Where environmental matters are concerned, Maui these days is a place of great contradictions.
As a relatively tiny rock in the middle of the vast Pacific, the island has extremely limited landfill potential–a reality everyone here is well aware of–yet the County of Maui’s curbside recycling program remains an isolated experiment.
So-called “zero emission” electric cars, though still just a small percentage of vehicles on the road, are nonetheless gaining in popularity, even though the electrical power that charges them largely comes from island generators that burn fossil fuels and sugar cane bagrasse.
Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar likes to advertise that its 37,000 acres of sugar cane are “keeping Maui green,” yet its sugar processing methods involving burning the cane in the fields, which produces choking smoke and particulates.
We could go on, but you probably get the point. Regardless of any consensus among the county’s residents and officials about the imperative threats posed by global climate change (rising sea levels, increasingly powerful storms and species extinctions being the most prominent), competing commercial motives and entrenched power structures will always slow true environmental reform.
So this year, instead of providing tips on recycling or other such “green” fare, we’re giving you a few special reports on some green efforts around the county, state and nation. We talk to U.S. Senator Brian Schatz about some of the (for Washington) radical climate change solutions he’s proposing. Then we search for more information as to why the State of Hawaii is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into a biofuel program they don’t really understand. And we look at how state tax credits are helping to pay for green development and retrofits at local resorts.
Before contact with Western civilization, the island’s land, life and climate help special importance in Hawaiian society. While it’s nice to see modern society returning to some of that thinking, there’s much more we still need to accomplish if we’re to ensure that Hawaii’s climate and lifeforms are here for future generations.
Contributors: Axel Beers, Anthony Pignataro and Jen Russo