FBI Bloggers: From Big Island

Fri 20 March 2009


I'm honored to be part of the FBI Blogs link-cycle. Although, having lived here only five years, I still feel very much a newcomer to the island.

I don't blog much about Hawai'i or the Big Island because I figure that most people subscribe to this site in order to read about software development. On the other hand, since I lost most of my old content and articles when switching from Das Blog to WordPress and since I have hardly had time to write any blogposts in the past year or so, it's probably a moot point.

One of the many interesting things about Hawai'i is how much smaller the community is than, say, the San Francisco Bay Area, where I lived for 17 years. In the Bay Area, you have lots of eyes on government and business. In Hawai'i, and especially the "neighbor islands" (not Oahu, where 90% of the state's population lives), the government is used to "reporting" that consists of a well-known reporter showing up at official meetings and transcribing rote answers to rote questions. The reporting of "citizen journalists," with their unrestrained voices and inconvenient attention to the world outside of council meetings, is actively clashing with a system that is unabashedly a political machine / old-boys network.

Simultaneously, the state and the Big Island are microcosms of the most interesting global challenges: environmental change and energy. Just yesterday, a report came out saying that 1/3 of the nation's endangered birds live in Hawai'i (and many native species have already been driven to extinction). Accelerated rising of the sea-level will be a huge problem for Oahu. And our coral reefs are under threat from ocean acidification and warming. Meanwhile, this state could easily be carbon-neutral with existing technology. We have ample amounts of essentially every form of renewable energy except hydroelectric: wind, solar, geothermal, OTEC (my favorite), wave, and current.

Obviously, the infrastructure to support electric vehicles is much easier to build on an island, where a handful of charging stations is all that is required to ensure one is always nearby.

Yet we pay the highest electric rates in the nation and our energy company runs roughshod over a spineless and/or complicit Public Utilities Commission.

These are issues of interest to me, but whether this domain is the place to speak of them or not, I've not decided. What do you think?