Friday, October 26, 2007

HI Superferry: Kauai Post Superferry

POSTED: 19 OCTOBER 2007 - 12:30pm HST
What if the Superferry comes to Kauai?
by Juan Wilson on 19 October 2007 - The Hawaii State Legislature dominated by representatives from Oahu, has a tailwind of popular support, and will overturn the court decisions that ruled Hawaiian law requires an Environmental Assessment be completed before the Superferry operates.The Superferry will begin operations after oil passes $90/barrel, on its way at year-end toward $100/barrel. The fuel surcharge the HSF Corporation passes along to customers will hurt. It will dampen what little interest there was for outer island travel to Oahu, but it won't put much of a dent in interest from Oahu to the outer islands.Sure, people on the outer islands want to visit family on Oahu. Some may want to shop at a bigbox store we don't have on Kauai; like Target, Best Buy or Office Depot. But the shear numbers of people on Oahu indicate that the exchange will be quite lopsided. Just look at the scheduling. It favors Oahu outbound trips for a reason. This however does not touch the real reason the outer islands appeal to folks on Oahu. It is namely uncrowded fishing, camping and surfing spots. To Oahauans the outer islands, like Kauai, have natural resources of maile, opii, kiawe, mokehana, and a safe relatively crime free culture with air to breath and room to move. Hawaiiana still exists, but not so much on Oahu.The Utopia inside the BubbleFor a while we will see the Superferry operate under this "utopian" fantasy about the outer islands. People will cough-up the big bucks for a round trip for the family, and a loaded 4x4, to take a vacation they can nolonger find on Oahu. The legislators will point to their wisdom in making the hard decision to let the ferry run without restrictions. There expertise in environmental science will have been proven correct; no PHD's required for their testimony. They had a gut feeling and went with it.In no time we will see the darker side of utopia. It does not make much sense to pay $1,000 for transportation to get the family over to Kauai for just a weekend. It makes more sense to amortize that cost over a couple of weeks.Some will take more supplies along on the truck and camp out for a couple of weeks at Lydgate.
"Hey, my brother Tony, the drywaller, is laid-off. He could stay at our camp site for six weeks and hold our spot until we can all come back again. And while we are at it, might as well fill a couple of buckets of opii and put them under the tarp for the trip home to help cover the cost of the fuel surcharge. Didn't Kathy need some maile for the kids next weekend?"There will be an increase of problems related to resource plundering. It won't take much to really screw things up on an island as delicately poised as Kauai.This will be the status quo for a period until the US economy completely tanks. Tourism will fail somewhere between the $100 and $200 a barrel for crude. Unemployment will skyrocket in Hawaii. Food prices will double and keep rising.This feeling of a "utopian fantasy" about the outer islands will be mirrored by the anxiety that the people on Oahu have about their long term plight. Overcrowding, barbarism and starvation are only weeks away if the ships and planes stop coming with food.Man the lifeboats! We’re Going Down!We will soon see that the mission of the ferry is a redistribution of Oahu's population and problems throughout the state. Even before there is a panic, we will see a net increase in the population of Kauai. At 800 passengers a day, the Superferry has the capability to double the population of Kauai in less than three months. If there is a panic that could happen.When you are on a ship that is going down it is important to have an orderly and equitable evacuation to the lifeboats. Certainly, social justice is an important part of the reason for this. But this also ensures that the most people survive. A panic can cause lifeboats to be lost and or overcrowded. A swamped lifeboat does not live up to its name. There may come a point where the people in power on Oahu realize that "swamping" the outer islands will not save Oahu. In fact,they may already know and may already have plans for relocation.There is little that the residents of Kauai can do to avert the problems that are coming to the state as the Post Peak Oil Wave hits us like a tsunami. Getting on boogie boards in front of the USCG protected Superferry guarded by National Guard troops will be ineffective.But, even if you could move half the population of Oahu to the outer islands would Oahu be sustainable. Not under the present system of economics. Richard Heinberg has reevaluated Post Peak Oil politics. He foresees three possible futures for us. Two require strong central governing authority, one does not. The latter is barbarism. Starving roaming tribal hordes lead by warlords. Not acceptable.The other two alternatives are a function of how quickly we act to solve our long term problems. The case where we are late to the game will require a "Hail Mary" play. "Feudal Fascism". People working as indentured slaves on military operated plantations in order to feed themselves. Kind of like plantation living without the fun.The best scenario Heinberg envisions is one that requires early strong leadership backed up by central authority with an eye on ecological preservation. An "Eco New Deal". He evokes images of the New Deal to save us from the Great Depression before WWII; and the Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe after WWII. Although we had a strong central government and military leadership facing unprecedented crises, we did not lose our democracy and were able to thrive. After reading the draft proposal for the legislative special session to begin Superferry operation one can only laugh or cry. The state leadership is anything but leaders. They have no perspective, vision or clue. The legislature's 2050 Plan is toast already. There won't be any 2050 if we follow these dimbulbs.Take your foot of the gas peddle!The longer the current "pretend" economy of the United States staggers on, the more likely we will be living in Feudal Fascism when the bubble pops and people realize we've been living in la-la-land. The facts are that the housing boom is a bust. The American consumer is tapped out. And the US credit in the world is headed south. It is time to accept the cooling off of our economy. Iif you want to survive, dependance on growth (requiring more population and resources) is not an option on a finite island. The dimbulbs still mumble about "Smart Growth"; but they really mean just easing up a little on the gas peddle, not applying the brakes. One way we can look at it is that the Superferry is just as another tool. It might end up a floating as an offshore casino in Honolulu. It might end up in Pearl Harbor as part of the US Navy. It could be a Blackwater Attack Vessel roaming the world for conflicts. It might even end up a passenger ferry, maybe somewhere in Indonesia. But, if it stays in Hawaii, the question is how it will be used to get us to a future worth living in. Certainly, we will lose many things we treasure about Kauai after the ferry begins service. How can we minimize the damage?The least we can demand of the Oahu legislature representatives is that they take a few precautions to protect the outer islands and the ocean environment. Their current plan is the equivalent to going ahead with unprotected sexual relations while awaiting the results of an AIDS test. For the sake of the Aina the rules for the Superferry should be to:1) Follow courses away from whale populations.2) Travel at speeds that don't endanger threatened sea creatures. 3) Do not take personal vehicles onboard until the EA completed.

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