Author Archive

Solar jobs

February 12th, 2016
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Aiea Public Library's 6,000 square feet of solar panels are finally up and running. Courtesy image.

Aiea Public Library's 6,000 square feet of solar panels are finally up and running. Courtesy image.

Hawaii ranked fourth in number of solar jobs per capita in 2015, according to a comprehensive Solar Jobs Census released by The Solar Foundation, a Washington DC-based non-profit group this week.

The first-ever Solar Jobs Census offers data on solar jobs in all 50 states, with a breakdown for every state and federal congressional district.

California got top rank for the number of solar jobs, having created more than 20,000 new quality jobs in one year. California also became the first state to surpass the 75,000 jobs benchmark. Massachusetts, meanwhile, came in No. 2, with more than 15,000 solar jobs.

In 2014, the Census counted 2,814 jobs in the state of Hawaii, with the majority located in Honolulu (1,783) followed by Maui (437), Hawaii island (428), Kauai (166). The Hawaii's snapshot also found that the majority of those, or 2,814, were installation related jobs.

The Census counted 162,986 homes powered  by solar and 116 solar companies. It gave Hawaii an "F" Net meter policy grade (most likely due to recent developments doing away with the program), and an "A" for the Interconnection policy grade.

Here's a quick look at who came out on top:

Most Solar Jobs: 1. California 2. Massachusetts 3. Nevada 4.  New York 5. New Jersey

Most Solar Jobs Per Capita: 1. Nevada 2. Massachusetts 3. Vermont 4. Hawaii 5. California

Highest Percent Solar Capacity Growth 2014-15: 1. South Carolina 2. Utah 3. Georgia 4. Oregon 5. New Hampshire

A total of 33 states, including the District of California, saw positive solar jobs growth over the past year. Many states experienced double-digit growth. Find the full report at solarstates.org.

Kaimuki Middle School's parking solar array recently went online, providing the campus with solar power as part of the Department of Education's Ke Hei energy efficiency program. Photo by Nina Wu.

Kaimuki Middle School's parking solar array recently went online, providing the campus with solar power as part of the Department of Education's Ka Hei energy efficiency program. Classrooms at Kaimuki Middle School are air-conditioned. Photo by Nina Wu.

Posted in solar | No Comments »

Food fight

February 10th, 2016
By



The Hawaii Legislature is in full session as of Jan. 20, and once again, various lobbying groups are poised for a food fight.

Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety released the three-minute video above about the future of agriculture in Hawaii, with music composed by Makana. The organization, which published Pesticides in Paradise in May 2015, is advocating for mandatory public pesticide disclosure near schools and child care centers as well as no-spray buffer zones near certain populations and measures to protect pollinating bees in Hawaii.

Here's a quick look at the bills relating to food and farming this session:

>> H.B. 2574: Also known as the pesticide disclosure bill. Requires reporting guidelines for large-scale, outdoor commercial agricultural operations across Hawaii. Makes the state's voluntary pesticide disclosure program mandatory by establishing disclosure and public notification requirements for outdoor application of pesticides in various environmentally sensitive areas, including school grounds and nursing homes. Status: Passed second reading in the house.

>> H.B. 2564: Buffer zone bill. Establishes a no-spray buffer zone around schools and establishes a pilot program of native and regenerative vegetative buffer zones at five schools in the state. The Center supports this bill because, it says, there are at least 27 schools in Hawaii located within a mile of fields where agri-chemical companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical spray restricted-use pesticides. Hearing held yesterday, Feb. 9.

>> H.B.1594: Calls for following the steps set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to eliminate the use of neonicotinoid insecticides  on the statewide natural area reserves system to protect Hawaii's honeybees, native bees and other pollinators.

>> S.B. 2385: Seeks to ban sugar-sweetened beverages at child care facilities in Hawaii due to the fact that more than one in four kindergarteners in the state is overweight or obese and high rates of tooth decay. Research shows that healthy habits are formed in early childhood years. "It is in the best interest of Hawaii's children to set standards which ensure that healthy beverages are served in child care facilities."

>> S.B.2513: Appropriates funds to support three additional inspector positions within the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's pesticides branch on Oahu.

