After Pandemic

Coronavirus and Hawaii; resiliency and sustainability are tested

Hawaii, a profile in crisis readiness

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable our modern societies are, particularly in an isolated island state like Hawaii.

We import 99 percent of our transportation fuel from thousands of miles away.

We import about 90 percent of our food, and this amount is declining in recent years rather than increasing.Virus Economy Jpg

Almost all of our consumer, medical, and industrial goods are shipped or flown in, over thousands of miles.

We have only one or two hospitals in the state that can handle certain medical procedures.

Hawaii, as a state, is especially vulnerable to economic shocks, pandemics, as well as a number of the familiar natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. And we haven’t even mentioned the exacerbating effects of climate change which are now apparent and will only worsen in the coming years.

We do, however, have feasible options for improving the current state of affairs.

A Focus on Hawaii Island 

The Hawaii County Council environmental and agricultural management committee just two weeks ago voted unanimously to make a relatively small code change that could lead to a revival of the mayor’s Sustainability Action Committee.

Mayor Kim created the committee back in 2007, during his previous term, but never actually stood it up as a working committee.  Thirteen years later, and well past time to stand up this committee, it may finally see the light of day.  County added new code language to its Bill 142, adding the words “climate change” to the list of topics within the purview of the Sustainability Action Committee. This important two-word addition will allow Mayor Kim to finally stand up this important committee and to address sustainability issues explicitly linked to climate change and resiliency challenges.

The Big Island could, in theory, provide almost all of its peoples’ needs with local resources. But being resilient isn’t about manufacturing cell phones or big screen TVs locally — that’s not required or reasonable. Being resilient is more about being able to survive even the worst disasters by having, at the very least, water, food, shelter, medical supplies, energy, and communication needs on hand so that we can, together, weather what storms may come our way.

How long could Hawaii last under our current lifestyle if we were cut off from outside food, oil, medical supplies, and manufactured goods? 

The sad answer is that we’d last less than a week before major societal and economic impacts begin to take hold.

The current coronavirus pandemic has shown us that these kinds of scenarios aren’t impossible. These are the scenarios that we do need to plan for. We need to be resilient and ready for whatever disasters come our way. This means a number of important things:

  • Reducing our dependency on imports, e.g., shifting rapidly to local agriculturerenewable energy like solar, wind and geothermal, beefing up water supplies, and shifting away from gasoline and diesel vehicles to zero emissions ground transportation alternatives, like electric vehicles.
  • Future-proofing our infrastructure and housing, e.g., planning for possible future migration from areas that will be inundated by rising sea levels.
  • Creating a culture of readiness through awareness and practice.

Hawaii Island already has a good start with various efforts like the Transportation Hui, coordinated by Riley Saito, the county’s Research and Development Department energy programs lead, which recently completed its shared mobility plan working with the Shared-Use Mobility Center. We also have the County’s greenhouse gas tracking efforts, which recently completed a county-wide inventory of emissions, building on similar state efforts.

Combined with existing disaster preparedness plans led by the County’s Civil Defense Agency, and various efforts to promote local agriculture, there is much work that can be built upon in order to truly prepare our island to be resilient and sustainable.

Transforming our local economies will take smart planning and sustained community dialogue, so that all parts of our communities are on board and understand why these shifts need to take place. Sustainability and resiliency are two sides of the same coin.

By being more sustainable we become more resilient.

Mayor Kim, please, as soon as possible, stand up the Sustainability Action Committee and let it get to work creating sustainability and resiliency plans for the Big Island, working with stakeholders every step of the way.

Tam Hunt is a lawyer and writer based in Hilo, Hawaii, and guess editor to BeyondKona. Noel Morin is a contributor editor to BeyondKona. With over 27 years of experience in business systems analysis, product management, and leadership roles in companies like Johnson and Johnson and eBay, Noel is also an environmental advocate with a focus on Hawaii’s future, while advancing the state’s electrification of transportation through his role as  president of the Hawaii EV Association.

Virus Economy Jpg

the Country is in trouble … for the Feds, the economy is priority one

The House responds with financial help for workers, and the Senate reaches a deal on a trillion dollar Stimulus Package, aka corporate bailout

Virus Aid Dollars

 

 Workers, families, and those in need

Throughout his term, President Trump has chipped away at the social safety net, proposing budgets that gutted housing assistance, food stamps and health insurance for the poorest Americans. When Congress rejected those cuts, the Trump administration enacted rules to make it harder to access federal benefits.

Now, with businesses shuttered, workers laid off, and scores more worrying about buying groceries, being evicted and getting sick, the swelling need for federal assistance has forced even conservative lawmakers to embrace government protections in a series of sweeping aid and stimulus bills.

Last week the Democratic controlled House of Representatives passed a $100-billion-plus Families First coronavirus response package.  The Republican controlled Senate then slow-walked the bill to the president’s desk for signature. Trump signed the bill, expands paid sick leave and family medical leave for tens of millions of workers, with provisions aimed at blunting the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Here we had this ‘strong economy’ and all of a sudden the bubble has burst, and policymakers are scrambling to put into place basic protections other societies have,” said Rebecca Vallas, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.


An Economic Bailout – and political tug of war

The Senate proposal, passed early this morning, injects approximately $2 trillion into the economy, providing tax rebates, four months expanded unemployment benefits and a slew of business tax-relief provisions aimed at shoring up individual, family and business finances.

The deal includes $500 billion for a major corporate liquidity program through the Federal Reserve, $367 billion for a small business loan program, $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments.


Partisan Priorities for the Country

It will also give a one-time check of $1,200 to Americans who make up to $75,000. Individuals with no or little tax liability would receive the same amount, unlike the initial GOP proposal that would have given them a minimum of $600.

Republicans accused Democrats of trying to include increased fuel emissions standards for airlines and expansion of wind and solar tax credits, while Democrats homed in on a provision in a draft circulated Sunday that would have blocked nonprofits who receive Medicaid, like Planned Parenthood, from the previous coronavirus package from receiving Small Business Administration assistance under the stimulus package.

Hundreds of billions of dollars in buffer capital for the Treasury Department will allow the Fed to hand out an additional $4 trillion in loans to distressed companies such as U.S. airlines and Boeing, the nation’s leading airplane manufacturer. Their stocks have been hit the hardest in the recent stock market selloff that had erased the gains made since Trump took office.

The Fed loan program, which Democrats bashed as a corporate bailout program and Sec. of Treasury Steven Mnuchin’s “slush fund”  — was one of the biggest sticking points during the late rounds of the negotiations.

Republicans argued the Treasury Department needed $500 billion to help the Fed inject enough liquidity into the economy, while Democrats were enraged over a provision they said would let Mnuchin provide loans and guarantees and then wait six months before disclosing who got the assistance. By Wednesday morning the provision was removed.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) touted that Democrats were able to get “better oversight,” saying “you can’t just … go ahead and give all your corporate executives, based on the back of the taxpayers, free carte blanche.”


