Fukushima3

Japan To Dump Millions of Tons of Nuclear Wastewater: Hawaii in the crosshairs

Japan’s government announced on Tuesday (April 13) that it will dump more than a million tons of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. The highly contaminated water contains more radioactive material than previously acknowledged.

Roughly 1.25 million tons (1.13 million metric tons) of water have accumulated around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan since 2011, after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated the region. The twin disasters killed nearly 20,000 people, according to NPR, and caused meltdowns in three of the plant’s six reactors, triggering the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.


To keep the remaining reactor cores from melting, officials with the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) have been pumping nearly 200 tons (180 metric tons) of cooling water through the site every day, according to The New York Times.

FukushimaThe contaminated wastewater is stored in more than 1,000 enormous tanks on site and automatically filtered to remove most of the radioactive material, except for tritium — a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is considered hazardous to human health in large amounts, according to the nonprofit Health Physics Society.

Now, 10 years after the disaster, TEPCO is running out of room to store the wastewater.

The disposal plan, which was approved in a government cabinet meeting on Tuesday, will see the wastewater gradually discharged into the Pacific Ocean, most likely over the course of several decades.

One large concern is that TEPCO’s claims about the water’s safety may be wrong. A study published in the journal Science in August 2020 found traces of several other radioactive isotopes in the Fukushima wastewater, many of which take much longer to decay than tritium, some with a toxic radioactive half life hundreds of years..

There are now about 1.25 million tons of wastewater stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the plant site. The water continues to accumulate at a rate of about 170 tons a day, and releasing all of it is expected to take decades.

In 2019, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry proposed disposing of the wastewater either by gradually releasing it into the ocean or by allowing it to evaporate. The International Atomic Energy Agency said last year that both options were “technically feasible.”

Hiroshi Kishi, head of Japan’s National Federation of Fisheries, told reporters that his group was still opposed to the ocean release. Neighboring countries including China and South Korea have also expressed concerns.

Responding to Japan’s decision, the U.S. State Department said in a statement, “In this unique and challenging situation, Japan has weighed the options and effects, has been transparent about its decision, and appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency welcomed Japan’s announcement and said it would offer technical support. It called the plan to release the water into the sea in line with international practice.

“Today’s decision by the government of Japan is a milestone that will help pave the way for continued progress in the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,” the agency said in a statement. The decommissioning process is expected to take decades.

Beyond Kona Banner Co2

Climate Alert: 420 ppm

The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide surged past 420 parts per million for the first time in recorded history this past weekend — the measurement was taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii.

To be exact, On Saturday, the daily average was pegged at 421.21 PPM—the first time in human history that number has been so high.”

There is special significance in reaching and surpassing a concentration of 416 PPM. It means we’ve passed the midpoint between preindustrial CO2 levels, around 278 PPM, and a doubling of that figure, or 556 PPM.

The record of 421 PPM reached Saturday is just a single point and occurred as CO2 levels are nearing their yearly peak. But the levels over the past two months, of more than 417 PPM, signal that the annual average concentration is likely to exceed 416 PPM.

Co2 Rise Mar 2021

 

While the growing concentration of atmospheric CO2—which increases the global average temperature and the number and severity of extreme weather events—is a long-term trend that corresponds with the rise of fossil fuel-powered capitalism, it has accelerated particularly rapidly since the 1970s.

The atmospheric carbon dioxide number is the highest it’s ever been since NOAA began measuring in the late 1950s.

“We’re completely certain that the increase in CO2 is warming the planet,” Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at NASA, wrote in an email. “I’m even more certain CO2 causes global heating than I am that smoking causes cancer. The world is already more than 2 [degrees Fahrenheit] warmer than it was before the Industrial Revolution.”

In addition to the temperature increase, a warmer atmosphere supports more instances of drought in some areas and flooding in others, along with stronger hurricanes and typhoons and the potential for more storms to rapidly intensify in dangerous, unpredictable ways.

It takes more than a pandemic to slow the rise of global temperatures as emissions also rise.

