Home

SUBHEAD: Stunning aerial footage, scientists’ sobering facts and staggering figures, drives "Home" the point.
By Paula Alvarado on 2 June 2009 in Treehugger - http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/home-documentary-premiere-yann-arthus-bertrand-environment-day.php Image above: Still of Great Barrier Reef, Australia from "Home" a coproduction by Elzevir Films. From http://www.home-2009.com/us/index.html Next World Environment Day [June 5] is also the date set for the world premiere of Yann Arthus Bertrand's Home Documentary. The movie is a collection of unique aerial footage from over 50 countries, which will try to show the state of the planet in natural and urban areas with the goal of inciting people to act. Says the producer, Denis Carot, "Home is a film with a message that sets out to shift people's perceptions, make us aware of the tectonic movements at work and incite us to act. Although there is a general trend in our societies towards an awareness of ecological issues, concrete action is still too little, too slow—which constitutes in some ways the creed of the movie: It's too late to be a pessimist". Foundations and Idea behind "Home": Although famous for its Earth from Above pictures, this is the first movie by French photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand. He got the idea of making it moved by the impact Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth had since its release. "When I invited Al Gore to show his film, An Inconvenient Truth, to the French Parliament, I realized just how much impact a movie could have, even more than a TV program. I saw how moved the audience was—to tears in some cases—and I said to myself that a feature film was an excellent way of reaching people," he said in an interview at the press release brochure. A movie from above: Following his tradition of aerial photography, Arthus Bertrand set off to make a movie entirely shot from above. Why is a movie from above necessary? Producer Denis Carot explains in the same release: "I was convinced that the idea of shooting a movie entirely from up in the sky, without interviews or archive footage, was the right one, but I couldn't pinpoint why. One conversation enlightened me: 'From the sky, there's less need for explanations.' Absolutely! One's vision is more immediate, intuitive and emotional. That's what sets Home apart from all the other movies on the environment—which are all equally necessary in this crucial period for humanity. Home impacts directly on the sensibility of anyone who sees it, bringing us to awareness, through emotion initially, in order to change the way we see the world." The emissions for the making of the movie were of course offset, by financing a project for Diffusion of anaerobic digesters in India (through Action Carbone). Shanty town of Makoko, in front of Lagos Island, Nigeria. ©Film “Home”, a coproduction by Elzevir Films/Europacorp. Numbers and details of the project: Apart from a documentary, Home is an ambitious project: from day one, it was thought to be released free and worldwide to reach as many people as possible. To make this possible, the film was sponsored by PPR Group, and other initiatives. It took 217 days of shooting in 54 countries, which added up to 488 hours of footage. Additionally, the movie has an original music score written by Armand Amar and recorded with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and the Shanghai Percussion Ensemble. For further details of the film, check out the official website. http://www.home-2009.com

Grayson skewers the Fed

SUBHEAD: Federal Reserve Inspector General Elizabeth Coleman before a House Financial Services Subcommittee is questioned by Florida Rep. Alan Grayson.

By Timothy R. Homan on 12 May 2009 in Bloomberg News - http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aXk2cMkmSbQA

A clip on Google Inc.’s YouTube of a congressman scolding the Federal Reserve’s inspector general on her oversight of taxpayer funds has garnered more than 166,000 viewings in six days since a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, chastised Inspector General Elizabeth Coleman for what he deemed a lack of oversight of the central bank’s off-balance-sheet transactions. The video titled “Is Anyone Minding the Store at the Federal Reserve?” was posted a day after Coleman’s May 5 testimony to a House Financial Services subcommittee.

video above: Questioning of Elizabeth Coleman by Alan Grayson at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJqM2tFOxLQ&e

"Do you know who received that $1 trillion-plus that the Fed extended and put on its balance sheet since last September?” Grayson asked.

Coleman responded by saying she didn’t know. “We have not looked at that specific area,” she said in the nearly five-and- a-half minute clip.

The segment was the 11th-most watched “news and politics” video this week on YouTube, according to the Web site’s statistics.

The Fed has refused to identify the borrowers, loan amounts or specific assets submitted as collateral under 11 of the central bank’s programs. Officials have argued that doing so might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders.

Disclosure Lawsuit

Bloomberg LP, the New York-based company majority-owned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sued in November under the Freedom of Information Act on behalf of its Bloomberg News unit to get access to information about the loans.

“What have you done to investigate the off-balance-sheet transactions conducted by the Federal Reserve which, according to Bloomberg, now total $9 trillion in the last 8 months?” Grayson asked Coleman.

Coleman, who was appointed to the position in May 2007, said in the hearing that she hadn’t seen the article.

A Bloomberg News story published Feb. 9 said the Treasury Department, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Fed have lent or spent almost $3 trillion over the past two years and pledged up to $5.7 trillion more. A March 31 article raised the total amount committed or disbursed to $12.8 trillion.

A statement e-mailed by Coleman’s office yesterday said the Fed board’s inspector general doesn’t have legal authority to investigate the transactions that have swelled the central bank’s balance sheet.

“By law, we are the Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors only,” the statement said. “Consistent with our authority, we cannot conduct a direct audit of Reserve Bank operations.”

The video, which was linked on the Huffington Post Web site, “makes it perfectly clear that if the inspector general herself doesn’t know what’s happened to that money then we’re going to have to find out ourselves,” Grayson said in an interview yesterday.