>> H.B.849: Called the Right to Farm bill, this bill seeks to block any local governments from passing laws, ordinances or resolutions that "abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural practices not prohibited by federal or state law, rules, or regulations." It's a direct response to a ballot initiative that Maui County residents voted for in November 2014, calling for a moratorium on genetically engineered crops until further study of its impacts on public health and environment. A federal judge invalidated the ordinance last year.

The bills can be tracked at protectourkeiki.org/bill-tracking.

Related VIDEO:

Dr. Ryan Lee, pediatric neurologist at Shriner's Hospital for Children, testifying in support of a bill for a buffer zone last year

Posted in Food, GMOs | No Comments »

Our plastic lives

February 5th, 2016
By



The World Economic Forum's latest study predicts there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Photo from firmm.org.

The World Economic Forum's latest study predicts there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Photo from firmm.org.

It's hard to imagine a life without plastic.

Even if you're conscious about plastic pollution issues and the amount of plastic debris in the oceans, there is plastic in your life.

If you drive a Toyota Prius hybrid, you're driving around in a car with parts made from plastic.  If you have an Apple laptop, you're typing on a keyboard made from plastic. If you've got a kid in school, plastic Ziploc bags were probably on the list of school supplies to buy at the beginning of the year.

You buy something from Costco, and chances are it's wrapped in plastic even if you carted it home in a cardboard box. It's a material that has so many uses, and I've got to admit that when it comes to picking up dog poop, you want something like a plastic bag to pick it up with.

But it's also mind-boggling when you learn that the world's oceans are on track to contain more plastic than fish (by weight) in 2050, as predicted by the latest report released by the World Economic Forum.

The report also finds:

>> The use of plastics has increased twenty-fold in the past half-century is expected to double again in the next 20 years. Plastic packaging represents about a third of the total volume of plastics used.

>> After a short, first use, about $80 to $120 billion in plastic packaging material is lost to the economy. Only about 14 percent of plastic packaging is actually collected for recycling.

>> Each year, at least 8 million tons of plastics end up in the ocean, the equivalent of one garbage truck dumping its contents into the ocean every minute. If business continues as usual, the ocean is expected to contain more plastics than fish in weight by 2050.

There's a solution to all this, though, according to the WEF, if we embrace a New Plastic Economy where plastics never become waste, but re-enter the economy as items of value. If we were to reduce all of the plastic packaging that we toss away, but adopt more reusable packaging. Plastic packaging producers and plastics manufacturers would play a critical role.

The new "Plastic Fantastic?" exhibit opened at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House on Wednesday, Feb. 3. It offers a historical retrospective on the use of plastics over the last century, but also offers us a glimpse of the material through contemporary art. It's up until July 10.

What do you do to reduce your use of plastic? 

This sculptural piece made from reused plastics is by artist Aurora Robson. It's entitled "Midas." Courtesy Aurora Robson.

This sculptural piece made from reused plastics is by artist Aurora Robson. It's entitled "Midas."
Courtesy Aurora Robson.

Singer Jack Johnson with students from Kamaile Academy examine a photo of an albatross carcass from Midway by Seattle artist Chris Jordan on display at the Plastic Fantastic? exhibit at Spalding House. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Singer Jack Johnson with students from Kamaile Academy examine a photo of an albatross carcass from Midway by Seattle artist Chris Jordan on display at the Plastic Fantastic? exhibit at Spalding House. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Kim and Jack Johnson talk about the new Plastic Fantastic exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Kim and Jack Johnson talk about the new Plastic Fantastic exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Works of art by New York artist Aurora Robson suspended from the ceiling at Spalding House's Plastic Fantastic exhibit. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Works of art by New York artist Aurora Robson suspended from the ceiling at Spalding House's Plastic Fantastic exhibit. Photo by Dennis Oda.

 

Jack Johnson, Kim Johnson, founders of the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation and Aaron Padilla, curator of Spalding House, pose before one of the sculptures before it was unpacked for the Plastic Fantastic exhibit. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Jack Johnson, Kim Johnson, founders of the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation and Aaron Padilla, curator of Spalding House, pose before one of the sculptures before it was unpacked for the Plastic Fantastic exhibit. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Related video:

Plastic mural contest

January 28th, 2016
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Winners of last year's Plastic Free Hawaii School Mural Contest, Iroquois Point Elementary School, with their tree of knowledge. Courtesy KHF.