Global emissions reduced temporarily in 2020 as a result of a drop in transport use and economic activity as the coronavirus pandemic struck.   But the emissions reduction in 2020 was not enough to substantially affect the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which continues to rise.  Much larger, longer-term reductions in emissions will be required to slow or stop the rise of global warming impacts.

Medical Shortages Beyond Doctors

Hawaii is Sending its Shrinking Base of Doctors to the ER

Hawaii’s physician shortage is a serious and growing statewide problem.

A rising trend in all island counties

  • Oahu, the doctor shortage has increased from 377 (in 2019) to 475 (in 2020).
  • Hawaii Island there was an increase from 230 to 287 last year
  • Maui saw their shortage increased from 153 to 185 doctors, while
  • Kauai experienced a mild doctor shortage increase, from 60 to 61.

Dr. Michelle Mitchell, a Hilo family physician described the situation this way…We are all overworked before we entered a pandemic. And now we’re extremely overworked.”

Hawaii ranks last

Including all 50 states and Washington D.C. — when it comes to physician pay, Hawaii is at bottom of the pay scale, and with the highest cost of living. Ntianol Doctors Shortages Reasons

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 27 percent of Hawaii’s population will be over age 60 by the year 2030, an increase of 33 percent from 2012

The proportion of Hawaii’s population that is over 60 is growing much more rapidly than the proportion that is under 60. This growing elder group also represented greatest percentage of medical pre-existing conditions which are under some kind of doctor and or medical specialist management.

The demand for doctors, specialists and medical support services is not the root cause or explains the reason for Hawaii’s doctor shortages. In fact, it’s the one sector of the state’s economy that shows the greatest promise for growth, i.e. medical services.

Lisa Rantz, president of the Hawaii Rural Health Association and executive director of the Hilo Medical Center Foundation, said that because private practice doctors are not exempt from the state’s general excise tax, a doctor in Hawaii can expect to make comparable income to a doctor in rural Ohio, balanced against struggling to make a living in one of the highest cost states in America.

In fact, if the COVID-19 Pandemic has demonstrated anything, it is how fragile and inefficient America’s medical system today is, even as automation seeks to stream line and lower costs, it still takes doctors, specialists, and a medical infrastructure to deliver 21st century medicine.

Hawaii, a world class retirement destination

Hawaii could be leader in medicine, and create the foundation for an economic renaissance that is no longer dependent on the economic swings of the tourist trade.

With an increasing national and international population of retirees, Hawaii could take a cue from Florida in developing a diversified economy, in part catering to a retiring class of Americans with wealth spend in the state they call home.

A Brookings study last year found that from 1989 to 2016, the median net worth of families with a head of household age 65 or older increased by 68 percent.

If Hawaii’s state legislature seeks to address the inequalities among its resident population, Robin Hood tax schemes will only feed the exodus of its population now paying the majority of state taxes and funding programs dear to many of the state’s political class and its union supporters.

On the other hand, state policies which encourage the growth of medical services and the development of associated support services will be quality high paying jobs, each contributing to Hawaii’s economy, and they will provide the foundational draw for retirees seeking Aloha and quality medical care as they age and spend their retirement dollars, and a welcome change for a grateful and growing kupuna population.

 


A Pandemic, Doctor Shortages, An Aging Population, and a Tax-Happy State Legislature – the perfect Storm

Hilo radiologist Scott Grosskreutz, who helped form a Hawaii Physician Shortage Crisis Task Force to work with the state Legislature on the issue, said Hawaii County has an estimated 53% fewer physicians than similar-sized communities on the mainland.

Furthermore, more than one-third of the doctors the county does have are 65 years old or older, meaning many will retire soon, leaving the county in even worse straits.

This year’s legislature has multiple tax bills designed raise and/or create kinds of taxes in a mad dash to raise revenue. On such bill, SB 56, designed raise state income taxes on the so-called rich, would among other things, impact resident medical practices and would raise taxes on doctor salaries. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire you’re trying to put out.  SB 56 is but one more example of ways to disincentivize doctors from setting up shop in Hawaii, and for existing medical practices to close down.