Apocalypse Now

SUBHEAD: The boom in gloom is not just ranters wearing bathrobes and carrying signs on street corners. By Martin Mittelstaedt on 7 June 2009 in The Globe and Mail http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/apocalypse-now/article1172056/
Image above: Detail of poster for the 1970's Francis Ford Coppola movie Apocalypse Now!
Canadians, brace yourselves: One day soon, something unusual may be showing up on the border - climate refugees trying to stream into the country from the United States. If global warming really starts to unfold, according to well-known British scientist and author James Lovelock, it will lay such waste to the U.S. that millions of desperate people will be fleeing a country no longer suitable for human habitation in favour of the newly temperate regions of Northern Canada. It may seem far-fetched that Americans - people obsessed, as Canadians subjected to the latest passport requirements know, with the security of their own borders - might turn into illegal immigrants. But not to Mr. Lovelock, who says global warming will get so bad in the years ahead that he "can assure you" that we'll be facing an influx of unwelcome Americans in search of greener pastures.
In the 1970s, Dr. Lovelock gained worldwide renown for his Gaia hypothesis, the New Age-sounding idea that the entire Earth should be viewed as a kind of living organism, with a system of interactions that make it a Goldilocks planet - not too hot or too cold, but just right for living things. It was a scientific foundation for the idea that there really is a Mother Earth.
But these days he is fretting that Mother Earth is ready to whack us, big-time. In one of the gloomiest forecasts yet by a respected mainstream scientist or academic, he thinks nothing less than that the environmental apocalypse is at hand. And he's not alone. In the past year, amid financial panics, wild fluctuations in oil prices and reports on global warming happening faster than anyone expected, there's a spate of books making the case that something monumentally bad is about to unfold. There are books warning that climate change will soon cause wars or will so alter the environment that we are approaching another major age of extinctions. Some have dwelled on the idea that the threat may be extraterrestrial, with asteroids plowing into the planet. Still others have contended that oil shortages are going to snuff out civilization. The idea of End Times, or apocalypses, has been around as long as religion. Until recently, it has been a mainstay of Christian fundamentalism. But the notion that the world as we know it is about to end - this time with an environmental rather than a religious-inspired bang - lately has been making inroads in more mainstream and progressive-leaning circles, including activists, scientists and pundits. It isn't just intellectual lightweights crying wolf, but high-forehead types such as the octogenarian Mr. Lovelock, who has more than 200 scientific papers to his credit. Also among the throng is Gwynne Dyer, the Canadian author and military security pundit, who recently penned a book and did a CBC radio series asserting that wars will soon be caused by climate change. British science writer Fred Pearce calls his latest book The Last Generation: How Nature Will Take Her Revenge for Climate Change. And Lester Brown, who founded the Washington D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute, one of the globe's first environmental think tanks, frets that crop failures could start to unravel civilization. Mr. Lovelock has penned one of the darkest outlooks with his book The Vanishing Face of Gaia, which warns that climate change might kill most of us in a catastrophe just short of biblical-flood proportions. He forecasts that humanity's numbers may drop from the current seven billion to a billion - perhaps no more than 100 million. He also predicts that climate change won't be a century-long process allowing lots of time to safely adjust. The transformation to a hothouse world will be abrupt. Temperatures will jump over the course of a couple of years to a dangerous new normal that is four or five degrees higher than today. While much of the world will be roasting (he prefers the term "global heating"), there will be a few oases to weather out the storm, he says. Island nations, such as his own Britain as well as New Zealand, Ireland and Hawaii, will do fine thanks to the moderating effects of oceans and their rainstorms. Ditto for currently cold northern areas, including parts of Canada and Siberia, which will gain a more hospitable climate. But it will be damnation for points farther south and in the interior of continents, which will turn into deserts - and Americans will join the world's huddled masses once again. DANGEROUS WORLD The most recent book from Nova Scotia-based journalist Marq de Villiers, Dangerous World, is a catalogue of the ills that could befall us, from the possibility of civilization-destroying asteroids to global-warming-induced destruction of our own making. "We live on a vulnerable and unstable little planet in a hostile cosmic neighbourhood, and we need to look after it better. I think that was the fundamental point" of writing the book, Mr. de Villiers says. To be sure, imagining the end of the world as we know it might be something of a fad. The genre has had previous rounds of popularity, for instance in the 1970s - then as now, during a deep economic slump - when the worry was that rapid human population growth would destroy the planet. Mr. de Villiers's U.S. publisher was no doubt trying to tap into the gloomy Zeitgeist with its marketing decision to change the book's title south of the border to The End - just to add a hint of Götterdämmerung. (Both versions share the same subtitle: Natural Disasters, Manmade Catastrophes, and the Future of Human Survival.) Nonetheless, the large number of dangerous and scary problems facing us, from oil depletion to climate change, makes it easy to see why people are painting the future in such a dismal hue. Trends "do seem to point increasingly towards some cataclysmic end," says Lee Cormie, a theology professor at the University of Toronto, who has studied how apocalyptic thinking has migrated from conservative Christians to the environmentalist movement. Exactly how our world and its civilization might eventually blow out is a matter of serious debate. Besides climate, a leading candidate is looming resource scarcity, as envisioned by those warning about "peak oil" - the theory that most of the cheap and readily accessible fossil fuel has been burned up and society's gas tank is about to run dangerously low. John Michael Greer, an environmentalist blogger in Oregon, is in that camp. And, like many others, he has parlayed his grim expectations into a book, in his case titled The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age. Rather than going out with an apocalyptic bang, Mr. Greer thinks that we're facing a slow-motion, decades-long grind downward tied to fluctuations in energy prices. When the price of oil is low, economies will regain a bit of their lustre, only to head south again when prices spike to punishing levels. But when all the oil is gone, it's lights out, literally. "History doesn't have sudden collapses. It's a slow, long process of decline in a kind of stair step [of] crisis, partial recovery, crisis, partial recovery ... and eventually you're in a dark age," he says matter-of-factly. "We're in for a fairly rough time." One of the reasons for his bleak outlook is that he believes renewable-energy technologies such as wind and solar power will never be able to duplicate what we now get from petroleum. Mr. Greer, who doesn't own a car, predicts that as energy scarcity causes civilization to unravel to a more primitive level, inner cities will hum with the activity of the dismantling of skyscrapers. Office towers will be plundered by people desperate for their valuable scrap metal - they won't be in use, in any case, because there won't be enough electricity to run their elevators. Mr. Greer advises people to prepare now for that oil-free future by turning their backyards into urban homesteads for growing food and training for what in a disintegrating society will be more practical occupations. He suggests organic farming or small-appliance repair - "any profession that actually produces goods and services that people need, not manipulates numbers, not manipulates images, or heaven help us, manipulates electrons on a computer." WHAT ABOUT PEAK GRAIN? Meanwhile, U.S. environmental thinker Lester Brown has been considering a once-improbable question - whether food shortages could bring down our civilization. As he explored in a recent Scientific American article, in the collapses of societies throughout history, more often than not "it was food shortages that brought them down," he says. "Until recently," he adds, "I didn't think that could happen to our early-21st-century global civilization." But he became open to the idea after observing last year's sudden spike in grain prices on world markets - perhaps an early warning that the biggest danger isn't that our oil tanks will soon be empty but that, worse, our granaries will. What worries him is that previous food-price gains were temporary, such as the one that occurred in 1972 when the former Soviet Union had a poor harvest and bought up surplus U.S. grains. Subsequent healthy harvests brought a quick return to normalcy and food plenty. But after last year's peak, grain prices are still at double their historical levels. Corn used to sell for about $2 (U.S.) a bushel. Now it's well over $4. In Mr. Brown's view, these prices reflect a global decline in agriculture due to such factors as dwindling water for irrigation in the U.S., India and China, and the impact of global warming on temperature-sensitive crops, which unfortunately happen to include such staples as rice and corn. He contends that in order to avoid a looming famine, societies have to rethink using food to produce fuel (such as ethanol), stabilize population growth quickly at far less than the 70 million souls now being added to the planet annually, and launch a frontal assault on global warming. He says nothing less than an 80-per-cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 will do the trick - something almost no policy-makers are now considering. However, not everyone has joined the doom-and-gloom bandwagon. Rick Smith, head of Environmental Defence, a Toronto-based advocacy group, thinks that the end of the world has been over-hyped by his fellow environmentalists. "I've been working for 20 years in the environment movement and I've always been skeptical of this apocalyptic bent," he says, noting that while impending disaster is an article of faith among many environmentalists, it doesn't exist in other social movements where it might seem to be more appropriate. Those who run relief agencies or argue for development in the Third World often have to deal with horrible natural disasters, genocides and the like, he observes, but they don't have "this funny, apocalyptic" mania. Another reason to be skeptical is that the previous round of such worries turned out to be overblown. Around 1970, two influential books fostered popular pessimism, the Club of Rome report The Limits to Growth and Paul Erhlich's The Population Bomb (which predicted millions would die by famines in the 1970s and 1980s). Neither came to pass. Mr. Smith agrees that the "global ecosystem is fraying quite dramatically," but he believes that we're smart enough to adopt solutions before we reach the brink. Mr. Lovelock, though, isn't so confident. He thinks that humans have added so much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that it's probably already too late to stop climate change. Signs that sea ice in the Arctic is melting decades ahead of when scientists thought it might disappear only buttress his view. Rather than spending money only on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, he believes that our government would be wise to develop plans to house and deal with the millions of American wetbacks who will soon wash up on our shores. "This is going to become a very habitable part of the globe and people are going to want to come here in vast numbers." For a man with a gloomy message, in person Mr. Lovelock is jovial and cheerful. That disposition extends even to his prediction of what do with an apocalypse in the offing. His new book is subtitled "A Final Warning" because his publisher liked the bleakness of the addendum. But he wanted something more practical: If the world is going to end, why waste your time being scared out of your wits? Mr. Lovelock's preferred subtitle: "Enjoy It While You Can."

Growing food top priority

SUBHEAD: The economic multiplier effects of increasing food self-sufficiency. SOURCE: Brad Parsons (kauaibrad@yahoo.com) By Andrea Brower 7 June 2009 in The Garden Island News http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2009/06/07/business/kauai_business/doc4a2b6b8061064087944557.txt Image above: Detail from illustration by Eugene Savage (1883-1978) Among other artwork, Savage did dinner menu covers for for Hawaii's Mastson Cruise Line. For more see http://www.flickr.com/groups/polynesianpop/discuss/72157601863210308/ Increasing food production on Kaua‘i has recently been a main focus of community discussion and action, from Mayor Carvalho’s report card to a multitude of local blog sites to ongoing workshops in seed saving, gardening and composting. There is a long list of reasons that supporting local agriculture makes sense — including economic diversification and resilience, health and nutrition, environmental stewardship, and community security. It has been said that agriculture is presently not economically viable — that Hawai‘i farmers cannot compete on a global scale due to high production costs. However, if we concentrate first and foremost on feeding ourselves, and if we enact policies that assist our local growers, then our community at large will reap great economic benefits. A recent publication by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and Hawai‘i State Department of Agriculture evaluated the economic multiplier effects of increasing food self-sufficiency in Hawai‘i: Assuming that 85 percent of the food we consumed is imported, this translates into $3.1 billion leaving our state to support agribusinesses elsewhere. If we could replace just 10 percent of these imported foods, by residents alone, and assuming we have the available and appropriate resources and infrastructures for such an expansion — it would amount to some $313 million, or $94 million at the farm-gate, assuming a 30 percent farm share. Taking into account the multiplier effects, this $94 million would generate an estimated economy-wide impact of $188 million in sales, $47 million in earnings, $6 million in state tax revenues and more than 2,300 jobs. This is not a trivial amount. One obvious question is whether the $6 million of tax revenues generated from a 10 percent food import replacement strategy would be sufficient to design and run a government program to support further expansion of local production. The authors also pointed out that value should be assigned to other non-monetary benefits, including job creation, better environmental stewardship (for example, keeping open space and a green island landscape, and recharging the aquifer system), increased levels of food self-reliance, reduced risk of invasive species, and land preservation, as well as any associated costs when compared to other public programs and projects. The downward trend of tourism and rise in unemployment are clear reasons to make increased food self-sufficiency a top priority of both government and the private sector. At the individual and community level, there is much that can be done and is being done. Simply buying local is perhaps the most important thing that each of us can do. Kaua‘i has multiple Community Supported Agriculture programs and daily Farmers Markets, some of which can be found online at kauaiagriculturalforum.org, along with a partial list of agricultural initiatives for those looking to get involved. The entire publication can be downloaded at www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/EI-16.pdf Authors of the publication are PingSun Leung, Ph.D., professor at University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and Matthew Loke, Ph.D., Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. • Andrea Brower is project manager of Malama Kaua‘i, an organization dedicated to the ‘aina, community, and culture of Kaua‘i. She can be reached at www.malamakauai.org.