Winners of last year's Plastic Free Hawaii School Mural Contest, Iroquois Point Elementary School, with their tree of knowledge. Courtesy KHF.

What kind of mural can you create out of recycled plastic?

The possibilities are actually endless, given the various shades and hues that plastics come in, and the limitless imagination of students in Hawaii's schools. There's still time to enter the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's Plastic Free Hawai‘i School Mural Contest.

It's open to students, K-12, who must use plastic marine debris — plastic bottle caps or other single-use plastics — collected at beach cleanups or recycling drives, to create a mural with an inspiring message. They must be at least 3-feet-by-3-feet, but can be as big as 5-feet-tall and 12-feet wide. They should be mounted on one-eighth-inch plywood.

The deadline to email submissions (a digital photo of the mural and entry form) is Feb. 20.

Last year's grand prize winner, Iroquois Point Elementary, created a mural entitled "Tree of Knowledge" to promote responsible environmental appreciation and action through reducing, reusing and recycling. The community worked together to turn trash into treasure. To read more, visit Kokua Hawaii Foundation's link.

Other finalists last year were Kainalu Elementary, Lanikai Public Charter School, Pearl Harbor Elementary and Waialua Elementary Schools.

The murals will be judged on use of found or reused materials, visual appeal, creativity and integration of the theme. The grand prize is a water refill station for the school, while runners up receive a waste-free classroom celebration kit.

Select murals will be displayed on stage at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth's "H20: The Story of Water and Hawai‘i."

Find the entry form here.

Caring for Ka Iwi Coastline

January 22nd, 2016
By



Volunteer cleaning up along Ka Iwi Shoreline on Earth Day 2011. Star-Advertiser file photo.

Volunteer cleaning up along Ka Iwi Shoreline on Earth Day 2011. Star-Advertiser file photo.

The Trust for Public Land and Ka Iwi Coalition may have raised $500,000 to keep the Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline protected from development last year. But how about the trash, pallets, nails — and destruction — left behind by careless bonfire revelers?

That's another issue that requires more than fundraising.

Tomorrow, starting at 8 a.m. (Jan. 23, 2016), volunteers from 808 Cleanups, Kaiser High School and other organizations in partnership with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will spend the morning cleaning up the debris and restoring it to its natural state by removing the fire rings.

To volunteer, you can register at dlnr.ivolunteer.com/kaiwi_removal_001 or call Paul Balazs at 808-738-7954.

Pallet fire debris left behind by revelers at Ka Iwi have been a recurring issue for years. Just recently, some folks not only left behind a huge mess, but did significant damage to the native plants that conservationists had planted in the area, according the Michael Loftin, co-founder of 808 Cleanups.

Logs, debris and trash left behind by revelers at Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline.

Logs, debris and trash left behind by revelers at Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline.

Some volunteers from 808 Cleanups have regularly cleaned the site for the past year, hauling out the pallets and picking up the nails and pieces of glass that children and others could potentially step on. The destruction to the native plants is particularly disheartening.

"It's times like this where you take a few steps back," said Loftin, "and you realize we need to keep persisting with restoring it."

Coastal plants at Ka Iwi include naupaka kahakai, ‘ilima, pa‘u o hi‘iaka, ‘akulikuli, pohuehue, ‘ohai, uhaloa and more.

Photo by Robbe Ripp/ Courtesy Manoa Heritage Center.

Photo of ‘ilima by Robbe Ripp/ Courtesy Manoa Heritage Center.

Meet at Erma's (the Sandy Beach end) of the shoreline. Bring water, a hat and sunscreen. 808 Cleanups will be providing cleaning supplies for volunteers. Optional potluck lunch to follow. You can also email 808cleanups@gmail.com.

808Kaiwi

 

Banning the bead

January 13th, 2016
By



 

Microbeads. Courtesy 5gyres.org.

Microbeads. Courtesy 5gyres.org.

U.S. Congress could not agree on much in 2015, but surprisingly, it agreed that microbeads in cosmetic products should go in order to protect our oceans.

In December, both the U.S. House and Senate quickly passed the "Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015," prohibiting the manufacture and introduction of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentially-added plastic microbeads.