“It seems like there’s not a good understanding (in the Legislature) of how physicians are trained,” Grosskreutz said. “They forgo 10 years of employment opportunities during med school and residencies and fellowships … so they enter the job market in their 30s, saddled with $250,000 in student debt, and then they have to pay to move to Hawaii and set up.”

 


Sos

Climate SOS, Hawai’i Responds

Ok, you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating”The Earth is changing faster than at any point in human memory as a result of human-caused global heating”.

Since the mid-1800s, when we began burning fossil fuels at an industrial scale, we have been modifying our atmosphere and causing the globe to heat up.

BeyondKona has published the graphs and supporting data, explained the science, providing validated findings and warnings… in short, the answer to this climate crisis from Hawaii to Alaska is the same: ignore the new climate heating reality we’re all creating, fail to change our behavior and continue with business as usual, and the problems we’re creating will become be a self-fulfilling outcome.

Co2 Update

 

Scientists forecast that if the world passes 2C of heating above pre-industrial levels, the consequences will be catastrophic for billions of people around the world, as well as the residents, environment, and economy of Hawai’i.

 

Sea Level Rise 3 21

 

As the world warms, ice stored at the poles and in glaciers melts, and sea levels rise. The rate of rise has accelerated in recent decades, and is now estimated at 3-4mm a year.

Scientists have forecast that unless drastic action is taken to reduce emissions, sea levels will continue to rise and before the end of the century, will be catastrophic for many low-lying nations, island states like Hawaii, and populous coastal cities.  Think of it as an unwelcome gift to our children.

As for the planet on which we all depend, regardless of your political affliction, a global ecosystem and climate out-of-balance with each other will be no place to live for life today as we know it – and that includes humans.

While our ancestors have been around for about six million years, the modern form of humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago. Civilization as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialization started in the earnest only in the 1800s.

Since the industrial revolution, levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have soared to above 400 parts per million, the highest level for millions of years. Readings are taken at an observatory on the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, and usually peak in May each year.  CO2 levels have consistently been recorded from the Mauna Loa summit dating back to 1959, and records since that time show a consistent rise, year-after-year, in CO2 levels.


Beyond more talk story, what can Hawai’i do?

For one, in this year’s state legislative houses have agreed on language for a concurrent solution, SCR # 44 which states…

DECLARING A CLIMATE EMERGENCY AND REQUESTING STATEWIDE COLLABORATION TOWARD AN IMMEDIATE JUST TRANSITION AND EMERGENCY MOBILIZATION EFFORT TO RESTORE A SAFE CLIMATE.

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirty—first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the House of Representatives concurring, that this body acknowledges that an existential climate emergency threatens humanity and the natural world, declares a climate emergency, and requests statewide collaboration toward an immediate just transition and emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate;

and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these climate mitigation and adaptation efforts mobilize at the necessary scale and speed…

The joint bill contains specific language as to actions and establishes priorities for those actions in addressing today’s climate crisis as a statewide response.

The Climate Emergency Declaration, concurrent resolution is scheduled for a public hearing this Friday, 3/12, and at 1 PM.

Public input on SCR 44, and as in written testimony, can be electronically submitted to:

https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SCR&billnumber=44&year=2021&link_id=2&can_id=9004a46735cc27604c875cb275771c40&source=email-its-a-climate-emergency-testimony-needed-now&email_referrer=email_1103489&email_subject=its-a-climate-emergency-testimony-needed-now

Future

A Guide to Sustainability for Hawai’i

Sustainability and Resiliency

A path to Sustainability and Resiliency (often thought of as separate problems to be solved) are both in fact linked. Each require both the state and country governments to undertake coordinated policy changes, beginning with the substantial reduction in a statewide dependency on a fragile supply chain made up of locally replaceable imported fossil fuels and imported foods.

Hawaii’s 2021 legislative session is presently taking baby steps towards agriculture and energy reforms.  While the private sector, including Matson, are gearing up for access to expanded port facilities capacity in Honolulu, in order to better supply the state’s tenuous mainland lifeline.

Hawaii's Food System Is Broken. Now Is The Time To Fix It - Honolulu Civil Beat

With food as major statewide import, moving towards greater self-sufficiency will require something different than just enabling the state’s current dependencies.

