Total Pageviews

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD (PART 35: 1 Hawaii)

It should come as no surprise that the #1 place to live on Planet Earth is Hawaii.  However, if I were to write this book today, Hawaii would not be at the top.  I do worry about Peak Oil, in particular, decimating our tourist industry.  In any case, here is the end of the final chapter from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:



#1…Hawaii

…HAWAII has more people (approaching 1.3 million) than 8 states and a larger land area than 7. Actually, counting the Exclusive Economic Zone (the 200 nautical mile region surrounding our country), we are twice as large as Texas.

This is the most isolated island chain in the world, but because of volcanoes as high as 13,796 feet (4,205 meters), the islands enjoy the full range of micro-climates and environments. While Mt. Waialeale on the island of Kauai is either second or first as the wettest spot (about 460 inches/year), just ten miles away are beaches that sometimes experience only 5 inches/year.

We have tended to be ahead of the curve on matters sociological. There have been a lot of ethnic political firsts:

      Chinese U.S. Senator, Hiram Fong.
      Japanese Congressman and U.S. Senator, Daniel Inouye.
      Female Japanese Congresswoman, Patsy Mink (and second in Pat Saiki)
      Hawaiian in Congress and Senate, Daniel Akaka
      Japanese, Hawaiian and Filipino state governors, George Ariyoshi, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano.
      Korean Mayor, Harry Kim.

Hawaii is the most multi-racial state, that is, percentage of citizens of combined races.

We have the only unified statewide educational system, partly explaining why state taxes are the highest in the Nation. Our diverse ethnic mix and interface location between East and West provide a model for universal peace. 

Our agriculture industry is changing. At one time, sugar and pineapple were king.  Today, freshwater sold from the reverse osmosis of deep sea water is our largest export commodity. However, unofficially, marijuana production is our leading agriculture crop, said to be worth in the range of $4 billion/year.

How did Hawaii become Hawaii? It is not absolutely clear if “Hawaiians” first arrived in 200AD or 1000AD, but they came from the Marqueses and Society Islands, followed by Tahiti in 1300AD. Then, in sailed British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778, followed by assorted missionaries, mostly from the New England states. In 1810, King Kamehameha the Great united Hawaii.

The sugar industry started in 1835 in Koloa, Kauai, largely by the sons of these religious families, who were instrumental in having Hawaii annexed to the United States in 1898, to stabilize higher sugar prices and obtain other legal expediencies. Koloa is where my father resettled in 1903 after his father passed away.


Largely beginning in the mid-1800’s, the industry brought in nearly 400,000 laborers from China, Japan, Puerto Rico, Korea and the Philippines, and supervisors from Portugal, Norway, Germany and Scotland. Considering that the total population of Hawaii was only 154,000 in 1900 and less than 500,000 in 1950, when much of this practice stopped, it is clear that the sociological mixing pot and resultant society today were due to sugar, which happened to be my first job in 1962. Statehood was attained three years earlier when Hawaii became the 50th and last state to enter the Union, and in 2009 will celebrate half a century of being an equal member of the U.S.

Hawaii has passed monumental land and water use legislation. We tried the gas cap, but a year later, our gasoline prices were still the highest in the Nation. So we gave up on that one. We kicked homeless people out of parks before the community could react, and, guess what? Solutions appeared. Churches, it turns out, do have purpose and value. Some offered a place to sleep at night (for there is a lot of space not used at night) with a start-off breakfast in the morning. Members sometimes interacted with the “guests” and part-time jobs resulted. Trusting relationship began to form, and some of the homeless problem was ameliorated, for a while. And Hawaii did not even have to resort to using public schools, which also aren’t used at night, or the military, which offers another dimension of cooperation. This is still a work in progress, for parks are again beginning to be settled.

But all is not perfect, as, while we don’t have malaria or chikumgunya mosquitoes, we do have large cockroaches. In fact, they are referred to as B-52s, because they fly and can frighten you. However, they are not as large as those from Ecuador (try 6 inches long with a one foot wingspan), which are also poisonous, nor Le Reunion Island, where I encountered a monster. Honolulu is #5 on the list of most roach-infested cities in the U.S., according to Vernard Lewis of the University of California at Berkeley.   

