Shock Hawaii Farmers Into Alternatives

by Sophie Cocke  8/15/13

HAMAKUA, BIG ISLAND — Lush green fields rise and dip through the rolling hills that stretch down to the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean. The verdant surroundings and tropical air suggest this farm could be one of countless others. So does the water that flows past leafy, green taro fields, stalks of corn that sway in the breeze and the sweet potato patch.

But the subtle, steady swooshing of the water signals how this farm is different. The water has been diverted from a mountain stream, down a 150-foot slope and into a small, blue shed where it sends blades spinning to generate electricity.

Yes, Hamakua Springs Country Farms has its own hydroelectric plant.

Farmer Richard Ha borrowed money to install the plant as part of a 19th-century solution to a very 21st century problem: sky-high energy rates….

Read the rest here

There's a short video interview with Richard at the end, too.

- posted by Leslie Lang


‘We Will Be Financially Ruined’ Say Residents Near PGV

Richard Ha writes:

Have a look at this Civil Beat blog post by Sophie Cocke:

Geothermal Bill Stirring Up Public Discussion

A geothermal bill passed by the Big Island’s county council, and vetoed by Mayor BIlly Kenoi, is getting a lot of attention on the Big Island. 

Local residents have begun circulating a petition, which reads, in part: 

We humbly ask you to sign our petition before July 31st, 2012 asking the County Council of Hawaii to honor the Mayor’s veto of Bill 256, Draft 2. The bill would allow the County to create a one-mile safety buffer zone around the Puna Geothermal Power Plant.

There is no study and systematic scientific evidence that substantiates a health threat to the residents near this plant.

It continues on to say: "We who wish to stay and reside within and near the plant buffer zone will be financially ruined."

It refers to the online petition here, which you can still sign today (last day).

Lots of these folks living out near Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) are shocked at what the County Council is attempting to do.

These are everyday, working people who want to take their community back. For them, it's about all of us, not just a few of us.


Very Successful Meeting on Geothermal Facts

Richard Ha writes:

Approximately 100 people showed up last night at the Leilani Estate Community Center to learn the facts about geothermal energy.

July 2012 030

Some of the testimony – from folks who have worked at the geothermal facility, as well as those who live close by – was especially impactful. 

I took 10 minutes to talk about a danger we are facing: Rising oil prices. If we have sincere dialogue among all the parties, we can start to see that rising oil prices will threaten our social fabric – and most of all, our spirit of aloha. And maybe we can do something about it. But we don’t have the luxury of time.

July 2012 026

Why can’t we, here on the Big Island, have lower electricity rates than O‘ahu? It would lessen pressure on the most vulnerable families, help farmers compete, help businesses create more jobs and prevent the export of our most precious resource – our children.

Mike Kaleikini, Plant Manager of Puna Geothermal Venture, talked about the history of geothermal production, mitigation measures and safety regulations. Mike has a way of explaining complex issues that is easy to understand.

Don Thomas gave a talk about the technical side of the H2S issue, which had a big impact on the audience. Both Mike and Don are very credible, as they have actual, real-life experience and speak about facts that are verifiable.

I would say the crowd was 70 to 30 percent for geothermal. But it isn’t a matter of “us” against “them.” It was the discussion and sharing of information that was most important. At some point, I hope soon, we can come to grips with the larger issues of rising prices, and how we can maximize our resources in a smart and responsible way.

July 2012 030

To cap things off, Mayor Billy Kenoi showed up after the mayoral candidate debate in Pahoa concluded. He did a good job of explaining, in a commonsense way, why there is no need for the council bill. It is redundant and adds problems that are unnecessary.

July 2012 030

All attending were Councilman Fred Blas as well as Representative Faye Hanohano.

Late last night we received a note from Petra Wiesenbauer, Jan Kama and Loren Avedon, who organized the meeting:

Richard, Mike, and Don,

Mahalo for an outstanding presentation tonite to the residents of Leilani Estates and community members.  There were many comments after the meeting that people had a better understanding of how the plant operates and its impact on the community.  Whether or not they understand the difference between H2S and SO2 is questionable, but at least they feel more comfortable knowing that they are not as much at risk as they thought. 

And Petra Wiesenbauer, who lives in and runs a B&B in Leilani Estates, sent along some further comments of her own about the meeting (as well as the photos in this post):

I think it was an extremely good meeting last night. I am so proud of everybody for staying focused and respectful.

Don Thomas was absolutely excellent. It was so good to have him there with all the numbers of emissions, comparisons of different regions and being able to putting things into perspective, i.e., the Volcano blasting out 600 to 1,000 tons of stuff every day. He was able to dismantle some of the myths and clear up rumors and anxieties.

Mike was really, really good, too in making transparent what is going on at the plant and the strict restrictions they are under in regards to their monitoring, their chemicals and general equipment maintenance.

That the Mayor was able to come at the end was an added bonus and gave the whole meeting a great finale.

I talked to Jeff Melrose a little and he said, that they are working on a brochure/informational materials about disaster response/evacuation, safety and other community concerns regarding geothermal development. He is such a great guy as well and so knowledgeable about all the Big Island planning and land dealings. He thought it was the best meeting he has been to in a long time about this whole controversy and he thought it was amazing, that something like that had not been done much earlier.