The State’s Legislature this year appears to recognize this need in development of several bills encompassing the promotion and development of a diversified local agriculture system. None so far appear to address the need  for  a farm-to-consumer infrastructure as an essential first step forward towards this end.

Necessary supporting elements for resilient supply-chain are not limited to a reliable and flexible inter-island ocean-air transport system, further supported by a cold and longer term storage infrastructure to ensure an adequate domestic food supply from local as well as imported sources. Today’s neighboring island food retailers food inventory is dependent, container-to-container.

On the road to Sustainability and Resiliency, there will be necessary infrastructure and economic changes which will more than likely be disruptive to the status quo, but a plus for local jobs and a self-sufficient statewide economy prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.

  1. Eliminating Statewide imported fossil fuels dependencies:
    • ENERGY – Engage in a statewide shift to economic electrification through local clean power sources: solar, wind, power battery – pump storage, and ocean energy
    • TRANSPORTATION – Implement a 20 year phase out of gasoline and diesel vehicle dependencies, replaced through zero emissions land transportation electric vehicle alternatives, integrated mass transit systems, bike lanes, and smarter urban design
  2. Strengthening and integrating water supply and power systems, through the development of pumped-power storage solutions, is just one obvious solution which serves both Big Island power and water utilities.  West Hawaii Island examples:
    • WATER – Electricity and water supply are interdependent – no power, no water.  Hawaii’s water utilities (locally DWS) spend over 65% of the utility’s operating budget on electricity, a cost they freely pass-on to both agricultural and residential, and business water customers. DWS presently has no emergency power back-up to keep its pumps running and the water flowing during power interruptions and full blow blackouts.
    • POWER – Hawaiian Electric (Hawaii Island) faces increasing supply and demand power management issues, or industry nomenclature; load-balancing. Hawaii’s goal of 100% Renewable (electricity) by 2045 is dependent on the state and utilities cooperating in the development of energy storage options – problem and opportunity in which both water and power utilities can work together to mutual and public cost benefits.
  3. Addressing infrastructure vulnerabilities to rising sea-levels and increased island storm impacts are also another link in the chain to sustainable and resilient outcomes. Future infrastructure development and housing, e.g., must incorporate planning and permissions which fully consider climate-compatible development.
    • Public and private housing developments incorporating self-powering micro grids, linked to the Island’s power grid is step one.
  4. Advancing the state’s digital economy, first by working with private sector vendors in the creation of a high speed, broadband, telecommunications infrastructure serving all island communities
  5. Developing self-powered solid waste and water treatment management systems which do not pollute and create opportunities for re-use, as well efficient and managed disposal.
    • Reduce Waste, beginning with consumer education
      • Develop reuse options which avoid the landfill, beginning with an effective reverse supply system incorporating both public and private collection-drop off centers, repurposing of goods for sale and donation
      • Develop municipal waste water systems which return gray water to R-1 Recycle, e.g. Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Everything pumped into the ground in Hawaii will find its way into the state’s pristine marine environment.
      • When You Can’t Avoid Waste: compost and recycle in a public waste management system designed to serve public requirements, not the other way around.
  6. Education Opportunities – Supporting a statewide K-12 and college degree education system designed to serve local economic and environmental job opportunities .
  7. Social Equity – Historically, some parts of our community have been left behind economically. Efforts to improve resiliency and sustainability need to ensure that ALICE (asset-limited, income-constrained, employed) and other disadvantaged communities benefit equally in the state’s economic an social transition to sustainable and self-sufficient future.
  8. Developing parks and recreation opportunities which support more robust community interactions and environmental education and appreciation of Hawaii’s ania, values directly link to livability in Hawaii — translated, a greater appreciation for the interdependencies of living in and with the natural world.
Underground Rivers

Hawaii Island’s Underground Fresh Water Rivers to the Sea

A newly discovered transport mechanism of Hawaii’s Island’s fresh groundwater may be a mechanism for renewable offshore fresh water reservoirs, which are considered more resilient to climate change-driven droughts, and a new water resource for the island.


