Author Archive

Thoughts versus Feelings

August 15th, 2014

Here's a ThinkTech commentary by Donna Blanchard on Thoughts versus Feelings.

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A Commentary on the Dangers of Amnesia

July 29th, 2014

Here's a commentary by Jay Fidell on the Dangers of Amnesia.

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Will GEMS help Hawaii's Clean Energy Intiative?

July 20th, 2014

Here's a commentary by Jay Fidell on DBEDT's Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program.

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A routine lunch turns out to be a hard lesson

July 2nd, 2014

Last week I was ripped off at a downtown restaurant. I go there almost every day. This time I had a bag of stuff from Best Buy, and to make room I put it on the counter one table away.

There was some guys sitting on that table and they took it. They were caught on camera. First they moved the bag out of sight then walked away with it. When I stood up to get it, it was gone. Cute.

Lightening should strike them and their days should be filled with unpleasantness.

Being ripped off like that, especially here, downtown, is a violation of your space, your property and your worldview. This was in plain sight, only a few feet away – open malevolence within reaching distance.

The sense of violation pervades and continues. It’s not a question of how much – that can be replaced. It’s the after effect, where you look at every stranger and wonder if he’s the kind of person who does that.

Will this happen again to me, to others? Is this a new trend, part of our economic malaise or just a bad seed? I wonder what happens in the lives of people like this, that they would steal at random, opportunistically.

I had thought that life in the downtown business community was relatively civilized and good-natured. I had thought people were basically friendly in the notion of “we’re all this together.” How wrong was I?

Clearly, there are those among us who are not in this together. They would steal from you under your nose, like pickpockets or sneak thieves. They are anti-social, and should be re-schooled at the least.

It does violence to aloha and Hawaii. It’s destructive not only in the act, but in the effect. As the victim, I must now question humanity. And those guys, like Dorian Gray, must carry their guilt in the attic.

If you did this, well shame on you. If you saw them do it and didn’t call them out, I'm sorry for you too. This is no way to preserve the good life in Hawaii.

My advice to myself is not to be scarred by what happened, to move on, try to forget, and continue to believe in the underlying perfectibility of humankind.

The involuntary loss of the fruit of one’s labor is always an outrage. It's not just what was in the bag; it’s everything. It’s the sense that the system isn’t working and the things you own are up for grabs.

I can only hope these guys become their own victims. For the rest of us, watch your stuff.

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It will pay to expand diversity in renewables

June 8th, 2014

PV is the most popular form of clean energy these days, not only for residential installation but for solar farm PV installation too. Although our residential PV installations have slowed, our other forms of clean energy are not moving so fast either.

In many ways, we are doing the same thing we have been doing with oil, that is, putting all our eggs in one basket. This should give us some concern. Instead of sending our money away for foreign oil, we’re sending it for foreign PV panels.

Although it takes fossil fuel to make the panels, PV is not fossil fuel, so we prefer PV panels to oil. But there are global energy issues, and these seem more pronounced with China’s most recent energy expansions, including its takeover of Vietnam’s offshore oil and the huge 30-year deal it made to buy gas from Russia.

Our relationship with China is likely to stay civil, but there are tensions that could easily increase. Since China got serious about making panels 4-5 years ago, we have become increasingly dependent on them. That worries some people, like Congress.

We don’t know the exact life or sunset of a given high-tech PV panel. The more dependent we are on Chinese panels, the more dependent we are on Chinese manufacturing and supply, since we seem to have mostly given it up ourselves.

The Chinese understand how important energy is, and they are taking steps to supply themselves well into the 21st century, if not corner the market for some sources. PV technology, expertise and manufacturing is only a part of their initiative, but as time goes by it seems more strategic, and threatening.

At some point, the panels will start failing. Assuming by then we will have little or no capacity to manufacture replacements ourselves, China’s ability could be an effective monopoly, leaving them to raise prices and/or limit supply. Our ability to replace old panels and generate energy will be affected and so will our economy.

This is not a pretty picture. We, as a country, need to hedge our bets on PV, and we as a state need to do the same. We can’t just substitute one foreign dependency for another. If we want to avoid the risk of being held hostage, we need to develop our other renewable sources, just as we originally planned to do.

That means we need to put significantly greater development effort into renewables like wind, geothermal and ocean energy, so they aren’t left behind and we aren’t left behind in the rush for power. In a world headed for predictable shortages in energy, water and food, long-term planning goes directly to sustainability, and survival.

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