Citizens across the nation have been shaken by recent news regarding the devastating wildfires in Maui County, Hawaii.
“The wildfires ripping through Maui will likely be the largest natural disaster the state of Hawaii has ever seen, Gov. Josh Green said Thursday, as the blazes have killed dozens, displaced thousands of others and wiped out communities.”
“Historic Lahaina is “burnt to the ground:” Maui’s Lahaina Town – a tourism hub and historic whaling village – has been decimated. “None of it’s there. It’s all burnt to the ground,” Mayor Richard Bissen said Thursday. Gov. Green estimated that about 80% of the community is destroyed. CNN’s chief climate correspondent Bill Weir described the scene: “All the iconic buildings are either flattened or just scorched skeletons of their former self.”
Just one month prior to the fire, Governor Green’s Office issued a press release to highlight their commitment to the United Nations (U.N.) 17 Goals for Sustainable Development.
“Hawaiʻi’s second Voluntary Local Review (VLR), presented by Governor Josh Green, M.D., to the United Nations (UN) during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development July 12, presents a good news/bad news scenario. The review highlights progress on achieving the six Aloha+ Challenge goals, which are the state’s local implementation of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and clearly defines what is lacking. Hawaiʻi stands as the sole state in the United States to have submitted a VLR, with the report being prepared by Hawaiʻi Green Growth with input from local partners.
As the world reels with new undeniable impacts of climate change, it lends another level of urgency that Hawaiʻi youth express in the VLR: “We cannot put off changing things any longer. We refuse to stand idle when 2030 looms closer and closer. We only have one Island Earth, let us do our best to take care of it and each other. We are one species, with one planet, one chance.”
Hawaiʻi’s status on its goals can be seen on the Aloha+ Dashboard for predictive planning. The state is on track to meet its 2030 targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency, but not for clean transportation with its goal of reducing petroleum usage to 165 million gallons per year. The most recent data show that 472 gallons per year were used.
The goal to double food production by 2030, first introduced by the 2050 Sustainability Plan in 2008, is not on track. Production of most crops has not increased at a pace to reach the goal, but there was a 4% increase in the number of farms from 2012 to 2017. Progress, however, is difficult to measure because of a lack of funding for agricultural statisticians.
The progress on the health, nutrition and access goal was hindered by the pandemic when food insecurity increased from 11.2% to 16.8% between 2018 and 2020.
Existing conservation commitments and the Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiative informed the natural resource management goal of effectively managing 30 percent of Hawaiʻi’s nearshore waters by 2030.
Watershed Projection (20.5% of the 30% target reached) and invasive species control (68% of 147 recommended actions ongoing, initiated, or complete) are both on track while freshwater security, marine management and protection of native species need work.
The solid waste goal recommits to a previous law mandating a 50% reduction by 2000 and an increase in 2020 to 70% by 2030. Recycling is the good news on this goal with 695,931 tons recycled and composted as of 2021. Waste diversion as of 2015 is at 43% of its 70% target.
Public, private and community recommendations contributed to the smart sustainable communities’ goal which measures affordable housing, economic prosperity, disaster management, resilience, and mobility. Economic prosperity as measured by the Self Sufficiency Standard income level improved from 45.5% in 2014 to 34.7% in 2020. But in 2020, 9% of people were below the federal poverty line and 33% were Asset-Limited Income-Constrained Employed (ALICE) households.
There was some decrease in miles traveled per vehicle, but 67.2% of commuters still drive alone, 13.5% carpool and only 4.9% use public transportation.
The housing affordability index is trending downwards from 98.5 in Q1 2015 to 82.2 in Q4 2021. More data are needed to assess resilience, but a local index is being developed. The state’s vulnerability increased on the Social Vulnerability Index – from 0.468 in 2018 to 0.400 in 2020 on a scale of 0 to 1 from the least to the most vulnerable.
The green workforce and education goal recognizes the importance of education, jobs, innovation and an integrated green economy in achieving Hawaiʻi’s sustainability goals. The goal measures workforce development – needs improvement but as of February 2023, the unemployment rate decreased to 3.2%; educational attainment looks good with 85.9 percent of students graduating from high school on time as of 2021, and of residents 25 and older, 92.3 percent of at least a high school diploma and 32.9% have at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2018; equitable access to education also looks good with 86.6% of youth (16 to 24) attending school or employed, up from 85% in 2010; and finally sustainable tourism, which needs improvement – 46 businesses were certified as sustainable eco-tourism businesses as of 2020 – but better data are needed for more accurate measurement.
Governor Green represented Hawaiʻi at two key events at the 2023 United Nations High-Level Political Forum, the only U.S. state leader to do so. His remarks at the Local and Regional Governments Forum and the Local 2030 Coalition Special Event noted Hawaiʻi’s unique contribution to the global community rooted in its community values, and the Governor extended Hawaiʻi’s spirit of Aloha via Hawaiʻi Green Growth UN Local2030 Hub, the Local2030 Islands Network, and the Aloha+ Dashboard as key platforms for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals locally and globally.”
Prior to the Maui fire, the U.S.-Japan Council held a breakout session “Strengthening Regional Economies: A Dialogue among Governors” at the 2015 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference in November 2015.