Taxpayer Transparency

The deal hammered out by negotiators provides $30 billion in emergency education funding, $25 billion in emergency transit funding and creates an employee retention tax credit to incentivize businesses to keep workers on payroll during the crisis.

It will also provide $25 billion in direct financial aid to struggling airlines and $4 billion for air cargo carriers, two industries that have taken a big hit in the economic downturn.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday were characterizing the direct assistance as “snap loans” instead of grants, to avoid the stigma of the proposal being called a bailout, but that has yet to be determined, how and if the government (taxpayers) would be compensated.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) hailed the legislation as “the largest rescue package in American history.” 

Schumer added a provision to ban businesses owned by the president, vice president, members of Congress and the heads of federal executive departments from receiving loans or investments through the corporate liquidity program. The prohibition also applies to their children, spouses and in-laws.

“Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly, so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are and if it’s fair to the American people,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

A last-minute fight also developed over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cropped up as an eleventh-hour issue on Tuesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said that a deal for a 15 percent increase in funding was taken out of the bill. A boost in food assistance money is a top priority for Democrats and progressives in the House of Representatives.

 

Biohazard

Coronavirus COVID -19 News Archive


previously published… March 13th, 2020

UNITED STATES DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY 

Coronavirus expert and Federal government spokesman, Dr. Anthony Fauci [video] says:

It’s certainly going to get worse before it gets better

Crisis will last for at least several weeks and possibly 2 months or more

  • Corna Virus 1
  • No vaccine or direct treatment currently exists. 
  • U.S. Federal Response — In a stark contrast to many other industrialized nations, the United States preparedness for COVID-19, and testing, has been late, incompetent, incomplete, and only within the last few days has the Virus threat been taken seriously by the Trump administration, in spite of the Virus’ health threat to United States, since December 2019.
  • National and states response to COVID-19 have been hobbled by previous health system cuts from the Trump administration in pandemic preparedness, science, and expert staffing at key levels of the Federal agencies responsible for pandemic preparedness: CDC, DoH, Homeland Security, DoD, and other key Federal agencies — a Federal response infrastructure was established after 9/11, but pandemic preparedness and response capabilities that were enhanced during the previous Obama administration, have since been mostly dismantled during Trump’s tenure as President.
  • One of the main concerns about caring for vulnerable populations amid coronavirus, in comparison to the flu, is that there are no vaccines to fight the new virus, and no drugs to treat those who become infected. Most epidemiologists agree that an effective and safe vaccine is probably a year or more away, despite President Trump’s claims that he has heard that something could arrive sooner.
  • Present treatment for Covid-19 patients mainly consists of providing fluids, giving medicine to alleviate fever and supplying supplemental oxygen in severe cases, according to a Harvard Health report.
  • Hospitals may soon be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, ill prepared for what’s coming…
  • As this pandemic grows in the numbers, verified cases and the number of corresponding hospitalizations grow.  The CDC estimates there are only 1 million hospital beds in the United States, and 70% of those beds are already occupied.  Ventilators, essential to hospital treatment of those patients seriously ill from the coronavirus is estimated at only 65,000 units nationwide.
  • More than 1 million of the most vulnerable people to the virus in the United States live in nursing homes, and more than 800,000 people call residential care communities home, according to the CDC.
  • Just last month, Hawaii was bracing for 50,000 to 70,000 cases of flu this year, already complicating preparedness for coronavirus (COVID-19).  Hawaii Now reported in late February that the flu was running rampant at Hawaii health care facilities, according to state officials. A handful of hospitals diverted ambulances on at least one day last week because they were overwhelmed beyond capacity.
  • The expected surge in influenza cases and hospitalizations statewide is complicated by the near simultaneous arrival of COVID-19 in Hawaii.

President Trump’s speech to the nation – March 11th, 2020

  • President Trump’s speech to the nation last night was a belated response to a global crisis. His speech only highlighted an administration engaged in an absence of governance, problem-denial, and misleading statements, and provided little reassurance to the nation from the president that his “crisis on autopilot” policy was working, and will somehow fix itself in time.
  • The 10 minute speech to nation at times sounded more like a rambling campaign speech rather than a assuring statement to nation … we have your back.  Trump mostly highlighted his accomplishments, while presenting a reactive and mostly economic-focused policy to COVID-19, often without reason or factual justification.
  • Trump’s speech highlighted plans for a European travel ban, except for the UK which already has a higher rate of reported COVID-19 cases than 14 other European nations. Vague statements about ramping up national testing for COVID-19 offered little reassurance to an uneasy nation, nor did a proposed temporary tax holiday for certain individuals, companies and industrial sectors of the economy.
  • Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and author of “The Public Health Crisis Survival Guide,” said in response to Trump’s statements re COVID-19: “One of the huge lessons is: Don’t politicize the communications. You really need credible communicators who people believe.”
  • Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response plan for the nation, counters Trump – March 12th
  • Joe Biden, former vice president and candidate for president, held a news conference today from the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Del., addressing the challenges the country faces, and his ideas for managing the coronavirus outbreak. Biden drew sharp contrasts with Trump, a day after the president addressed the nation from the Oval Office, establishing a preview of what Mr. Biden hopes will be a general election match-up.
  • “Unfortunately, this virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration,” Mr. Biden said, “Public fears are being compounded by pervasive lack of trust in this president fueled by an adversarial relationship with the truth that he continues to have.”
  • “No president can promise to prevent future outbreaks,” he said. “But I can promise you this. When I’m president, we will be better prepared, respond better and recover better. We’ll lead with science. We’ll listen to the experts. We’ll heed their advice. And we’ll build American leadership and rebuild it to rally the world to meet the global threats.”
  • “In the difficult days ahead, I know that this country will summon the spirit, the empathy, the decency and the unity needed because in times of crisis, the American people always, always stand as one if told the truth,” he said. “We’ll meet this challenge together. I’m confident of it. But we have to move, and move now.”
  • In his remarks, Biden plan for combating the virus, includes proposals calling for rapidly and vastly expanding national testing for the virus — and tests, he said, should be available at no charge, with the nation moving aggressively to boost hospital capacity and supporting an accelerated push for a vaccine…
  • Bernie Sanders’s COVID-19 response plan for the nation, counters Trump – March 12th
  • Bernie Sanders, also today, provided his own plan for addressing the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak and the steps needed to combat the disease.
  • Senator Sanders called for unity and on the president to declare a national emergency.
  • Sanders said that we (the nation) must face the truth that the number of US casualties from virus may exceed that of World War Two.
  • “If there was ever a time that we were all in this together, the time is now, and must address the virus threat in a bi-partisan effort, led by science and medical experts, not politicians, …if there ever was a time for transparency in government, it is now.” 
  • “Unfortunately, we have an administration that is largely incompetent and that has endangered many Americans…” 
  • Sanders speech excerpt: https://nyti.ms/2IJcFEs