In between golfing and dining at Honolulu's fine restaurants during his annual winter vacation here, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law Dec. 28. He might have already made up his mind to sign the bill when Congress swept it through in December. But  maybe, just maybe, he was inspired while enjoying the fine white sands of the beach in Kailua, which are embedded with a perpetual stream of microplastic debris that wash ashore.

The nationwide ban on manufacturing goes into effect July 1, 2017, while the ban on sales goes into effect in 2018.

Environmental advocates like Surfrider Foundation, 5Gyres, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Story of Stuff, which supported the "Ban the Bead" movement celebrated it as a victory. But Kahi Pacarro, executive director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii says the group would have preferred the ban go into effect sooner.

"Between now and the time it does go into effect, it allows microbead producers and consumers to continue to pollute without consequence," he wrote in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, here's what you need to know:

>> How do you know if your cosmetic product has microbeads? If your toothpaste, face or body wash lists polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene, it probably contains microbeads. A list specifically for Hawaii is available at beatthemicrobead.org/images/pdf/red-hawaii.pdf.

>>  Beat the Microbead, an international initiative, actually launched an app that lists products as red (avoid) or green (free of microbeads). Learn more at beatthemicrobead.org. Surprisingly, the list of red products include everything from 3D White Luxe toothpaste by Crest to cleansers by Neutrogena and Aveeno. The 2-in-1 wash and scrub at Victoria's Secret is on the list, too. If you click on the list for Hong Kong, you'll find several Shiseido beauty products as well.

>> Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, co-founders of 5 Gyres, study trash around the world's oceans but discovered these microbeads in the Great Lakes. Just one tube of exfoliating face wash could contain more than 350,000 microbeads. An estimated 2.9 trillion microbeads enter U.S. waterways each year. Once in the marine ecosystem, the microbeads absorb toxins that are transferred to fish that mistake them for food.

>> The tiny plastic particles, or microbeads, in these personal care products can easily be replaced with natural ones such as sea salt, apricot kernels or jojoba. The microbeads are designed to go down the drain, but are difficult to filter out through wastewater treatment systems due to their small size.

>> The Society for Conservation Biology confirmed that the microbeads pose a threat to the environment, resulting in adverse health effects in wildlife and people.

Members of the Surfrider Foundation were among supporters pushing for a bill to ban the microbeads at the Hawaii legislature last year as part of its Rise Above Plastics campaign. The bill did not pass. Several other U.S. states, including California, had passed a ban, but the federal one offers an earlier start date and covers self-defined "bioplastic" microbeads, which are also an environmental concern because they dont' actually biodegrade.

Stuart Coleman, Hawaii coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation, was surprised how fast the bill passed through Congress despite its bipartisan divide. Next, the Surfrider Foundation will work on banning polystyrene foam, which most people call Styrofoam.

"We've got to work together," said Coleman. "It's not us versus them. It's what's best for our health and environment because they're almost always related."

Video from 5Gyres:

Keiki Kalikimaka Fun

December 31st, 2015
By



As the year 2015 comes to a close, the Green Leaf shares the following Keiki Kalikimaka ornaments that did not make it into the paper, but hold an honorary place in this blog.

Here is a beautiful one-of-a-kind sketch of a nene goose in a Santa hat set against a rainbow, blue sky and marsh with vivid color and details. By Samantha Shiroma, 6, of Ahuimanu Elementary School.

SamanthaShiroma6Ahuimanu

Celebrating Hawaiian monk seals, this Keiki Kalikimaka ornament features a seal in Santa hat in repose on the shoreline by Katerina Im, 10, of Aina Haina Elementary School. Remember, when the seals are resting on the shore, let them sleep.

KaterinaIm10AinaHaina

Another playful sketch of a Hawaiian monk seal (look at those eyes! so realistic) with presents and an elf atop his head. This seal is swimming in the ocean. Mahalo Kira Tobita, 11, of Mililani Middle School. Beautiful drawing.

KiraTobita11MililaniMiddle

Hawaiian monk seal with Santa hat frolicking in the waves. Mahalo to Kristen Ching, 11, Punahou School for this beautiful Keiki Kalikimaka ornament.

KristenChing11Punahou

Year 2015 in review

December 15th, 2015
By



FrostpawNoKXLBeach

It's time again for the 2015 year in eco-review.

>> 1. Obama rejects Keystone XL Pipeline.

