Climate Change Expert to Speak at Environment Hawaii Anniversary Celebration

Chip Fletcher, one of the nation’s foremost experts in climate change and its effects on coasts, will be the featured speaker on August 14, when Environment Hawai`i celebrates its 25th anniversary with a dinner, live music by JazzX2, and a silent auction featuring works by local craftspeople and artists.

Fletcher, who has authored a number of books, including Living on the Shores of Hawai`i and Climate Change: What the Science Tells Us, will speak on “Climate Crisis: Review and Update.” He serves as the associate dean for academic affairs and a full professor at the UH-Manoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology,

For a quarter century, Environment Hawai`i has brought its readers award-winning environmental investigative reporting.  The monthly non-commercial newsletter is supported by subscriptions and donations from readers.

Reservations are needed by Tuesday, August 11. For more information: call the Environment Hawai`i office at 934-0115; email; or visit

Commentary: Nonviolence at its Best on Mauna Kea

By Alan McNarie

Governor David Ige, finally stepping in on the crisis on Mauna Kea, has called for a week-long “time out” on construction of the giant Thirty-Meter Telescope, afte days of protests, arrests and an uneasy standoff on the mountain.

I have to express my admiration for the way that both the protestors and the  police are handling themselves. Look at the videos that have come down the mountain, and compare them to the ones from Ferguson, Missouri, or any number of places around the world. It’s tragic when anyone has to be arrested for their beliefs. But this is exactly what nonviolent dissent is supposed to look like: nobody throwing punches or rocks, nobody using pepper spray or billy clubs, nobody grabbing cameras, nobody beating anyone up. The county police and the DLNR agents appeared to do their jobs without rancor or excessive force, and the protestors did theirs in the same way.

I hope these videos go viral, because everyone around the world should be aware of some of these issues, and everyone needs to see that a conflict, even where religion and huge sums of money are  involved, can be handled without violence and with mutual respect.

I’ve been covering the conflict on the mountain, now, for over two decades. I have genuinely mixed emotions about the Thirty Meter Telescope. On one hand, I think the science it would do is important.  And frankly, Mauna Kea may have seemed the center of the universe when Polynesians first came here, but it isn’t–and we know that, in part, thanks to science. What science can tell us about our place in the universe is   more honest, in at least the physical sense, than what any religion tells us, be it Christian, Hawaiian, Hindu, Muslim or Zoroastrian. Religion, originally, performed some of the same functions that science does: it offered explanations about who we are and where we came from. But in many cases, science now can do that better.  Religions  can still function in areas where science can’t: they can  can ask why we’re here and what our purpose is, and suggest what is good and valuable. Science can tell us what the universe is made of and teach us our place in it, but religion-and philosophy, and ethics,  and sound rhetoric–can help us to decide what to do with that knowledge. We need to give science its due where science does best, and give religion its due where its due is truly due.

On the other hand, a lot of what this project is about has nothing to do with science: it’s also about construction jobs and bragging rights. Some of what the TMT’s backers have said contradicts facts, in the worst possible violation of the spirit of science. The telescope’s supporters–and major media outlets echoing them– have repeatedly stated, for instance, that the TMT will be the biggest  optical telescope ever built, but there’s a bigger one going up  in Chile: Europe’s 39-meter, aptly named, Extremely Large telescope, which will likely see first light before the TMT. Misinformation continued yesterday: Covering the Governor’s announcement,  for instance, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser said the TMT was “being billed as the world’s largest telescope.”  without even the “optical” qualification. That’s just flat-out wrong.  There are already radio telescopes and telescope arrays that are larger–Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory, for instance, has a 305 meter radio reflector.

The Environmental Impact Statement for the TMT is probably the most environmentally conscious one ever submitted for a telescope on Mauna Kea,  and I think the TMT people are really trying to do a good job of minimizing impacts. But it would be silly to pretend  the TMT is not going to have an impact: This thing has a height and footprint equal to that of a major resort. And the University of Hawaii and the state have conspired to make rules that blatantly favor the telescopes in general over any other use of the summit, which has only inflamed the people who see other values for it. The TMT may have been designed to have “minimal” impact on the wekiu bug, the tiny weevil that lives nowhere but on the summits of Mauna Ke and Mauna Loa-but some wekiu habitat will be lost just in road construction. And the expansion onto another previously untouched plateau of he summit can only add to the cumulative impacts of all  the telescopes.

