A Truly Old Day

SUBHEAD: The unpleasant truth is that modern agriculture, tourism and development is destroying Hawaii.  

By Juan Wilson on 20 January 2012 for Island Breath - 

Image above: Detail of an etching of a young Hawaiian woman dating from 1788. From CD on early Hawaiian maps and images available at (http://www.euriskodata.com).

Yesterday I read an article by Joan Conrow "A Truly New Day" (http://kauaieclectic.blogspot.com/2012/01/musings-truly-new-day.html) that questions Hawaii governor Abercrombie's "New Day in Hawaii" plan to provide both conservation and development. The perspective of the governor is to see "resources" like water as commodities. To quote the plan:
Fresh, clean water is an irreplaceable resource. It is fundamental to our well-being. It fuels agriculture, tourism, and sustainable development.
The governor's plan correctly identifies that maintaining the health of the watersheds in Hawaii is critical. Besides loss of forest we face a drier future as global warming raises the altitude of rain clouds. Abercrombie proposes fencing off of watersheds on public land and the elimination of hoofed animals within those areas with the use of local hunters. The unpleasant truth is that modern agriculture, tourism and development is destroying Hawaii.

To fence off public land to support water availability for those activities is privatization and corporatization of our future. It would not be right to secure the forest for those purposes. Joan's article points out that hunters will strongly resist any such plan. I concur. Hunters want to take game whenever they go to the forest.

As a result the hunting community wants as large a population of game as can be sustained, particularly goat and pig. They will never voluntarily hunt out the game that destroys the forest we all depend on, even though their practices will end in a collapse of the forest ecosystem. A similar case can be made for modern fishing practice. Harvest as much as you can until you cannot harvest any more. This is why it is argued we need government regulation of the environment.

Most progressives have agreed, but if the government is acting not in the interest of the Commons and the forest itself, but is dedicated to more jobs, progress and growth then regulations become a form of corruption. The unwelcome fact is we will probably have to have a self prescribed restriction on going anywhere we like, anytime we like, and doing anything we want in order to heal these islands.  

The Old Days
Early on in the Polynesian settlement of Hawaii there were too few people to destroy the islands outright. People could live anywhere, hunt any prey, and chop down anything with little consequence. Soon ground nesting birds with pretty red or yellow feathers were gone, but, hey! Who knew? As population grew and taro farming reached its limits in the valleys it became clear that rules (taboos, or kapu) were needed to maintain health, welfare and fairness.

A delicate balance seems to have been achieved that may have lasted almost a millennium. At least when Cook arrived in Waimea Kauai, he noted that he found a healthy vibrant people on an abundant island. This is not to say that the Hawaiians did not have injustices and inequalities among themselves, but at least they were able to get through several centuries without killing the island.

Abercrombie lives within the Honolulu Bubble. It's a place of fantasy with a million people living on a tiny tropical island fed by a 3000 mile long umbilical cord made of petroleum. Any plan to sustain Hawaii coming from Oahu is doomed to be a form of suicide for the outer islands. It is only on the outer islands is there a chance to find the solutions for our future. We need to dedicate ourselves to the health of the Hawaii islands ahead of our own needs.

Heaven forfend, we may even have to go without or with less. For the PDF file of Island Breath's Sustainability Land Use Plhatfield Kauai that was presented at the of Eco Roundtable LEGS Conference in October 2007 click here (http://www.islandbreath.org/2007Year/071013LandUsePlan.pdf).]

For more recent work on determining the Moku and Ahupuaa of the islands of Hawaii for a basis in managing the islands in a manner similar to ancient Hawaiians visit https://public.me.com/juanwilson for detailed maps of all the islands. Also, for additional information on traditional mapping of the islands using GoogleEarth see:
See also: Ea O Ka Aina: A Truly New Day 1/19/12
Island Breath: Mauka to Makai 5/8/07
Island Breath: Kauai Township Planning 6/27/07
Island Breath: Sustainability Land Use Plan 11/1/07


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