When President Barack Obama came to Hawaii for his annual holiday vacation last year, a handful of protestors showed up on the outer sidewalk corner of the cul-de-sac where he was staying on New Year's Eve. They didn't get much press attention.

Among them was Frostpaw, the polar bear, a mascot from the Center for Biological Diversity who donned an Aloha shirt and held a sign that said, "Stop Keystone XL." They had been following the president around Oahu during his vacation and apparently, as AP reported, even got the president to pause and say, "Hey, polar bear!" while playing a round of golf. The president had the power to veto the project altogether, but no one knew when he would make a definitive decision.

On Nov. 6, President Obama rejected TransCanda's application for a permit to complete the Keystone XL project.

"Today, the United States of America is leading on climate change," he said. "Ultimately, if we're going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we're going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky."

>> 2Climate Change and Hurricanes.

In a 180-page report published in November, dozens of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and across the world concluded there was a link between climate change and the substantial increase in active Hawaiian tropical cyclone seasons. We were lucky this season. We had an unprecedented number of hurricanes heading our way, even three simultaneously. We experienced high humidity, thunder, lightning and rain — but fortunately, averted any major disasters. Our recent Big Q poll found that most of readers think the issue of global warming is critical, and that we must take action now.

Perhaps we are finally waking up. On Saturday, Dec. 12, at the climate change conference, known as COP21, in Paris, nearly 200 countries unanimously agreed to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. For highlights, click here.

>> 3. A sweltering summer.

Hawaii set numerous record highs in temperatures this summer, due to El Nino and global warming which resulted in rising ocean temperatures. The sweltering summer resulted in a public school crisis for the Hawaii Department of Education, with students sweating in classrooms that reached between 90 to 100 degrees when school commenced July 29, during the height of summer. Parents complained, and the state responded by installing several hundred portable air-conditioners in classrooms, but that is a temporary solution, at best.

Campbell High School students took it upon themselves to launch a crowdfunding campaign, Fahrenheit73, to install a solar powered air conditioning unit.

Due to lack of state foresight, Hawaii's aging public school infrastructure not only does not have the electrical upgrades in place necessary for air-conditioning, but did not jump on the solar PV bandwagon fast enough. The Ka Hei initiative, launched last year, is attempting to reduce its electricity costs by installing more solar PV and implementing other conservation measures while incorporating STEM lessons into the curriculum.

>> 4. Plastic bag ban for Oahu.

The plastic bag ban for the island of Oahu finally went into effect on July 1, three years after the Hawaii legislature passed the measure. Oahu was the caboose behind neighbor isles, including Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties, which already had a ban in place. But it's kind of a lame ban, in that it still allows retailers to offer a thicker plastic bag. Vendors who sell prepared foods are not covered by the ban.

>> 5. Sun sets on Hawaii's solar industry.

Sadly, the outlook for the solar industry in Hawaii has dimmed considerably. The future for solar in Hawaii is bleak.

The sun set on solar options for most homeowners when the state Public Utilities Commission announced it would cap new residential and commercial solar projects at 25 megawatts, or about 4,500 new systems, on Oahu. That cap will probable be reached within the first few months of the new year. That translates into a standstill for most of the industry, and layoffs.

Prior to that, the PUC also ended the net energy metering system, which allows homeowners to sell back the energy they produce, but don't use. Although solar is often portrayed as a luxury, Hawaii's middle-class homeowners who saved their hard-earned money or sacrificed other expenses to install solar PV will suffer the most. Only Hawaii's wealthy will be able to afford the  battery storage systems to go off the grid, though those prices will eventually come down.

All this is based on HECO's claim that the grid is at full capacity (which many of our readers doubt is sincerely the case), and due to HECO's own failure to prepare the grid for solar demand over the past decade. Hawaii, despite its claims of having the most solar installed per capita, is not at all a leader in sustainability. On the contrary, it looks as if we're a backwards state sliding even further backwards.

>> 6. Looming NextEra deal.

We love NextEra, we love NextEra not.

The future of Hawaii's electric utility remains up in the air as we wait to see whether the Public Utilities Commission decides to approve Florida-based NextEra Energy's $4.3 billion acquisition of the Hawaiian Electric Cos. Hawaii Gov. David Ige, the state consumer advocate,  DBEDT, Maui County Council, Sierra Club Hawaii, the Alliance for Solar Choice, Life of the Land and numerous other parties have all publicly opposed the deal as currently proposed.