Just being the biggest, of itself, isn’t a good enough excuse to build anything, anywhere. There are more persuasive reasons to build the TMT, in terms of science: its backers could emphasize the fact, for instance, that the other really big telescope projects are all in the southern hemisphere, leaving half of the sky unexplored.  But a lot of it of the hype about the telescope is just an appeal to jealousy, a “We’ve got to keep Hawai Number One.” That may be good business, but it’s not good science. In fact, it’s just the opposite of what we’re learning from astronomy: ironically, the biggest lesson that we can glean from the world’s greatest telescopes is humility: we are just a tiny speck of dust in an incredibly vast universe, and there’s nothing unique or special about our planet, our sun or our galaxy, except that life grows there and one form of life has learned to look out at the cosmos in awe. And with the help of the big telescopes, we may soon find out that we’re not the only life in the universe, either.  We may even  find something out there that sees us the way we see wekiu bugs, so  maybe we need to work on our attitude.

I used to hope that people could find some common ground–that Hawaiians could perhaps see that scientists are seeking some of the same things that inspired Hawaiian religious stories about the mountain: a reverence for nature and a wish to understand our place in it better. I said as much in some of my early writings about the conflict, and I hope maybe those early writings had some part in the inspiration of Imiloa, which seems to have that building of bridges as its main theme. But I think that there’s a hard core on both sides for whom compromise is finally impossible. I think the government and the TMT backers should have waited until the TMT opponents’ last court appeal was exhausted before forcing this confrontation, and I think they should have set rules that made it a fairer fight—but I expect that this confrontation would have to have happened eventually. Like the ongoing battle in Israel/Palestine, this is a bitter lover’s quarrel between two groups in love with the same land.



Island News: UH-Hilo Will Open Dorms to Some Student Lava Refugees

The University of Hawaii at Hilo will open its dorms to some students who may be displaced by the ongoing lava flow, according to an letter from the chancellors of UH-Hilo and Hawaii Community College to students. The university is also posting updates and general information, housing requests and offers, and ride information online.
“Students without dependents or animals may apply for temporary accommodations in on-campus residence halls. To learn more, visit” stated the letter, which also referred students in search of housing to he Hawaii County Housing Office’s online resource guide. The colleges have also created a bulletin board at where students can post housing needs, those with housing available can offer it, and commuting students can arrange shared rides.
“At present, classes and work schedules continue as usual at both campuses. Should Highway 130 become blocked by the lava flow, classes will remain open and students are encouraged to continue attending classes on campus. Should all access roads become impassible, we are establishing on-line course options for people who are dislocated and unable to get to campus. We will work with the county to establish sites where students can access the Internet,” stated the letter. “If you have concerns or inquiries about courses, please email for information. We ask that students connect with their professors and instructors, and that faculty and staff connect with their supervisors or deans, to discuss their situation.”
–Alan McNarie

Pahoa News — Hat Tip To Dorothy Fukushima And The RISE Internship

Dorothy Fukushima

Meet Dorothy Fukushima.  She is a 2007 Pahoa High and Intermediate School graduate now at University of Hawaii Hilo triple-majoring in Japanese studies, astronomy and physics.  She is also one of two Puna RISE interns — with the acronym standing for “rewarding internships for sustainable development.”  Alex White, a recent UHH graduate, is another RISE intern working in Kea’au.

Administering the RISE internships throughout the state, the 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, Kupu, has partnered with Hawaii Energy to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels. As part of the RISE internship, for $15 per hour, Fukushima is in Pahoa, working with recently-awarded-teacher-of-the-year Nancy Iaukea.  Fukushima and science teacher Iaukea are working on an application for the Green Ribbon Schools initiative and to trying to help the implement green initiatives at the school, like switching to more energy efficient lighting, recycling, and seeking out local vendors for fruit and vegetables and other products.

Environment — UHH Fall Commencement Address; Sig Zane Adornment

Depicted is Sig Zane fabric decorating the pots of plants that adorned the chancellor's fall Commencement Address, which occurred this afternoon at University of Hawaii-Hilo. Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Hawaii News — Bee Conference Is Sept. 12-15 At Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

Diane Morgan art

(Media release) —  The Big Island Beekeepers Association wants to get word to beekeepers and apiaries throughout the state, alerting them to requirements for entering the 2nd Annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge. This year the honey challenge is being held in conjunction with the Western Apicultural Society Conference set for Sept. 12-15 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Kohala coast, according to Cary Dizon, BIBA president.

For the 2011 Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge, samples in either liquid or solid form must be collected and bottled by the contestant from hives located within the state. No heat may be applied in the extracting or bottling process and no additives, seeding or flavoring may be used. Entries also should not be processed in any way such as “creaming,” “spinning,” or “churning.” Honey may be strained through mesh no smaller than 500 microns.

The deadline for honey producers to submit completed entry forms and payment is Sept. 2. Honey samples can be mailed with entry forms and payment by Sept. 2 or the samples alone can be submitted in person between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sept. 9 at the Komohana Agriculture Research & Extension Office in Hilo or Kainaliu Extension Office in Kainaliu, Kona. Contestants may submit multiple samples for judging, with separate entry forms and a $5 entry fee for each submission. Read more

Environment — Take A Horticulture Class

The College of Agriculture at UH Hilo is pleased to announce a Sustainable Horticulture class to assist community individuals and organizations in learning how to successfully grow plants. This could be simply for home gardening and use or for business and economic purposes.

