Chapter 1:

Humanity’s Existential Crises

Today, humanity is facing a perfect storm of global crises. All are of our own making. We are being challenged by climate change, resource depletion, overpopulation, economic disparity, environmental pollution, and even a global pandemic all at once. Each one on its own is an existential crisis. Together, the risk they pose rises to a degree never encountered in human history.  -  Why now? 

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Overpopulation, Train with too many people in India

Why? Because they’re all interconnected and at an unprecedented scale. Over time, each has played a role in creating the other. You cannot affect one component in an ecosystem without affecting all the others.

To survive long term, we need to reverse course on all of these as rapidly as we can. Is that even possible? If it is, where do we start?

 

One place we can start is to look back in time to see how our ancestors approached their daily life, how they organized their communities for sustainability, how they made life work wherever they were.

For Hawaiians this can be seen in the history of the Polynesian Voyagers who left islands in the Pacific and sailed into the unknown. What they knew was that wherever they landed they had to survive only with what was present in that environment. That is a mindset that says, “We will live in harmony with our surroundings. We will live self-sufficiently and sustainably with what we have … and nothing more.”

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Hōkūle‘a, c. 1976. Kamehameha School Archives

Maybe adopting that mindset should be our starting point? How can we live with what we have on Hawai‘i Island, today? What will it take for us to become sustainably self-sufficient, again?

Sustainable Energy Hawai‘i (SEH) believes acting locally is a practical, effective approach. Much like we’re told during the safety briefing on an airplane, when oxygen masks are deployed, put yours on first, then you can help others.

However, the time we have remaining to take meaningful, mitigating action is relatively short. Things are changing rapidly and the magnitude of the challenges we face is monumental.

Preparing for what comes next is a matter of setting our priorities, assessing our capabilities, and then choosing the scope of what we can realistically do. That will likely produce an achievable plan. 

big island picture.jpg

©ESA-Belspo 2016

Along that line of thinking, we believe the scope of any action we take must begin here, on Hawai‘i Island, our one isolated, self-contained home in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is where we live. This is where we believe we should focus our initial efforts.

Throughout our website, you’ll find much of the information we’re using to form our action plan(s). Today, this information includes a brief history of each of the problems we face, how they are interconnected, and why we support the specific mitigation strategies we are proposing.

We know that what we are striving toward will affect everyone on Hawai‘i Island. For that reason, what we propose needs to be discussed, validated, and understood within our community. We welcome your feedback.

Even though SEH is initially focused on our home island, it doesn’t mean that our efforts won’t be useful in solving similar challenges taking place on neighbor islands. Our plan is to develop, refine, and expand Big Island capabilities, create reliable systems that sustainability mitigates future challenges locally while offering solutions to similar problems our neighbors will certainly be facing as well.

Hawai‘i Island stands alone among the Hawaiian Islands in its ability to develop the full range of renewable energy resources found on Earth. We have them all. We have sun, onshore and offshore wind, water for hydroelectric, wave and tidal energy, and enough geothermal energy to power most of the state. The Big Island can become an example to the rest of the world when it comes to powering an economy without the direct use of fossil fuels.

Access to all these energy sources is truly a rare gift that can also allow Hawai‘i Island the opportunity to produce clean, Green Hydrogen. That is the ability to store electricity renewably. How we plan to leverage this resource safely and efficiently will be explained in depth throughout this site. Our hope is what we present will inspire those of us who live here to support a positive, productive future for all of Hawai‘I in a rapidly changing world.

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Next - Chapter 2:  “The Human Ecosystem”   

Where we are today and how population growth is a major factor influencing our collective future.