US Army & Makua Valley

SUBHEAD: Comments on Danial Inouye editorial supporting expanded use of Makua Valley, on Oahu, by the Army. SOURCE: Katy Rose (katyannarose@mac.com) By Kyle Kajihiro 6 June 2009 for DMZ Hawaii http://www.dmzhawaii.org/?p=2545 Image above: Sign used by Army to warm people of their activities in Makua Valley. From http://www.sacredland.org/index.php/2008/03 Predictably, Sen. Inouye has penned an editorial supporting the Army's proposed expanded training in Makua Valley. Let's analyze his argument: 1. THe U.S. Army is a "good neighbor". The US military was the force that overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom and occupied Hawai'i. Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan to Teddy Roosevelt (1897): "take (Hawaii) first and solve (political questions) afterwards." I wouldn't consider anyone who covets and takes over his neighbor's house a "good neighbor". 2. Hawaii soldiers will be called to war; they need training. What are the troops training for? The US is engaged in illegal, imperial wars to invade and occupy other peoples' countries. Phiippines, Korea, Vietnam, and even WWII, the "good war", was a struggle between two imperial camps. In the Pacific, Japan lost and the US took the spoils, creating an "American Lake". Hawai'i's sacred places should not be used to perpetuate empire. 3. The Army has trained in Makua for more than 60 years, virtually forever. The US military illegally occupies lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom and seized private lands. The military evicted families from Makua and destroyed their community. They promised to return the lands after WWII, but lied. 4. The Army's concern for the environment goes beyond Makua; they helped to pay for the purchase of lands to be placed in public land trusts. Many people saw this coming: The use of military funds to help purchase and protect certain areas as "buffers" for military training would be used as part of the psychological operations to win the hearts and minds of, or at least neutralize resistance from the community, in this case environmentalists. 5. The Army is part of our 'ohana. The military is taking our 'ohana to fight wars for the empire, much like the Romans enlisted subjugated peoples to fight in its legions. Military training in Hawai'i, going back to the earliest JROTC programs at Kamehameha Schools and McKinley High School in the early 1900s were intended to indoctrinate Hawaiian, Japanese and other Local youth into military/American identity and ideology. In 1924 General Charles P. Summerall, commander of the Hawaiian Department for the US Army and one of the more pen-minded racists, wrote: "the Japanese students showed themselves to be capable of becoming very efficient military students. There is no better way of securing the loyalty of such people than to incorporate them in our military forces with the environment of obligation to duty that cannot fail to win their allegiance in most if not all cases. Such a course would also tend to remove the resentment that Japanese citizens now feel at the discrimination that is made against them." From Senator Inouye's editorial, you might conclude that the military's social engineering experiment worked [Editor's Note: The following is the editorial in question.] Let Army resume training at Makua By Daniel K. Inouye on 7 June 2009 in the Honolulu Advertiser On Friday, the Army released the final environmental impact statement for military training activities at the Makua Military Reservation. Completion of this EIS culminates a seven-year effort that studied the effects of live-fire training on the cultural and natural resources of the valley. This includes an extensive marine resources study and a subsurface archaeological survey. I encourage the people of Hawai'i to review all the information. In doing so, I hope you will come to the same conclusion: Let them train. The Army is a good neighbor and longtime member of our community. It has taken its responsibility very seriously, and has come to the onclusion that it can sufficiently mitigate the risks inherent in conducting live-fire training exercises in the valley. Rather than continuing to nitpick at one thing or another, and force a return yet again to court, serving only to delay critical training that could provide the difference between life and death, I respectfully suggest that we, as a community, stand up and say, "We've had enough of these delay tactics — let them train." Today, there are about 6,200 Hawai'i Army, Marine and National Guard warriors deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. With an increased military presence planned for Afghanistan, we should expect continued deployments in the foreseeable future. North Korea's irresponsible taunting, as evidenced by its recent missile launches and its provocative future launch plans, have heightened already soaring tensions in the Pacific region. No doubt if there were an incident, our Hawai'i-based units could be among the first to respond. They must be able to train. Our warriors should not be penalized and placed in harm's way in faraway places without receiving the training they need to protect themselves, get the job done and return home safely. We also should not extend their time away from their families by forcing them to train in another state. Keep in mind that less than one percent of Americans are willing to make the sacrifice to wear our nation's uniform. They deserve our support, as they serve to preserve our way of life. Let them train. Makua Valley is a critical training asset for the Army, Marines and National Guard. It has been used as a live-fire training area for more than 60 years. In 1998, training was halted as a result of a lawsuit. Training was then allowed on a negotiated, limited basis following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, while the EIS was being prepared. As the memory of Sept. 11 faded, training was again halted in the summer of 2004, pending completion of the EIS. So, here we are today, with the final EIS in front of us. The Army has maintained Makua Valley as a training area, while at the same time steadfastly continuing its efforts to protect the endangered species and cultural sites, including removing ordnance to allow reasonable access for cultural practitioners. About $4 million annually is spent for this purpose. In addition, more than $6 million to date has been set aside for the removal of ordnance in Makua Valley, and in near-ocean waters opposite the valley. More than 30 technically-trained field biologists manage the natural resources in Makua Valley. They have planted about 4,000 endangered plants, controlled the weeds, and built fences to protect endangered species. Another $1 million is spent annually to preserve archeological sites in the valley. To date, 121 sites have been identified for study and protection. I would venture that very few other entities have the resources and the commitment to take as good care of Makua Valley as the Army. The Hawai'i Army's environmental stewardship goes beyond the valley. It is a willing public partner in conserving special lands, and has invested more than $10 million in recent years alone to support the acquisition of Waimea Valley, Pupukea-Paumalu, Moanalua Valley and, very shortly, the Honouliuli preserve along the Wai'anae mountain range. Each year, the Army spends about $365 million for its support in Hawai'i. Estimated spending for privatized Army housing construction and maintenance already tops $736 million. Add another $598 million for military construction provided just in the past two years including stimulus funds. All of this supports our economy during these difficult times. Most important to me, however, the Hawai'i Army is a part of our 'ohana. It's not about "us and them," but rather a much larger "we and our." We volunteer together at the Food Bank and Special Olympics. Our children are learning side-by-side with one another. Our moms and dads are coaching young athletes together on the soccer and baseball fields. Our soldiers deserve our support. They deserve the best training we can provide to prepare them for battle in faraway lands. The Army has done their part. It's time to do ours — let them train. see also: Island Breath: Victory for Makua Valley 3/13/08

