Niihau and the US Military

SUBHEAD: Wonder why the restricting access to Niihau public waters? Here are the federal military contracts that mention Niihau.

By Lyn McNutt on 5 February 2014 in Island Breath -

Image above: Cover art for Ironhand's Niihau FSX scenery add-on used for military plane simulation environment. Could be used for drones, From (

As part of  the on-going political hijinks surrounding developing the Robinsons' Exclusive Zone (the REZ) on Niihau, I went on line and dug out public info for Niihau Ranch LLC Federal contracts based on their DUNS number.  These are collated and attached.

Since the file export only recognized numbers as text, I had to hand calculate the NET funding received, so they need to be re-checked.  I write grants, and have been a program and project manager.  I look at these contracts with $0, and others with up to half of the estimated costs being returned to the funder, and those strange balloon payments in December of several years, and I get very intrigued.  Accounting may work this way in DoD, but not in the world the rest of us inhabit. 

Niihau Ranch LLC seems to be returning a lot of money to the Federal Government.  Look at the dollar amounts and many are negative, roughly at 50% of costs.  Why?  When costing out a military proposal I believe that there are some standard rates for wages for laborers, maintenance, etc.  We have been told that Niihauans receive a maximum of $12 an hour.

Does this account for the discrepancy?  Also public records indicate (but I do not have these exact numbers) that 2/3 of the Niihauans are on EBT and Welfare and over half are on disability.  If it is true that $12 per hour is the going wage on Niihau, and government contracts, that could be used to increase income, are being used to continue to pay the Niihau wage, while at the same time the residents need federal assistance, this seems to me, in my opinion, to not be very supportive of the Niihau people.  So why should we give control of public waters around Niihau to Niihau Ranch LLC?

So, the bills introduced lately are the latest in a loooong string of manipulations (glad to detail over the phone) to get the REZ.  The Robinsons tried the (in chronological order sort of): fishing ban, monk seals, sanctuary, then Hawaii Civic Clubs (what's on now) and are now setting up the Aha Moku Council as a back up, with a dose of Sanctuary on the side for insurance.

Many of the attempts have at their core the request for a REZ of 2-3 miles off-shore.  To get advanced training with Black Ops and support drone testing, a two-mile offshore REZ is needed.  So, if you cannot get the public waters into your private domain using the "critters" (the Feds) then why not use the State, DLNR and the Sanctuary together, get the State to declare the REZ, and watch the income grow?

These activities involve land and water, and I do not think there has been any environmental assessment of the impact of the facilities and infrastructure on Niihau.  I don't think there have been county permits issued for this TMZ, but I may be wrong here.

As a scientist, I can tell you that DLNR and the Feds have completely missed the point here,  The ecosystems, culture and economies of Kauai and Niihau are co-joined.  If Kauai suffers, Niihau suffers.

To separate out Niihau using the Conservation Hostages on Niihau to secure a private REZ,  in the name of "preserving" the "culture" on Niihau as an isolated entity, only serves to further fragment the people, the economy and compromises the health of the people on Kauai and Niihau.  There are more Niihauans living on Kauai than Niihau.  There is a reason for this.  Once you get kicked off, no come back.  Estimates are 35-40 full time Niihau residents currently. 

This whole thing smells--- pilau.

This is the real reason for all this activity.  If you have a restricted zone extending into the ocean (public waters) then this increases the level of military support contracts available since Black Ops and Stryker force training require restricted access.

Please note that most of these are sole source contracts through the US Government Accounting Office.  The sole source justification is based on the private ownership, restricted access and availability of a cheap labor force.

Some of the contracts are for $1, and those it would seem involve construction or renovation of facilities or the land, and this $1 fee places Niihau Ranch outside of laws governing payment to workers based on rates associated with Federal contracts.


Some Background

By Lyn McNutt on 23 January 2014 in Island Breath -
(email to Dee Morikawa

Image above: Historic US military plane flying in simulation over Niihau. But it could be a drone simulation. From (

I have passed this on to the folks who organize the fishers.  What really troubles me is the unethical behavior (again) of our State and Federal "partners".  We were promised 'transparency' and we get done deals with pre-written legislation.  I also object strongly to the game being played of 'protecting' Native Hawaiian rights of the Niihau people, when the Robinsons have been actively courting expanded military activity on Niihau for YEARS, which hardly seems to be compatible with the idea of 'protecting' the Niihauans. 

To my mind, all this legislation is a major sham, with a real goal of political maneuvering for financial gain from private individuals to Limited Liability Corporations to the Federal government, all based on emotions and NO DATA.  The Kauai/Niihau connections exist on so many levels, and this shows clearly that Native Hawaiians and modern Hawaiians recognize that both sides of the channel make up one ecosystem; that's why there are also so many cultural and economic connections.

Fish caught in Niihau waters (proposed for restriction) have Kauai shrimp in their gut.  How do we stop the fish from coming over from Niihau and 'harvesting' the Kauai resources?  See how silly this all is if you look at it in a larger picture?  The fish and marine mammals and seabirds and local residents ALL know this is one ecosystem and we depend on each other.  The real ecosystem does not approve of these legislative shenanigans.

You cannot take out parts of this and then "make them well".  The REAL problem is on the Kauai side.  I will say that again, the REAL problem is on the Kauai side.  If the Kauai ecosystem is weakened, including the connections to the land and fresh water, and it fails, then Niihau will fail, not matter how much public waters you give to Niihau Ranch, LLC., nor how many restrictions and regulations you put in place.  Kauai is the "source" and Niihau is "the Incubator" and both share in the abundance, and should be the caretakers.  BOTH.

To protect these resources requires a larger view of the ENTIRE situation, and collecting data NOW to make rational decisions.  This legislative assault of creating Bills to 'supporting' Hawaiian peoples' cultural needs, and legislating scientific restrictions without any scientific basis in fact is creating dissent and fostering resentment on the West side of Kauai with the PURPOSE (this is the purpose) of to dividing the people and giving away public assets to a private landowner.

It should also be looked at critically by the governor, as this type of environmental politics at the expense of the Stakeholder is not at all the face to present to the local voters before an election.  Think about it a little.

All this conniving and conspiring needs to stop now. Who gave them the power to end local economies with the stroke of a pen without any real data and with no involvement at the local level?  It is your kuleana to protect us from this type of political nonsense. 

The assault tactic taken by our state government in partnership with NOAA Sanctuary Division is doomed scientifically, and socially before it starts: no buy-in, no consultation, no data, no agreements with the users, no stakeholder conversations, no consideration for real world relationships, just legislation to hide the glaring fact that DLNR has not done its job for years and THEY are really the root cause of this problem--not the fishers, not the local folks.  If you have made a mistake then correct it in a pono fashion.  Don't at like it is somebody else's fault.  Grow up and take some responsibility, and get on with fixing the error the right way.

But all this backroom planning and negotiation will get what they really want: 
  • The precedent that they can even do this based on NO DATA and no local hearings.
  • The precedent that they can legislate away control of public resources and give away rights to these waters to private landholders with no public hearings.
  • Job security at the Federal level in particular Access to potentially lucrative military contracts to pay land taxes through promoting uses of the new legislatively restricted zones.
  • The really bad precedent of giving up at the State level in these areas while ceding control to the Federal government and/or corporations because they have 'money' or 'resources' (once you give it away, you will NOT get it back until they have used it up, like Ko'olahawe).
  • Dividing and conquering all the Native Hawaiians and local users until all of Hawaii is in the National Sanctuary System and becomes part of the International Marine Protected Area network in the Pacific.   We will become what they want, an manageable aquarium for tourists, with little or no local subsistence use, and sustainability based on tourism needs.
The end result a cute, NGO-friendly, totally unrealistic, happy sanctuary with souvenirs, while true subsistence use and sustainability to support life in Hawaii is gone, along with the local fishing economy.