I give so much credit for the course of the evening to Loren [Avedon], our moderator. He was great and made sure there were no lengthy statements, self indulgence, lamentations and other behaviors from any of the audience that could have been counterproductive to the outcome of the meeting.

 The whole meeting came about as a result of this note that had been sent around about the July 19th County Council meeting:

“There was something odd about today’s County Council meeting…all of us testifying at the Pahoa office were in opposition to the legislation, with the exception of three people.  Apparently the anti-geothermal group had received word that the bills would be postponed for 30 days.”

Those of us who attended the County Council meeting to override the Mayor veto of Bill 256 were prepared for more than 100 folks picketing the County building, and protesting loudly. But no one showed up.

The email back and forth resulted in someone asking me to post their testimony on my blog, which I did. Then on the 22nd, this note was sent around:

 “We would actually love to take you up on your offer to come here and give a talk to interested residents here in Leilani. It would be a good way to also promote the petition http://www.change.org/petitions/hawaii-county-council-petition, and therefore it would be great to do it as soon as possible. We were wondering if you had time on Tuesday at around 6:30pm. If not any other day that is convenient for you just let us know?”

By the next day, I had confirmed that Don Thomas, Wally Ishibashi and Mike Kaleikini would attend. All this happened really quickly.

With only two days notice, 100 people showed up, standing room only. I was amazed.

• Here is a recent Civil Beat article, titled “Arguments Against Geothermal Are ‘Absurdly Elitest,’ Says Scientist.

• You can still sign the Hawaii County Council petition here, which asks:

We humbly ask you to sign our petition before July 30th, 2012 asking the County Council of Hawaii to honor the Mayor’s veto of Bill 256, Draft 2. The bill would allow the County to create a one-mile safety buffer zone around the Puna Geothermal Power Plant. [Read more at the link]


2011: The Year in Review

What a year it’s been! Here are some 2011 highlights:

There was a lot of conversation, of course, about geothermal. The Geothermal Working Group Interim Report  – which provided lawmakers with an evaluation of using the hot water reservoir in certain locations of Big Island to provide local and renewable energy for electricity and transportation – was distributed to state legislators. I also wrote about it being a matter of leadership, about mopping the deck of the Titanic, and about how the momentum toward geothermal has shifted. Also about a Democratic Party Resolution supporting geothermal for baseload electrical power.

I attended a geothermal energy forum in Pahoa, with Hawaiian leaders speaking and every seat taken. There were more Hawaiian perspectives in supporting geothermal, this time in Hilo. And about even more Big Island support for geothermal.

Screen shot 2012-01-01 at 10.37.49 PM

I posted a link to the cloudcam, a time-lapse video taken by the Canada France Hawaii telescope’s cloud cam at night, which I thought was really neat. It’s time-lapse photography where you can watch the stars migrate across the night sky.

June and I enjoyed meeting and talking with visionary Earl Bakken at his Kiloho Bay home, and learning about his manifesto.

Screen shot 2012-01-01 at 10.42.12 PM

We participated in Alan Wong’s Farmers Series dinner for a second time, and really enjoyed it.

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People seemed to enjoy the conclusion of my Maku‘u Series. I got a lot of great feedback on it. It was fun remembering the old days and the old ways of my Kamahele ‘ohana in Maku‘u.

I wrote about biofuels, and the very real problems with them. Also on biofuels and feedstock. I wrote a post about the National Research Council calling biofuels costly and their impacts questionable.

I spoke to the Kamehameha Schools First Nation Fellows about food sustainability, showed them the farm and gave them some of the best advice I could think of.

Of course I mentioned a few times about how “If the farmers make money, farmers will farm.” That link is to one of those times.

In June, seven Polynesian-style voyaging waka (canoes), representing different Pacific Islands, arrived in Hilo Bay after a two-month voyage from Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Screen shot 2012-01-01 at 8.36.33 PM

Leslie Lang, my blog editor, went for a spin around the bay on one, and we wrote about how the ancient ways are again showing us the way.

“It’s all about taking the knowledge and wisdom of the past and using it in the present to make a stronger future. It’s exactly what the old Polynesians did when they sailed out into the Pacific to find new land.”

It’s a strong metaphor. I wrote my impressions of the vaka here.

More vaka posts: The Canoes are Coming: Te Mana o Te MoanaThey’re Here! and What’s the Big Deal about Voyaging Canoes?

In July, CEO of Ku‘oko‘a Ro Marth and I went to Iceland, in order to see for ourselves how Iceland went from being a developing country in the 1970s to one of the most productive countries in the world today. (Here’s a hint: GEOTHERMAL.)

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Read about our very interesting trip (I wore shorts) at Heading to IcelandHeading to Iceland 2Power Plant Earth and Iceland, In Conclusion.

The online news organization Civil Beat published my three-part series on energy and food security in September.

Civil Beat article

And I attended my fourth Peak Oil conference, this one in Washington, D.C. I wrote about it here: Part 1: As the ASPO Conference Gears UpPart 2: Impressions from the ConferencePart 3: Energy Return on Energy Invested and Part 4: The Answer is Geothermal.

It has been a busy, productive and interesting year, and I look forward to having another of the same. My best wishes to everybody out there reading for a happy, healthy and successful 2012!