  • Potential fiscal impacts on Hawaii of COVID-19
  • We are just beginning to understand both the potential fiscal and health impacts of COVID-19 on Hawaii.
  • Visitor fears over the coronavirus (COVID-19) could mean a $300 million revenue loss to Hawaii this year.  The state’s tourism sector is also projected to decline by 10%,  resulting in nearly 6,000 job losses, according to an University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UERO) released this week.
  • Separately, the state’s Council on Revenues projects the state should expect no revenue growth in state taxes in fiscal year 2021, which begins this July 1. They also lowered the projection for the last three months of this fiscal year by 0.3%, or about $22 million.
  • State lawmakers appear unaware or unconcerned as to the evolving economic impact to the state’s budget as they pass a series of spending packages, including over $70 million worth of tax benefits for lower income workers, and another $200 million for developing affordable housing in West Oahu.  State economists expect tax collections to rebound by 2022 and to coincide with a projected (unknown) statewide economic recovery by the end of 2021.

— previously published from March 3rd, 2020 — Cororavirus World Infection Map

 

Cdc Cornavirus Map 3 4 20

  • As of March 6th, the total number of documented coronavirus cases worldwide has topped 100,000 worldwide, with more than 3,400 deaths attributed to the virus. New coronavirus cases have been trending higher, with the vast majority reported outside of China.  The World Health Organization previous stated on Tuesday, the global case fatality rate is now 3.4 percent.
  • Confirmed U.S. Covid-19 cases have climbed to at least 233. Last week, the U.S. suffered its first two (NY Times report, 3-3-20). As of March 6th, the number has since grown to 14 confirmed U.S. deaths directly attributed to the virus
  • Gov. David Ige declared a state of emergency Wednesday (March 4th) following the disclosure that a cruise ship that carried California’s first coronavirus fatality visited the four main Hawaiian islands last week.  While Hawaii still has no confirmed cases, state health officials are monitoring developments involving the ship that stopped on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island with passengers who may have been previously exposed to the new illness, known as COVID-19.
  • The declaration allows Hawaii to use funds to act quickly in containing the spread of the virus when an outbreak occurs in the islands. The measure allows for “funding flexibility” to buy supplies and equipment and gives the governor authority to suspend any laws that may impede emergency functions.
  • Racing to confront a growing public health threat, the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives resoundingly approved $8.3 billion in emergency aid on Wednesday to combat the coronavirus, just hours after congressional leaders from both parties reached a deal on the funding.
  • The bipartisan package, which includes nearly $7.8 billion for agencies dealing with the virus and came together after days of intensive negotiations, and is substantially larger than what the White House proposed in late February. It also authorizes roughly $500 million to allow Medicare providers to administer telehealth services so that more elderly patients, who are at greater risk from the virus, can receive care at home.
  • The coronavirus will have a greater effect on Hawaii’s economy than initially predicted, with tourism spending expected to decline by 10% this year, according to a new report by University of Hawaii economists.
  • That equates to an estimated $1.7 billion, based on the 2019 figures for visitor spending.
  • The report, released Tuesday by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, is the first major economic research on the local economy produced since the virus’ widening economic effects have come into focus.

  • WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COVID-19
  • No vaccine, cure, or direct treatment currently exists to address COVID-19… 
  • Symptoms of this infection include fever, cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. The illness causes lung lesions and pneumonia. But milder cases may resemble the flu or a bad cold, making detection difficult.  Patients also may exhibit other symptoms, such as gastrointestinal problems or diarrhea.
  • Current estimates suggest that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure to the virus.
  • How does COVID-19 compare to the flu?
  • While the symptoms are similar, the coronavirus seems to be more deadly than the flu — so far — and more contagious. Early estimates of the coronavirus death rate from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, have been around 2 percent, while the seasonal flu, on average, kills about 0.1 percent of people who become infected.
  • Viral particles are the transmission vehicle of the coronavirus and must travel within mucus or saliva — and they must enter through eyes, nose or mouth to become infected.  While the coronavirus can last on surfaces like tray tables, touch screens, door handles and faucets — one study found that other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS stay on metal, glass and plastic for up to nine days — a disinfectant on a hard surface, or soap while washing your hands, will kill the virus.  However, most people tend to touch their faces more often than they realize. Doing so after touching a surface where droplets from when someone sneezed or coughed can lead to the virus being passed on.
  • In the new study, researchers analyzed several dozen previously published papers on human coronaviruses to get a better idea of how long they can survive outside of the body. The authors found that these coronaviruses can linger on surfaces for over a week but that some of them don’t remain active for as long at temperatures higher than 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and can also be effectively wiped away by household disinfectants.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced changes that will significantly expand coronavirus tests in the coming days. That will likely uncover many U.S. Covid-19 cases.

  • Will Technology or Common Sense Saves Us – perhaps both
  • Beginning about half a million years ago, the first human beings emerged in Africa, and eventually migrated around the rest of the world in search of game and other sources of food.
  • About 11,000 years ago, certain human beings developed agriculture—a major milestone in human history, and which led to the domestication of animals to assist with agricultural work.
  • As agricultural societies grew they developed immunity to deadly diseases like smallpox. Constant proximity to domesticated animals, combined with increased population density, meant that new germs were constantly circulating in agricultural societies.
  • As a result, these societies became resistant to many epidemics—those who couldn’t survive died off, while those with immunity survived and passed on their immunity to their offspring.
  • The Coronavirus (Covid-19) is an example of 21st century pandemic.
  • As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to spread worldwide by a world that is now physically connected by travel defined in hours, rather than weeks or months. More people, more chances for contract and spreading the virus globally faster, resulting in greater numbers of people across the globe become critically ill faster, while scientists race to find a treatment.
  • Dozens of medicines are in clinical trials in China—and now in the U.S.—to treat the disease, officially named COVID-19. Some are antiviral drugs that are already used to narrowly target other viruses.  Experts say these medications are unlikely to do much against the novel coronavirus.
  • Other drugs being tested—such as the broad-spectrum antiviral Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences—could prove quite effective, some evidence suggests. But only the rigorous, controlled clinical studies now underway will be able to confirm this possibility.  Remdesivir has been shown to be effective against many other viruses, and some experts are optimistic that it—or similar compounds—may work for the pathogen responsible for COVID-19.
  • Pill
  • Remdesivir was given to the first known U.S. coronavirus patient: a man in Washington State who had recently returned from the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan, China. And he has made a good recovery.
  • But that patient is, of course, only a single person, and a larger sample size will be needed to determine the drug’s efficacy.
  • Two trials of remdesivir are currently underway in China: one for severe cases of COVID-19 and the other for mild or moderate cases. Results for both trials are expected in April.
  • Another clinical trial is planned in the U.S., and it will be run by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. That trial will take months to be conducted and at up to 50 sites around the world, testing Remdesivir against a placebo.