 Tell it like it is Dee, please!  We need you Obi-wan Kanobi, you are our last hope!  The rebel alliance awaits your command.

HCDA and Oahu sacred site

SUBHEAD: An area designated as a very sacred burial site is being desecrated By HCDA in Kalaleoa.

By John Bond on 7 February 2014 for Kanehili Cultural Hui -
Image above: Aerial view of undeveloped area within Kalaleoa ahupuaa surrounded my military, suburban and industrial sprawl. From GoogleEarth by Juan Wilson. Click to embiggen.

An area designated as very sacred burial site being desecrated by the Hawaii Community Development Auhority (HCDA) in Kalaleoa. To see my testimony on HCDA plans see (

The  Leina a ka 'Uhane site in Kalaleoa, listed in 2012 by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as National Register Eligible and very important native Hawaiian sacred site is being subject to bulldozing and toxic dumping under HCDA control.

Ancient Kanehili is a location where a cultural expert doing research for HART said there are hundreds if not thousands of native burials. Many very rare native plants can still be found in this Karst sinkhole and cave environment where much of the water flows through underground streams from the mountain to the sea.

These same Karst ponds are being destroyed and used for toxic dumping. The environmental destruction of 12,000 year old Ordy Pond, rated as a very important scientific site, and supposedly a "waterbird refuge" is directly next to a major dirt raceway.

Kanehili is a place where some of Oahu's earliest immigrants from Tahiti first landed, planting the first breadfruit trees, building trails from the shoreline to the vast highly productive kalo fields of Honouliuli which once sustained the largest population on the island of Oahu 200 years ago.

This top grade soil of immense agricultural productivity is now being paved over. Maximum greed plans says it must lie under concrete and asphalt in order to "save" some other place...

Another ancient Hawaiian pond is used to process highly toxic cancer causing chemicals from other industrial waste sites. The underground water carriers all of these pollutants down to the shoreline where people swim in and eat the remaining sealife from a once abundant coastal fishery that is being killed off.

The vast majority of the public has no idea of the industrial waste being processed and stored near popular Barbers Point beaches where all of the toxic chemicals seep into the ground and travel to the shoreline where children swim and play and gatherers
eat polluted fish and limu.

Lands in Kalaeloa originally intended for green open space and preservation have been zoned by HCDA for industrial development, including sites where very important historic and Hawaiian cultural sites exist in still nearly pristine condition.

The 2012 HART wahi pana EIS. designation doesn't deter HCDA Kalaeloa from industrializing the entire ancient Kanehili area. Department of Hawaiian Homelands also just recently approved their HCDA plans in Kalaleoa to fully industrialize areas of ancient cultural Hawaiian sites and rare native plants noted in the one thousand year old chants of Hi'iaka.

Future generations will find that one of the last and most sacred lands of Ewa has been completely polluted and destroyed under HCDA control. Pretending that a small "heritage park" preserves this area is equivalent to cutting down all but a few Redwood trees and proclaiming that the free trees leftover will be the "preserve" future generations will see. This same HCDA "heritage" area has also been used as an illegal dump site.

It is very sad that everything everywhere is headed for full on industrialization and pollution in Kalaeloa and West Oahu. Clearly, we live in a State where there will not be a "future for the keiki" that isn't covered in dumped toxic sludge, asphalt and concrete. The concept of historic and cultural preservation is mocked by those who can't wait to bulldoze it all and make a fast profit. This is our government today.

The full on rape of Hawaii is underway and clearly the people running the State do not believe in a real future, just a big concrete and asphalt profit to be made right now. They pretend one place has to be developed to "save" another place but we all know that the "other place" will be next on their list to pollute and pave over. It is all part of the big monster development machine eating up everything that once made Hawaii a wonderful place to live.

Corruption and Profit rules Hawaii. None of the State agencies protect anything in HCDA Kalaeloa. It is a lawless place made possible by a corrupt political system of government agencies and corrupt politicians with absolutely no real interest in the future, just the quick profits they can grab right now from a dispirited population who have become the disposable trash of the rich and powerful that the corrupt system caters to.


The Degrowth Market

SUBHEAD: Phantom economies tend to give rise to gray and black markets in proportion to their deviance from reality.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 7 February 2014 for Of Two Minds -

Image above: Seems a bit heavy for this overtaxed donkey in Ethiopia. From (
"Phantom economies tend to give rise to gray and black markets in proportion to the deviance of the phantom economy from reality." - Peter D.
College graduates around the world are discovering that getting a university diploma no longer guarantees the conventional success story of a secure job and a life of ever-rising consumption. Doing all the things that the Status Quo said would lead to success no longer yields success, for the simple reason that the Status Quo is failing on a structural/systemic level.

The system is rigged to protect the Status Quo mafia from competition. As noted in The Mafia State of Mind (February 6, 2014), the Status Quo is a set of overlapping monopolies/extortion rackets. The system needs a trickle of new technocrats and apparatchiks to manage the rackets, but there is no place for the tens of millions of college graduates who are flooding into the job market every year around the world.

New conventional enterprises face essentially impossible barriers: sky-high rents, absurdly lengthy and costly permitting processes, onerous fees and reporting requirements, and a host of other barriers reputedly imposed to "protect the public" but whose real purpose is to eliminate small-enterprise competition to corporate dominance.

Which organizations have the cash flow, financing, legal expertise and political influence to meet all the requirements and pay the insanely overpriced leases? Global corporations and the state--two sides of the same kleptocratic coin.

The high costs of launching and operating a legitimate Status Quo business serves two other primary purposes: maintaining high returns on capital for crony-capitalist financiers and funding the state's enormous cadre of functionaries at above-market-rate salaries, benefits and pensions. Recall that median personal income in the U.S. is about $40,000 for full-time workers, and compensation above $82,500 annually puts one in the top 10% of all wage earners.
The California Public Policy Center has just posted its own searchable site of state and local employee wages and pension benefits, Some of the results were rather revealing – and should be shocking to taxpayers: There are 31,527 retired public workers in the "$100,000 pension club" and 582 who are receiving pensions of at least $200,000 a year. Including wages and benefits, there are 227,059 state and local workers earning total compensation of at least $100,000 a year.

Some may argue that these large figures apply to a relatively small portion of public employees, and that the average public employee receives modest compensation. However, a CPPC analysis revealed that even average compensation is startlingly high. Average compensation for full-time state employees was $93,851 for public safety employees and $68,282 for all other employees. Adding benefits boosted these totals to $129,388 and $90,402, respectively. The figures for city and county employees were even higher. 
- Source: Public sector's growing $100K club
Two forces are disrupting this cozy interlocking mafia of financiers, corporate cartels and state functionaries: the End of (Middle-Class) Work and the rise of the peer-to-peer, self-organizing business models such as AirBnB, car-sharing, ride-sharing, farmers markets, etc.

See the following:
Russ in Redding: The Human Face of The End of Work (September 2, 2011)
America's Social Recession: Five Years and Counting (August 28, 2013)
The Ten Best Employers To Work For (Peak Employment) (March 28, 2013)
The Python That Ate Your Job (December 11, 2013)

The high costs of legitimate business (needed to keep rentier/financial profits and state functionary pay/pensions high) are effectively destroying middle-class jobs and pay scales: the only organization that can afford to pay high salaries and benefits, regardless of costs or the business climate, is the state.

Even the financial sector and global corporations can only pay middle-class salaries for technocrats and managers in what are effectively quasi-state agencies (sickcare, workers compensation insurance, the defense industry, etc.)

