Planet Kaauai

SUBHEAD: Stop living on Planet Kaauai. If you do we'll be able return to Earth from Eaarth and avoid thrive on Kauai.

By Juan Wilson on 26 February 2016 for Island Breath -

Image above: ATV tour on one of Grove Farm's Kipu Ranch trails on Kauai. Detail scanned from magazine cover mentioned below.

According to, an online Hawaiian language dictionary an interpretation of "kaa" translates as "car" and "uai" can mean "to move from place to place".

While at Salt Pond Store in Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii I picked up the Spring 2016 issue of a glossy tourist magazine "101 Things To Do" on Kauai. In it were featured many ways (besides the requisite rental car) to travel by a variety of vehicles across the island's landscape -  tour-bus, helicopter, airplane, kayak, motorcycle, mo-ped,  zodiac boat, diesel powered catamaran, or all-terrain-vehicle.  Even riding an inflatable tube in a ditch or zip-lining require being shuttled in with an ATV.

The Analogy
Think of the island of Kauai as a the whole planet Earth. It is surrounded in a sea of blue sky and ocean that blend into one space. Kauai, like the Earth, is round, self contained with desert plains and verdant valleys. Like the Earth, Kauai is a very isolated oasis of living things that can support human beings.

Enter stage left Industrial Civilization.

The needs of human industrial civilization require growth, profit, debt, resources and energy. Those needs require an ever expanding system of consumption. When humans were fewer in number (let's say below a billion people) there was always another place to go and plunder using debt and energy to produce resources and growth.

Unfortunately, with over seven-billion people on Earth that is no longer possible. The Earth has met our requirements of dominion for a few thousand years. That time is over.  The Earth as we knew it is over . Bill McKibben renamed "Earth" as "Eaarth" in his 2010 book of the same title:
“The Earth has changed in profound ways, ways that have already taken us out of the sweet spot where humans so long thrived.  We’re every day less the oasis and more the desert.  The world hasn’t ended but the world as we knew it has – even if we don’t quite know it yet."  
I'll get back to the analogy of Kauai and Eaarth in a bit. But first...

Trading Civilization for Culture
At this point in human "civilization" it seems clear that there is no way out of the bind we find ourselves. The wheels came off the cart some time ago and we find ourselves pitch poling  down a long decline into oblivion. And that's the good part.

Wikipedia defines "civilization" as:
"A civilization is any complex society characterized by urban development, symbolic communication forms (typically, writing systems), and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural environment by a cultural elite."
Perhaps the only aspect I'd keep of "civilization" by this definition is "symbolic communication forms". That is, unless that restarts the whole Earth shattering industrial machinery down the tracks again.

We are past the point of no return on too many fronts to maintain what we thought were the niceties of the modern industrial state.

The "niceties" being such things as major universities, telecommunication systems, professional sports, interstate highways, intercontinental jet transportation and electrical grid availability 24/7/365.
In retrospect those "niceties" may seam less pleasant and more like the word's Latin root meaning; which was "ignorant" or later Middle English meaning of "foolishness".

To keep those "niceties" afloat has required the destruction of our planet's living membrane. The means by which this has been accomplished is taking from the future to fuel the present. A simple word to describe this process is "debt".  We have borrowed so much from the future that the future won't be there when we arrive.

How can we deal with this dilemma? First of all, we need to realize it's a dilemma. That is, the necessity to choose between either of two unfavorable alternatives.

One alternative is to continue along a track of minimal adjustments to our way of life with the hope that "cold fusion"; "green energy"; "climate modification"; "abiotic oil formation"; or "extra terrestrials" are going to save "OUR WAY OF LIFE". That's an unfavorable alternative because none of those rescues are going to happen.

The other alternative is to stop in our tracks and abandon those "niceties" (and many others) and live as indigenous people have done for thousands of years before "civilization".

That does not mean indigenous people did not produce culture. They were embedded in it in a way lost to us. They hand made every tool, bit of clothing, medicine potion and weapon that they used. They made up their own songs, poetry, legends.

We on the other hand are spoon fed everything we consume and utilize. We don't have a culture... civilization has us.

Kaauai the Planet
If we were to treat Kauai the island as a planet we would treat her much differently. We would have to live here very long.

If Kauai were a planet there would be no plane or boat traffic to the island. Trans-ocean transportation would constitute extraterrestrial commerce.

That would mean living within the bounds of the renewable resources on the island. As the masthead of Island Breath states:
Kauai is often called the "Garden Island". It is lush and fruitful - yet threatened. If this island cannot be self-sustaining there is little hope for the rest of this world.

We define sustainability as:
• Using nonrenewable resources no faster than they are recycled.
• Using renewable resources no faster than they are regrown.
• Restoring the variety and balance of living species.
• Enhancing the art and knowledge of human cultures.

Sustainability is not, however, a means for the continuing the status quo.
Kauai being a planet would imply that GROWTH as a goal for the human population, residential development,  consumer consumption,  commercial activity, military expansion and many other aspects of  "civilization as we know it" would have to be abandoned.

Kauai's government (as well as off island state and federal agencies) embrace growth as a foundation for planning our future. It's a form of suicide.

As an example, take the currently developed General Plan for Kauai (see Kauai Plan Disappoints). It continues a tradition of giving lip service to "going green", "sustainability", "the garden isle", "rural character" but in fact is a formula for continued suburbanization into the future.

Kauai the planet is about as far "developed" as it ever should be. If we are careful now we could make ourselves self-sufficient with local food and energy. Of course, we would need to discontinue population growth and relying the patronage of suburban sprawl, on tourism, big-ag pesticide companies or the military for handouts.

Start now to live on Planet Kauai. If we are successful we can return from Eaarth to Earth and avoid becoming Planet Kaauai.


1 comment :

Unknown said...

Thank you for this very clear assessment of the way things really are on the Garden Island and planet in general. We are at a fork in the road, or perhaps already past it. You are so right in pointing out the insanity of a model based solely on economic growth, which really means consuming the earth. Kauai is a small island. Perhaps because it is an obviously bounded finite system enough people will wake up in time to save her. It is my daily prayer. Thanks for writing this article.

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