POSTED: 11 FEBRUARY 2004 - 6:00pm HST

Sustainability... A Vision for Kauai

Grass Shacks: Kualoa Ranch on Oahu has historics recreations of a ancient Hawaiian village

by Linda Pascatore 11 February 2004

It seems that I am always protesting something--compromise of environmental protections, the war, pollution, development of more resorts and timeshares, military expansion--the list goes on. It becomes very tiring and overwhelming after a while. I get angry, and feel like I am always negative--a doomsayer.

I think we have to offer some positive alternatives rather than always being the opposition. I would like to begin to put forth a positive vision of a future Kauai. A future where the people here would live a simpler life, but have what they need to be happy. A future where this island would be much more self-sufficient, with sustainable resources.

Instead of a tourist or military based economy, we should be growing our own food, making our own clothes, harnessing our own energy from the sun, and even growing our own fuel. Local communities on this island could become more self-sufficient, with cottage industries and vegetable gardens and fruit orchards on a small scale. Jobs would be created, small businesses could thrive, and people wouldn’t have to travel distances through traffic jams to get to work or buy things.

We could work with zoning laws and a moratorium on development to slow growth and keep the population down to a sustainable size on this island. We could grow native hardwoods like koa, and begin to teach crafts like woodworking. Other native crafts could be resurrected and we could have skilled crafts people making valuable products, while preserving culture and traditions.

It is time to develop some of these ideas, and present them to the public, policy makers and our lawmakers in a viable form. It would take many small steps, but we would be working slowly towards a positive future.

I would like to open a dialogue on a Vision for Kauai. Please take a first, tentative but positive step, and send your thoughts and ideas.



POSTED: 19 JANUARY 2004 - 8:00pm EST

Kauai: What population is right?

Kauai from space. I think I see the Home Depot at Kukui Grove

by Juan Wilson 19 January 2004

A conversation with a friend about ancient Hawaiian society had me doubting what I will call an "Island Legend". Island Legends, like the urban variety, pass from person to person without much question. Their mobility rests on their ability to thrill and amaze the listener with the tale. I suspect another reason these legends persist is that they fulfill an agenda or represent a world view in some way.

The Island Legend in this case is the oft repeated statistic that before European contact there were once 200,000 Hawaiians living on Kauai. When I first heard this I was amazed. It was part of a set of stories that includes the one that newbies hear while looking into Kalalau Valley from the Kokee Lookout, "Did you know that 5000 Hawaiians once lived in the valley?". There are certainly many myths surrounding Hawaii. Some are strengthened by postulating a large ancient population. For example, I've heard one theory that Hawaii was an ancient Atlantis and the source of a great prehistoric civilization that populated the world and that has been lost.

Some friends were visiting Kauai for the first time recently. My wife and I took them on the obligatory ride to see Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Lookout. It was very cloudy so we had a chance to spend some time in the Kokee Museum. While the rain pounded the roof and the ceiling leaked I read of Cook's first estimate of Kauai's population after "discovering" Hawaii and landing in Waimea.

Cook did a nose count while in Waimea. He also saw enough of the island to make an estimate of it's size and frequency of it's settlements. His estimate was there were approximately 60 communities the size of Waimea and that there were about 500 people there. So, Cook's population estimate was about 30,000 Hawaiians on Kauai when Europeans made contact.

Some historian's have pointed out that this number is probably too high. Waimea is one of the larger valleys on the island and it is unlikely that there were 60 communities as large as the one in Waimea in Cook's time. Using Cook's nose count and Hawaiian oral history some historians have a lower estimate of about 20,000 people on Kauai at the time of contact.

What does this imply for us today?

Below are the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism,
Population and Economic Projections for the State of Hawaii to 2025.

Kauai County
2005 - 60,500
2010 - 65,800
2015 - 72,000
2020 - 78,700
2025 - 85,400

Maui County
2005 - 128,600
2010 - 136,400
2015 - 144,000
2020 - 151,200
2025 - 158,700

Hawaii County
2005 - 151,000
2010 - 159,600
2015 - 168,300
2020 - 176,900
2025 - 187,700

Honolulu County
2005 - 895,600
2010 - 929,200
2015 - 964,800
2020 - 999,400
2025 -1,029,800

For Kauai this means 85,000 people in 2025. That's over a 40% increase in population in the next twenty years. God forbid. I doubt the 40% increase projected in 20 years will be made up of Hawaiians. It is likely to be mainlanders escaping from California and other places that are becoming unlivable. As an aside let me add that the original Princeville Master Plan, over 30 years back, before Iniki, projected 50,000 on the north shore by this time.If it were not for Iniki I'm sure it would be 85,000 on the island today.

We should be reluctant to greatly increase the population of the island today. With about 60,000 people Kauai can probably sustain itself without outside help. There is likely to be a large scale energy crisis as oil supplies are exhausted in the next few decades. Places like Kauai will have to fend for themselves again.

I do not believe Kauai can maintain a high quality of life that is sustainable with a population of over 100,000. Maui with 125,000 is struggling. Maui, about the size of Kauai, has about twice the population, and has topped-out its sources of fresh water and is encountering brackish water in some of its older wells. Of course Oahu, with close to 900,000 people, is off the chart of a sustainable environment.

Individual plants need to grow in order to survive. That is not true of individual people. If you had to put on ten pounds of weight every year in order to survive you would not last more than a few decades. We need to find ways to have happy and healthy lives without ever increasing population and consumption of resources .A study should be done to determine what population the island could support. How many can it feed, clothe and house with reasonable comfort.

I believe those who think that here on Kauai, in ancient days, without outside resources, that Hawaiians lived happy and fulfilling lives with a three times today's population are wrong. They have been lulled into a false sense of well being about the ability of this island to sustain us.

Certainly, living on an island in the middle of the ocean, it should be clear. The leaders that take us down the road to a future of unlimited "growth" must not be followed. They will lead us like lemmings into the sea.





POSTED: 4 JANUARY 2004 - 1:30pm EST

Sustainable Self-Sufficiency for Kauai

by Juan Wilson on 4 January 2004

Obviously, for the whole of humanity, the Earth is an island. A blue planet in the black of space.
Sustainable self-sufficiency is the key for people living on an island, or a planet. People can’t live for long on an island if they burn down the forest, kill the animals and breed like insects. The Hawaiian Islands have always struck me as a little solar system of planets in a blue ocean of sky and sea. Each of Hawaii’s islands are surprisingly different each in its own way. And this island, Kauai, has been a blessed in many ways.

To begin with, Kauai has land, water, forests, beauty, isolation, some retention of polynesian culture and a reasonably small human population (unlike Oahu and Maui). As is often said “Lucky you live Kauai!”. This is not to say that Kauai is without troubles. Many young people face underemployment probably for the rest of their lives. Misuse of drugs, like alcohol and methamphetamine, are responsible for crime, violence and despair. There is a dimming of Hawaiian style of life in the face of a pervasive and aggressive media oriented mainland culture.

Now on Kauai there is an over-riding economy rooted in “growth” that is allowing international corporations and greedy individuals to rape and plunder. Outfits like WalMart, Home Depot, and Costco smell blood. They are dropping “big box” stores on the island to help us suburbanize faster. The resulting problems include traffic jams, pollution, sprawl and soon overpopulation. By overpopulation I mean that number of people that require outside assistance and, for lack of resources, cannot be self-sufficient or sustain itself.

Let's not survive on blood and oil, but chlorophyll and sunlight!

The beginning of the 21st century is a critical time for a people throughout the world. We are now facing overpopulation and dwindling resources in vast areas of the world. Kauai is well positioned to be a litmus test of our ability to save ourselves. If we can’t sustain self-sufficiency on Kauai, there is little to hope for in the rest of the world.

Many arguments have been made that the problems that plague us today on Kauai can be solved by boosting our economy. By constructing more buildings; by luring more tourists; by increasing the activity of the military. These are all dead ends or worse. Kauai should look at a healthy economy as one that relies little on outside resources and does not require an increasing population growth. We should not need to import any food to this island.

Meeting the fruit, vegetable, grain, fish, meat and dairy requirements for kama’aina is achievable with the agricultural land available today. We must not suburbanize our agricultural land with subdivisions. Providing all the energy needs of our transportation, housing and businesses can be met with solar, bio-diesel, and wind resources. We must not depend on the spilling of blood and oil to fill our SUV’s. Our dependence on mid-eastern oil is World War Three.


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