So what are the tens of millions of college graduates supposed to do for a livelihood if there are only a few slots open in the moated mafias of financiers, corporate cartels and the state? To answer, let's start with this obvious statement: that which cannot be paid will not be paid.

All the infrastructure of consumption depends on tens of millions of college graduates making enough money to pay high taxes, service their student loans, buy homes, autos, particle-board furniture, electronic gadgets, dozens of pairs of shoes, etc. etc. etc. If they can't make enough money to buy and own all that stuff, then they won't be buying and owning all that stuff.

And if they can't earn a living within the Status Quo mafia, they will do so outside the mafia in the gray and black markets.

This destruction of consumption is supposed to be a disaster, but it's only a disaster for the moated mafias of financiers, corporate cartels and the state that depend on tens of millions of workers voluntarily becoming debt serfs and tax donkeys. If young workers cannot make their student loan payments, those loans become worthless. As the old saying has it, You can't get blood from a stone. (Alternatively: You can't get blood from a turnip.)

If young workers can't make enough to buy autos, homes, etc., the market for those goods and services implodes. And if all the financial/debt churn generated by consumption goes away, so do the fees and taxes the state depends on to pay its armies of functionaries.

Rather than a disaster, this wholesale loss of middle-class incomes and aspirations is enormously liberating. Instead of the yoke of debt-based ownership, young people are finding sharing to be better than owning: one shared car can provide transport for 10 people. Ten people no longer need to own 10 cars to get around.

One way to grasp how deeply the mafia state of mind has taken hold is to ask: how many middlemen have to be paid to produce/buy a good or service? In Greece, liberation starts by eliminating the middleman, which of course includes the voraciously corrupt state: After Crisis, Greeks Work to Promote ‘Social’ Economy.

The state is naturally in full freakout mode, as self-organizing sharing/no-middleman enterprises are outside the debt-serf/tax donkey system that funds the state. In response, the state is frantically trying to impose the same fee structure that has crushed conventional small businesses on the sharing/no-middleman organizations.

The problem for the state is that its success in imposing exorbitant fees and taxes will simply drive low-income people scratching out a minimal living in the gray market to other networks that do not even have a corporate structure to tax. To wit: "The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers."

If making a living in the gray market becomes untenable, then people will be forced into the black market, which is whatever trade can be done outside the reach of the state. As noted previously, that which cannot be paid will not be paid.

As correspondent Peter D. recently observed: "Phantom economies tend to give rise to gray and black markets in proportion to the deviance of the phantom economy from reality." If we believe that phantom economies of moated fiefdoms, mafias and cartels are "reality," then the rise of liberating degrowth networks is distressing and confusing.

But if we look past the propaganda and see the debt-serf/tax donkey system for what it really is, a predatory system of oppression and exploitation, then we can see how degrowth, de-consumption, de-debt, etc. is liberating.

See also:
TEDx Tokyo: The "De" Generation (8 minutes) (de-ownership, de-materialism, de-corporatism)
Degrowth, Anti-Consumerism and Peak Consumption (May 9, 2013)


Holmgren holds his ground

SUBHEAD: Many activists see Permaculture as just a sideshow, or maybe as something good, but not really important.

By DavidM58 on 5 February 2014 for Integral Permaculture -

Image above: Photo of David Holmgren in the woods in spring. From (

I’m suggesting in my essay, the underling thing is an appeal to those people to come and join us in the positive side where we’re going to create the world we do want, whether or not it leads to a larger scale positive change, or whether or not it contributes to a crash.
- David Holmgren
It’s a great interview of David Holmgren by Steffan Geyer on his show “21st Century Permaculture!” broadcast by Shoreditch Community Radio. The “classic retro funk” mixed in is an added bonus. The interview is now being streamed at Mixcloud here (

The interview focuses on the hubub that has surrounded Holmgen’s Crash on Demand essay, and I’m very pleased (and relieved) to report that my interpretation (What Is David Holmgren Really Telling Us?) was apparently spot on.

Here are a couple of excerpts I’ve transcribed from the interview:
David Holmgren:
I’m fairly pleased with the response [to the essay] – the fact that it’s created quite a lot of discussion, and triggered a lot of more nuanced thinking about ranges around ‘Future Scenarios.’ Albert Bates’ slightly  lighthearted work on this, where he shifted me from an optimistic ecotopian view to a pessimistic collapsnik. …well, I didn’t agree with that at all, in that I’ve always had a mixture of the two, and I don’t think I’ve particularly changed my position.

But in speaking of permaculture as a positive response of creating the world we do want, whether or not it leads to, if you like, ecological salvation for humanity, just that positive, can do, ‘we’re going to do this anyway’ – it sort of put me in a box, I suppose, naturally enough with Rob Hopkins, but also surprisingly techno-optimists like Amory Lovins, and even people imagining techno utopias.

Whereas, I’ve always had this permaculture view which has been framed against a fairly dark view of the state of the world and likely possibilities, but a positive view about what  personal, household, and community action can be in the context of that world.

Steffen Geyer:

Some people have actually commented that you’re advocating something very similar to what you advocated in Permaculture One, and that you’ve been doing that the whole time in your work, and there’s actually not much of a departure. It’s just a little bit more explicitly said.

David Holmgren:

Yeah, that’s pretty much it! I’ve always been skeptical about the ability to say “What we’re doing in Permaculture might be useful at some local scale, but it only becomes useful when it leads to some large scale societal change.”
Another step in that assumption is that large scale societal change will inevitably come by the powers that be, pulling the levers at the top of the system in the right way to give us the policies to restructure the economy and restructure things you can’t do at the household level. I’ve always seen that as a very limited, what I call “old fashioned” view of political change.
Because Permaculture’s never been cast as you say as a revolution, it’s really been cast as gardening; that a lot of the actions have then been acceptable to a lot of people, because you don’t have to buy in to an idealogical view of the world to see the benefit in some Permaculture strategies and techniques, and the common sense behind a lot of the principles.
The fact that those things are actually subversive to the sort of economy and power structures we have, is not necessarily self evident or important to most people. It does this work for them, it’s useful, it seems fairly benign, and it has multiple benefits. That is a real and true basis for Permaculture, but Mollison and I were never under any illusion that the widespread adoption of this would sort of overturn the power structures in society in the process of getting us in line with the limits that nature ultimately imposes on human systems.

Those limits will and are being imposed, and we can sort of go with the flow of that or we can resist it.  So I haven’t really changed the message, but in a public sense, and of course the blogosphere, the internet, allows one to be very public, and I did choose words fairly carefully with the Crash on Demand essay, and I can see how some people thought  I was advocating that the primary motivation for the sort of Permaculture strategies was actually to destroy the current economy.
That’s not the purpose at all, but it’s a bizarre situation that we’ve got to, where the possibility of the success of that strategy would hasten what is an inevitable process, because generally the view is that these personal things that we do don’t really have any impact.
I suppose I have, increasingly in recent years, started to articulate Permaculture as a political strategy back to people who are of that ilk – activists who are desperately trying to change the structures of society around both equity issues and environmental limits. A lot of them see Permaculture as just a sideshow, or maybe as something good, but not really important.
As their world is progressively unraveling… what I mean by ‘their world’ is the faith that it is possible to martial rational evidence, influence enough policy and powerful people that the inevitability and the logic of the changes that we’re proposing will prevail through some sort of orderly process. That is unraveling.
Large numbers of people in that field, I believe, will give up – are giving up – especially on the climate front. These are people who’ve had enormous energy and commitment, they’re not your average Joe-blow citizen, they’re people who are empowered, who’ve put massive personal energy into these things.
As that community and psychology falls apart, …I’m suggesting in my essay, the underling thing is an appeal to those people to come and join us in the positive side where we’re going to create the world we do want, whether or not it leads to a larger scale positive change, or whether or not it contributes to a crash.