 

Hi Underground Underwater Rivers To The SeaThere are few things on the island of Hawaii that are more valuable than fresh water. This is not because the island is dry. There is generally plenty of rain, but less predictable with a changing climate.  Hawaii, like many places around the world, face increasing demand for clean, fresh water.

In the case of the Big Island, much of it that does not accumulate on the island’s porous surface, and quickly disappears.  New research by marine geophysicists reveals that underground rivers running off the Big Island’s western coast are a key force behind this vanishing act.

Fresh water is often pumped on the island from aquifers formed from rain at higher elevations where it is easy to access. The drawback is that if too much water gets pumped to meet demand, little remains to travel through rocks to farms and fragile ecosystems that depend upon it. To make matters worse, recent studies have revealed that these aquifers are also heavily leaking somewhere else. Scripps Instuite

“Everyone assumed that this missing fresh water was seeping out at the coastline or traveling laterally along the island,” said Eric Attias, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii, who led the new study published Wednesday in Science Advances. “But I had a hunch that the leak might be subsurface and offshore.”

The big island of Hawaii is like an iceberg. Only a tiny fraction of the island sticks out of the ocean. The rest is submerged. To study the hydrogeology of these sections, Dr. Attias turned to electromagnetic imaging.   Ocean water conducts electricity exceptionally well because of the presence of dissolved salt ions. By comparison, fresh water is a rather poor conductor. Aware of these different electrical properties, Dr. Attias worked with a team at Scripps Institute of Oceanography towed a 3,200-foot long system behind a boat that emitted electromagnetic fields down through the submerged coastal rocks near Hualalai volcano on the west coast.


Hawaii Island underground rivers of fresh water are flowing 2-½ miles out into the ocean.

Dr. Attias’ work shows that within the rock of the island below the waves, there are rivers are flowing through fractured volcanic rock and surrounded by porous rocks that are saturated with salt water.

In total, Big island rivers below ocean surface appear to contain enough fresh water to fill about 1.4 million Olympic swimming pools.

To access this water, Dr. Attias proposes a system similar to an offshore oil platform. “The water is already under high pressure, so little pumping would be needed and, unlike an oil pump, there would not be any threat of pollution. If you have a spill, it’s just fresh water,” he said.

“I am excited to see wells drilled into these offshore aquifers so we can find out how fresh this water is and whether or not we can produce large volumes without pulling seawater into the system,” said Mark Person, a hydrogeologist at the New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology.

Dr. Attias speculates that the discovery could be relevant to other islands, too.  “Given that Reunion, Cape Verde, Maui, the Galápagos and many other islands have similar geology, our finding could well mean that the water challenges faced by islanders all over the world might soon become a lot less challenging,” he said.


The Scientific Finding, and Cautionary Note

The onshore aquifer at the island of Hawai‘i exhibits a notable volumetric discrepancy between high-elevation freshwater recharge and coastal discharge.  In this study, a novel transport mechanism of freshwater moving from onshore-to-offshore was discovered, offering a potential fresh water source for Hawaii Island in times of drought.

Between all of this salt water and the flowing fresh water are thin layers of rock formed from compacted ash and soil that appear to be impermeable and thus keeping the two types of water separated.   “It looks quite plausible that there is a whole lot of fresh water down there beneath the ocean,” says Graham Fogg, a hydrogeologist at the University of California, Davis who was not involved in the study.   “The fresh water that they have discovered is clearly being actively fed by the aquifer on the island,” he said. “This means that the entire aquifer system is connected and our draining of this new water could adversely impact island ecosystems and water availability for pumps on the island.”

Covid 19 Breaks Apart

Covid-19 – what 700 Epidemiologists Think Is Next

 

  • Of the Epidemiologists surveyed, the majority foresee that even with vaccines, it would probably take a year or more for many activities to safely restart, and that some parts of their lives may never return to the way they were.
  • Some have begun going to the grocery store again, but don’t see vaccines making life normal any time soon.   Coronavirus vaccines 101: What you need to know | UCHealth Today
  • Even with coronavirus vaccines on the way, many epidemiologists do not expect their lives to return to pre-pandemic normal until most Americans are vaccinated. In the meantime, most have eased up on some precautions — now going to the grocery store or seeing friends outdoors, for example — but are as cautious as ever about many activities of daily life.
  • A minority of the epidemiologists said that if highly effective vaccines were widely distributed, it would be safe for Americans to begin living more freely this summer: “I am optimistic that the encouraging vaccine results mean we’ll be back on track by or during summer 2021,” said Kelly Strutz, an assistant professor at Michigan State University.
  • Half surveyed said they would not change their personal behavior until at least 70 percent of the population was vaccinated. Thirty percent said they would make some changes once they were vaccinated themselves.