More seriously, today, as I am continuing to write, The Honolulu Advertiser reported that Hawaii ranks (in addition to those entries cited earlier):

o      #47 (out of 50, edging out San Francisco, Oakland, New Orleans and Miami, from SustainLane.com) as the worst place to live based on potential natural disasters. In case you want to be safe, Mesa (Arizona), Milwaukee (Wisconsin) and Cleveland (Ohio) are the top three. Yes, we do have earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes…name it, we probably are the most exciting place on Earth. Keep in mind, though, that at my advanced age, I have not yet felt a strong earthquake, seen a tsunami, or had to deal with a hurricane. And I’ve lived here most of my life.
o      #3 by the United Health Foundation as the healthiest state in 2007, next to Vermont and Minnesota. We were #9 in 1990. Thus, terrific, and getting better.
o      #2 from the bottom (this is really good) with respect to the prevalence and severity of depression, next to South Dakota.319  Yes, South Dakota.  Utah was #51 and West Virginia #50. Mormon Church? Lack of alcohol? Coal? South Dakota is the least depressed state?
o      #41 (good) by Mental Health America on suicides. Utah was #1 (bad, very bad). Heart disease and cancer kill more people, but suicide is next, so there must be something about Honolulu that makes it just of opposite of Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.
o      #5 (of medium sized metropolises, from the Bailey’s Irish Cream and Sperling Best Places ranking) for most “Chilled Out” city. For those who are not in the know, being chilled out is good, with no relationship to getting frozen. It relates to a neat place to hang out. The best cities are Phoenix (Arizona, mega), Portland (Oregon, large) and Colorado Springs (Colorado, medium). Honolulu was hurt by being rated the lowest for cool coffee houses. I guess the swarm of Starbucks doesn’t count, for there must be one every few blocks.
o      #4 (with Essex County in Massachusetts and San Francisco and San Jose, California being even worse, from Forbes.com) in the top 10 of most overpriced places to live in the U.S. The average price of a home in Honolulu is $625,000, with San Jose at $746,800, even higher than San Francisco at $720,400. When I was matriculating at Stanford, my freshman roommate, Jim Seger, came from San Jose, and he would have agreed with me that San Jose was then a hick town. What a difference half a century can make. Similarly, I spent my summers in Oxnard, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, in those days known as the lima bean capital of the world. Today, home prices are higher than Hawaii’s.
o      #4 (with New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut #1 to #3) in millionaires per household in 2007. We were #1 in 2005 and 2006. We’ll be back if you move here.

The point, too, of course, is that Honolulu and Hawaii, as isolated and small as they are, always are included in national and world rankings. I can further add that Hawaii, at 52%, has the highest rate of people killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Utah is lowest at 24%. Do you want to live in Utah? Soon in Hawaii will come a mandatory DUI preventative device to reduce this partying downside.

Where will Hawaii be by the turn of century? Sea level rise could impact our famous beaches and resorts. But the sea itself will be alive with floating cities, tending next generation fisheries and marine biomass plantations, while helping to remediate global climate warming. The Blue Revolution could by then serve to prevent the formation of these giant storms, and, also, reduce the impact of the Greenhouse Effect.

We should someday be totally powered by sustainable energy (Book 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS).  Solar energy, windpower, ocean energy and biofuels (also from the sea) will prevail. Perhaps a renewable hydrogen economy will be in place. No coal, no nuclear.

Our ethnic diversity already has made us the world melting pot. Today, 20% of our citizens are multi-racial. Crime will be in check and there will be peace on Earth, of course, partly due to Chapter 1. Some of you will be contemplating eternal life (Chapter 2) and education will become a rainbow experience (Chapter 3). We might have begun communicating with other worlds (Chapter 4) and there will be the Golden Evolution of religion (Chapter 5). The Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force, which is reporting to the public as I write this sentence, will set the tone for a progressive Hawaii, and so will Fred Riggs’ sustainability group through his web page at:

 http://webdata.soc.hawaii.edu/fredr/SUSTAIN%20OUR%20WORLD.html#rigg

(Sorry, Fred passed away a couple of years ago, and the link does not work)

Early in 2008 there was a best place contest to pick Hawaii’s top 25 sites to visit. Maui’s Haleakala Crater at sunrise? Kauai’s Waimea Canyon at sunset? The volcanoes, green sand beach and macadamia nut plantations of the Big Island?  The Green Flash from my penthouse? That secret fishing ground off Molokai? The Manoa Valley rainbow? You can contact WAdams@HonoluluAdvertiser.com  with the secret password, Na Wahi Heke, and gain access to the poll results.

You, too, can become a part of this future. Can you imagine a better place on Planet Earth? This is not heaven, but is the closest thing to paradise. If you can’t afford it, certainly don’t come, but if this is to be your last life, you might as well make it exciting, memorable, enjoyable and lengthy.

-
The Dow Jones sunk 178 to 12,213, while world markets also mostly dropped.  Unrest in Libya is being blamed, for NYMEX crude jumped $6/barrel to $95 and the Brent Spot is now at $107/barrel. Gold increased $9/toz to $1397.

-

No comments: