Hawaii 2011 - Environment
Olin Lagon is teaching his sons how to grow their own food, and
One family really can make a difference
Virtually everything Olin Lagon’s family does is designed to tread more lightly on the Earth:
• Solar panels power their home and create hot water;
• All containers are reused or recycled;
• Every month, Lagon’s two young sons pick seeds to plant, adding to an expansive garden of a dozen fruits and vegetables.
The ripe papaya Lagon ate at breakfast came from a tree that 3-year-old Ryan planted with seeds dug from the family compost heap, which is not far from the worm bin.
“Every day, we do something that moves them in the direction of sustainability, compassion and self-reliance. It’s the boys’ way of life now,” says Lagon, director of social ventures for Kanu Hawaii, an online and real-time community that makes environmentalism both effective and hip.
Kanu’s more than 13,000 members publicly make commitments to help the environment by eating local food or growing their own; driving bikes instead of SUVs; using energy-efficient light bulbs and turning them off when not needed; recycling plastics and newspapers; switching to solar power; composting vegetable trimmings, and in dozens of other ways.
“We’re committed to being the solution and the change, and encouraging other people to join us,” says Kanu founder James Koshiba.
• The average person in Hawaii consumes less energy than the average American: 257 BTUs a year vs. 337.
• 50,000 solar-water-heating systems were installed in Hawaii from 1996 through 2009 – reducing demand by 169 megawatts, equal to a large, oil-powered power plant.
• Kilauea’s ongoing eruption created 17 “unhealthy” or “very unhealthy” air-quality days on the Big Island in 2009, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The national median is a single day. Oahu had one in 2010: New Year’s Day.
• Government’s decades-long neglect of aging sewers and treatment plants has caused countless spills of untreated sewage. It will cost billions and take many years to fix the system.
Go to kanuhawaii.org
Then-Gov. Linda Lingle and her administration pushed through
“Nissan told us (Hawaii has) the highest percentage of ‘hand-raisers’ who
Need a reason to save energy?
Reducing your use of energy saves you money. Not good enough? Then consider this: one-kilowatt hour of electricity that is generated by burning oil or coal creates about a pound of carbon dioxide. Oil generates most of Hawaii’s electricity and CO2 is the major greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. Here’s some information that will help you measure your carbon footprint – and reduce it.
The average residential meter in Hawaii uses 615 kilowatt/hours a month at an average cost of about $175. That makes Hawaii the most expensive state for electricity costs. Here’s how much all the Islands pay per kilowatt/hour:
Oil dependent but not oil vulnerable
Hawaii leads the nation in dependence on oil for its electricity and other energy needs, but its drivers rank low on an index that measures “vulnerability” to the price of oil.
The index, developed in 2008 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, ranked Hawaii 40th in oil vulnerability. The index said Hawaii’s average driver spent 4.58 percent of his or her income on gasoline – about $1,728.14 a year.
By this measurement, the most vulnerable were Mississippi’s drivers, at 7.87 percent of their income, or $2,268.62 annually. The least vulnerable were Connecticut’s drivers, at 3.7 percent of income, or $1,714.
These figures reflect average incomes – Hawaii ranks above the national average – and total driving distance, which is low in the Islands compared with other states.
Of course, since so much of Hawaii’s electricity is generated by oil, a rise in the price of oil will mean higher electricity prices.
The NRDC also measured whether states are moving away from oil dependence by encouraging energy-efficient vehicles and clean fuels, sponsoring related research and development, or supporting smart growth and transit. In these categories, Hawaii ranks in the lower half of the states. California is first, while oil-rich Alaska
The annual cost of the state’s imported oil, or about $4,000 for every man, woman and child.
Burning a Little Less Oil
Hawaii burned about 30,700 barrels of oil a day to generate electricity during 2009. But that amount has been slowly decreasing in recent years:
The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative has set an ambitious goal: meet 70 percent of the state’s energy needs with clean, renewable sources within 20 years. We’ve already surpassed the national 2011 goal of 10 percent to 15 percent.
HECO is preparing for electric cars now. It has submitted a set of rates to the Public Utilities Commission for overnight charging of electric vehicles.
“We want to do everything we can to make Hawaii EV ready,” says HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg.
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