But interestingly, when people have this belief that it’s possible to bring about this larger change, and that faith is lost, there’s a few places people go. One is toward a sort of catatonic disconnection and dysfunction, or just total burnout.  
Another place where a minority will tend to go is back to the old hard revolutionary movement -that we’ve got to have in the end violence to bring the system to an end.  I think people have, at a lot of levels, misunderstood my essay, because part of what I’m doing is appealing to those people to come and join us on this side of the fence. And one of the arguments is yes, one of the effects of a change in behavior by a small proportion of the world’s global middle class could actually bring the system down.
And that idea is attractive to people who have lost all hope for that sort of change. It’s not actually a motivation for me, and I don’t think it’s a motivation for most people involved in Permaculture. But for those sorts of people, it’s actually a safer place than ending up on the track of the Unibomber.
Because we don’t need many prominent ex-environmentalists and social justice advocates to end up in that active violence against the system to have really severe demonization and lockdown of the positive movements we’re talking about. And I think that’s an aspect that hasn’t so much come out in the discussion around the essay. Though I think there’s been some very good and useful discussion, and good points made by almost everyone who’s commentated on it.
A couple of things.  First, I really appreciate that Holmgren acknowledges that a lot of good points were made by almost everyone who’s commented on his essay.  I think it’s important to see all the posts as a friendly discussion sharing important perspectives, all of which are worthwhile to hear and to discuss – rather than framing this as an acrimonious debate.

Second, I appreciate the important point about the potential negative impacts of more violent responses.

In future posts I hope to explore both of these last two topics, and I hope to employ some examples of using PatternDynamics in the process.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Crash and Demand Pathways 2/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Response to Holmgren's scenarios 1/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Stabbing the Beast 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Crash on Demand 12/30/13


Kokee threatened again

SUBHEAD: Death knell sounding for Kokee. State DLNR says it's not Kauai's mountain any more.

By Andy Parx on 1 February 2014 for Parx News Daily -

[IB Publisher's note: As damning as this article is to Frank Hay (and this is not the only source) we must say that Frank led the charge ten years ago against the DLNR attempt to commercialize Kokee State Park. He fought the proposed gate and fee that would reduce access for many residents. He also fought hard for keeping the resort hotel operations the DLNR from becoming a reality, as fighting for a fairer lease arrangement for cabins. See article links below for some background. Although Frank was an engineer at the PMRF he worked well with progressives the island pushing back on Lingle's state government looking to monetize public land the way Abercrombie tried with the PLDC.]

Image above: What ever happened to the beauty of Niagara Falls in the age of modern commercialization? This! From (

It's hard to tell exactly what's going down up there from down here but one thing is clear, there is some bad mojo surrounding Koke`e these days, much of it at the hands of one Frank Hay, friend of the chemical companies, the military and other Westside abominations.

Not to mention the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) which, while the people of Kauai have always seen the trees and recreational opportunities, sees only dollar signs.

Hay, the  President of the Hui O Laka Museum's Board of Trustees, is the one who almost single-handedly removed long time museum Executive Director Marsha Erickson recently.

Many say that in part it's because she supported the pesticide-and-GMO-disclosing, buffer-zone-creating, study-enabling Bill 2491... that and her support of those who have opposed the massive commercial development of Koke`e that's been proposed by the DLNR for many years.

And Erickson may not have been the only one purged- others say they have been summarily removed from the mountain one way or another through various efforts of Hay, the DLNR and their minions.

But although Hay has attempted to obscure the reasons for Erickson's departure it may be becoming clearer with unconfirmed reports that the lodge has been taken over by Aston Resorts and the CCC Camp- which Erickson brought back from the dead during her Koke`e tenure- is the target of a takeover by the state's nebulous Agrobuniness Development Corporation (ADC).

The ADC is another one of those "Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC)-type state creations that leases "state" land (actually stolen Hawaiian land) and, perhaps unconstitutionally, bypasses local land use laws.

While the PLDC was repealed by the state legislature last year the ADC continues to operate under the radar of most activists, leasing out much of the land used by the chemical companies for their genetically modified (GM) foods and related restricted-use-pesticide (RUP) experiments, with sweetheart deals at outrageously low prices.

In addition the chemical companies' new best friend, Kokee State Representative Dee Morikawa- who has introduced and vehemently defended a bill in the state legislature to essentially overturn Bill 2491 (now ordinance 960) and a Hawai`i Island ordinance banning new open-air GM experiments- has introduced a bill to abolish the Koke`e State Advisory Council

At one time back in the 60's residents had to battle to stop plans for making Koke`e a national park and allowed the state to take over as an alternative. And ever since the state has eyed the Kaua`i playground as a cash cow.

Despite adamant opposition by that pesky advisory council and the near unanimous opposition by the island-wide community to plans that include concessions at the lookouts, turning the lodge into a hotel and putting a gate up to charge admission, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) has, of late, unilaterally pushed forward with their commercialization plans which had been abandoned due to opposition over and over for decades.

It's been hard enough to keep the city and county at bay. They seem to have some kind of entitlement mindset that says that going in and taking whatever you want without asking is not just okay but that it's us that are exhibiting a lack of aloha for saying "no"- as the battles over the SuperFerry and the current undersea electric cable have so well crystallized.

But when Morikawa, the very one elected to protect Kokee, turns Benedict Arnold on us our chances at protecting what makes Kaua`i special approach zero.

See also:
Island Breath: DLNR Proposes gate fee and expulsion 11/18/04
Island Breath: Petition against DLNR gate to Kokee 11/30/04
Island Breath: DLNR Plan for Kokee incpmplete 1/9/05
Island Breath: BLNR has not reviewed Kokee testimony 1/11/05
Island Breath: BLNR Meeting on Kauai 1/14/05
Island Breath: Kokee Public Information Hearing 3/9/05
Island Breath: Kokee Reprieve by BLNR 8/29/05
Island Breath: State Betrays Kauai on Kokee 1/24/06
Island Breath: DLNR wants Kokee gated community 8/7/06
Island Breath: DLNR Retreat on Kokee 12/10/06


SB 110 Defeated

SUBHEAD: Senate Ag Committee kills bill aimed at preempting county rights after getting thousands of testimonies.

By Michael Shooltz on 4 February 2014 for Kauai Rising -

Image above: View of the Hawaii State Senate from the public gallery. From (

You are amazing!!! Please take a moment to acknowledge yourselves and your willingness to show up in support of We the People and our island homes. Your willingness to let your voices be heard carried the day!

Thought you might enjoy this little excerpt from the Hawaii State Legislature's website regarding the the Legislature's action with SB 110 today.

SB110 History

Sort by DateStatus Text
1/17/2013SPassed First Reading.
1/22/2013SReferred to AGL.
12/18/2013DCarried over to 2014 Regular Session.
2/3/2014SThe committee(s) on AGL will hold a public decision making on 02-04-14 2:46PM in conference room 229.
2/4/2014SThe committee(s) on AGL recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS and be recommitted. The votes in AGL were as follows: 3 Aye(s): Senator(s) Nishihara, Dela Cruz, Slom; Aye(s) with reservations: none ; 3 No(es): Senator(s) Kouchi, English, L. Thielen; and 1 Excused: Senator(s) Wakai.
2/4/2014SThe recommendation was not adopted.

S = Senate | H = House | D = Data Systems | $ = Appropriation measure | ConAm = Constitutional Amendment
Some of the above items require Adobe Acrobat Reader. Please visit Adobe's download page for detailed instructions.