A Structural Change

SUBHEAD: Adjusting to a more balanced and sustainable system.
By Brett Jordan on 4 June 2009 in The Market Oracle - http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=11107 image above: Structural framework of the Statue of Liberty being tested in Paris in 1883. Sculpture by Frederic Bartholdi. Photograph by Albert Fernique. From the http://www.endex.com/gf/buildings/liberty/libertyfacts/solconstructiongallery.htm What politicians and central bankers around the world are either neglecting to tell us, or to consider, is that the current economic crisis, now a global recession and fast becoming a depression, is a result of a fundamental structural shift in the very makeup of the world economy. The credit crisis is widely accepted as the trigger for the current economic woes, but those who take a broad view of the world will see that our current predicament was actually years in the making, and ultimately, inevitable. As inevitable as the collapse of a house of cards, or the implosion of a Ponzi scheme. In fact, the global monetary system actually fits the description of a Ponzi scheme. In your standard Pyramid or Ponzi scheme, those players that get in early are paid out by those that enter underneath them, who are in turn paid out by those that they recruit below them. Now from an objective distance, anyone with a right mind can see that Ponzi schemes are destined to fail, as their existence is predicated upon a continuous stream of players or “investors” entering the scheme with new money. From a simple perspective, if one considers that nothing is actually produced and no net benefit is gained through such a scheme, it becomes evident that they are doomed to collapse, almost intended to do so by design. But Ponzi schemes have and do exist, and some have managed to prevail for a surprisingly long period of time, al la Bernie Madoff’s gigantic scam. In a staggering testament to personal greed and complacency, people became blinded in their pursuit of profit, ignoring the warning signs for well over a decade. This is a classic example of the human tendency towards cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance in terms of investing is a psychological term to describe the phenomenon whereby investors will change their memories to suit their desired outcomes. Thereby previous wins become exaggerated with importance and losses are either forgotten, or relegated to the unimportant far-flung corners of one's mind. This is what has occurred in the public mind in accepting the legitimacy of the greatest, most pervasive Ponzi Scheme in all history; the current global monetary system. It is actually a number of inter-locking, interconnected Ponzi structures (the massive derivative bubble, the housing bubble, debt-financed national spending plans, etc), all underpinned and made possible by the existence of fiat currency. Every fiat currency ( paper money that is not backed by anything except the “faith in the government”) in history since Roman times has failed, recent examples being the German Weimar Republic and of course Zimbabwe. It is clear that the world is increasingly losing faith in fiat currencies, as governments borrow ever greater astronomical sums to finance record deficits and central banks print ever greater quantities of paper, or “money” as it is currently called, to finance spending. This is evident in the surge in the price of gold, which is the only currency to maintain its value throughout history and was in fact the only value behind the strength of the world’s currencies until the final abolition if the gold standard by US president Jimmy Carter in the 1970s. Since then we have embarked on a grand global monetary experiment, where no country’s currency is backed by anything tangible, except the “full faith of the government”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. The current structure of the world economy is so unbalanced and unsustainable, it is a wonder that we have not entered into a crisis earlier. When one considers that the majority of the economies of the developed West, such as US, UK and Western Europe, are driven by consumption, and those of the East through manufacturing and exports, the cause of the “recession” begins to become apparent. The West consumes goods made by the cheap workshops of the East. But the West cannot afford to buy the East’s goods, so it borrows money in order to buy more. Take the world’s largest economy, the United States. Over 70% of U.S. GDP is attributable to consumer spending. In a nutshell, China manufactures cheap goods which are consumed in the U.S. and paid for by money borrowed from China. So every month, the our government sells IOUs (Treasury bonds) to China, enabling us to buy more of China’s goods. Every month the U.S goes into greater debt and every month China saves more dollars. The irony is that as the Federal Reserve prints ever greater sums of money (most notably recently through “quantitative easing”), China will be left sitting on a pile of steadily declining dollars as the inevitable devaluation that results from oversupply of money takes hold. China knows this and this is why it has been making calls for a new international reserve currency and has tripled its gold reserves in eight years. Another irony here is that this scenario is a mirror image of what has happened at a household level, where individuals have spent more than they earned each month, and borrowed to pay for it. The main source of financing was of course home equity, which entered a massive bubble caused by the creation of cheap credit (easy money) by the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world. Households went on a spending binge on the crazed basis that home prices would always rise. Similarly, the U.S. government has entered on a spending binge on the faulty assumption that the world will continue to loan it money and to demand more devaluing dollars. The U.S. makes little of real value, and it would have entered into serious recession to rectify this a long time ago, had the dollar not been in the enviable position as the world’s reserve currency. Now the engine of growth in the West has seized, as the housing bubble continues its inevitable collapse as consumers logically reduce their spending to rational levels. People are actually saving, as the light of sanity shines some truth on the utter lunacy of continual throwaway consumerism. Unfortunately it seems that sanity is incompatible with running a government and economy nowadays. The solution to our problem trumpeted by the our and other governments is…. More DEBT! Yes, they say we must borrow and spend our way out of this mess. Oh, and if we cannot borrow at a national level (because other countries are seriously starting to reconsider lending us money), we’ll print more money to magically create wealth and go back to the good old days of borrowing to buy a lot of junk we don’t need. Now I find it very difficult to believe that Nobel prize-winning economists and the brilliant central bankers are experiencing such tremendous cognitive dissonance, that they actually believe that the current system can continue, or in fact be rejuvenated by more of the actual causes of this crisis. More spending and more debt, to solve the problem of excessive spending and excessive debt. Is it just me, or are we being taken for a ride? Are the people in control deliberately sending us headfirst into an economic and social catastrophe in order to gain more power and take more of our feeedoms, or are they so incompetent that they do not see the writing on the wall? We are in a structural recession. The global economy is structurally adjusting into a more balanced and sustainable system, one driven by savings and production, not borrowing and debt. Savings will finance investment in production of goods and services that actually provide a benefit to society and the biosphere. We live in a world of finite resources. Continual population growth, consumption and environmental degradation are not compatible with this reality. Any attempts to turn back the clock, to return to that hitherto unsustainable status quo will just cause this transition to be more painful. The excesses of the past are gone and those that realise this and adjust their lifestyles and paradigms, will be the pioneers of the new age to come. It seems that we cannot trust our leaders to solve this problem, it is up to each of us to have the courage to face change, and embrace the opportunity it brings.

Superferry out of Nawiliwili

SUBHEAD: The last remains of the HSF corporate paraphernalia is removed from Kauai harbor. SOURCE: Dick Mayer (dickmayer@earthlink.net) By Maury King on 5 June 2009 for South Maui Sustainability - www.SouthMauiSustainability.org On our visit to Kauai this week, I wanted to visit Nawiliwili Harbor to see where all the action took place, and it just happened to be the day they were dismantling all the Superferry stuff. Quite a lovely sight, I must say.

Brown is the New Green

SOURCE: Eli Ward (sayjaz3@hotmail.com) SUBHEAD: The top six ways to convert poop into electricity. By Josh Harkinson on 22 May 2009 for Mother Jones - http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2009/05/top-6-ways-convert-poop-electricity Image above: Toilet on a go-cart. Found on internet. Source unknown. More than half of the 15 trillion gallons of sewage Americans flush annually is processed into sludge that gets spread on farmland, lawns, and home vegetable gardens. In theory, recycling poop is the perfect solution to the one truly unavoidable byproduct of human civilization. But sludge-based as fertilizer can contain anything that goes down the drain—from Prozac flushed down toilets to motor oil hosed from factory floors. That's why an increasing number of cities have begun to explore an alternative way to dispose of sludge: advanced poop-to-power plants. By one estimate, a single American's daily sludge output can generate enough electricity to light a 60-watt bulb for more than nine hours. Here are the six most innovative ways that human waste is being converted to watts: 1) Poop-Eating Bacteria Digesters similar to brewery casks house anaerobic bacteria that eat sludge and belch out methane. This technology is the oldest, cheapest, and most proven poop-to-power method. Even so, fewer than 10 percent of the nation's 6,000 public wastewater plants have the digesters; of those, just 20 percent burn the methane gas for energy (the rest simply flare it off). Flint, Michigan, and several other cities use the methane gas to fuel fleets of city buses. The problem with anaerobic digesters is that they only reduce sludge's volume by half and capture a portion of its embedded energy. 2) Turd Cell Smashers Destroying the cell walls in sludge—by heating it under pressure, zapping it with ultrasonic waves, or pulsing it with electric fields—boosts its methane production by 50 percent or more in anaerobic digesters. On the downside, researchers have found that some of these processes can unleash nasty odors and even a "chemical attack" on sewage machinery. 3) Geological Toilets Last summer, Los Angeles began injecting sludge into a mile-deep well, where pressure and heat are expected to release enough methane to power 1,000 homes. The well also dissolves and sequesters carbon dioxide that the sludge would normally release, removing the equivalent exhaust of about 1,000 cars per year. "This renewable energy project is absolutely electrifying," Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the LA Times. "It will save money and make money." 4) Feces Ponds As a cheaper green option, some 50 waste plants in 20 countries have installed versions of UC Berkeley professor William J. Oswald's Advanced Integrated Wastewater Pond Systems Technology --large open-air ponds that primarily rely on anaerobic digestion and photosynthesis to break down sludge and convert it into a fertilizer or animal feed of nitrogen-rich algae. The algae in turn can be used as a feedstock for biofuels. Rich Brown, an environmental scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, sees an obstacle in the ponds' huge footprint: "For rural areas it’s great," he says. "For San Francisco it wouldn’t work so well." 5) Gassifiers Sludge gasification plants are popular in Europe and especially Germany. A low-oxygen reaction transforms the solids in sludge into a carbon-rich "char" similar to BBQ briquettes. Next, the char is gasified in the presence of air to produce a syngas that can be burned for energy. 6) Poop Pyrotechnics Last year, Atlanta-based EnerTech built the world's first commercial sludge "pyrolysis" plant in Southern California. Its patented SlurryCarb process converts sludge from a third of Los Angeles and Orange Counties into char pellets that replace coal at a nearby cement kiln; its ash is mixed into the cement. One Small Poop for Man... With billions in stimulus funds slated for wastewater improvements, is the time right for poop power? Such efforts, which reduce landfilling and emissions, have earned praise from some anti-sludge groups. Caroline Snyder, the founder of Citizens for Sludge-Free Land, calls it a "win-win situation." The EPA says sludge power holds promise, but it's not ready to quit pushing sludge as a wonder fertilizer. This hasn’t deterred the sewage industry, which sees a chance to get into the renewable energy business and put a stop to the stream of health complaints and costly lawsuits. "After almost 40 years of working in biosolids," a sewage industry official wrote in a recent newsletter. "I never thought I’d say this: it is an exciting time for sludge!" see also: Island Breath: Free Nitrogen - Handy Dispenser 5/29/09 Island Breath: Is Garbage the New Green? 4/22/09