Concerns

  • Epidemiologists are worried about many unknowns, including
    • how long immunity lasts;
    • how the virus may mutate;
    • the challenges of vaccine distribution; and the
    • possible reluctance to accept the vaccine among some groups.

On the eve of the Covid winter, the epidemiologists are living with stringent precautions and new workarounds in place, far stricter than those of many ordinary Americans. Yet those precautions have evolved since last spring, as scientists have learned more about how the coronavirus spreads and what prevents it.

Of 23 activities of daily life that the survey asked about, there were only three that the majority of respondents had done in the last month: gathering outdoors with friends; bringing in mail without precautions; and running errands, like going to the grocery store or pharmacy.

The epidemiologists have almost entirely avoided other parts of pre-pandemic life — including activities that many Americans are doing now. Almost none said they had attended a sporting event, play or concert; met up with someone they didn’t know well; or attended a wedding or funeral.

“Being in close proximity to people I don’t know will always feel less safe than it used to,” said Ellicott Matthay, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco.

Three-quarters of respondents said they planned to spend Christmas, Hanukkah or other winter holidays only with members of their household, or not celebrate at all, similar to how they spent Thanksgiving.

When asked about the safest and riskiest activities on the list, most epidemiologists agreed on these general principles: They are less worried about outdoor activities and about touching surfaces, and more worried about indoor activities and those with large groups. But even the epidemiologists didn’t all agree on their assessment of risk.

“Indoor venues with lots of people is the riskiest situation,” said Leland Ackerson of the University of Massachusetts. “Outdoors with few people, social distancing and precautions is the least risky.” He said that during the last month, he had hiked with friends, opened mail without precautions and run errands.

Herd Immunity

Most scientists say around 70 percent of the population will need to be immune for the United States to reach herd immunity, when the virus slows down significantly or stops. Moncef Slaoui, who is leading the government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine development program, said this week that vaccines may roll out quickly enough for the United States to reach herd immunity by early summer. But scientists do not yet know if vaccinated people could still spread the virus.

Pv To Ev

Climate Action Lags, President Biden to the Rescue?

Warming Accelerates as Climate Action Lags — report

For at least two decades, countries, companies, cities, and communities have been claiming they are “doing better” on climate change. Annual reports have been full of ratios showing greenhouse emissions per unit of output falling, and sometimes emissions falling in absolute terms.

All good—but unfortunately, not enough.  All over the world, as leaders and CEOs have been honestly claiming they are doing better, the situation has been getting worse, according to the World Resources Institute’s State of Climate Action report released earlier this month.

Climate Graph 2020

Graph source: NOAA, NASA, released 2019

 

The report, evaluated climate progress across six sectors and found that decarbonization efforts across most of them, from vehicle electrification to renewable energy gains, need to happen at least five times faster.  The report findings conclude:

  • Climate impacts from global heating are indeed much worse than we had earlier understood.  
  • Countries need to speed up their climate action dramatically to stay on track toward halving global emissions by the end of the decade.
  • In order to meet benchmarks within the Paris Agreement for 2030 and 2050, the report recommends rapid transitions — between three and eight times faster than current rates — to zero emissions power generation, lower industry emissions, and have more sustainable crop output and reforestation.
  • The current pace of emissions reductions worldwide is too slow to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
  • Rampant deforestation and agricultural sector emissions are two of the worst climate offenders. Both have increased since 2012.

To get on track, the world must—among other actions—rapidly transition to clean electricity generation, accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles, reduce emissions from industrial production, boost agricultural productivity, shift to more sustainable food consumption patterns, and increase annual tree cover gain. For these and other goals, the report specifies the much faster rate of progress needed to meet most of these global targets.

Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, said the fight against global warming needs to “greatly accelerate” before a United Nations climate conference in late 2021.    “The decisions countries make in the lead up to the COP26 UN climate negotiations next year could either steer us to a safer and more resilient future or greatly increase the likelihood of deadly and costly climate impacts,” she said in a statement.


Biden Talks with 14 World leaders, Discusses Need for Climate Action

Biden Intl Meeting

 

The leaders of the Vatican, Ireland and Canada each talked to President-elect Joe Biden about climate change in their first phone call. So did the British, Australian and Indian prime ministers. The presidents of France, Chile, South Africa and South Korea did, too.

Biden has discussed climate change in 12 of his first 14 calls with world leaders, according to readouts from his transition team. That’s an unprecedented diplomatic focus from a new U.S. president, and signals Biden’s plans to make climate a signature component of his foreign policy.

The phone calls are more than a gesture, experts said. The U.S. has a credibility problem on climate that will be difficult for Biden to repair.

Domestically, Republicans have enough congressional power to stymie new laws mandating emissions cuts. Internationally, the history of every 21st-century U.S. president reversing their predecessors’ climate policies calls into question the durability of Biden’s promises.

With his calls, Biden could be signaling that those constraints won’t dissuade him from pursuing climate action, said Barry Rabe, a University of Michigan professor of environmental policy.

“There are lots of things for a president to talk to a world leader about in that initial call. And I think what is said could be indicative of what’s on the top of a president’s list,” he said.

“The very fact that he would raise [climate] in call after call — rather than cherry-picking one or two — is really suggesting that this is going to be a significant priority,” Rabe said.

Biden has vowed that one of his first acts as president will be returning the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement, which President Trump quit. He has also vowed to pressure other countries to pledge more ambitious goals.

 

 

We The People

A Split Decision for Democrats

BeyondKona Update: Nov.7   09:30HTNyt Bdien Beats Trump


Weary voters appeared willing to give former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. a chance, but they shied away from putting Democrats in full control of Washington.

Americans who turned out in record numbers for the election were willing to weigh a change in course at the White House after four tumultuous years of President Trump, but the unfolding results showed that voters were not ready to hand unfettered control of the government to emboldened Democrats who had pledged to pursue an ambitious agenda if they triumphed.

Despite a record-setting fund-raising bonanza and a flurry of indications that voters were deeply dissatisfied with Mr. Trump, disappointed Democrats came up well short of their aspirations to seize clear control of the Senate and pad their numbers in the House. Instead, they watched gloomily on Wednesday as their path to the Senate majority narrowed while they absorbed unexpected losses in the House.

The split political decision underscored the reality that even as they turned away from the chaos of a divisive Republican president, voters wanted to hedge against Democratic hegemony in the nation’s capital and in statehouses around the country.

Far from the so-called blue wave that many Democrats had imagined, the election was shaping up to be a series of conflicting squalls pointing in different directions that, above all, appeared to promise continuing division at all levels of government.

In some ways, the configuration could be tailor-made for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who will likely prevail.  It mirrored the decision that Democrats made this year in choosing Mr. Biden as their standard-bearer, elevating him over far more progressive contenders.

Mr. Biden sees himself as an old-school deal maker, someone who can operate in the more conventional political environment that voters seemed to be yearning for by delivering mixed outcomes like re-electing Senator Susan Collins, the centrist Republican from Maine, while delivering three of the state’s four electoral votes to Mr. Biden.

A Senate Firewall

A Biden victory will mean our next President will have to break through a Senate firewall controlled Republicans, some of whom are on a mission that is ahead of country and party – simply put: the deconstruction of key governmental institutions design to serve and protect the public interest.

Biden must also contend with Republican majority led by senate president Mitch McConnell, who consistently demonstrated he plays by rules only subject to his whims, and has a recent history of gutting bi-partisanship for a take-no-prisoners governing style — obstructionism when it suits him, and running rough shod over Senate processes and norms to achieve his very partnership goals, e.g. Barret Supreme Court nomination process absent of due diligence and process. Trump Exit

The Biden-McConnell dynamic could force the new administration to scale back legislative goals on immigration, health care, the environment and economic policy. For the majority of Americans who help elect Joe Biden, they are looking for a different outcome.