  • Politics, Blind Faith versus Common Sense and Science
  • In the past few days President Trump has been forced to face a crisis, this one not of his own making.   Last Friday (2/28), as global markets continued to plunge amid growing fears about the coronavirus outbreak, Trump and his allies pulled from a familiar playbook and blamed others for the market slide on the coronavirus (alarmists).  Those directly in their cross-hairs are familiar targets of deflection and blame: the media, and by extension Democrats, blamed for using the cononavirus outbreak as “their new hoax”.
  • Trump can blame others, as he frequently does for problems of his own making, but he cannot hide from the facts that after years of slashing funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services, his Administration has left entire arms of our government underfunded and understaffed, and now as the nation faces a growing global pandemic, the check has come due.
  • Within the administration, there’s strong pressure not to contradict Trump’s line, and when Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that community spread of coronavirus in America was inevitable, the president was reportedly furious — the Administration’s follow-up response, director of the C.D.C. said “she misspoke.”
  • Instead of allowing CDC experts to guide a science based strategy to combat this public health threat, they’ve been silencing experts. Placing the “invisible’ Vice President Mike Pence — an avid science denier — in charge of a public health emergency may very well define, ahead of impeachment, Trump and his administration…
  • From the beginning, Trump minimized the scale of the crisis, portraying it as a purely foreign threat that could be addressed by closing borders. At a Feb. 26 news conference, he claimed there were 15 cases in America, omitting those diagnosed overseas. “The 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,” he said. At that time, there had been more than 210 cases confirmed across the country and 12 deaths.
  • Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and author of “The Public Health Crisis Survival Guide,” said in response to Trump’s statements re COVID-19: “One of the huge lessons is: Don’t politicize the communications. You really need credible communicators who people believe.”
Handwashing

COVID-19, Island Information Guide

How To Get Infected

How is the virus actually spreading?

In recent weeks, there have been reports of the virus spreading by community transmission—people have become ill without known exposures to someone with COVID-19 or without a history of traveling to an outbreak epicenter like China, Italy, or Iran.

Health officials have reported that since the disease is spreading in this way, we’ll likely see more cases and potentially a bigger epidemic in the United States. But for the most part, the virus is spreading from person to person through close contact.

When respiratory droplets spread by coughs or sneezes of an infected person land in the mouth or nose, or are inhaled by a person in close proximity—within a six-foot radius—they could potentially become infected.

To a lesser extent, the virus is capable of spreading by touching a surface that has the virus on it, and then touching one’s own mouth, nose, or eyes. There have been reports that this virus could be transmitted before a person manifests symptoms, but researchers are still uncertain.


As the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is climbing around the globe, researchers are racing to learn more about the novel virus and how it spreads. Here’s what we know so far…

How long will the virus threat last in the United States, look to China?

As governments and public health agencies work to treat infected people and control the spread of COVID-19, researchers are using mathematical models to estimate how contagious it is and how far it could spread.

One such model has indicates the number of cases in China may peak by the end of Month – this coming from a country that has been fighting the COVID-19 virus since late last year. Overall, if China is any indicator, that’s quite a bit longer the two week timeline the US appears to be operating with in forecast planning and projected business closures and operating reductions.

Zhong Nanshan, the pulmonologist who is heading a team of experts on managing the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, originally predicted that the number of infections would plateau after hitting a peak in mid-to-late-February, as migrant workers return to the cities. Considering factors including human migration as well as China’s compulsory quarantine measures, Zhong’s research team had previously estimated that the total number of infections would reach a peak later this month.

However, Zhong Nanshan is now cautions (with the passage of time and greater pandemic experience), now stating the projected decrease might occur after March, stating, “We are not clear if we have seen that peak yet, and we need to wait and observe a few more days.”

 

Does everybody get the same symptoms?

There may be patients who are infected with this virus and do not show any symptoms, though very little is still known about this group. For the many who do display signs of being sick, symptoms of COVID-19 closely resemble the seasonal flu, though COVID-19 is thought to be more contagious than the flu and to have a higher mortality rate.

A report by WHO referenced in the roundup breaks down the symptoms of 55,924 laboratory-confirmed cases in China, finding that:

  • 87.9% of patients reported fever,
  • 67.7% reported a dry cough,
  • 38.1% had fatigue, and
  • 33.4% had shortness of breath. Infected With Coid 19

Initial studies of the virus show that about 80 to 85% of people who are infected have mild illnesses with a cough and fever, while about 14% have a more severe disease.

 

A more serious onset of the virus is more likely to occur in those over the age of 60 or who have other health risks present. Serious cases of the disease could lead to pneumonia and hospitalization and it’s possible that a smaller number, reportedly about 5%, may become critically ill.

What do you do if you develop symptoms?

At the present time, symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses. Because of the way this virus is transmitted, it is recommended that people displaying respiratory disease symptoms stay at home and limit contact with others as much as possible.

HandwashingIt is always important to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it away immediately and to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Routinely cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and objects can also reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

If you think you possibly have contracted the virus, stay at home except to receive medical care, and separating yourself from other people and animals whenever possible, as well as following other CDC guidelines.

What about masks?

If you’re not showing any signs of being sick, it is safe to leave the mask at home, experts say.

According to the NEIDL experts, wearing a mask can often lead to “a false sense of security,” since it’s still possible to become infected while wearing a mask by touching your eyes and nose with contaminated hands. It can also lead to people abandoning other, more effective, protective measures, like keeping an appropriate distance from an infected person and frequent handwashing.

Instead of a mask, some other purchases to consider could be some extra dry foods, ready-to-eat meals, or soups, so that if you or someone in your household becomes sick, a trip to the grocery store won’t be necessary.

Making sure you have tools on hand to sanitize, wash your hands, and decontaminate your living space is also recommended, as well as stocking up a small supply of cold and fever medication to save yourself a trip to the pharmacy.

 


Are there treatments being developed?

In short, there are none yet. Clinical trials will begin on at least one therapeutic, called remdesivir, from Gilead Sciences <see details: https://www.beyondkona.com/coronvirus-21st-century-pandemic/ > and the National Institutes of Health is beginning a clinical trial of a vaccine from Moderna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

There are currently no treatments available to give to people after they have been exposed to the disease.