Of course constant vigilance will continue to be required. But when you show up like you have done over this past 24 hours we will succeed. Your voices let everyone involved know that the Light shining upon the dark is very bright indeed, even when they tried to sneak this bill under the radar.

Please also note above the names of those who voted for passage of the measure and you will recognize the usual names who ALWAYS support the chemical companies. And also note the names of those who voted against the bill. You might take a moment to express your appreciation to those who stood up and voted NO, particularly Kauai's Senator Kouchi. (and it always helps to add Kauai Rising beneath your signature!)

Shine on Kauai!!  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

By Staff on 5 February 2014 for Stop Poisoning Paradise - 

As a result of thousands of email testimonies and phone calls from all Hawaiian islands to legislators in less than 24 hours, Senate Bill 110 (SB 110) was defeated in a 3-3 tie vote of the Senate Ag Committee.
Thanks to EVERYONE who took the time to send in testimony, show up, spread the word to friends, and take part.

Today's victory was because of you!

Again, the people of Hawaii showed that big change can happen when we unite and work together: 

Local farmers and ranchers continue to work with legislators to tell them that the Right to Farm does not mean the right to poison Hawaii's families, land and water. And that counties have the right to protect the health and safety of their residents.

Families living near gmo fields are working together across Kauai, Molokai, Big Island, Maui and Oahu, sharing their stories, and now realizing they are not alone in their experiences.

Medical professionals, parents, teachers, union members, surfers, scientists, first responders, artists and writers are exchanging information together on Facebook, in the halls of the State Capitol, and on the airwaves.

Those who malama aina - cultural practitioners, fishers, hunters, across generations, both Hawaii-born and raised as well as from every ethnicity and culture on our islands - are working together, building bridges, and continuing to submit powerful testimony in common kuleana.
Stay tuned for the next Call to Action, as Hawaii's people continue to cast sunshine on the inner workings of the State Legislature and its backroom processes.

Let's continue to work hard and joyfully, to protect our future generations, our land and our water!

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: State/Corporate GMO Regulation 2/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Right to Farm 1/26/14


State/Corporate GMO Regulation

SUBHEAD: Local health and welfare pre-emption bill SB110 is the sneak attack by the GMO stooges in our state legislature.

By Brad Parsons on 3 February 2014 in Island Breath -

Image above: The non-GMO Soup Stone. You have to start somewhere. From (

Hawaii GMO Legislation Watch - SNEAK ATTACK - PREEMPTION

Aloha Petition Signers
Action Item as soon as possible.  A Hearing Notice went out 2 hours ago for a hearing on this tomorrow, Tuesday and needs quick testimony or sentiment against. See meeting details below.

  • Preemption bill in new clothing (from a legislative 'birdie')
  • New “County preemption bill” in disguise, - SB110, SD1,
  • Scheduled for hearing TOMORROW - Tues, 2/4 Agriculture Committee
  • This was formerly SB 3058. This is the sneak attack we've been expecting.
  • Need LOTS of emails and calls ASAP! Need Lots of testimony and sentiment against.
State Senators

State Represenetaivers 
Representative Dee Morikawa
House District 16
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 310
phone: 808-586-6280
fax: 808-586-6281

Representative James Tokioka
House District 15
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 322
phone: 808-586-6270
fax: 808-586-6271

Representative Derek Kawakami
House District 14
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 314
phone: 808-586-8435
fax: 808-586-8437

Senator Ron Kouchi
Senate District 8
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 206
phone: 808-586-6030
fax: 808-586-6031


Submit your testimony:
If you don't have an account with (, you can set one up easily and it is free. Click on "Register" button in the upper right-hand corner of page.

Return to SB110 page and click on the blue "Submit Testimony" at top of page and it will take you to a page that looks like this form (for another bill):

You can fill out the information depicted in the above graphic.  Minimum, you only need to highlight the "Support" dot for SB2736, along with your acct. name and email.  If you want under "Additional Comments," you can write a few sentences or paragraphs

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Conference Room 229
State Capitol
415 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, Hawaii

SB 110
      Proposed SD1
      Status & Testimony
Proposed SD1:  Amends Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act to ensure that counties cannot enact laws, ordinances, or resolutions that limit the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices. (SD1 Proposed) AGL.

SECTION 1. was all added into a previously empty bill:

SECTION 1.  Section 165-4, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
     "§165-4  Right to farm.  No court, official, public servant, or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason if the farming operation has been conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices.

There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a farming operation does not constitute a nuisance.  The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this State.

No law, ordinance, or resolution of any unit of local government shall be enacted that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production, and ranching practices not prohibited by federal or state law, rules, or regulations."

     SECTION 2.  New statutory material is underscored.
     SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Right to Farm Bill 1/26/14


Crash and Demand Pathways

SUBHEAD: Non-monetary household and local community economies with as little as 10% of the population could stop growth.

By David Holmgren on 3 February 2014 in -

Image above: Illustration of moving along path to sustainable prosperity. From (

This is Part 3 of David Holmgren's new essay Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future, which updates his Future Scenarios work. Read Part 1, and Part 2.

Nested Scenarios
Perhaps the greatest ah-ha moment from participants in Future Scenarios seminars has come with my explanation of the following slide.

Each scenario has a characteristic scale energy density and organisational power. It is natural for   national governments and corporations to respond to energy descent with massive infrastructure and energy projects and policies, that fit the Brown Tech scenario. Similarly it is natural for families to think about food supply and personal security, reflecting the Lifeboat scenario.

Between these two extremes many mainstream environmental strategies that suggest a Green Tech future are most effectively being applied by medium sized business and city or state governments, while many classic permaculture strategies that are emblematic of the Earth Steward scenario can be best applied by small business and local communities.

To some extent all scenarios are emerging simultaneously and may persist to some degree into the future, one nested one within another.

Crashing the operating system of the global economy
The evidence that the global financial system is a not-so-slow moving train crash is getting stronger. That investors and the billion or so middle class people who have any savings and discretionary expenditure are losing faith, might be an understatement.  It may be that paralysis and inertia is all that is holding the system together.

A collapse in credit could make it very difficult to raise the finance necessary for the ongoing extraction of tar sands, shale gas and other mad resource extraction projects that are accelerating the production of GGE.  A deflationary spiral that follows from a credit crisis and collapsing asset (housing, etc.) values could change behaviour to the extent that people stop spending on anything but essentials because of job insecurity and the fact that everything will be cheaper next month.

I believe the chances of global economic collapse (in the next five years) being severe enough to achieve this have to be rated at least 50%.  Further I believe many climate activists and policy professionals are shifting to at least privately hoping this might be the case because the chances of a planned powerdown seems to be fading.

If we accept a global financial crash could make it very difficult, if not impossible, to restart the global economy with anything other than drastically reduced emissions, then an argument can be mounted for putting effort into precipitating that crash, the crash of the financial system.

Any such plan would of course invite being blamed for causing it when it happens.  No one wants to be strung up along with the bankers for causing a global version of Greece, Egypt or many other countries, let alone the horrors of Syria.  On the other hand, we have no precedent to indicate how bad conditions might be in currently affluent countries.

The picture I am building is that it is almost inevitable that those who warn of the crisis will get the blame for causing it.

So if we are going to be blamed anyway, we could be proactive about it and at least get the advantage for humanity of crisis now, rather than later.

For the people of Syria caught in the grip of climate, energy and geopolitical struggle, all this hardly matters because it couldn’t get worse for them. In fact conditions in such stricken places could actually improve if global superpower competition is disabled by the collapse of the global finance.