Fair Energy for Hawaii, an initiative paid for by the Ulupono Initiative (an intervenor in the Nextera/HECO merger), says in its current state, the "scales of this deal are vastly tipped in favor of Hawaiian Electric shareholders, not consumers." Furthermore, NextEra has not made any actual guarantees of lowering energy costs for the people of Hawaii. Meanwhile, the state has committed to achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Most recently, HECO CEO Alan Oshima admitted during a hearing on the pending sale that NextEra's claim it will save customers $60 million only translates to $1 per month per customer.

>> 7. King St. Bike Track.

Love it or hate it, the two-mile King Street Bike Track is now part of the King Street experience. The protected bike lane on the left-hand side of King Street officially opened in Dec. 2014 as part of a pilot project. Bicyclist commuters are using the track. Some drivers are griping about it. As both a biker and driver, I don't think it may have been the best choice of a street for the protected bike lane. But I don't have a problem driving down King Street (when making a left turn, make sure you look over your blind spot to the left to see if bikers are coming). I envy folks who live close enough to commute by bike. I think the parking spaces alongside the bike track should go – it's bizarre to have them on the left side of the road.

>> 8. Hope and peril for monk seal pups.

‘Ama‘ama and Puka at Ke Kai Ola. NOAA Permit 18786,

Ama‘ama and Puka at Ke Kai Ola. NOAA Permit 18786,

The good news is that the Hawaiian monk seal pup population in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands went up this year, according to data from NOAA's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Team. There were 148 pups born in Papahanaumokuakea this year, 22 percent more than in 2014. Ke Kai Ola, the new monk seal hospital in Kona, also took in a few pups this year, which were successfully returned to their homes in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands after gaining weight.

At the same time, a growing issue of concern for Hawaii's critically endangered monk seals — toxoplasmosis — emerged towards the end of the year. In November, RN36, a two-year-old female monk seal died as a result of toxoplasmosis, which come from infected cats. Stray cats shed the eggs for toxoplasmosis into the environment, including the watersheds that lead to the ocean. At least eight seal deaths since 2001 are attributed to toxoplasmosis.

Currently, Ke Kai Ola is home to seven monk seal patients — Mahina, Mo‘o, ‘ena‘ena, Neva, Puka, Ama‘ama and Kilo. Six were rescued from Papahanaumokuakea. Kilo was rescued from Niihau.

>> 9. Turtle Bay conservation deal.

The state of Hawaii reached an agreement on the future of Turtle Bay conservation lands in October of this year. It goes down in the books as part of land conservation history. Four miles of coastline and eight miles of trails will be protected in perpetuity, while 665 acres from Kawela Bay to Kahuku Point are to be conserved with a total of $45 million shared by the state, the city and the U.S. Army in partnership with Trust for Public Land. Turtle Bay Resort, meanwhile, will limit its development plan to 725 resort units, including two small hotels and up to 100 resort residential homes.

>> 10. IUCN World Conservation Congress.

It's coming. Following on the heels of COP21, or United National Conference on Climate Change in Paris in early December, Hawaii is set to become the first U.S. site to host the IUCN World Conservation Congress Sept. 1 to 10 at Hawai‘i Convention Center. Held only once every four years, the Congress is expected to bring up to 10,000 attendees from around the globe, including high-profile attendees such as Prince William and possibly, President Barack Obama. The theme is "planet at the crossroads."

Finding a tree

December 14th, 2015
By



HelemanoRunning

Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, thy leaves are so unchanging...Not only green when summer's here, but also when it's cold and drear...

Shopping for a Christmas tree takes on new meaning when you visit an actual farm and see the trees that are growing out of the ground up close. That's why the trip to Helamano Farms on Whitmore Avenue in Wahiawa was worth the drive the weekend after Thanksgiving (and honestly, it's not that bad, as long as there's no traffic).

Thanksgiving in Hawaii this year was rainy, so the red dirt was still a bit soggy, but it was nevertheless fun to walk  between the rows of Norfolk pines, exploring the Leyland cypresses and new this year — silver-blue Carolina Sapphires and evergreen Japanese Yoshino cedar trees.