The beauty of this class is that it is being offered on Public Access Television so students do not need to go to campus to attend the class – they can do so from the comfort of their home, anywhere on Hawaii Island where cable television is available. While viewing of the class via television is free, students need to enroll in the class to have access to the handouts.

For more information on the class and how to register please see the flyer above and/or contact instructor William Sakai at (808) 974-7511 or email him at

(Submitted by the Office of Councilwoman Brittany Smart.)



Island Events — ‘A Little More Summer Music, Please’; Electronic Music And 3D Visuals At ‘Imiloa Friday

(Media release) —  At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 23, 2011, a FREE ADMISSION event occurs:  MUSIC OF THE SPHERES at Imiloa Planetarium at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo. The program includes electronic music, spectacular in-house, 3D, digital visuals. Also included are full dome 3D images, film and music by area artists. This is the final event of Ebb & Flow Arts’  ” A Little More Summer Music, Please” — a  five event, three island series.

Works are by Michael Takemoto (Maui) and Robert Wehrman (Honolulu), Peter Swanzy (Maui) and Gary Greenberg Maui, Jeffrey Hall (Arizona), Jean-Claude Risset (France), Reece Pottorff (Maui), Robert Pollock (Maui), Imiloa Planetarium director, Shawn Laatsch, and program specialist, Ahia Dye.  Three World premieres of works will occur on July 23, including Pottorff’s film, “abeo.”

Imiloa Planetarium is one of two or three planetaria in the world with 3D digital capability. It is an international center for planetaria full dome films, having hosted planetaria staff from Germany, Holland, Australia, Canada, Japan in a full dome film festival – October 2010. Read more

Letters — Drunk Driver Kills Again

Ted Braxton


Ted Braxton, our good friend, died last night in Hilo after being hit by a drunk driver. He was 22 years old. Ted came to Bellyacres as an 18 year old intern and has been a wonderful energy in our lives ever since. He was studying music at the University and dreamed of returning to SPACE to start his own choir. Ted will be greatly missed by all of us, we loved him. I’ll share more later.

How can we help to stop this madness?
Ted is a huge loss.
We are grieving here, and so is his mother and family on the mainland.

Graham (Ellis)

Ted as a child. Photos courtesy of Mark Hinshaw

(Editor’s note: Following is a statement from Ted’s mother Sarah Braxton.)

To all of Ted’s friends and family – we received the news of Ted’s death this afternoon. His brother Sam is coming home tomorrow and we plan to go to Hilo this week to honor Ted’s life in a memorial service. Don, Grace, Sam and I thank you for your kind thoughts. We know that you meant everything to Ted! We hope to meet many of you when we are in Hawaii. There will be a celebration of Ted’s life in Huntingdon, PA later in June. We will post the specifics here as soon as we know them. Much love, Sarah

Hawaii News — June 7 Is The Deadline For BIPC Scholarships

(Media release) — The Big Island Press Club (BIPC) announces the availability of scholarships for students pursuing careers in journalism.

The $1,500 Robert C. Miller Memorial Scholarship and the $500 Jack Markey Memorial Scholarship are funded entirely by donations to the nonprofit BIPC Scholarship Foundation. The $1,000 Bill Arballo Scholarship and the $500 Yukino Fukabori Memorial Scholarship are funded by endowments.

Qualified applicants must have Big Island residential ties, be pursuing a degree in journalism or a related field at an accredited institution of higher learning, and have a strong record of academic achievement.

For complete information about applying, interested students may inquire about an application from their counselor’s office or office of student financial aid. Applications and information may also be requested by e-mail at

The deadline to apply is June 7. Other requirements include an academic transcript, a personal statement, and work samples, if available. Interviews will be held in the summer for the finalists.

(Submitted by Peter Sur.)

***Commentary*** Congratulations, Kamehameha Schools; Happy World Press Freedom Day

Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Pictured above are students from Kamehameha Schools Pukalani in Maui at the Hawaii Publishers Association High School Journalism Awards banquet Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Honolulu.  They won best in the state, they are that good.  I had the privilege of judging the news category for the High School Journalism Awards.  I found the Kamehameha Schools-Maui news story about the cell phone ban to be exemplary.  It was a comprehensive, multi-source story that presented the facts about the cell phone ban.  With the story was a sidebar and graphics that made for a nice package.  It was most definitely a fine example of journalism.

At the banquet Wednesday at Pagoda Hotel, it was energizing to be around all the high school students involved with newspapers statewide. Read more