Hub of the water wheel

SUBHEAD: The Kaloko Reservoir is the nexus of water control in the Koolau Moko affecting several Ahupuaa. By Juan Wilson on 5 June 2009 for Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009/06/hub-of-water-wheel.html) image above: Map showing 155 acres of land recommended for turn-over to the state of Hawaii for water management (area within dotted line). Map graphic by Juan Wilson. The use of ditches have had a profound affect on the lives of all who live on Kauai. As population grew, the ancient Hawaiians used diverted water for their farming. When the plantations came bigger ditches transformed everything. Water that once went to the taro fields in the valleys then went to sugarcane and pineapple fields where there had been no water. The valleys starved for water and the taro and sweet potatoes went away. A vivid account of this history can be found in the book "Sugarwater". All the plantations, except for Kamakani, are gone now, but the diversion of water has far from abated. It's now used for housing development and farming. In the aftermath of the failure of the Kaloko Reservoir in March of 2006 the controversy about diverted water has been growing. It has become evident that the Kaloko disaster was the result of the failure of both private and public entities that should have regulated and managed water in the Moloaa area. Crimes were committed. Recently I have become involved with the issue of water diversion near the Kaloko Reservoir. After studying the area with EPA and DLNR reports, with survey maps, GIS software and GoogleEarth, I have come to realize how crucial the control Kaloko Reservoir is to the area between Kelauea and Moloaa. Since cane plantation days, flow of water entering and leaving the immediate area of the reservoir has been a source of wealth and power. Two ditches in particular played a part in making the Kaloko Reservoir the "hub of the water wheel". The two ditches are the Kaloko (or Puu Ka Ele) ditch flowing towards Kaloko from the west and the Moloaa (or Kaluaa) Ditch flowing from the south. Flowing away from the reservoir are the Kaloko overflow ditch heading off towards the Moloa Stream to the East, the Wailapa Stream flowing away from the reservoir to the northwest and the Waipako Ditch flowing to the northeast. The affect of these waterways in and around the Kaloko Reservoir is to direct the flow of great quantities of water between four ahupuaa that directly border the reservoir (Moloaa, Lepeuli, Pilaa, and Kahili) and other ahupuaa downstream (Waiakalua, Waipako and Kaakaaniu). The area in and around the reservoir have been in private hands since the sugar plantations needed water. Today that private land is in large part operated by Jimmy Pflueger and his partners. The management of the water entering and leaving the Kaloko area is the control valve affecting seven major watersheds on the north side of Kauai. That water management has proven to be a disaster for the island. Water has been stolen. People have died. My suggestion is that the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources is to use eminent domain (or other legal devices) to take the area around the reservoir (above the 700 foot countour elevation) and add it to the State's land holdings adjacent on the south. This would be in the best interest of the people living throughout the Koolau Moku. There would be three porperties affected by such a plan. They are Mary N. Lucas Trust property (TMK 4-5-1-005 at 803 acres), of which Pflueger is a trustee; Pflueger Partners property (TMK 4-5-1-001 at110 acres); and the Circensa property (TMK 4-5-1-002 at 71 acres). The total area of the land turned over to the state as part of the state forest reserve would be about 155 acres. Lucas Trust would lose 98 acres, Plueger Partners would lose 52 acres and Circensa would lose 5 acres. Rather than have a cabal of private owners dictating who gets water and what everyone pays for it, a fairer and more natural system should be developed that has the health and welfare of Kauai as its first priority. see also: Island Breath: Moloaa Diversion Forensics 5/22/09

King Kaipo

SUBHEAD: Kaipo and Kauai's dark underworld. By Brad Parsons on 4 June 2009 in Aloha Analytics http://alohaanalytics.blogspot.com/2009/06/king-asing-and-kauais-dark-underworld.html image above: "King Kaipo" collage by Juan Wilson from www.Kauai.gov official portrait Regarding the Garden Island News article, "‘Following the rules’" and ONE Council member's 'iron fisted' attempts to control ALL Kaua'i County Council proceedings, this is outrageous and should be the single biggest issue on the island right now. Nothing can be right if there is not open discussion and decision making. This should be Civics 101 to any reasonable, sound of mind person still having all of their mental faculties. What is Kaipo Asing afraid of? The Council Members ARE ALL EQUAL. They should each be able to get their issues on the agenda and put them to a vote. Does Mr. Asing presume that he knows everything and that there is no benefit to discussion, information presentation, and debate? Anything reasonable should be let on the agenda. Let the merits of the ideas be voted on up or down. WHAT is Mr. Asing afraid of? See also: Island Breath: More than following the rules 6/4/09 ‘Following the rules’ The Garden Island, 6/4/09 Bynum and Kawahara Rebuke Asing, Nakamura in Scathing Dual Essays... Got Windmills? blog, 6/4/09 Kauaiinfo.org Bynum and Kawahara's new website on transparent government for Kaua'i

To a steady-state economy

SUBHEAD: The economy becomes an absurdity if required to grow beyond the biophysical limits of Earth.

By Herman E. Daly on 1 June 2009 in The Oil Drum -
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5464#more
 
Image above: Obese children consume fat and corn syrup at McDonalds. From http://popgumbo.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/thats-a-damn-shame-news-of From-the-day-one-in-four-toddlers-is-obese/  

United States Society for Ecological Economics lecture by Herman E. Daly, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

A steady-state economy is incompatible with continuous growth—either positive or negative growth. The goal of a steady state is to sustain a constant, sufficient stock of real wealth and people for a long time. A downward spiral of negative growth, a depression such as we are entering now, is a failed growth economy, not a steady-state economy. Halting an accelerating downward spiral is necessary, but is not the same thing as resuming continuous positive growth. The growth economy now fails in two ways:

(1) positive growth becomes uneconomic in our full-world economy;

(2) negative growth, resulting from the bursting of financial bubbles inflated beyond physical limits, though temporarily necessary, soon becomes self-destructive.

That leaves a non-growing or steady-state economy as the only long run alternative. The level of physical wealth that the biosphere can sustain in a steady state may well be below the present level.

The fact that recent efforts at growth have resulted mainly in bubbles suggests that this is so. Nevertheless, current policies all aim for the full re-establishment of the growth economy. No one denies that our problems would be easier to solve if we were richer. The question is, does growth any longer make us richer, or is it now making us poorer? I will spend a few more minutes cursing the darkness of growth, but will then try to light ten little candles along the path to a steady state.

Some advise me to forget the darkness and focus on the policy candles. But I find that without a dark background the light of my little candles is not visible in the false dawn projected by the economists, whose campaigning optimism never gives hope a chance to emerge from the shadows. We have many problems (poverty, unemployment, environmental destruction, budget deficit, trade deficit, bailouts, bankruptcy, foreclosures, etc.), but apparently only one solution: economic growth, or as the pundits now like to say, “to grow the economy”-- as if it were a potted plant with healing leaves, like aloe vera or marijuana.

 But let us stop right there and ask two questions that all students should put to their economics professors. First Question: There is a deep theorem in mathematics that says when something grows it gets bigger! So, when the economy grows it too gets bigger. How big can the economy be, Professor? How big is it now? How big should it be? Have economists ever considered these questions?

And most pointedly, what makes them think that growth (i.e., physical expansion of the economic subsystem into the finite containing biosphere), is not already increasing environmental and social costs faster than production benefits, thereby becoming uneconomic growth, making us poorer, not richer? After all, real GDP, the measure of “economic” growth so-called, does not separate costs from benefits, but conflates them as “economic” activity.

How would we know when growth became uneconomic? Remedial and defensive activity becomes ever greater as we grow from an “empty-world” to a “full-world” economy, characterized by congestion, interference, displacement, depletion and pollution. The defensive expenditures induced by these negatives are all added to GDP, not subtracted. Be prepared, students, for some hand waving, throat clearing, and subject changing. But don’t be bluffed. Second question:

Do you then, Professor, see growth as a continuing process, desirable in itself-- or as a temporary process required to reach a sufficient level of wealth which would thereafter be maintained more or less in a steady state? At least 99% of modern neoclassical economists hold the growth forever view. We have to go back to John Stuart Mill and the earlier Classical Economists to find serious treatment of the idea of a non-growing economy, the Stationary State.

What makes modern economists so sure that the Classical Economists were wrong? Just dropping history of economic thought from the curriculum is not a refutation! Here are some reasons to think that the Classical Economists are right. A long run norm of continuous growth could make sense, only if one of the three following conditions were true:
(a) if the economy were not an open subsystem of a finite and non-growing biophysical system,
(b) if the economy were growing in a non physical dimension, or
(c) if the laws of thermodynamics did not hold.
Let us consider each of these three logical alternatives. (If you can think of a fourth one let me know.) 
 
(a) 
Some economists in fact think of nature as the set of extractive subsectors of the economy (forests, fisheries, mines, wells, pastures, and even agriculture….). The economy, not the ecosystem or biosphere, is seen as the whole; nature is a collection of parts. 
 
If the economy is the whole then it is not a part of any larger thing or system that might restrain its expansion. If some extractive natural subsector gets scarce we will just substitute other sectors for it and growth of the whole economy will continue, not into any restraining biospheric envelope, but into sidereal space presumably full of resource-bearing asteroids and friendly highly-evolved aliens eager to teach us how to grow forever into their territory. Sources and sinks are considered infinite. 
 
(b) 
Some economists say that what is growing in economic growth is value, and value is not reducible to physical units. The latter is true of course, but that does not mean that value is independent of physics! After all, value is price times quantity, and quantity is always basically physical. Even services are always the service of something or somebody for some time period, and people who render services have to eat. The value unit of GDP is not dollars, but dollar’s worth. 
 