It was our first time visiting the farm, though it had been on my to-do list for a few years. I'm so happy we finally made it.

Our dog, Kona (a Springer spaniel mix from the Hawaiian Humane Society) and my son Brandon, 5, loved roaming the grounds. Kona loved sniffing around the tree trunks (and will remember all the smells, I'm sure). Brandon just loved running among the trees.

From the moment we parked and stepped on to the farm, we found the staff friendly and welcoming. Ezekiel Gamponia-Tyrell showed us around, helped us pick out a Leyland cypress and sawed it down. Some people wander around for more than an hour finding just the right tree. We found ours within about 15 minutes.

But you're still welcome to wander around after you've found your tree, and take photos (see my photo gallery below).

Before we knew it, Ezekiel had the tree hefted over his shoulder and headed toward checkout, then he netted it and helped load it into the back of the pickup truck.

Ezekiel Gamponia-Tyrell, a worker at Helemano Farms, helps customers select, cut down and load the tree on to their vehicles.

Ezekiel Gamponia-Tyrell, a worker at Helemano Farms, helps customers select, cut down and load the tree on to their vehicles.

Every year, people in Hawaii are so used to waiting in anticipation for the trees to be shipped over here from Oregon and Washington state, and picking out a tree from a parking lot. While I know some people are just wedded to the idea of the Noble fir with its particular pine scent for Christmas, a local tree makes a great alternative.

You would be cutting out the carbon pollution of shipping trees across the ocean, the risks of invasive pests, mostly yellow jacket wasps and slugs, and supporting a local, family-owned business. I think it'd be great if there was more than just one Christmas tree farm on Oahu.

As of Dec. 1 this year, 201 containers with 126,020 Christmas trees arrived in the isles, according to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, which inspects the ships upon arrival. Eleven containers were held for treatment — two had yellow jack wasps and nine had slugs.

I would say that the trip to the farm was part of the fun.

At the farm, there are also lovely, handmade Norfolk pine wreathes for $25 and homemade jellies (mountain apple, lilikoi and more) for $10.

Dogs on leashes are welcome at the farm, a wonderful part of the experience. Helemano Farms is at the end of Whitmore Ave. (turn right into the parking lot just before the military base). Hours are from noon to sunset Wednesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to sunset on weekends. Prices start at $45 and up for a Norfolk pine (starting at five-feet tall), and $60 and up for Leyland cypresses and other trees. You can also find Helemano Farms on Facebook.

More photos:

Treefarm

NettingTree

Wreathes

B&Kfront

HelemanoinTruck

SEALEVEL

December 5th, 2015
By



Sunrise photo from veteran surf photographer Ted Grambeau's exhibit SEALEVEL — Silence of Change at Pipeline Gallery. Courtesy Ted Grambeau.

Sunrise photo from veteran surf photographer Ted Grambeau's exhibit SEALEVEL — Silence of Change at Pipeline Gallery. Courtesy Ted Grambeau.

World renowned surf and adventure photographer Ted Grambeau debuts SEALEVEL — Silence of Change, the first of a series of exhibitions across the globe, at Pipeline Gallery in Haleiwa.

SEALEVEL is a photographic series: "Exploring the elements and interplay of the ocean before sunrise. Distilling the elements to a bare minimum to express a body of work that is purely abstract. Captured moments from nature's rich pallet of colors, its subtle tones and myriad of hues reflecting the mood of each new day."

"I want to bring awareness to one of the major environmental issues of our time through the medium of fine art photography," said Grambeau in an artist's statement. "Telling the shocking story about climate change by choosing to use beauty without words — the silence of change — the rising sea level."

Grambeau, who has explored surf from Iceland to Madagascar, made a personal commitment two years — or 730 sunrises — ago to creatively document sea level rise resulting from climate change.

The result is an array of powerful tableaus, each one unique and stunningly beautiful in its own way, capturing the beauty of nature and instilling a love for the ocean.

Climate change is often seen as someone else's responsibility, according to Grambeau. Unless an individual understands how it will impact them personally, it is unlikely they will feel empowered or motivated enough to take action. Through the awareness of art, he hopes to inspire "the choice of change."

The exhibit is up until Monday, Dec. 7 at Pipeline Gallery, 66-165 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, on Oahu's North Shore. Follow Grambeau @tedgrambeau on Instagram.