Even the average citizen in Greece or Egypt might be hoping to see the remaining affluent countries get a ‘taste of their own medicine’.  The complexity of global human overshoot, so long predicted, and now unfolding, is far too multifaceted to be captured by any simple story about good, innocence, evil and blame.

Before considering whether this is a good idea or not, I want to consider whether concerted action by limited numbers of activists could bring it about?

Given the current fragilities of global finance, I believe a radical change in the behaviour of a relatively small proportion of the global middle class could precipitate such a crash.

For example a 50% reduction of consumption and 50% conversion of assets into building household and local community resilience by say 10% of the population in affluent countries would show up as 5% reduction in demand in a system built on perpetual growth and a 5% reduction in savings capital available for banks to lend.  Small fluctuations in the supply-demand balance can have a massive effect on prices.

Further, when the system has been growing due to rising debt, arguably for decades, then the vulnerability to drops in demand can be massive.  For example, small drops in demand for new houses and the high fuel costs of commuting for those servicing mortgages, triggered the collapse of the housing bubble in the USA and other countries.

It seems obvious to me that it is easier to convince a minority that they will be better off by disengaging from the system than any efforts to build mass movements demanding impossible outcomes or convincing elites to turn off the system that is currently keeping them in power.

I accept that many people find the idea of assisting economic collapse abhorrent, even if that collapse is becoming more and more likely as a collective outcome of human actions.  Daryl Taylor uses the caring metaphor “hospicing and euthanasing” the old/dying system along with “doula-ing and midwifing the new/emerging system.

Whatever the metaphors, climate activists who believe we are on the verge of runaway catastrophic climate change that will be far worse than simply stalling the economy, do have options other than shouting louder for mitigation or shifting to adaptation and defence.  Rather than simply planning for bad and rocky energy descent delivered initially by economic depression, they could choose to focus their energy on actively trying to destroy faith in the financial system.

Mainstream environmental tactical shift
This may seem like a mad idea from a fringe radical, but I think there is evidence that the most mainstream elite of the climate policy community may effectively be pursuing a strategy that is very similar.

Environmental activists have for some years now been targeting investors in coal, tar sands, shale oil and gas and other disastrous energy developments with some signs of success, or at least more than has been achieved by lobbing politicians.

The fact that many of these investments are based on bubble economics should be evident to investors anyway, but with so much money sloshing around the global financial system in search of investments which are safe and promise a reasonable return, behaviour of investors becomes more erratic and irrational.

A report from Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Research Institute, Unburnable carbon 2013: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets,suggests that 60-80% of the oil, gas and coal reserve on the books of the global energy companies could be stranded assets.

Four trillion dollars in share values and 1.27 trillion in debt could be worthless if governments take seriously their commitments to avoid dangerous climate change.  This is a recent prominent example of climate policy work attempting to undermine financial investment in the fossil fuel industries.  It seems to me what they are saying was intended to be a warning to investors, to pull their money out because it is too big a financial risk.

The strategy behind such a report might be to encourage an investment flow out of fossil and into renewable energy projects.  However, if investors did this very fast, it could destabilise global commodity and financial markets so much that it precipitates the collapse of global finance, and I suggest, also brings down greenhouse gas emissions.

Investment and Divestment
Similarly, the efforts by permaculture, transition and related activism to build local resilience, may result in convincing people that they should get out of debt, downsize, and radically reduce consumption and put their savings into concrete assets that build local capacity, as rapidly as possible.

Nicole Foss’s message is specifically targeted to this end and I have seen it lead to people making radical changes to their financial affairs, which all the evidence of climate catastrophe never did.  As Foss explains, when most of the so-called wealth evaporates, the public is left holding the empty bag of worthless assets, a process that is well underway in Europe and the USA.

Her message is targeted to help the very people who are most motivated and able to make a positive contribution in the energy descent future.  If these people can survive and thrive through the very short-term bottleneck of deflationary economic collapse, then they may be able to exercise a very positive influence on the systems that emerge following the collapse.  This strategy is a very altruistic one, one I have supported publicly.[1]

There have always been strong ethical, strategic and practical grounds for permaculture and transition activism to focus on the simultaneous withdrawal of assets from destructive centralised systems and the reinvesting of them in household and community economy development.  In Australia, the shift in the early 1980s of ethical investment from avoiding tobacco and arms manufacturers, to taking more proactive investment choices was influenced by permaculture activism.

As climate activists use the power of divestment as one of the few prospects for leveraging rapid change away from coal and other fossil fuel industries, it might be useful to show how this might fit into a more holistic framework for investment and divestment informed by permaculture principles.
Firstly, divestment must always be balanced by a conscious plan of re-investment that doesn’t simple recreate the problems in a new form.

As with the Jevons paradox, there are many examples of rebound effects. For example savings on power bills with solar power leading to more frequent overseas holidays by airplane.

Secondly, investment is not just of money, but our time, skills and assets. Often it is these non-monetary assets that can be most effectively put to good work, while our finances are tied up in  systems that are causing the very problems we wish to avoid.

Thirdly the investment mentality assumes a return, but in a deflationary world, capital asset protection is more important than any expectation of a return.  The accepted wisdom of not putting all eggs in one basket, becomes more important in an uncertain future.

Apart from any framework to characterise what we should invest in (e.g. renewable rather than fossil energy), the most powerful shift occurs when we extract resources from the top of the global financial food chain and reinvest at the most local level.

In Energy Descent Action Planning[2] we wrote;
In pre-industrial society the non-monetary economies of the household and community, based on love, reciprocity, gift and barter, were the bulk of the economy and energy descent will see a rapid expansion of these economies from the current very low base.
Rural communities that have retained more of these non-monetary economies and have better access to non-monetary resources from nature (water, firewood, food, etc) are in a better position to benefit from energy descent than urbanised communities.
And we used the following diagrams to visualise the shift in economies;

Image above: The Formal and Informal economic sectors at Peak Energy (overshoot). From original article.

Image above: The Formal and Informal economic sectors at after Peak Energy (energy descent). From original article.

Affluent nations have a long history of extracting wealth out of the informal household and community economies to bolster growth in the formal economies, but we have little experience in proactively reversing the process.

Recognising the differences between at least three domains of financial control can help evaluation investment and divestment strategies and options.
  1. Corporate and government finance and transactions through the banking system,
  2. NGO, business and individual finance and transactions through the banking system
  3. Cash transactions that are restricted to individuals and small businesses
The highest level is corporate and government financing. Getting money out of this sector and into businesses and NGOs controlled by “natural persons “ is a step in the right direction.

Corporations are cost minimising, profit maximising organisations, designed like machines to suit the scale and density of fossil fuel. In the energy descent future corporations will be less adapted but in the Brown Tech scenario where power shifts from the global to the national level, corporations will remain the primary tools by which strong national governments will implement radical, and where necessary, unpopular policies.

Corporations only respond to legal constraint and mass-market forces. Where we invest in larger scale organisation for complex functions, cooperatives are inherently more subject to ethical and democratic influence than corporations.

Natural persons, and businesses fully controlled by natural persons, are, unlike corporations, potentially subject to ethical influence and action other than short-term cost minimisation and profit maximisation.  This potential will be critical to breaking the trance created by the current mal-adapted convergent systems.

Even more importantly, individual entrepreneurs perusing divergent and even idiosyncratic risk taking are essential to deal with a world of rapid change and uncertainty.

When we hold money as cash we risk theft and lose value due to inflation, but in an energy descent world of deflation, cash is king and avoids the risk that the largest financial institutions will fail or be subject to arbitrary laws that confiscate savings[3].  Withdrawing money from banks and holding relatively large amounts of cash, is one of the easiest actions ordinary citizens can take to increase their own resilience and divest their support for corrupt and dysfunctional systems. When we hold and spend cash in the grey economy we stimulate the most resilient part of the monetary economy that will best survive and even thrive in a deflationary economy.