A dollar’s worth of gasoline is a physical amount, currently about half a gallon. The aggregation of the dollar’s worth amounts of many different physical commodities (GDP) does not abolish the physicality of the measure even though the aggregate can no longer be expressed in physical units. 
 
True, $/q x q = $. 
 
But the fact that q cancels out mathematically does not mean that the aggregate measure, “dollars’ worth”, is just a pile of dollars. And it doesn’t help to speak instead of “value added” (by labor and capital) because we must ask, to what is the value added? And the answer is natural resources, low-entropy matter/energy—not fairy dust or frog’s hair! 
 
Development (squeezing more welfare from the same throughput of resources) is a good thing. Growth (pushing more resources through a physically larger economy) is the problem. Limiting quantitative growth is the way to force qualitative development. 
 
(c) If resources could be created out of nothing, and wastes could be annihilated into nothing, then we could have an ever-growing resource throughput by which to fuel the continuous growth of the economy. But the first law of thermodynamics says NO. 
 
Or if we could just recycle the same matter and energy through the economy faster and faster we could keep growth going. The circular flow diagram of all economics principles texts unfortunately comes very close to affirming this. But the second law of thermodynamics says NO. 
 
So—if we can’t grow our way out of all problems, then maybe we should reconsider the logic and virtues of non-growth, the steady-state economy. Why this refusal by neoclassical economists both to face common sense, and to reconsider the ideas of the early Classical Economists? 
 
I think the answer is distressingly simple. Without growth the only way to cure poverty is by sharing. But redistribution is anathema. Without growth to push the hoped for demographic transition, the only way to cure overpopulation is by population control. 
 
A second anathema. Without growth the only way to increase funds to invest in environmental repair is by reducing current consumption. Anathema number three. Three anathemas and you are damned—go to hell! And without growth how will we build up arsenals to protect democracy (and remaining petroleum reserves)? How will we go to Mars and Saturn and “conquer” space? 
 
Where can technical progress come from if not from unintended spin-offs from the military and from space research? Gnostic techno-fantasies of escaping earth to outer space, and of abolishing disease and death itself, feed on the perpetual growth myth of no limits. Digital-brained tekkies, who have never heard of the problem of evil, see heaven on earth (eternal growth) just around the corner. Without growth we must face the difficult religious task of finding a different god to worship. Too scary, we say, let’s try to grow some more instead! 
 
Let’s jump-start the GDP and the Dow-Jones! Let’s build another tower of Babel with obfuscating technical terms like sub-prime mortgage, derivative, securitized investment vehicle, collateralized debt obligation, credit default swap, “toxic” assets, and insider slang like the “dead cat bounce”. (If you drop it from a high enough tower of Babel even a dead cat will bounce enough to make some profit.) Well, let us not do that. Let us ignore the anathemas and instead think about what policies would be required to move to a steady-state economy. They are a bit radical by present standards, but not as insanely unrealistic as any of the three alternatives for validating continuous growth, just discussed. 
 
Let us look briefly at ten specific policy proposals for moving to a steady-state economy, i.e., an economy that maintains a constant metabolic flow of resources from depletion to pollution—a throughput that is within the assimilative and regenerative capacities of the ecosystem.

 1. Cap-auction-trade systems for basic resources:
Caps limit biophysical scale by quotas on depletion or pollution, whichever is more limiting. Auctioning the quotas captures scarcity rents for equitable redistribution. Trade allows efficient allocation to highest uses. This policy has the advantage of transparency. There is a limit to the amount and rate of depletion and pollution that the economy can be allowed to impose on the ecosystem. Caps are quotas, limits to the throughput of basic resources, especially fossil fuels. The quota usually should be applied at the input end because depletion is more spatially concentrated than pollution and hence easier to monitor. Also the higher price of basic resources will induce their more economical use at each upstream stage of production. It may be that the effective limit in use of a resource comes from the pollution it causes rather than from depletion—no matter, we indirectly limit pollution by restricting depletion of the resource that ultimately is converted into wastes. Limiting barrels, tons, and cubic feet of carbon fuels extracted will limit tons of CO2 emitted. This scale limit serves the goal of biophysical sustainability. Ownership of the quotas is initially public—the government auctions them to the individuals and firms. The revenues go to the treasury and are used to replace regressive taxes, such as the payroll tax, and to reduce income tax on the lowest incomes. Once purchased at auction the quotas can be freely bought and sold by third parties, just as can the resources whose rate of depletion they limit. The trading allows efficient allocation; the auction serves just distribution, and the cap serves the goal of sustainable scale. The same logic can be applied to limiting the off-take from fisheries and forests.  

2. Ecological tax reform:
Shift tax base from value added (labor and capital) and on to “that to which value is added”, namely the entropic throughput of resources extracted from nature (depletion), and returned to nature (pollution). This internalizes external costs as well as raises revenue more equitably. It prices the scarce but previously un-priced contribution of nature. Value added is something we want to encourage, so stop taxing it. Depletion and pollution are things we want to discourage, so tax them. Ecological tax reform can be an alternative or a supplement to cap-auction-trade systems.

3. Limit the range of inequality in income distribution:
A minimum income and a maximum income. Without aggregate growth poverty reduction requires redistribution. Complete equality is unfair; unlimited inequality is unfair. Seek fair limits to the range of inequality. The civil service, the military, and the university manage with a range of inequality of a factor of 15 or 20. Corporate America has a range of 500 or more. Many industrial nations are below 25. Could we not limit the range to, say, 100, and see how it works? People who have reached the limit could either work for nothing at the margin if they enjoy their work, or devote their extra time to hobbies or public service. The demand left unmet by those at the top will be filled by those who are below the maximum. A sense of community necessary for democracy is hard to maintain across the vast income differences current in the US. Rich and poor separated by a factor of 500 become almost different species. The main justification for such differences has been that they stimulate growth, which will one day make everyone rich. This may have had superficial plausibility in an empty world, but in our full world it is a fairy tale.  

4. Free up the length of the working day, week, and year:
Allow greater option for part-time or personal work. Full-time external employment for all is hard to provide without growth. Other industrial countries have much longer vacations and maternity leaves than the US. For the Classical Economists the length of the working day was a key variable by which the worker (self-employed yeoman or artisan) balanced the marginal disutility of labor with the marginal utility of income and of leisure so as to maximize enjoyment of life. Under industrialism the length of the working day became a parameter rather than a variable (and for Karl Marx was the key determinant of the rate of exploitation). We need to make it more of a variable subject to choice by the worker. And we should stop biasing the labor–leisure choice by advertising to stimulate more consumption and more labor to pay for it. Advertising should no longer be treated as a tax deductible ordinary expense of production.  

5. Re-regulate international commerce:
Move away from free trade, free capital mobility and globalization, adopt compensating tariffs to protect, not inefficient firms, but efficient national policies of cost internalization from standards-lowering competition. We cannot integrate with the global economy and at the same time have higher wages, environmental standards, and social safety nets than the rest of the world. Trade and capital mobility must be balanced and fair, not deregulated or “free”. Tariffs are also a good source of revenue that could substitute for other taxes.  

6. Downgrade the IMF-WB-WTO: 
 Downgrade them to something like Keynes’ original plan for a multilateral payments clearing union, charging penalty rates on surplus as well as deficit balances—seek balance on current account, and thereby avoid large foreign debts and capital account transfers. For example, under Keynes’ plan the US would pay a penalty charge to the clearing union for its large deficit with the rest of the world, and China would also pay a similar penalty for its surplus. Both sides of the imbalance would be pressured to balance their current accounts by financial penalties, and if need be by exchange rate adjustments relative to the clearing account unit, called the bancor by Keynes. The bancor would serve as world reserve currency, a privilege that should not be enjoyed by any national currency. The IMF preaches free trade based on comparative advantage, and has done so for a long time. More recently the IMF-WB-WTO have started preaching the gospel of globalization, which, in addition to free trade, means free capital mobility internationally. The classical comparative advantage argument, however, explicitly assumes international capital immobility! When confronted with this contradiction the IMF waves its hands, suggests that you might be a xenophobe, and changes the subject. The IMF-WB-WTO contradict themselves in service to the interests of transnational corporations. International capital mobility, coupled with free trade, allows corporations to escape from national regulation in the public interest, playing one nation off against another. Since there is no global government they are in effect uncontrolled. The nearest thing we have to a global government (IMF-WB-WTO) has shown no interest in regulating transnational capital for the common good.  

7. Move away from fractional reserve banking:
Move toward a system of 100% reserve requirements. This would put control of the money supply and seigniorage in hands of the government rather than private banks, which would no longer be able to create money out of nothing and lend it at interest. All quasi-bank financial institutions should be brought under this rule, regulated as commercial banks subject to 100% reserve requirements. Banks would earn their profit by financial intermediation only, lending savers’ money for them (charging a loan rate higher than the rate paid to savings account depositors) and providing checking, safekeeping, and other services. With 100% reserves every dollar loaned would be a dollar previously saved, re-establishing the classical balance between abstinence and investment. The government can pay its expenses by issuing more non interest-bearing fiat money to make up for the eliminated bank-created, interest-bearing money. However, it can only do this up to a strict limit imposed by inflation. If the government issues more money than the public wants to hold, the public will trade it for goods, driving the price level up. As soon as the price index begins to rise the government must print less and tax more. Thus a policy of maintaining a constant price index would govern the internal value of the dollar. The external value of the dollar could be left to freely fluctuating exchange rates (or preferably to the rate against the bancor in Keynes’ clearing union).  

