Book Excerpt: ‘Intelligent Tinkering’ By Robert Cabin | Audubon Magazine Blog

Book Excerpt: ‘Intelligent Tinkering’ By Robert Cabin
Categories:

* Animals * Birds * Nature * Plants * Reviews * Travel * Wildlife

By Alisa Opar
05/31/2011

Hawaii is home to one of the world’s last dry tropical forests. In their prime, these magnificent ecosystems were bastions of biodiversity. Now, only 10 percent of the state’s original dry forests survive. In Intelligent Tinkering, Robin Cabin, an associate professor of ecology and environmental science at Brevard College and a former restoration ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service, draws on his own experience in doing restoration work in the few remaining Hawai’ian dry forests.

Below is the excerpted first chapter from Intelligent Tinkering, by Robert Cabin. August 2011, Island Press.

—————————————————————————–

Molokai Anti-Wind Group Forms

I Aloha Molokai (IAM) News Release

The acronym IAM represents “I Aloha Molokai,” a newly formed working group comprised of Molokai residents opposed to the proposal to develop a 200 megawatt industrial scale wind power plant to serve the energy needs of Oahu. IAM’s mission is to share information, as well as educate the general public to the potential impacts of the project. This is a grassroots effort to raise awareness and provide balance as the developer and proponents of the project move forward in their attempt to persuade the island community to support the project.

IAM is fortunate and pleased to announce that on June 2 at 6 p.m. at the Kulana `Oiwi Halau, Robin Kaye from Friends of Lanai (FOL) will be sharing the “Lanai Wind Fall Out” video and their experience with the Big Wind and undersea cable project. IAM invites the public to join us to talk story and learn how others are proactively engaged in mitigating efforts to challenge the Big Wind and Undersea Cable project.

Numerous testimonies, letters printed in the local paper and a recent voting survey reveal major concerns and opposition to the proposed project. IAM stands firm on the position that the cultural, social, economic and environmental impacts far outweigh the benefits and opportunities of the project. “NO DEAL” is worth sacrificing our integrity and island for.

Destruction of world’s biggest rainforests down 25%

BRAZZAVILLE – THE rate of destruction of the world’s three largest forests fell 25 per cent this decade compared with the previous one, but remains alarmingly high in some countries, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said.

A report entitled The State Of The Forests in the Amazon Basin, Congo Basin and South-East Asia, was released to coincide with a summit in the Congo Republic bringing together delegates from 35 countries occupying those forests, with a view to reaching a global deal on management and conservation.

The Amazon and the Congo are the world’s first and second biggest forests, respectively, and its third biggest – the Borneo Mekong – is in Indonesia. They sink billions of tonnes of carbon and house two thirds of the world’s remaining land species between them.

The study found that annual rate of deforestation across the three regions, which account for more than 80 per cent of the world’s tropical forests, was 5.4 million ha between 2000 and 2010, down a quarter from 7.1 million ha in the previous decade.

Statistics showed that forest destruction in the Congo basin had remained stable but low over the last 20 years, whilst in South-East Asia the rate of deforestation more than halved.

HC&S: Sugar ‘at the top,’ can anything knock it off?

PUUNENE

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Hawaii will arrive on Maui this summer to work with Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. to study crops, growing conditions and other issues in developing biofuels on the island.

The 130-year-old plantation is working with federal and state partners to help determine not only its own future, but also the future of growing biofuel crops in Hawaii to power both the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet and private vehicles across the state. The end result could be the development of a biofuel refinery for HC&S, said company General Manager Rick Volner Jr.

The goal is to transition HC&S into a leading “energy farm,” and develop the resources to sell commercial jet and diesel fuels to the government and private consumers.

Success could guarantee that the company would continue to employ around 800 people, and perhaps even more, company officials said.

“There are no firm deadlines for this project, but the sooner we can decide, the easier it will be for the board of Alexander & Baldwin (HC&S’s parent company) to fund some of these products, and obviously we will need to make some capital investments,” Volner said last week. “But we’re more interested in making the right decision than when we make it.”

A fullness of living lightly

Hale Pilihonua, with its long, cylindrical shape, looks like a design out of the space age with a round exterior covered with a combination of louvers, solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic panels.

Inside, the “net-zero” home features a comfortable living space with bamboo floors, integrated LED lighting and an aquaponics system to cultivate fish and plants.

Its shape is called monocoque — meaning semishell.

“It’s built like a wooden boat or an airplane fuselage,” said David Rockwood, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who is working with the team of students that designed the home.

“We wanted to have a simple, small but flexible space that is at the same time beautiful and allows a fullness of living,” he said.

Hale Pilihonua (translation: house connected to the land) is the creation of students from UH-Manoa, Honolulu Community College and Kapiolani Community College who together make up “Team Hawaii” — one of 20 teams from around the world selected to compete in the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon this fall.

The Green Leaf» Grow aquaponics, Grow Hawaiian

The Green House is offering three workshops on Saturday, April 2.

How Does Your Garden Grow…Backyard Aquaponics
Environmental Engineer Jeremai Cann, aka Dr. Sustainability, will lead this workshop covering everything you need to know to start your own aquaponics system (organic gardening with fish and plants). Grow your own dinner and lessen your reliance on imported food!
The Green House
Saturday, April 2nd
10:00 – 11:30pm
Fee $20

“Turn used water into real savings” — Greywater Harvesting
Jeremai Cann will lead this workshop on how to create your own “greywater” catchment system. Greywater refers to the reuse of water drained from baths, showers, washing machines, and sinks for irrigation and other water conservation applications. Reduce your use of tap water while helping the environment and lower your monthly water bill.
The Green House
Saturday, April 2nd
2:00-3:30pm
Fee: $20

It’s Easy Being Clean…Natural Green Cleaning Recipes
Learn how to whip up a batch of handmade soap and explore simple cleaning recipes that are safe, effective, inexpensive. You may already have many of the ingredients in your kitchen cupboards. A booklet of natural cleaning recipes will also be shared.
The Green House
Saturday, April 2nd
2:00-3:30pm
Fee: $20

Advanced registration required for all workshops.

Go to www.thegreenhousehawaii.com to register online, or call (808) 524-8427.

Down on the farm on Maui – San Jose Mercury News

We were poking around upcountry Maui and driving its narrow, twisting roads, but by midafternoon we had to turn around. We had an important date at a lower elevation.

Forget meeting friends for mai-tais or heading to Lahaina for the sunset. We were going to herd the animals at Surfing Goat Dairy.

Herding anything may be the last activity one considers for a Maui vacation. But the dairy is one of several island farms that have opened for public tours over the last few years. They offer the chance to explore the island’s back roads, meet the growers and learn something about the exotic fruits, vegetables and cheeses you’ll encounter and enjoy on Maui.

“It’s a growing national trend,” says Maui resident Charlene Kauhane, a board member of the Hawaii Agri-Tourism Association. “Visitors are looking for authentic experiences, for opportunities where they can meet locals and buy local.”

And sometimes, you just want a break from the beach. So let’s go down on the farm on Maui.

Alii Kula Lavender Farm

Even before you arrive, you’ll detect Alii Kula Lavender Farm from the lovely fragrance wafting over Upcountry. It comes from 45 lavender varieties planted over 10 acres in Haleakala’s foothills. You can meander over paths on your own, or join one of the walking tours. You’ll learn about lavender’s culinary uses and healthful benefits, as well as the farm’s dedication to practicing agriculture in a sustainable way.

Alii Lavender also offers workshops in wreath making and container gardens, and other special events.

New Generation of Farmers Emerges in Oregon

CORVALLIS, Ore. — For years, Tyler Jones, a livestock farmer here, avoided telling his grandfather how disillusioned he had become with industrial farming.

After all, his grandfather had worked closely with Earl L. Butz, the former federal secretary of agriculture who was known for saying, “Get big or get out.”

But several weeks before his grandfather died, Mr. Jones broached the subject. His grandfather surprised him. “You have to fix what Earl and I messed up,” Mr. Jones said his grandfather told him.

Now, Mr. Jones, 30, and his wife, Alicia, 27, are among an emerging group of people in their 20s and 30s who have chosen farming as a career. Many shun industrial, mechanized farming and list punk rock, Karl Marx and the food journalist Michael Pollan as their influences. The Joneses say they and their peers are succeeding because of Oregon’s farmer-foodie culture, which demands grass-fed and pasture-raised meats.

“People want to connect more than they can at their grocery store,” Ms. Jones said. “We had a couple who came down from Portland and asked if they could collect their own eggs. We said, ‘O.K., sure.’ They want to trust their producer, because there’s so little trust in food these days.”

Garry Stephenson, coordinator of the Small Farms Program at Oregon State University, said he had not seen so much interest among young people in decades. “It’s kind of exciting,”