The cash economy cuts out corporations and government tax, which of course reduces money available for public services, that we might otherwise think are progressive.  But if we accept the thesis that the system cannot be reformed sufficiently to avoid climate catastrophe, then withdrawing support may be a necessary evil.

A surprising and increasing number of citizens already have such a negative view of big government, business and banks, that willingness to use the cash economy is hardly a radical perspective even if it is very rare for it to be publicly advocated by “serious commentators”.

Alternative currencies and non-monetary economies
When we convert money out of fiat currencies [4] and into local and alternative currencies (and to a limited extent, precious metals) we further spread risks, encourage local economy and reduce reinforcement of centralised dysfunction.

While precious metals and local currencies have a long history of growth in times of mainstream economic contraction, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin represent global wildcards that expand the threats to fiat currencies.

Whether virtual currencies create a brave new world of peer-to-peer[5] inflation proof money independent of governments and banks remains unclear, but they do diversify the transaction options and reduce risks from financial instability for proactive citizens taking control of their finances.

The direct exchange of goods and services in barter is often seen as clumsy and inefficient, but it can build far stronger relationships than any monetary exchange.  When it works well, barter creates a sense of serendipity, and builds confidence that we have something of value and that we can find what we need.

The gift economy is even more potent despite the superficial impression that gifting brings no rewards. In all traditional societies gifting increased the social status and often the real power and security of the giver. In addition, it functioned to redistribute wealth and provide a social safety net.

Even in affluent modern societies these functions can be recognised and in a contracting economy, gifting of surplus food, seed and garden tools (for example) to hard up people could help kick start community economies at the same time that it builds trust, support networks and social insurance in insecure times.

Labour and skill vs fossil fuel and technology
Another lens for framing expenditure is to preference employing labour and skill over fossil fuel and technology.  In affluent economies with high wages, we have a long history of believing it is always cheaper to preference fossil fuels and technology over labour and skills but in the energy descent future this will not be the case.

By shifting our behavior now, we stimulate needed economic transition and deprive the largest corporations of the growth they must have to survive.

When we buy direct from farmers, a higher proportion of the money goes to the farmer and his/her labourers and less to transport, packaging and retailing corporations that maximise the consumption of resources and minimise the employment of people.  When we pay a self-taught computer wiz to fix our machine rather than buying a new one, we encourage the growth of skills essential to the energy descent future and deprive computer corporations of sales they need to perpetually grow.

When we pay a contractor to dismantle a building rather than demolish with a excavator, we support the employment of more labour in dismantling and reuse, create less land fill, use less fossil fuel and demand less investment in expensive machinery manufactured by global corporations.

This very brief exploration suggests investment and general spending can work as a systemic boycott of centralized dysfunctional systems that are driving climate change and at the same time stimulate the emergence of the very systems that are adaptive to energy descent while minimizing GGE.

Brown Tech possibilities
Permaculture, Transition and voluntary simplicity have always involved personal and community empowerment, ethical concern for others and rebuilding nature.  These motivations remain valid but if we are moving into a Brown Tech future, then the urgency for more radical action to build parallel systems and disconnect from the increasingly centralised destructive mainstream is a logical and ethical necessity whether or not it contributes to a financial collapse.

In Future Scenarios I characterized the politics of the Brown Tech world as ‘fascist states’ where the divide between the haves and the have nots increase, and where the tension for activists between working within the system and supporting the marginalized, and those pursuing autonomy, will become much more extreme.

In workshops on the scenarios and in public talks, I illustrated this conflict with the example of a possible choice between an ID card giving us rationed access to government backed supermarket monopolies or taking our chances in the feral food economy of home grown and fringe farmers markets.

At present we have the luxury of playing with the latter while the former is still freely accessible.  The shifts towards authoritarianism and a surveillance state since ‘9/11’, and the recent intensification of the cyber wars between the state and transparency activists, suggests we may have a small window of opportunity, to build these alternative systems before a combination of state and corporate power (fascism) becomes more draconian in protecting their business model in a world of economic contraction.[6]

Most of the shrinking numbers of middle class citizens in overdeveloped countries will probably continue to throw their lot in with the declining comfort and remaining privileges the system provides.  The fact that the majority of the Japanese people were against nuclear power but nevertheless voted in a government committed to restarting the nuclear program, is a good example of the pattern.

The attitude of the majority of Australians (some of the richest people in the world) to refugees who arrive by boat is another example. Perhaps the most relevant of all is the apparent acquiescence of the majority to the rapidly expanding surveillance state, highlighted by the Edward Snowden revelations.

On another front, if the pattern of worsening bushfires in south-eastern Australia continues, it seems inevitable that the response of governments will be resettlement of people from fire prone communities into ‘safe’ towns and cities.  Those who refuse to move will probably have to cope without mains power (closure of the single line earth return systems) as well as no fire-fighting services, and so on.

The response of governments to severe bushfires and other recent natural disasters, as experienced and documented by permaculture and community activist Daryl Taylor, suggest the stress to survivors of the ‘top down’ government-sponsored recovery processes can be worse than the natural disaster itself, for a significant percentage of survivors of any disaster who become empowered by the experience.[7]

Empowered survivors of disasters and crises have the potential to catalyze community rebirth rather than accept the stifling palliative care delivered by the system.  Consequently they are treated as a threat to the bureaucratic and corporate order.

While embracing self-organisation, Taylor emphasises the need for disaster-vulnerable communities to enact defensible community regeneration decision-making structures, at the sub-local government authority level, as a key disaster-crisis preparedness strategy.

For him, household and neighborhood self-reliance, mutual self-help, and sharing economy strategies are critical for community renewal, as are new participatory democracy and subsidiarity governance[8] practices.

Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze are documenting how communities are leading this ‘Walk Out, Walk On’ shift – from tier-upon-tier ‘parent-child’ globalizing dynamics, to peer-to-peer ‘agentic adults’ trans-localization collaborations.[9]

These expressions of the Brown Tech world will be interpreted by many as problems that need to be corrected by sensible reforms based on the evidence, while others will see them as dysfunctional outcomes of corrupt power elites of failing empire, that need to be swept away by radical mass movements.

There may be some truth in both positions, but these symptoms also reflect the residual structures of majority politics and multi-generational mass affluence in an era of stagnation and contraction.

As the crises worsen, the public will, and already is, demanding that governments fix the problems.

As elites lose their religious faith in the markets’ ability to solve all problems, it is inevitable that governments will struggle to relearn their functions through erratic and arbitrary exercise of paternalistic power.  Much of this will be well intentioned and even reduce suffering in the short term.

Actors at the Fringe
While the majority may gain some real or imagined comfort from many of these actions of governments, those of us at the fringes, trying to create more resilient household and community economies, will experience them as a greater threat than the contracting economic conditions and worsening natural disasters.

Without apportioning blame, I believe it is essential that those of us who cannot live in the stifling constrictions of a failing system, must work hard while we can, to build the parallel systems that might provide some alternative to the strictures of the Brown Tech world.

If the logic of the Future Scenarios stepwise descent is true, the Brown Tech world could be one that persists for many decades, before degenerating to the Lifeboat Scenario, which spreads from the wild hinterlands to flood the remaining urban centers of the command economy.

If there are few of us following the path of frugal autonomy, then we must expect to live as a marginalised minority, but hopefully with our freedom intact as we prepare to enable our descendents, biological and otherwise, to both survive and preserve something of long term cultural value during the long descent.