8. Stop treating the scarce as if it were non-scarce:  
But also stop treating the non-scarce as if it were scarce. Enclose the remaining commons of rival natural capital (e.g. atmosphere, electromagnetic spectrum, public lands) in public trusts, and price it by a cap-auction–trade system, or by taxes, while freeing from private enclosure and prices the non-rival commonwealth of knowledge and information. Knowledge, unlike throughput, is not divided in the sharing, but multiplied. Once knowledge exists, the opportunity cost of sharing it is zero and its allocative price should be zero. International development aid should more and more take the form of freely and actively shared knowledge, along with small grants, and less and less the form of large interest-bearing loans. Sharing knowledge costs little, does not create un-repayable debts, and it increases the productivity of the truly rival and scarce factors of production. Existing knowledge is the most important input to the production of new knowledge, and keeping it artificially scarce and expensive is perverse. Patent monopolies (aka “intellectual property rights”) should be given for fewer “inventions”, and for fewer years. Costs of production of new knowledge should, more and more, be publicly financed and then the knowledge freely shared.

 9. Stabilize population:
Work toward a balance in which births plus in- migrants equals deaths plus out-migrants. This is controversial and difficult, but as a start contraception should be made available for voluntary use everywhere. And while each nation can debate whether it should accept many or few immigrants, such a debate is rendered moot if immigration laws are not enforced. Support voluntary family planning, and enforcement of reasonable immigration laws, democratically enacted in spite of the cheap labor lobby.  

10. Reform national accounts:
Separate GDP into a cost account and a benefits account. Compare them at the margin, stop throughput growth when marginal costs equal marginal benefits. In addition to this objective approach, recognize the importance of the subjective studies that show that, beyond a threshold, further GDP growth does not increase self-evaluated happiness. Beyond a level already reached in many countries GDP growth delivers no more happiness, but continues to generate depletion and pollution. At a minimum we must not just assume that GDP growth is “economic growth”, but prove it. And start by trying to refute the mountain of contrary evidence. While these policies will appear radical to many, it is worth remembering that they are amenable to gradual application. One hundred percent reserves can be approached gradually, the range of distribution can be restricted gradually, caps can be adjusted gradually, etc. Also these measures are based on the conservative institutions of private property and decentralized market allocation. They simply recognize that private property loses its legitimacy if too unequally distributed, and that markets lose their legitimacy if prices do not tell the whole truth about opportunity costs. In addition, the macro-economy becomes an absurdity if its scale is structurally required to grow beyond the biophysical limits of the Earth. And well before reaching that radical physical limit we are encountering the conservative economic limit in which extra costs of growth become greater than the extra benefits, ushering in the era of uneconomic growth, so far unrecognized.

Watching the mega-crisis

SUBHEAD: Our economy and future stand at a crossroad.
By Tom Whipple on 04 June 2009 in Falls Church News Press - (http://www.fcnp.com/commentary/national/4579-the-peak-oil-crisis-watching-a-mega-crisis.html) Image above: "A Crossroads" by Mackenzie Thorpe. From(http://www.brownsgallery.co.uk/prints/mackenzie_thorpe) In the last few weeks there have been a number of developments that may provide an insight into the next few years - but first let's review. We, in America, are deep in the midst of a four-sided crisis. The first side is an economic slump; second, surprisingly, is our government's panicky efforts to stabilize the situation; third, the imminent peaking of fossil fuels and numerous other resources that seems to be in abeyance for the moment; and fourth, global warming which in the long run could overshadow the other three by a wide margin and is attracting considerable amounts of government and Congressional attention. The important point is that the four aspects of what could easily turn out to be the mega-crisis of the century are all interrelated. Developments in any of the four will cause perturbations for better or worse in the others.
Most believe our current economic problem was caused by the extension of too much credit, too freely, and to the wrong people, over the last 30-40 years. Some, however, are suspicious that the many-fold run-up in oil prices from their historic $10 or $20 a barrel that sopped up so much consumer purchasing power may have had more than a little to do with our current economic problems. While the consequences of the economic downturn are well understood, we are just starting to appreciate that the massive governmental effort to keep a recession from turning into a depression is threatening unprecedented repercussions of its own. In the last ten months, the U.S. government and its central bank have spent or issued guarantees approaching $12 trillion in efforts to boost the economy. During the current fiscal year, the US will sell $3.25 trillion in new securities vs. That is $892-billion worth last fiscal year. Some are already calling this phenomenon the "bailout bubble" and are worried that deficit financing on this scale could destroy the dollar and take much of the U.S. economy with it. People who claim to understand such things continue to assure us that additional trillions in deficit financing will not be a problem and that anything is better than allowing our economy to slip into another great depression. Despite the government's best efforts, however, interest rates have begun to rise and last week took a rather substantial jump. This in turn could hamper a recovery in the housing market. The recent fall of the U.S. dollar is a companion signal that all is not well. Whether the falling dollar and the increase in interest rates will continue much longer is anybody's guess, but it won't take much more of a move before prospects for an early economic recovery are seriously harmed. While many different natural resources - fossil fuels, minerals, fresh water - are in danger of running short within next few decades, oil production which probably has already passed its all-time peak looks like the best bet to interfere with, and eventually stymie, an economic recovery. Crude oil prices have doubled since the end of January and may go higher on expectations that an economic recovery is underway. While crude prices are still less than half the $147 a barrel they reached last July, it is getting close to the level where economic damage could be inflicted. While the demand for commercial fuels for trucks and jet planes is down, gasoline demand has not fallen much as prices have edged up. While the interaction among the four major factors that will have much to do with our economic future - the recession, the bailout, peak oil, and global warming - is easy to understand, the timing and nature of all the possible interactions are difficult to comprehend. Oil supply and demand are relatively easy to track, but no one as yet seems to have a firm insight into whether, when, and how fast massive deficit spending is going to lead to serious trouble. Any increase in demand from a revitalized economy is almost certain to drive oil prices higher. In the last eight months, OPEC has reduced its oil production by about three million barrels a day, which has kept production closer to demand for the time being. Although a few members of OPEC currently have surplus production capacity that could be turned into increased production, every year we are extracting some 30 billion barrels of mostly easy and cheap-to-produce oil. The simple message is that in three to four years excess production capacity is likely to be eaten up by depletion. After that increased oil production will become very expensive and take considerable effort. Much higher prices and considerable economic damage are virtually certain. To summarize our situation: If and when the U.S. and world economy rebounds significantly, the increased demand for oil will quickly lead to higher prices which in turn is likely to choke off the rebound; if the U.S. and world economy continues to contract, demand for oil and oil prices will fall for a while, but the economy will be approaching depression levels; if the massive deficit-financed bailouts lead to lack of interest in U.S. government securities and a weaker dollar, interest rates will soar and choke off economic growth; if the U.S. and other governments seriously clamp down on carbon emissions to control global warming, higher energy prices are likely. Our economy and future stand at a crossroad. No one can claim to have much insight into the likelihood and timing of the many possible developments that could spring from our multi-sided crisis. The one thing we can be sure of, however, is that the four sides of our mega-crisis are inextricably connected. Any change, either for good or ill, sooner or later will cause changes in one or more of the others.None of this bodes well for a return to life as we knew it only a few years ago. .