It could also compel Mr. Biden to negotiate with Republicans on his nominees for the executive and judicial branches, who would need to win Senate confirmation. Progressives who had been expecting big wins on Tuesday that would allow them to rush forward with bold new initiatives were headed for disappointment.

“Senate Republicans are going to be in a very strong position to steer the next two years,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of the Republican leadership. “Nothing is going to become law without the support of Senate Republicans.”

With a GOP-controlled Senate unwilling to do the people’s business, a President Biden may have no other choice than to take a page from the Donald J. Trump playbook, and govern by Executive Order.

If any man can find a way forward in these divided times, it’s Joe Biden

Biden served as a senator from Delaware for more than 35 years, and during the campaign talked about his experience working across the aisle and suggested he could win over the half dozen or so Republicans needed to advance legislation. But that was provisioned on a Democratic majority.  A president Biden will be facing a different time, however, Biden and McConnell have a history of hammering out agreements, but the terms did not always meet the approval of fellow Democrats.

But if bi-partisanship is now truly dead, President Biden and the Country as a whole, will have more fundamental problems to address than just restoring the recent absence of traditional checks and balances of power among the three branches designed by America’s founding fathers.

Ff Pollution

Hu Honua Meltdown

No amount of political influence is going to change the outcome for the Hu Honua Biomass project.

While there continues to be an effort to somehow rescue this ill-conceived power plant, the principals are already locked in litigation. Kind of a fitting end considering how many years they wasted in court as Ian Lind,  has exposed in his excellent coverage.

 Construction related litigation, suits against HELCO and NextEra, and even now they are trying to get their way using a writ of mandamus to the Hawaii Supreme Court and short cut the legal appeals process. The irony being that they want special expedited treatment because they are financially crumbling.

 Ian Lind, (Hawaii-based investigative reporter) recently exposed the curious case of certain elected officials attempting to bully the PUC into granting a waiver from the competitive process. Threatening to cut agency funding. This behavior was even brazenly put in writing which will likely attract attention from federal law enforcement tasked to prevent public corruption. Something that should bring immediate censure from their colleagues at the very least.

The PUC denied the waiver from competition because they found that Hu Honua wanted too much money for electricity and that it wasn’t in the public interest to raise rates for all consumers including State and County facilities on the Big Island as well as hard hit businesses and homeowners suffering through the pandemic economy. This at a time when solar farms have been approved and more are proposed at a fraction of the cost to ratepayers. Rates will actually go down for huge savings and creating lots of jobs in the process. Why would our elected officials jump on board an effort with this as the result?

 Finally, we really don’t need Hu Honua to get Hawaii island to 100% renewables. We don’t need an antique technology like burning trees to create energy that is hugely inefficient and represents the old central generation model with high transmission and distribution costs that get added on to our electric bills, when low cost and zero emissions wind and solar, and with Beyond Kona Banner Co2zero fuel costs, offer Hawaii clean and abundant self-sufficiency energy options.   With global heating on the rise, we certainly don’t need to be spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when Hawaii has climate-compatible generation alternatives available for half the energy cost of Hu Honua.

 Governor Ige has already committed federal CARES Act funding toward workforce development and training to ensure that as we create the grid of the future that we are hiring locally. That is something we can all embrace. Help diversify our economy and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

 We can also support a County ESPC or energy saving performance contract to save millions and reduce grid demand. Leverage this third party financing approach to build green infrastructure and create jobs without the need to float bonds.


Steve Holmes is the former Energy and Sustainability Coordinator for the City and County of Honolulu. He won the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Champion Award in 2002.
He served 12 years on the Honolulu City Council putting large areas into parks and preservation.   He was a state energy analyst in Hilo, a Park Ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Executive Director of Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, Hawaii Chapter Conservation Chair of the Sierra Club, President of Kokua Hilo Bay, and has won numerous awards for his efforts on behalf of Hawaii’s environment.