DON’T:

  • Do not buy a surgical mask unless you have the symptoms mentioned above. Masks make the most sense for preventing infected people from spreading the virus, but they are not necessary for protecting the healthy.
  • Do not buy a specialized, N95 respirator mask for filtering out airborne particles unless you get it fitted, tested, and receive training in its use. Otherwise, you’re wasting money.
  • Do not spend unnecessary time in large groups or close to obviously sick people. It even makes sense to stay out of the middle of packed public transit vehicles. If public authorities announce an outbreak, stock up on necessities like food, prescriptions, and household items like diapers to minimize visits to grocery stores and contact with crowds of shoppers.
  • Do not just stand there if someone coughs near you; turn away if possible.
  • Do not be a Twitt-iot. Social media and other unreliable sources are spreading misinformation almost as fast as the coronavirus. Read only reliable sources like the CDC, the World Health Organization, and of course www.beyondkona.com.
Big Islnad Sat View

A New Decade Ahead, Filled with Challenges for Hawaii and the World

Hawaii County leading the way on climate change

The state of Hawaii made some proud waves in 2015 by becoming the first in the nation to pass a law (HB 623) requiring 100 percent renewable electricity. This highly ambitious goal must be reached by 2045, providing almost thirty years for our transition away from fossil fuels and toward a sustainable future.

Ghg Simple Pic

The state’s mandate applies mostly to the electric utilities, HECO, MECO, HELCO and KIUC (Kauai’s electric co-op, which is now at times achieving 100% renewable electricity). Unfortunately, the first three utilities, all subsidiaries of Hawaiian Electric, Inc. (HEI), have been laggards in many ways and far from proactive in achieving the state mandate (heco-in-the-spotlight-part-2/).

This history means there is a strong role for counties to play in our climate future. Hawaii County is stepping up to the plate. Our nine-person County Council voted unanimously in September in favor of a County resolution declaring a climate emergency. Hawaii County joined a growing list of over 1,200 local governments around the world who have signed similar resolutions.

Hawaii County was the first county to take this kind of action in Hawaii (Maui passed a similar resolution in December). The unanimous vote came about largely due to the effective volunteer advocacy of the Hawaii Green New Deal Collaboration – and of course to visionary leadership on the County Council itself.Climate And Supply Change

We applaud the Council’s vote and see it as a major step in the right direction.

The Climate Emergency Resolution, Resolution 322-19, declares a climate emergency and the need for an “immediate just transition and emergency mobilization effort” to restore a safe climate.

It also declares the County’s intentions to do what can be done at the local level to mitigate climate change – the County government is the lowest level of government on the Big Island (excluding private organizations like homeowner associations) because there are no incorporated cities on the Big Island.

An emergency mindset means just that: we need to take immediate large-scale actions to reduce local emissions, and at the same time to create ways to cope with climate change through adaptation, and collaborate with other counties, states and nations in these actions.

The resolution contains some incredibly strong language, such as this passage spelling out what an emergency footing means:

“Restoring a safe and stable climate requires a whole-of-society Climate Mobilization at all levels of government, on a scale not seen since World War II, to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors at emergency speed, to rapidly and safely draw down or remove all the excess carbon from the atmosphere and to implement measures to protect all people and species from the consequences of abrupt climate change…”

The resolution also states that the “County of Hawaii acknowledges that an existential climate emergency threatens humanity and the natural world.”

The resolution does not, however, require measures to directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some critics may argue that this renders the resolution symbolic in nature.

This would not be a fair criticism because the resolution does require a number of actions that will lead us to emissions reductions and improved resilience, including creating a Hawaii Island Climate Action Plan, a Transportation Demand Management Program, a transition to “climate-smart agriculture,” and related actions that will help the County reduce emissions and enhance resiliency in the face of climate change and related weather disasters. The resolution also calls for improving food security by increasing local food production substantially.

Councilmember Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelter, a key supporter of the Climate Emergency Resolution, is now stepping up further by creating a Climate Action Plan Working Group that will begin its work in 2020.

The County has completed its first-ever greenhouse gas inventory and will be releasing it for public comment early next year.

There is growing optimism that the County can act quickly – with an appropriate emergency mindset – in creating a comprehensive Climate Action Plan and then implement that plan over time, as the resolution calls for.

While climate change is a global issue, local governments around the world are stepping up and showing that they can achieve serious collective actions to keep the most severe climate impacts from happening. We have a long way to go, but the County of Hawaii is demonstrating that it acknowledges the seriousness of an emerging climate crisis and is taking steps to address the challenge of transformation and preparedness.

 

Tam Hunt, renewable energy attorney and policy expert, Noel Morin, President of the Hawaii Electric Vehicle Association, and Bill Bugbee, Executive Editor and Publisher of BeyondKona.com.

Beyond Kona Climate Feed

Climate Reality Check for Hawaii Island’s County Council

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal…”.   Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Chip Fletcher, UH (Manoa) professor of earth sciences visited the Big island this week to meet with the County Council — the meeting came be summed up as a real and live wake up call on the global and local impacts of an emerging Climate Crisis now underway, yes …Crisis.  this November, 11,000 scientists from across the globe declared a global Climate Crisis. Since the 1970’s, climate change awareness (and denial) has grown in the public mindset. You may know it by several names: Global Warming and Climate Change, and most recently, Global Heating (IPCC 2019 report), and now as a “Climate Crisis”.

In the words of Professor Fletcher, “the next few years will be most important in human history.” 

  • The last five years (2015-2019) have seen the five warmest Septembers on record.
  • Year-to-date global temperature (Jan-Sep) has been the second warmest on record.
  • Hawaii has also experienced record air and ocean temperatures this year.
  • Honolulu set 29 record highs. Lihue tied or broke record highs 20 days in a row.

Tying or breaking a record high temperature is impressive. Doing it several days in a row? Even more notable. But to do it 20 days in a row? That’s unheard of, but not this year in Hawaii.  The Aloha State just wrapped up probably its warmest summer ever, obliterating records left and right and over and over again. Hawaii is yet another location feeling the heat in an ever-increasing hot world.

From 1950 to 2018, only 14 nights failed to drop below 80 degrees. This year has featured 19 such nights. The combination of toasty daytime highs and even steamier nighttime lows has helped 2019 claim the top spot for having the hottest calendar day on record in Honolulu.  It’s not just a phenomenon local to Honolulu. In fact, of the four long-running climate sites spread along the Hawaiian archipelago, three of them saw their warmest summer on record, only Hilo, did not. Hilo did, however, experience its hottest August on record date, with a daily average of 80.1 F.

The primary heat-driver is humans, and our twisted  dependency on burning fossil fuels for energy.  The more we burn, the more we turn up Planet Earth’s thermostat, as we emit more and more carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions which continue to build up in the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.

Ignoring all the danger signs, and assuming we’re not responsible for our actions and planetary reactions or consequences is to …deny reality.

Co2 Graph

Climate Picture Graphic

There is more than enough data to convince anyone who brothers to take the time to become quickly educated on “the” issue of our time — one that is impacting current and future generations.

And if we can look beyond ourselves and to the world around us we will discover the cause & effect climate impacts of our actions, the price of our absence (on a global-scale) of acting on meaningful mitigation actions, and the results which is taking our planet on the path to what scientists now calling a “Sixth Extinction Event”.

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five (5) mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly and dramatically contracted.  Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the Sixth Extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

When the Hawaii County Council invited Professor Fletcher to provide an educational presentation on the developing Climate Crisis, it represented more than an opportunity to hear from Hawaii’s foremost expert on the subject, it was an important initial step by the County to learn about an issue bigger than Hawaii itself, one with significant social, economic, and environmental implications for all residents and the future of the state.

Super Storm

During Professor Fletcher’s presentation the Council learned of the new reality of super storms, rain bombs, flooding, increasing frequency of Cat 5 hurricanes, and the macro trends and consequences of rising sea levels and hotter temperatures; all among the threats Hawaii and the rest of the world are facing with today’s Climate Crisis.

2018 Hurrican Season

There may be a middle point on the doomsday climate clock between Professor Fletcher’s dire climate deadline 10 years left to act or else, and on the far side of reality where the mantra is ..don’t worry, be happy, deny the science — sponsored by the fossil fuel industry, its paid political agents, and its supply chain sycophants.

One aspect of the Climate Crisis is certain, Hawaii and its remote location is not immune to the effects of a heating planet.

On example now unfolding in real time: the State’s and County’s economy depends on tourism, and tourists don’t generally fly 6 hours to snorkel in fields of dead coral, look for missing reef fish, or swim from diminishing sand beaches, or even plan a vacation arrival in time to witness the aftermath of a super storm event.

Hawaii’s residents, and elements of the state’s real estate and insurance industry sectors, are paying attention with increasingly concerned as to how ill-prepared Counties and the State’s government are for the next super storm.  If recent climate-fueled super hurricane events are any example, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Bahama’s, as island states and communities they suffered extreme consequences from not being prepared for the new climate reality of super storm events.  Denying or ignoring a threat does not make it any less a threat.

What can Hawaii do?

First, we must address the state’s the current power, water, food, shelter infrastructure inadequacies when it comes to preparedness and post-event recovery.

BeyondKona.com will explore these problems, options, and solutions in forthcoming articles.

Copies of Professor Fletcher’s presentations available through your Hawaii County Council representative.

Subject related past BeyondKona.com articles include:

Addition information subject sources include, NASA’s web site:

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/?te=1&nl=climate-fwd:&emc=edit_clim_20191120?campaign_id=54&instance_id=13988&segment_id=18951&user_id=4b47fad2a3c7961f9505325da718f349&regi_id=8948860220191120

Attacks On Science 2

Attacks on Science and the Public Interest

What happens when the inmates run the jail, or polluters decide the enforcement role of the Environmental Protection Agency, and fossil fuel and extraction interests now rule over Interior department actions and policies? Welcome to the last 3 years.

Trump Regualtion Rollback And Protections 2

Has the EPA become the Environmental Pollution Agency?

The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health and environmental regulations.  The overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policy and rule making have fallen on deaf ears…

The latest example of an escalating pattern of Federal agency attacks on science comes in the form of a EPA rule making proposal requiring that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the EPA will consider an academic study’s conclusions in its regulatory rule-making and rule amendment processes.

This may sound wonky, but the intent of this EPA proposal is much more ominous in its reach and impact on current and future Federal environmental protections and enforcement actions designed to protect the public’s health, safety, and the environment.

At the heart of the new rule proposal, a policy change designed to make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules, because such studies justifying air and water protections detail links between pollution and disease rely on study-related personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements.

And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one will retroactively apply to public health regulations already the law.

“This means the E.P.A. can justify rolling back rules or failing to update rules based on the best information to protect public health and the environment, which translates into more dirty air and more premature deaths,” according to Paul Billings, senior vice president with the American Lung Association.

Impacts will be far reaching

The Environmental Protections Agency, under the current administration, is seeking the authority to disregard science — scientific (taxpayer funded) studies designed to validate regulatory decision processes concerning public health protections. These are the very studies that determine if regulatory protections against smog in the air, mercury in water, lead in paint, and other well-established threats to human health will be subject to scientific-based decision processes, and not political considerations.

The proposed rule and policy change stipulates that all data and models used in studies under consideration at the E.P.A. would now have to be made available to the agency and the scientific findings, subject to internal EPA-led challenges from political and vested polluter interests.

Politically appointed and agenda-driven agency administrators now in charge of EPA and Interior departments will have wide-ranging discretion over which studies to accept or reject, regardless of the facts, scientific findings, and science-based recommendations designed to protect the public health and the environment.

Public health experts warned that many scientific studies used for decades that demonstrate, for example, mercury from power plants impairs brain development, lead in paint dust is tied to behavioral disorders in children — might be inadmissible when these existing regulations come up for renewal under the new rules.

At a meeting of the EPA’s independent science advisory board this summer, former coal lobbyist and industry attorney, now administrator of the EPA, Andrew  Wheeler, told scientists he was “shocked” at the overwhelming amount of public opposition to his anti-science proposal, and in any case, he was committed to finalizing it.

In the final analysis, politically-appointed leaders within the EPA have pushed aside the agency’s Science Advisory Board in an end-run to stop the EPA from fulfilling its mission. More than half of fourteen thousand plus EPA employees are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists, essential to the agency core mission: …to protect human health and the environment. 

During his tenure, President Barack Obama authorized federal regulations (based on scientific findings and a consensus methodology with the industry sectors affected) aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other pollutants from transportation (mileage-emissions standards) and electric power (aka the Clean Power Plan) sectors of the economy.  The GHG rules were based on scientific findings, environmental imperatives, and economic factors,  The newly established rules provided industry certainty and provided effective pathway for the regulated parties to compile with the EPA’s mission and national policy imperatives designed to address man-made global warming climate impacts to the environment and the public. Years of work, and millions research dollars were trashed, when without justification when the Trump Administration unilaterally rescinded the rules earlier this year.

Dismissing the cornerstone of the EPA’s climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, represented just one of several anti-science moves by the Trump administration’s full-court press to undo and weaken effective environmental protections and meaningful climate actions at the federal level.

Hawaii and the Feds

Hawaii may be located far from the Federal Beltway, but its reliance of Federal dollars, rules, public protections, and environmental oversight are a fact of life.

Science historically has been the foundation on which EPA policies have been based, and the determining element of EPA policy, regulations, and funding when applied to Hawaii and other states working towards compliance as states face a growing environmental and climate challenge — in short, scientific facts, findings, and recommendations  should trump politics in the determining and fulfilling the vital role of EPA.