More than following the rules

SUBHEAD: Several views of another Kauai power grab.
Following the Rules By Michael Levine on 04 June 2009 in The Garden Island - http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2009/06/04/news/kauai_news/doc4a278cb82f944193950343.txt image above: Kaipo Asing joind the mob in The Sopranos. Graphic by Juan Wilson. A Kauai County Council member’s attempt to clarify the process by which Chair Kaipo Asing builds the seven-member legislative body’s agendas and sets its course fell flat Wednesday on the grounds it violated the state Sunshine Law. Tim Bynum made a motion to add to the Asing-authorized agenda a proposed resolution clarifying the rules under which the chair is empowered to sanction agendas. County Attorney Al Castillo shot it down because it would have constituted a “reasonably major importance” and any action on it could only come after members of the public were made aware of the agenda item in advance. Bynum’s resolution would amend Council Rule No. 10(c), which says “bills and resolutions must be initialed by the council chair ... in order to be placed on the agenda,” to include clarifying language saying the chair “shall not use this rule to restrict introduction of any bill or resolution introduced by any member indefinitely.” This change would bring it into alignment with Council Rule No. 10(a), which says “any bill or resolution may be introduced by any member.” “I have on several occasions asked for items to be placed on the agenda that in my judgment warranted public discourse and decision making that you have not allowed,” Bynum told Asing in a Feb. 17 letter obtained by The Garden Island. Bynum notes specifically a bill to put minutes on the Internet, a bill related to county attorney opinions, a bill to fund an ocean study in Po‘ipu and a resolution to clarify the process to release confidential documents. “I have shared with you my opinion that our current council rules are not intended to give the chair the authority to keep a council member’s request off the agenda indefinitely,” Bynum wrote to Asing. “I believe that a reasonable interpretation of rule 10(c) and the word ‘initial’ is to empower the chair to appropriately manage the agenda by timing placement. “I believe that an elected official addressing their ideas and putting forth their proposals in the public forum is the point of the democratic process. Open discourse and public debate are fundamental to the process. If a member cannot be persuasive in their argument then the resolution or bill will fail, but to keep the discussion from ever occurring seems to me to be inappropriate,” Bynum wrote. In a letter to Asing and the rest of the council dated the same day, Bynum further wrote that the placement of an item on the agenda “is not a matter of discretion with the chair ... to grant or deny, but merely administrative in nature.” With the only two avenues of adding an item to the agenda — with Asing’s initial or through a floor motion — effectively closed off, Asing, who finished fourth in voting in November’s election behind Vice Chair Jay Furfaro, newcomer Derek Kawakami and Bynum, has essentially vested in himself a preemptive veto power even surpassing that held by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in that Asing’s decisions cannot be overridden by a supermajority vote and that his decisions are shielded from public view. After Bynum made the motion at the outset of Wednesday’s meeting, Asing moved the discussion to the end of the agenda. Five hours later, after dealing with the six-page agenda, Asing said Section 92-7(d) of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes precluded the council from voting on or even discussing Bynum’s resolution because it is of “reasonably major importance and action thereon by the board will affect a significant number of persons.” Bynum provided to his fellow council members and the public a May 15 e-mail correspondence between himself and state Office of Information Practices staff attorney Jennifer Brooks in which she told him his proposed resolution “does not appear to be of reasonably major importance or to affect a significant number of people” and “appears suitable to be added to the agenda by a 2/3 vote, and the council would be acting in good faith in so adding it.” Castillo said the unanticipated matter should be discussed in executive session to protect the council from potential liability. After a 5-2 vote approving the secret session — Bynum and Lani Kawahara dissented — the council closed its doors for about an hour. When it reconvened, Castillo told the council “the proposed resolution encroaches upon the duties of the chairman as the presiding officer of the council. Therefore it is of reasonably major importance. The way that the council is run affects all of the people in this county.” “The people of Kaua‘i did not have an opportunity to know what was placed on the agenda. That’s the reason for the Sunshine Law,” Castillo said, adding that there are rules in place to govern how much time must elapse between the public posting of the agenda and the meeting to which it applies. After Asing called the meeting back to order and ended discussion by quickly adjourning it to comply with Castillo’s advice, the chair was asked if there were plans to include Bynum’s resolution on the agenda for the next meeting. “No,” he said. When asked if there was any reason why it would not be, as there is now enough time to bring the council into compliance with the Sunshine Law by posting the agenda item in advance of the June 16 meeting, Asing said, “Nothing especially.” “I am just following the rules of the council,” he said.
A Challenge to the 3 D's
SUBHEAD: Where is the aloha?
SOURCE: Elli Ward elaloha@gmail.com Once again, thanks to M. Levine's coverage of the goings-on at the County Council (Following the Rules, 06/04), we the public are informed of the ruthless ways our public officials engage in to "silence dissidents" and impose their will on their fellow citizens. What happened to all those pledges to practice ALOHA, act in the public interest, promote what is best for our community and beloved island, I ask. I happened to attend the Nov. 24/08 council meeting and saw first-hand evidence of blatant disregard for proper lawful procedures, the display of the fruits of backroom politics in the preordained committee and council structure (preprinted with numerous copies handed out, no less), and how those that dare oppose or question procedure could be "punished." Our then Mayor and now Council Chair, Mr. Asing, once again has chosen to unfold the various political tricks and iron determination hitherto napping under his cloak, to impose his will on fellow council members and, on us, the public, whose interest he has vowed to serve and PROTECT. I now, like in the days of yore, throw the gauntlet at the 3 D's (D. Chang, D. Kaneshiro, D. Kawakami), to rise up and challenge what is evidently so wrong. Council members Bynum and Kawahara are trying against overwhelming odds, to engage the public in government by opening up: "...County Attorney's opinions to public scrutiny...clarify process to release confidential documents...put minutes on the Internet," to name a few changes to the status quo. These all sound good, educational, informative, and, believe it or not: democracy in action. I appeal to you to start thinking for yourselves, return the power to the people, your own friends and neighbors who can only make right choices IF provided full and truthful information. Let's all live aloha like we mean it. Keeping the dark as dark as can be SUBHEAD: Doing what’s wrong as long as he can. By Andy Parx on 03 June 2009 in Got Windmills http://parxnewsdaily.blogspot.com/ The illegal conspiracy between Council Chair Kaipo Asing, County Clerk Peter Nakamura and various county attorneys to methodically violate the sunshine law has been the well documented in this space during the past year and a half. Lately it’s only gotten worse with the description of agenda items containing less and less of the specific information required by law, leaving out key details, especially those that might raise an eyebrow or two or find their way into this space. Sometimes the actual reading of the agenda item at the meeting- the first most of the viewing public has heard of the matter- lacks even the specificity the printed agenda contains, especially when we’ve picked apart and highlighted some of the more outrageous items. Most recently when we picked up on a discrimination complaint filed with the national EEOC by former county attorney Margaret Hanson Sueoka, although the EEOC and Sueoka were mentioned on the official agenda neither was mentioned in the reading of the executive session item appropriating money to fight the claim. None of this could be done without the benevolence of the county attorney (CA) whose function has morphed in the last decade from having a public component to merely being the attorney representing the council and administration. Opinions upon which those in public service rely never see the light of day any more- or didn’t until a recent vote by the Board of Ethics (BOE) to release one. The county attorney is hired and presumably fired by the council and the administration together according to the county charter. But a resolution from the Salary Commission up for council approval at today’s council meeting seeks to remove the council as a whole from evaluating the county attorney for purposes of determining his or her salary and give that power to the council chair and mayor alone. And of course the change, written into the details of the resolution and not in the multiple “whereas’”, is not listed on the agenda item either. The agenda item reads C 2009-194 Communication (04/28/2009) from Virginia Kapali, Chairperson, Kaua`i Salary Commission, transmitting for Council information, Resolution No. 2009-01, relating to the salaries of certain officers and employees of the County of Kaua`i which was adopted by the Salary Commission at its April 28, 2009 meeting, and recommending amendments to the Kaua`i County Code related to salaries of certain officers, the County Council, and Council Services employees. And in the list of whereas’ it says Whereas the Commission further desires to minimize confusion by eliminating inconstancies between the provisions contained in the Kaua`i County Code and any Salary Commission resolutions approved by the County. Sound pretty innocuous- just some “housekeeping” changes, eh? The effect is to cut members of the council out of the equation and currently that serves to silence council “dissidents” Lani Kawahara and Tim Bynum from their crusade to open up the council’s doings to the disinfectant of Sunshine. As PNN reported last month Kawahara has simply sought to have all the public information that the council gets every week be available to the public on-line rather than having them printed out on reams of paper and distributed only to those willing to drive to Lihu`e and specifically request all the accompanying paper work that goes with each agenda item. Kawahara is so frustrated she has threatened to take the paperwork, re-scan it (since they won’t make electronic versions available to her) and post them on a web site independent of the county or council services. As has been reported here and in the pages of the local paper Bynum has been engaged for years- all in vain- in a campaign to open the pages of county attorney opinions to public scrutiny and has been blocked by Asing and Nakamura at every juncture. That could not have been done without the acquiescence and direction of the last three county attorneys who at first stopped the council from simply voting to release the opinions as they had in the past until they put in place a standard procedure for doing that. This allowed Asing to block the introduction of such a resolution for about a year and when Bynum pushed harder, eventually with Kawahara on his side, Asing and the CA said that they needed to wait until a county-wide policy was put in place for a standard way for all boards and commissions to release the opinions. Although the recent BOE opinion was released, that was done in the face of a “request” from the CA to hold off until this long awaited policy is drawn up and approved by all of the boards and commissions- a process that could take years. The salaries of appointed officials like the CA are set in a “range” according to the County Code 3-2.1, all dependant on an evaluation of the “appointing authority”. Even if a salary is set at say $107,335 a year like that of the new county auditor- which is set in the salary commission’s resolution pursuant to the new charter amendment passed last November- it could be much lower at the discretion of the person appointing the new auditor, based on a standard evaluation form to be provided by the director of the Department of Personal. But whereas the current ordinance reads “(t)he county attorney’s salary shall be evaluated by the mayor and the council” the proposed ordnance deletes that and substitutes “the county attorney’s performance shall be conducted (sic) through an equally weighed evaluation that shall be jointly administered by the mayor and the council chairperson”. Though it may seem like a minor change since the council chair serves at the pleasure of the majority of the council, in the case of Asing, who apparently abuses his discretionary power at every chance, it’s a change that only consolidates the power of the minotaur with another blind alley in the undersea labyrinth that squelches dissidents and allows him to “do what’s wrong as long as he can”.