If we succeed in rapidly building effective alternatives at exactly the same time that the strictures of the stressed mainstream become apparent to more people, then we could see so many people join the informal household and community economies, that the loss of worker/consumers in centrally controlled systems leads to a more rapid collapse.

The resultant massive reduction in GGE might still save the world from the worst of climate chaos. The precipitous nature of the collapse would be a massive psycho-social shock, but ameliorating factors might allow a rebuilding, based on more humane and ecological principles than are unlikely to be dominant in either the Brown Tech or Lifeboat worlds.

A relatively benign climate change would provide a basis for a recovery of ‘garden agriculture’ and wild foraging, while salvage of the leftovers from industrial assets and infrastructure would provide material needs through creative reusing and recycling; i.e. the essence of the Earth Steward Scenario in which a frugal communitarian culture based on ecological principles would be the mainstream rather than the fringe.

While the Earth Steward Scenario has many positive aspects, it is only likely to emerge through a path of great loss and suffering.  Whether that suffering will be any greater than what the world is enduring already, from the dying stages of Pax Global Capitalism cannot be known.

And if the elites of the resurgent resource nationalism and command economies of the Brown Tech world do protect people from the worse impacts of that transition they will do it by accelerating the resource depletion at the cost of climate chaos, causing more pain and suffering in the longer term.[10]

Not Financial Terrorists
These bleak prospects need to be balanced by the incredibly positive results that come from permaculture, Transition Towns, and related activism.

As I explained in the contribution to a debate in Australia’s Arena magazine in 2013, these expressions of positive environmentalism, autonomy and community building have the advantage of being primarily driven by enlightened self interest to build personal, family and community resilience, rather than a desire to save the world or atone for our own, or our forebear’s, sins.

A permaculture way of life empowers us to take responsibility for our own welfare, provides endless opportunities for creativity and innovation, and connects us to nature and community in ways that makes sense of the world around us.

We generally don’t articulate permaculture as a political strategy or movement but reflecting the  principle of multiple functions, permaculture strategies have powerful political impacts that have several advantages over conventional political action that focuses on getting those in power to pull the right levers.

In my comments to Arena[11] I supported permaculture activism as having political efficacy in the following way.
  “I am more than ready to acknowledge that ‘our’ collective efforts at positive environmentalism during and since the 1970s have so far failed to catalyse the necessary changes in society, but Andy Scerri’s assertion that composting your private garden counts for nothing, reflects an ignorance of several structural and systemic factors driving and constraining social change.
Firstly if the changes or innovations required, do not confer some advantage to the innovators and early adopters then there is little incentive for others to follow their lead.
Secondly, unless the necessary changes or innovations can be independently adopted by individuals, households and local communities, without the resources, support and approval from central authority, then it can always be blocked by established interests that stand to lose by its widespread adoption.
Thirdly, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for higher order organisations and governments to mandate a reality that doesn’t already exist as working models.
Progressive and integrated adoption and refinement of the myriad of strategies and techniques associated with permaculture, enacted at the household and local level, addresses all three systemic issues.
Permaculture, Transition Towns and related positive environmental activism, have spread through personal, small scale entrepreneurial and community actions so readily because they bypass these three systemic blocks to a creatively designed energy descent pathway.  This spread has happened with only marginal and indirect support from governments, corporations and even NGOs.

Because permaculture is a highly integrated multifaceted example of positive environmentalism it also has the effect of a systemic boycott of centralized fossil fuel powered economics dominated by corporations.  When seriously applied at the household and community level it undermines centralised debt-based economies, including the tax base of governments.

Application of permaculture and associated voluntary simplicity principles over decades by committed households can lead to reductions in consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of greater than 50% with up to 80% possible.[12]
The nested future scenarios concept highlights the importance of household and local community strategies whether or not larger scale systems collapse. Those (permaculture) strategies are effective at the local and household scale, while the ones promoted to us by the upper levels of power (eg upgrading the light bulbs) are weak and tend to further undermine our resilience and autonomy.(eg centralised disaster management systems)

This understanding can save us spending too much emotional energy focused on which scenario will win out in the end.

It also reminds us that the emerging Brown Tech world arises out of the level of available energy more than evil intent by global and national elites. If larger scale systems do fail due to greater self-reliance and resilience at the local and household level then that exposes the degree of overreach and instability in those larger systems, not the impact of radical relocalizers trying to destroy the system.

Mass movements to get governments to institute change have been losing efficacy for decades, while a mass movement calling for less seems like a hopeless case.  Similarly boycotts of particular governments, companies and products simply change the consumption problems into new forms.

I believe that actively building parallel and largely non-monetary household and local community economies with as little as 10% of the population has the potential to function as a deep systemic boycott of the centralised systems as a whole, that could lead to more than 5% contraction in the centralised economies.  Whether this became the straw that broke the back of the global financial system or a tipping point, no one could ever say, even after the event.

Discussing such possibilities may be counterproductive and may brand us as crazy people, a doomsday cult or even terrorists.

Maybe it is better to keep focusing on the positive aspects of these bottom up changes that are acceptable to the average citizen; better physical and mental health, more fun and empowered children who can survive and thrive in a world of dramatic transformation, while minimizing our contribution to harm to nature and others.

On the other hand, bringing these issues out in the open might inspire desperate climate and political activists to put their substantial energy into permaculture, Transition Towns, voluntary frugality, and other aspects of positive environmentalism.  It just might stop the monster of global growth after all other options have been exhausted.  Rather than spurning financial system terrorists, we would welcome the impacted and vulnerable to the growing ranks of terra-ists[13] with their hands in the soil.

[1] Talking up the risks of the centralised food system has always been the flip side of my promotion of household and local food production to kickstart community resilience.  For example see footage included in Anima Mundi, a film by Peter Downey (
[2] Energy Descent Action Planning Discussion Paper; report by David Holmgren and Ian Lillington to the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee of Hepburn Shire Council September 2011.
[3] Such as already happened in the Cypriot banking crisis
[4] Government backed national currencies that are not underpinned by precious metals or other material resources of real value. Fiat currencies depend on faith that the government can guarantee their value.
[5] Peer to peer networks that contrast to heirachical server-client networks (in IT) have become models for a wide range of initiatives identified through the P2P Foundation, including alternative currencies. See
[6] Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is said to have said “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
[7] See How the Kinglake Ranges Community is building resilience in the aftermath of disaster (pdf) by Darryl Taylor and Lucy Filor.
[8] See: Participatory Budgeting
Gaian Democracies  and
Liquid Democracy as starting points
[9]  See: Walk Out, Walk On website and book for case studies
[10] For a very realistic portrayal of the Brown Tech world and a utopian Earth Steward community see Brian Love’s new novel Entheogensis
[11] See Household economy counts for the full text.
[12] At Melliodora we are managing to operate an extended household economy and globally connected small business at less than 25% of the Australian average GGE (purely as a byproduct of applying permaculture principles and without accounting for any carbon sequestration from decades of tree planting and land management).
[13] A term suggested by deep ecologist John Seed after hearing me float these ideas in a public forum in 2013.


Thanks to Rick Tanaka, Maureen Corbett and Daryl Taylor for comments and corrections.
Editorial Notes: Editorial Notes: Part 2 of the essay looks at Energy Descent Scenarios.
© 2014 Holmgren Permaculture Design for Sustainable Living. All Rights Reserved. Reposted on with permission.

Read discussion of this essay here:
David MacLeod, Jason Heppenstall, Rob Hopkins, Joanne Poyorouw, Albert Bates, Dmitry Orlov, and John Michael Greer.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Crash on Demand 12/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Stabbing the Beast 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Response to Holmgren's scenarios 1/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Energy Descent Scenarios  1/24/14