Wednesday, March 25, 2020

SHTF. Hawaii Survivalism, Las Vegas starvation

I wrote this a couple of months ago:

Stock up, SHTF virus is coming, you have lots of warning.
Supply chains vulnerable, so much comes from China or countries run by China.

Politicians are idiots, should have stopped the corona virus already.
Now it is all over and will not go away, here forever.
Wuhan virus,
China virus,
Covid19, by any name this
Corona virus is worse than flu or cold virus
that kills more than guns and cars.

Las Vegas imports 100% of its food.
Hawaii imports 90%.
But the big Island is a food, marijuana exporter.
You could probably survive on the big island ok or some of the others, Maui, Kaui,...
But Oahu is too urban, imports 99%.

Kansas, Nebraska, Dakotas export 99% of vast quantities of food.
Much of the midwest is over 90% even with very large cities, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis.
Texas is the 2nd most important agriculture state: beef, cotton, etc.

Hawaii tourist trap, most tourists from Asia,
vulnerable to Corona virus, MERS, SARS, and other zoonotic diseases from animals.
China the worlds largest consumer of pork, cats, bats, scorpions,….
Live high off the hog.

Food Independence Could Be a Matter of
Survival for the U.S.' Most Isolated State

Hawaii imports 90 percent of what it eats at great environmental cost.
Now ag activists seek to make 'grown here, not flown here' a reality.

I was one of 30,843 people to arrive in Hawaii on a June day.
As a crush of tourists mobbed rental car counters and taxi stands,
massive container ships steamed into the Port of Honolulu just across the harbor,
carrying some of the 6 million pounds of food shipped to Hawaii every day to feed the state's 1.4 million residents and 8 million annual visitors.

On nearby runways, cargo planes landed packed with fresh fruit and other perishable items that wouldn't survive the 2,500-mile ocean voyage.

The world's most isolated chain of islands, Hawaii imports nearly 90 percent of its food at a cost of more than $3 billion a year.

There's a high environmental price to be paid for relying on a 747 or 40,000-ton ship as your food truck.

The largest cargo vessels can emit as much pollution as 50 million cars in a year, according to a 2009 study,
and shipping accounts for about 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Just consider the carbon footprint of putting a Hawaiian steak on local plates:
Tens of thousands of calves are raised on the Big Island of Hawaii every year and then loaded on barges to the mainland.
There they're fattened, slaughtered, shrink-wrapped, and shipped back across the Pacific to the islands.

Meanwhile, pests and parasites that hitch a ride on this nonstop caravan of cargo ships are decimating Hawaiian wildlife, forests, and farm fields at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

But if the status quo is bad, what happens if the ships stop coming could be far worse.

"I think there's a sense here in Hawaii that if we have a hurricane or a tsunami, how long could we last with our food supply?"
said Jenai Wall, chief executive of Foodland,
Hawaii's largest supermarket chain,
which relies on imports for about 80 percent of its sales. She paused. "Not very long."

Probably less than a week, actually.

"If something catastrophic happened on the mainland, we'd have about three days of food in the stores,"
said Una Greenaway, a farmer on the Big Island.
"We're very, very food insecure here, but we don't have to be."

Greenaway, who grows coffee, cacao, apples, bananas, and pineapples on a five-acre farm,
is part of a burgeoning local food movement in Hawaii that's attempting to reverse decades of deepening dependence on imports.

In recent years, there's been a flowering of farms, farmers markets, and eat-local campaigns across the islands.

Not all that different, in other words, from what's going on in the crunchier parts of the mainland.

But this is no foodie fad. It's state policy.

As globalization and climate change upend worldwide food production,
Hawaii is moving to foster homegrown agriculture in a way that could be a model for others.

One key: kicking the state's severe addiction to another carbon-intensive import—oil.

The Sustainable Past

The first food imported to Hawaii arrived in the canoes of ancient Polynesians,
who began to colonize the uninhabited islands between 500 and 700 C.E.

Onboard were the starchy staple taro, sugarcane, sweet potatoes, coconuts, breadfruit, bananas, pigs, and chickens.

Those crops and others became the staples that, by the time of European contact in 1778, supported a population historians estimate was between 150,000 and 1 million.

Without access to draft animals, wheels, or metal tools, the ancient Hawaiians developed
the ahupua'a, a sophisticated and sustainable agricultural system that ran from the ocean to upland valleys.

The Hawaiians harvested the bounty of the sea and grew taro and other crops on irrigated inland fields.
The ahupua'a produced enough food to leave even commoners the leisure time to surf.

Diseases introduced by Europeans decimated the native Hawaiians,
and by the mid-19th century the ahupua'a had been supplanted by vast American-owned sugarcane and pineapple plantations and cattle ranches,
a trend accelerated by the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and annexation of the islands in the 1890s.

By 1936, only 37 percent of Hawaii's food supply was locally grown, according to University of Hawaii researchers.

Food imports soared in the '60s when the advent of jet travel triggered a tourism boom that would become the mainstay of the Hawaiian economy.

Between 1960 and 2005, Hawaii lost half its farmland as Big Ag began to abandon sugarcane and pineapple plantations, unable to compete against growers elsewhere.

"Although the decline in farm acreage to present has not yet reached the 'critical point' where Hawaii's food security would be threatened,
the trend is a warning sign for Hawaii's future food security,"
said a 2007 report issued by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

By 2010, Hawaii was producing only
30.1 percent of the fresh vegetables,
38.1 percent of the fresh fruits, and
9.3 percent of the protein consumed on the islands,
according to a 2013 study by University of Hawaii researchers PingSun Leung and Matthew Loke.

Local dairies supplied all of Hawaii's milk in the early 1980s;
by 2010, most were out of business after a federal court ordered the state to allow imports.

Today, 86 percent of milk on store shelves comes from the mainland.

Seafood has sustained Hawaiians for millennia,
and people here consume nearly twice as much fish per capita as those on the mainland.
Yet, Hawaii flies in about half of its seafood, mainly from overseas.

Even taro is imported.

A staple food of the ancient Hawaiians, the starchy tuber played a central role in their creation myths and spirituality.
"The latest data we have for taro is that we're
consuming 332,000 pounds of fresh taro a year but are only
producing 100,000 pounds, so we import the rest,"

So why doesn't Hawaii grow more of its own food?
For one thing, huge swaths of agricultural land remain locked up in now-defunct plantations or are
controlled by companies that grow genetically engineered seeds,
one of the state's largest exports
—the pineapple of the 21st century.

What farmland is available comes with hard-to-get and high-priced leases.
Farmworkers are also difficult to find and command higher wages than on the mainland,
according to Leung,
who studies the economics of Hawaiian agriculture and food imports.
And just about everything else used in farming—energy, fertilizer—costs more here and must be imported.
Globalization and free trade agreements, meanwhile, have made some imported food cheaper than homegrown,
even if it does have to be shipped across the world.

You can see those challenges—and the future of local agriculture—on the Big Island of Hawaii, the cradle of ancient Hawaiian civilization.
The ahupua'a fed Hawaiians for more than a thousand years, but sugarcane's reign lasted fewer than 150.
The last of the single-crop plantations that dominated this island for much of the 19th and 20th centuries shut down in 1994.

A cornucopia of crops has blossomed on the Big Island since the collapse of big sugar.
As I drove through a vast former plantation north of Hilo, the main town on the wet east side of the island,

I passed fields planted with cucumbers, bell peppers, taro, and other fruits and vegetables.

Off a one-lane road is Hamakua Springs Country Farms, where Richard Ha and three generations of his family grow bananas on 600 acres carved from the plantation.
When oil prices skyrocketed in the summer of 2008 before the global financial crash,
Ha said he realized it would be impossible to foster sustainable agriculture without sustainable energy.

Hawaii burns imported oil to generate 70 percent of its electricity,
which is not only a dirty way to produce power but also makes the state—and farmers—extremely vulnerable to wild swings in energy costs.
"Electricity prices were scary," said Ha, dressed in shorts and a rumpled polo as we stood in the open-air packinghouse at Hamakua where workers clean and package bananas.
"Fertilizer prices went up, and my workers were asking to borrow money for gas so they could get to work.
Anything we can do to lower our cost by moving away from oil is going to start to give us more of an advantage in agriculture."

I think there's a sense here in Hawaii that if we have a hurricane or a tsunami, how long could we last with our food supply? Not very long.


He gestured across the floor toward a forklift and a pile of pallets.
"Even moving a pallet around the farm is based on diesel."

These days, though, the power lies in Ha's hands.
From his iPhone he controls a small hydroelectric power plant that he installed on the farm last year.
We climbed into Ha's pickup and drove up a red dirt road that winds up the windward slopes of Mauna Kea.
Past fallow fields at the top of the farm lies a tributary of a river that flows down the volcano.
Back in plantation days, a flume carried harvested sugarcane down the mountain to a mill.
The flume is still here but now channels water to an underground pipe that flows into a small building where the constant stream powers a turbine that generates 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

That's enough energy to run the entire farm, including power-hogging refrigerated storage rooms, with 60 kilowatt-hours left over.
"Our electricity bill used to be $12,000 a month,"
"The payment on the hydro is only $6,000."

With all that extra carbon-free electricity on tap,
Ha said he's considering how to expand his farm, perhaps to raise tilapia, mushrooms, and more.
He argues that if the Big Island made more use of its geothermal resources—the world's largest active volcano,
Mauna Loa, sits to the southwest—that would result in lower agricultural costs and encourage more people to farm.

"Things are changing," Ha said. "We were at an Italian restaurant yesterday, and it was all sourced locally. It makes you so happy to see that."

Indeed, before meeting Ha, I stopped for a late lunch at the Sweet Cane Café in Hilo,
where the ingredients come straight from the owners' organic farm.
There was a line out the door as surfers, soldiers, and security guards queued up for taro burgers and blueberry-coconut-sugarcane smoothies.

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