How does EPA policy translate to Hawaii in different administrations?

Trump directed EPA (2019) actions for the state of Hawaii, so far have included:

  • Awarded Hawaii nearly $500,000 to Hawaii Department of Health to help reduce diesel emissions, ​
  • Postponed a mandated toxic industrial clean-up start date of Factory Street, in Oahu
  • Required Hawaii Island to enforce closures of 5 illegal cesspools,
  • Provided a small, but meaningful amount of money ($300,000) to Hawaii towards the development and implementation of  beach water quality monitoring and notification programs

Obama directed EPA (2016) actions for the state of Hawaii included:

  • The E.P.A. awarded Hawaii over $18.6 million funding to improve water quality, and protect public health. Specially, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Hawaii Department of Health a $10.3 million grant for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and an additional $8.3 million grant for a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for projects to renew water infrastructure.  The Department of Health provided low-cost loans to the counties to upgrade drinking water and wastewater facilities.
  • Also in Hawaii, Federal dollars were awarded and applied to wastewater treatment facilities for upgrading coastal facilities, and make to ensure greater energy and water efficiency.  Statewide, the total infrastructure needs for both clean water and drinking water are estimated at $3 billion.

Two Presidents, two EPA mission priorities for Hawaii.

One based on science and comprised of meaningful actions in the form of substantial investments ($18,600, 000) to protect Hawaii’s drinking water and incomparable coastal waters — the other $800,000 in mostly meaningless funding and mandates.

 

Ocean Heating Graph2

A Long Hot Summer is Over – Or Is It?

As the days wore on and spring became summer, Hawaii’s air temperatures stayed high, breaking daily records in the 90’s, island-by island, and across the state. Mid-October temperatures continue to set record highs, and the shorter solar days of fall have thus far mostly failed to fully delivery fall’s cooler temperatures — is this the new climate norm?

Hawaii’s higher temperatures are beginning to match what is happening in other climate regions around the world today. Global higher temperatures, a by-product of rising global CO2 emissions, also delivered a devastating blow to Hawaii with a 2015 super-charged coral bleaching event that wiped out nearly 90% of West Hawaii’s coral (comprised primarily of the Pocilloporidae family) and created doubts as to if West Hawaii’s reef would ever recover.

Hopeful signs of some recovery were reported in a West Hawaii Today article last year.  It painted a highly optimistic outlook for coral recovery.  Divers and snorkelers reported sightings of “baby” coral sprouting up within areas of Hawaii Island’s reef system.

This spring, Hawaii’s waters resumed their seasonal heating.  This fall, preliminary observations of last year’s reported coral recovery were being replaced by an acknowledgement that “there are further signs of bleaching and coral death”, with the statements of a coral recovery now silent. Young Coral Die Off North Kona

How are our local reefs fairing in these new higher temperature norms?

What has and is being observed in our local ocean are random and limited areas of new coral growth, once healthy, now being observed as baby coral turning an unnatural bright pink, and other young corals freshly bleach white – a total absence of color.

This fall (2019) researchers observed and recorded in the West the hardy Porites Lobata — the mostly survivable and heat tolerant coral, aka smooth yellow and purple corals, these too now are beginning to show signs of abnormal stress.

These are signs of a dead and dying coral reef — signs of the changes to a local marine environment that is worth more than all Hawaii Island’s west side hotels.

Overall, Earth’s oceans are becoming hotter, more acidic, and less oxygenated.

All these trends will continue through the end of the century, the IPCC (UN) reported.  For more than the past 150 years, and since the industrial revolution, concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere have increased in sync with a growing global energy dependency on burning of fossil fuels.  Translated, we humans created a climate heating problem for local and global fisheries and marine ecosystems, and we are ignoring the opportunities to course-correct at our own peril.

The ocean absorbs about 30 percent of all CO2 released into the atmosphere, and as levels of atmospheric CO2 increase so does the water level of the ocean.  With oceans absorbing about 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere a day, seas have already become warmer and 30 per cent more acidic over the past two centuries.

Ocean acidification is affecting the entire world’s oceans, including coastal estuaries and waterways. Many economies are dependent on fish and shellfish and people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein — NOAA.) Changes in ocean chemistry is affecting the behavior of non-calcifying organisms. Certain fish’s ability to detect predators is decreased in more acidic waters. When these organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk.

Shell-forming creatures from oysters to types of plankton are increasingly at risk from the changes, which have been called the “evil twin” – acidification combined with  higher temperatures from climate change. Carbonate ions are an important building block of structures such as sea shells and coral skeletons. Decreases in carbonate ions can make building and maintaining shells and other calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying organisms such as oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton.

The climate crisis now unfolding in the world’s oceans and ice caps with outcomes is something we humans are only beginning to understand; e.g., melting permafrost venting massive amounts of methane, the acidification of ocean water, dwindling marine life at all levels, and last, but certainly not least, water temperatures on the rise are generating more intense storms with more costly storm surge impacts.  These rapidly developing cause and effect impacts no longer afford us all the luxury to deny, ignore, or forestall meaningful and needed corrective actions.

Hawaii we will find itself staring down a Cat 5 Hurricane in the not too distant future, and we are presently ill prepared for the consequences. But far worse is the need for urgent action to address the source-problem, significantly reducing and then eliminating global fossil fuel emissions (here, there, and everywhere).

A 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC and its 193 member nations) concluded that “all people on Earth depend directly or indirectly on the ocean” (a fact we are most familiar with here in Hawaii), and that ice caps and glaciers regulate the climate and provide water and oxygen.

The IPCC report also finds unprecedented and dangerous changes being driven by global warming (heating), with sea level rise and coral bleaching at the top of the cause and effect list.

In fact sea level rise is no longer relegated to a future prediction but is now happening. The sea level around Hilo Bay, Hawaii, has risen by 10 inches since 1950. Its speed of rise has accelerated over the last ten years and it’s now rising by about 1 inch every 4 years… (sea level is measured every 6 minutes using equipment like satellites, floating buoys off the coast, and tidal gauges to accurately measure the local sea level as it accelerates and changes).

Extreme sea level events that used to occur once a century will strike every year on many coasts within the next 20-30 years, no matter whether climate heating (fossil fuel) emissions are curbed or not, according the world’s scientists. We are now on the track of mitigation and preparedness, and not the full reversal of the global warming impacts already in the pipeline.

CORAL BLEACHING TRENDS IMPACTING HAWAII’S MAIN ISLANDS

Noaa 2018 19 Coral Bleaching Graph

A general scientific consensus concludes: “The current biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe.”

The IPCC climate data on sea level rise, projects a worst case scenario of more than 13 feet (4 meters)rise.  An outcome that would redraw the map of the world and harm billions of people and our island state residents, economy, and environment which are now in the cross-hairs of an emerging climate crisis.

