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Friday, December 16, 2011

IS HONOLULU DOOMED?


Since I've been alive, Honolulu has escaped any major hurricane, earthquake and tsunami.  The city today is as good as it gets.  Yes, the cost of living is high and we seem to be paralyzed about what to do about our future.  Worst yet, we are at the brink of our most important crossroad ever:  we either work together to make monumental decisions for the common good or become the first to enter into a long economic depression.  

I've been warning of this doomsday-like scenario when Peak Oil strikes, for our only real industry is tourism, so when jet fuel prices escalate, we will suffer a 20-50% decline in tourism.  If we only had after the second Energy Crisis in 1979 found a way to get our act together, we perhaps might have been okay.  That was almost a third of a century ago.

Is it too late?  Yes, of course.  Worse, democratic societies seem unable to make the right decisions until it is too late.  Yet, if you never start, you never succeed, so now is a good a time as any to do something.  So let me try again.


Over the past few years I've been to Seoul, Tokyo, Barcelona, Helsinki, Sydney, Amsterdam, Vienna, Portland, Seattle, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, San Antonio, Vancouver and Shanghai (above).  In all of these cities, one catalyzing event made the difference.    Usually it was a world expo, sometimes the Olympics.  They united and prospered.  I thus wrote in the Huffington Post nearly two years:


proposing Honolulu, for we all know that there is a survival instinct for people to neutralize each other, but, under extraordinary circumstances, can actually work together if everyone benefitted.  Amazingly enough, the site for the 2020 world expo has not yet been selected.  The bidders are:


Ayutthuya is under water, who has heard of Izmir and Yekaterinburg, and Dubai is bankrupt, so it looks like Sao Paulo (right) will be selected.  I was just there last month.  With nearly 20 million people, traffic was a nightmare and safety was an uncomfortable negative factor.  Yet, this city has three restaurants in the Pelligrino Best 100, where San Francisco and Los Angeles each only has one.  Observing what Rio is doing, the leaders of this sprawling municipality are finally learning to cooperate with each other.

Is it too late for Hawaii (or Honolulu) to bid?  Again, yes, of course.  However, why not Mayor Carlisle or Governor Abercrombie (or one of their key staff) just inquiring?  Merely click on the Bureau International des Expositions.  The most historic of journeys started with a simple step.

So is Honolulu doomed?  Let's get serious, no one is going to do anything about the above.  Will the Pacific International Ocean Station serve as the pathway for progress?  Maybe.  What about the announced 650 foot building or the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART...actually, HHCTCP for Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project) being the savior?  Nah, not magnificent ecough, but, perhaps tomorrow, I will combine the two into what can be an exciting endeavor.

Thus, I'm afraid we are doomed.  Not an asteroid decimated ending, nor even close to survival of the fittest, but lifestyles definitely declining, with tourism in time being limited to only very high end clients.  Not a terrible state of affairs, and a few of my colleagues are almost looking forward to some of this, for there will be less competition for waves.  I can safely speculate that no one will comment on this posting, for why bother, as what can you do about it anyway?

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The Dow Jones Industrials were largely unchanged, down 2 to 11,866, while world markets were mixed.  Gold made a comeback, up $16/toz to $1597, with the WTI at $94/barrel and the Brent at $104/barrel.

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