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Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I yesterday joined the first class day of Political Science 770, ostensibly taught by Professor James Dator, but under the leadership of John Sweeney and Steve Lohse. There are about a dozen students, mostly from PoliSci, but also from other schools. The course is a tribute to Professor Ira Rohter, who shockingly passed away last year. I would like, from my perspective, to add Fred Riggs, another former PoliSci professor, for we were working together on making a difference for sustainability when he left us in 2008 at the active age of 90.

The project Fred and I conceived was to start with one university class forming small groups to produce and YouTube a set of sustainability issues. Then, expand the concept to a range of interdisciplinary courses across the campus, extending to K-12 students over time, first in Hawaii, then on to the Nation and World. Someday, perhaps even within five years, we thought there could be millions of videos in the ether educating the younger generation about Peak Oil, Global Warming and all the related externalities.

POLS770, though, affords another opportunity. They have the luxury of selecting a range of topics suited to their interests and write about them, perhaps as an op ed article or magazine contribution or whatever. I would like to suggest they take the exercise levels beyond just writing about something. First, pick the most significant issue (say, for Hawaii), all the better if this matter is being generally ignored. Develop a sustainability plan for integrating their efforts in a cohesive manner to make that crucial difference. Have an individual draft a compelling one-pager. The class can in one session discuss and finalize that document. The effort will include meeting with key individuals in Hawaii and communicating through the phone and internet with the world.

As I mentioned to the group yesterday, my lifetime of thinking about energy, environment and economy relative to Hawaii is such that the canary is our tourist industry. When the price of oil shoots past $100/barrel, jet fuel will become so expensive that tourists will stop coming to Hawaii. We will enter into a prolonged state of local depression. THUS, THE SOLUTION IS TO FIND A REPLACEMENT FOR JET FUEL AND DEVELOP A NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT. Of course, it's already too late, so the best that anyone might do is to minimize the pain, and the time to start is NOW.

POLS770 will not discover the optimal pathway for producing a bio jet fuel from a terrestrial or ocean crop. The students will not design the next generation hydrogen jetliner. What they can do is to catalyze the decision-making to affect change.

Thus, my blog challenge to the faculty and students of POLS770 is simply to accomplish the above. Should this be beyond their current ambition, perhaps an important first step would be for a few students (and maybe only one) to plan a course for next semester (or year) to do just that. While I'll unfortunately be somewhere around the world for the next two months, I can at any time be contacted at

Academics tend to write and publish, hoping someone out there will read it. I long ago came to a conclusion that the initial manuscript should be but the initial step for a call of action to do something real. Unless you reach out and touch the world, nothing happens.

The Dow Jones Industrials reached a 15 month high today, up 54 to 10,681, with world markets mixed. Gold rose $12/toz to $1238 and crude oil fell below $80/barrel.

Welcome, my 130th country:


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Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait's liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime. US forces remain in Iraq under a UNSC mandate until 2009 and under a bilateral security agreement thereafter, helping to provide security and to support the freely elected government. The Coalition Provisional Authority, which temporarily administered Iraq after the invasion, transferred full governmental authority in June of 2004 to the Iraqi Interim Government, which governed under the Transitional Administrative Law for Iraq (TAL). Under the TAL, elections for a 275-member Transitional National Assembly (TNA) were held in Iraq in January 2005. Following these elections, the Iraqi Transitional Government (ITG) assumed office. The TNA was charged with drafting Iraq's permanent constitution, which was approved in a October 2005 constitutional referendum. An election under the constitution for a 275-member Council of Representatives (CoR) was held in December 2005. The CoR approval in the selection of most of the cabinet ministers in May of 2006 marked the transition from the ITG to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half-century.

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I took my bento lunch to Magic Island today and want to share this view:


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