Hawaii – The global sustainability lab (video)

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I love Maui.

I have been going there with my wife and children every summer for many years. It’s our time to be in/on and around a very specific spot in the Pacific Ocean. It is where my children touched the Ocean for the first time, so it has a special place in my heart. We have been to the Big Island and Kauai as well. The Hawaiian islands are amazing. I once read that there are 13 different times of ecosystems around the globe and that the Hawaiian Islands has 11 of them. (I tried to find that info online but could not track it down.) The ecological diversity is amazing given that the islands are small, neatly fitting the entire island chain into the borders of Colorado. The Big Island is only 6 square miles larger than Jefferson County!

In July 2012, I noticed a line of wind turbines had been installed on the north-western side of Maui. I was told that those turbines generated 25% of the islands electricity. (Seems like they should add three more lines.) This combined with the commercials we kept hearing on the car radio about ensuring the proper methods of disposal for your car oil, made me start to think of Hawaii in a different way. It’s an island on an island.

It is safe to say that everyone who has embraced sustainability, thinks of the Earth as a island. A sanctuary that needs to be kept safe and clean. Like Hawaii. It’s also safe to say that over the last 10 years everyone has come to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sustainable solutions. Solutions need to be a combination of sun, wind, geothermal, etc. Lastly, sustainability is a part of native Hawaiian heritage. Sustainable farming and aquaculture is built into native Hawaiian society. All of these reasons are the reasons Hawaii would make an amazing global sustainability lab.

That was the conclusion I came to in 2012 and that feeling has only gotten stronger over the past 5 years, with the emergence of Tesla, Tesla Powerpacks and Solar City. (They’re also rebuilding the airport in Maui to be ecofriendly.) I only recently checked to see if someone had been working on utilizing the Hawaiian Islands this way and I found the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force and some other efforts. (Google it.)

Another element of sustainability is economic sustainability. Hawaii needs to diversify and create another industry. Tourism is currently “it” and the recent departure of Monsanto has left many of the native Hawaiians on Molokai and Maui unemployed/underemployed.

I hope this happens. Every time we’re there it feels like it’s ripe for change . . .

 

 

By Michael Myers

I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently interested in artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and tattooing.

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