Far worse than these state-wide signs of warming impacts, would be to ignore, deny, or just talk story empty political platitudes.   All of the world’s scientific validation and warnings are useless if we fail to act meaningfully, and fail to effectively address what scientists are calling our current path to the “sixth global extinction”.

//////////////////////////

THREE BIG IDEAS

FOR LAND USE THAT COULD TURN THE CLIMATE TIDE

“Land provides the principal basis for human livelihoods and well-being, including the supply of food, freshwater and multiple other ecosystem services, as well as biodiversity.”

https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/three-big-ideas-land-use-could-turn-climate-tide

 

 

No Planet B Sign

Global Strike for Climate Action

Starting today, all over the world, millions of people, young and old alike, will be walking out of their workplaces, schools and homes in solidarity with young people who have been striking for climate justice for over a year.

Once in a generation comes a leader like no other

When it comes to the global threat to the earth’s ecosystems and its inhabitants, including humans, today’s Climate Crisis can no longer be denied or ignored.  No one makes the case better for global and immediate action than Greta Thunberg.

Greta Thunberg (16 years old) sailed to New York in her father’s emissions-free sail boat to give her Climate speech before the UN, September 2019. She was widely quoted and highly edited in the media, and her short message to the entire UN assembly was, in a word, powerful.

But it was Greta’s previous presentation at R20 World Summit earlier the same year that told of a more complex and complete truth-telling of today’s Climate Crisis.   In clear-eyed and nonsense way, Greta left global leaders standing on their feet applauding.  As time runs out — her message to world leaders is clear enough, pick your Climate action priorities, but act now!

A symbol and effective spokesperson for this public upraising and global strike, Greta has galvanized the youth of the world – an inspiration to us all… Greta

As a key witnesses testifying earlier this week before a joint hearing of two House committees on the “global climate crisis”, the 16-year-old Swede had a simple message for American lawmakers: Do something.

Instead of planning a lengthy opening statement to start the hearing, Greta Thunberg simply offered a copy of the 2018 global warming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that emphasizes the dire threat that human-caused global warming poses, along with the climate and economic impacts.

“I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don’t want you to listen to me,” Thunberg told lawmakers. “I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take real action.”

Greta’s message has not been lost of Hawaii’s residents who will have an opportunity to participate in multi-island strike for climate actions across our state beginning today on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island, and continuing through this weekend.

 

Climate Protest 2

Hawaii Island climate strike events scheduled for this weekend to include:

WAIMEACLIMATE STRIKE ACTIVITIES

Today – Friday, Sept 20th,  4-6pm  — Church Row corner of Mamalahoa Hwy and Church Road

North Hawaii Action Network, Maddie Turner, madeleinegail@gmail.com

 

HILO – CLIMATE STRIKE  ACTIVITIES
Friday, September 20, 2019  3:00 PM — Kamehameha Statue, 780 Kamehameha Ave,  Hilo, HI 96727

Today – Friday Sept 20: Official Strike Week Kickoff – 3pm-6pm Official Strike / Solidarity Signwaving by King Kamehameha Statue – Pu’uhonua Pu’uhuluhulu Climate and Oiwi Justice Talks – Mauna Kea

Saturday Sept 21: Honokaa Peace Day Parade Climate Contingent 10am-12 Wear Green and bring fossil free transport (bikes, skateboards etc)

Malama Äina Day – a day dedicated to caring for the land with Native and Beneficial Tree Planting 10am – RSVP by emailing pohahaikalani@gmail.com – Pu’uhonua Pu’uhuluhulu Climate and Oiwi Justice Talks – Mauna Kea

Sunday Sept 22: Honokaa Hamakua Harvest 5yr celebration 9-2pm Special Climate Emergency/Green New Deal Talk Story at 1pm

Malama Äina day with PÅ’Ä’Ä I Ka Lani (with Surfrider and Sea Cleaners), caring for the land with Native and Beneficial Tree Planting 10am – till pau, meet at Koa’ekea (Waipi’o Lookout) bring sunscreen, hats, water, snacks and aloha.

Dirty Power Plant Emissions

Hu Honua 2019 – burning trees for power – Update

The Hu Honua saga continues…

As BeyondKona reported last October in Hawai’i Today (https://www.beyondkona.com/trick-or-treat-a-hu-honua-decision-halloween-2018/), HELCO’s decision to buy power, and thus enable, the controversial (yet to be activated) tree destroying and wood-burning Hu Honua power plant is one example of Hawai’i Island being on the wrong path in its transition to clean energy.

Hu Honua is based on a state-sanctioned renewable energy loophole which allows for wood-burning biomass power plants. Not all biomass projects are created equal, it’s just that Hu Honua is a really bad example of the controversy surrounding biomass energy.

In short, Hu Honua is bad for Hawaii’s environment, bad for ratepayers, and bad for HELCO which has at its disposal far superior and cost effective zero-emissions power options which are available today — options which won’t add to global warming emissions, produce or emit pollution by-products; as is the case with the Hu Honua power plant.

The Hu Honua is a one of kind power plant project for Hawai’i Island.  The kind you would expect to find in marginally developed areas of the world with limited power options, not certainly not Hawai’i rich in sun and wind energy, and energy storage options.

The public subsidy of biomass facilities is neither sustainable, green, nor cost-effective.

In the case of the Hu Honua Bioenergy facility, burning trees for power is not only unnecessary, it’s just wrong-headed and poses health and environmental threats to area residents of Hawai’i Island from airborne pollutants and GHG biomass emissions.

The HELCO – HuHonua partnership was a bad deal from the start;  for both HELCO ratepayers and Hawaii’s taxpayers while carrying with it an unnecessary high environmental price tag for energy.  Hu Honua originally planned to secure a $100,000,000 Federal tax credit, in addition to Hawai’i state subsidies.  Although federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for Biomass Projects expired, the Internal Revenue Service has a Safe Harbor program for biomass projects under construction, which may be applicable to Hu Honua, if they ever become operational.

Fast forward today, the state PUC has been forced, through public interest legal action to re-open its earlier Hu Honua Bioenergy facility approval decision, which did not consider the absence of a required environmental review and full consideration in the PUC – Hu Honua approval decision.  In this case, it allowed the applicant (Hu Honua) to shift their environmental impact reporting responsibility to other state agencies that were scheduled to review the project only after the PUC approval.

Process, and the order in which review and decision processes occur can significantly effect the outcome of matters of public interest as is case with Hu Honua’s future.  There are many considerations, as the public discovered after the original PUC approval decision, beyond the simple fact that Hu Honua does not burn fossil fuel to produce power on behalf of Hawai’i Island’s ratepayers…

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

We could go much deeper in making our case why HuHonua is bad for Hawai’i Island, but the following graphic says it all…

Hu Honua Graph In Total