“Hawaii recently made a commitment to use 100% renewable energy. The state spends a great deal of money on fossil fuels, and this money can be better spent within the state on renewable energy projects. Governor Ige said that currently about 23% of Hawaii’s electricity is generated through renewable sources, and the state leads the country in terms of rooftop solar power. Hawaii has also partnered with Japanese companies for renewable energy, including Hitachi and JumpStart Maui. Smart grid technology and data analytics have also been implemented.The focus on renewable energy shows Hawaii’s commitment to invest in itself rather than sending money outside the state for energy.”
While the United Nations, Japanese and State of Hawaii are eager to shift to ‘100% renewable energy’, the adverse effects have been ignored. According to the Endangered Species Coalition:
“Renewable energy production often destroys habitats and hurts wildlife. Even if there are regulations against this, the sites can still cause harm to animals. Solar panels — for example —- take up a lot of space and drive animals out of their habitat.
Energy production affects biodiversity with its construction and placement:
Habitat loss: Energy sources take away space from plants and animals.
Wildlife destruction: Renewable energy sources stress animals and even kill them. Wind turbines spin with great force and may harm birds or bats.
Land Damage: The construction of renewable energy sources damages the land’s natural layout and destroys plants.
Displacement: Displaced animals are sent to live elsewhere when renewable energy sources are built on their homes.
Renewable energy is supposed to be environmentally friendly, but it damages local ecosystems and threatens endangered species. For example, take the effect of a solar energy development on Mojave desert tortoises. The tortoises live up to 80 years, but the threat to their habitat puts those lives in danger. The plan meant the tortoises would likely be displaced and struggle to adapt to their new environment.
The destruction of plant life and wildlife is a common side effect of renewable energy. Endangered plants cannot relocate, so the construction of renewable energy sources threatens to destroy them.”
Sacred sites to the Hawaiians within Maui County, and specifically Lahaina, have now been demolished following the disasterly wildfire. How will these circumstances affect the history and culture of the region, and will the government’s solutions for restoration embrace the best interests of the people rather than profit?
According to KQED:
“It is not just the historic buildings and landmarks that are important to Native Hawaiians. This region of Maui has a longer history.
It has been revered by its Indigenous peoples as a sacred place for generations. In the 19th century, it served as the home and burial place of the Hawaiian royal family and became the first capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Carmen Lindsey, chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said in a statement that “Lahaina holds some of the most historically significant cultural properties and highest-ranking sacred remains of our ancestors.”
“On May 10, 2018, Mrs. Routh Bolomet, a Hawaiian-Swiss citizen, provided Dr. Keanu Sai with a remarkable document that came out of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, regarding Hawai‘i. Mrs. Bolomet told Dr. Sai that it was her hope that the document authored by Dr. Alfred M. deZayas, would help in bringing the American occupation to an end. Dr. Sai said, “To call this document ‘remarkable’ is an understatement.”
On August 10, 2023, President Joe Biden approved a Hawaii Disaster Declaration following the fires.
“Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires beginning on August 8, 2023, and continuing.
The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Maui County.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Maui County, and assistance for emergency protective measures for Hawaii County.
Lastly, Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Mr. Maona N. Ngwira of FEMA has been appointed to coordinate Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.
Damage assessments are continuing, and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.”
At times, Martial law may be utilized for the temporary substitution of military authority for civilian rule and is usually invoked in time of war, rebellion, or natural disaster. Per the U.S. Department of Justice, a 1989 article discusses ‘Martial Law in Times of Civil Disorder’.
“When martial law is in effect, the military commander of an area or country has unlimited authority to make and enforce laws. Martial law is justified when civilian authority has ceased to function, is completely absent, or has become ineffective. Further, martial law suspends all existing laws, as well as civil authority and the ordinary administration of justice. In the United States, martial law may be declared by proclamation of the President or a State governor, but such a formal proclamation is not necessary. Although the U.S. Constitution makes no specific provision for the imposition of martial law, nearly every State has a constitutional provision authorizing the government to impose martial law. The power of martial law, once held to be nearly absolute, has limitations; for example, civilians may not be tried by military tribunals as long as civilian courts are functional. Nonetheless, within the bounds of court decisions, a military commander’s authority under martial law is virtually unlimited. Martial law has been declared nine times since World War II and, in five instances, was designed to counter resistance to Federal desegregation decrees in the South.”
A 2020 article published by The Washington Examiner details the U.N.’s advocacy for socialism to fix the world’s problems.
“U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has seen the global problems brought on by the United Nations, and he knows how to fix them: more socialism.
Guterres, the former socialist prime minister of Portugal, said that the coronavirus pandemic has shown “the lie that free markets can provide healthcare” and bemoaned the patriarchy and income inequality in a speech that was part of the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture Series on Saturday. He blamed developed countries for not sharing resources with underdeveloped ones, calling for a New Global Deal to ensure that power, wealth, and opportunities are shared more broadly and fairly at the international level.”
As the people of Maui County mourn in despair of their beloved community, has the disaster potentially opened the door to a new way of life under totalitarian rule? Only time will tell…
“The goal of socialism is communism.” – Vladimir Lenin
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