Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kauai's Renewable Energy Future

The Garden Island News of Kaua'i published the following on December 9, 2011.

The energy conference hosted by Kaua’i Economic Development Board this Tuesday made clear once again that Kaua’i can obtain the majority of its energy from sun, wind and water. The planned goal is to have 70% renewable energy production by 2030.

Kaua’i can do better than 70% renewable and do it much sooner for its electrical power. Goals of 50% renewable within five years (2017) and 90% renewable in eight years (2020) are readily achievable. There are great advantages in having shorter time horizons. People will save money sooner. Centralized solar voltaics and wind generated power are cheaper than the oil produced electrical power produced on Kaua’i which as everyone knows is by far the most costly in the nation. By having a more aggressive near term renewable goal, planning and installation of renewable energy must begin now, and not put off many years into the distant future. To meet either the 50 and 90% renewable goals, every year should have a sizable 10-12% annual target.

As a environmental scientist who has studied and lectured on climate change for many years, we have only a limited time, perhaps just a decade, to begin bringing our global warming greenhouse gases under control. The longer we delay environmental damage, such as to our sensitive coral reefs, will become irreversible. Because Kaua’i is blessed with abundant solar and wind resources, there is nothing stopping Kaua’i and the state from becoming the nation’s and world’s model for renewable energy. We can all recall that it was commitment to a powerful vision and persistent political will that got us to the moon in less than decade. We can do the same for renewable energy on Kauai.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kauai and Climate Change

The magical Garden Island of Kauai is calling me again, this time for six months or more. One of the few places left on this earth where the natural beauty, tranquility, and people can come into perfect balance. You get up with the sun, pass by a dozen waterfalls, run barefoot on the beach, take a swim, crawl under an umbrella with the noon sun day beaming overhead, as a cool breeze blows. It is as close as humans get to nature's paradise. (Of course through meditation paradise can be found going inward....but that is a topic for another time).

Back to Kauai to wrap up a book, start another one, and see what it might be like to live in a place overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while the humpback whales play and give birth in their wintering place. Then to my beach...Ke'e the end of the road where you can see endless ocean to the west or the magnificent, rugged Na Pali coastline to the south...or swim with gentle sea turtles while snorkeling. And yes, it is possible to still do environmental consulting!

Yet climate change is happening rapidly and Kauai cannot escape it. Paradise is on borrowed time. We know for a fact that coral reefs are rapidly dying off due to greenhouse gases that spew from our gas guzzling cars or the fossil fuel power plants that produce the electricity that light our homes. In two generations most of the reefs and fishes they support will be gone on Kauai...and sadly all over the world. Likely, the dozen or more waterfalls that spring forward after a Kauai rain on the north side will be fewer in number as world rainfall patterns shift. Texas experienced the worst drought, temperatures and fires in history....exactly what is expected with climate change decades into the future. Yet it is already happening now. And there will be more droughts, floods, crop losses, and disease. All because humanity does not have the will to combat the pollution causing climate change, which will leave future generations an irreversibly degraded world.

So my last environmental cause will be giving lectures on climate change and making people aware of the the great champion Al Gore is doing... whom I had the pleasure to hear and meet recently. Turn off your TVs, get off the sofa, and do something to make the environment a better place for your children's, children's children.

For more climate change information see