Axis deer hunter feels unfairly targeted
By TOM CALLIS
Shortly before Christmas 2009, a helicopter carrying four axis deer — three alive, one dead — landed on a Ka‘u ranch.
Its cargo, brought in a metal crate from Maui, was unloaded and replaced with several mouflon sheep for the return trip.
With the duct tape around their legs removed, the surviving ungulates needed little coaching to exit.
Sensing freedom after the interisland flight, they bounded toward the safety and familiarity of the nearby brush.
For the men involved, that moment marked the start of a new food source for hunters on the Big Island, long frustrated by state efforts to slaughter animals considered harmful to native plants.
But for state and federal officials who would discover their presence in 2011, the prospect of an invasive species here proved concerning.
The south Asian deer, already well-established on Maui, Oahu, Lanai and Molokai after being first introduced in 1868, have frustrated ranchers and farmers for generations but have been prized by hunters.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife investigation would later trace their Big Island introduction to a hunter from Mountain View, and a rancher and a pilot from Maui who arranged a sheep-for-deer swap between the two islands.
Eager to punish the act, yet unable to declare the deer introduction itself illegal, federal prosecutors successfully convicted the trio last month for possessing game animals without a permit and under the Lacey Act, which governs interstate commerce.
Each was fined and sentenced to community service helping battle invasive species or educate hunters. Continue reading
Ongoing drought conditions on Maui have prompted the county to adjust potable water production in the Upcountry area, the Maui Department of Water Supply said Friday.
On or about Wednesday, the department will reduce production at the Olinda Water Treatment Facility to 0.1 million gallons per day from 1.8 mgd to give Upper Kula reservoirs time to be refilled by rain.
The 30-million-gallon Waikamoi Reservoir is empty and the 100-million-gallon Kahakapao Reservoir is at 39.5 million gallons, the department said.
In the meantime, Upper Kula customers will get water from the Kamole water treatment facility in Haliimaile, the Piiholo treatment facility in Makawao and the Po‘okela well in Makawao.
Upper Kula customers may notice a change in water quality because the water from the lower elevations is disinfected with chlorine. The water meets all federal and state water quality standards.
Hawaii’s beef market is backward. Nearly all the beef eaten here — 95 percent — arrives packaged on container ships from the U.S. mainland. At the same time, Hawaii cattle ranchers ship 40,000 live cattle each year to California, Kansas and other states, while just 4,000 are slaughtered for meat sales in Hawaii.
The economics made sense for decades. Huge slaughterhouses elsewhere could process beef more efficiently than smaller ones in Hawaii, and it’s cheaper to send cattle to the mainland to be fattened than to bring in corn or other grains to feed calves after they’re weaned.
Now, national interest in locally grown food and grass-fed beef has caught on in Hawaii — offering ranchers plenty of reason to escape this paradox. But the opportunity comes as crushing drought has made it difficult to keep enough cattle here to capitalize on the demand.
Rancher and veterinarian Dr. Tim Richards has been trying for six years to raise more cattle on his family’s century-old ranch. He holds back some calves he previously would have sent to Oregon, Texas or elsewhere for final feeding, or “finishing.” But eight years of below-normal rainfall have left little grass for the cattle to eat.
“You put them out, and then it doesn’t rain and then instead of growing, they just sort of stand around,” Continue reading
The last decade saw the end of cheap oil, the magic growth ingredient for the global economy after the second world war. This summer’s increase in maize, wheat and soya bean prices – the third spike in the past five years – suggests the era of cheap food is also over.
Price increases in both oil and food provide textbook examples of market forces. Rapid expansion in the big emerging markets, especially China, has led to an increase in demand at a time when there have been supply constraints. For crude, these have included the war in Iraq, the embargo imposed on Iran, and the fact that some of the older fields are starting to run dry before new sources of crude are opened up.
The same demand dynamics affect food. It is not just that the world’s population is rising by 1% a year. Nor is it simply that China has been growing at 9% a year on average; it is that consumers in the big developing countries have developed an appetite for higher protein western diets. Meat consumption is rising in China, India and Brazil, and since it takes 7kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef (and 4kg to produce 1kg of pork), this is adding to global demand.
Farmers have been getting more efficient, increasing the yields of land under production, but this has been offset by two negative factors: policies in the US and the EU that divert large amounts of corn for biofuels and poor harvests caused by the weather.
If the World Bank’s projections are anything like accurate, further massive productivity gains from agriculture are going to be needed over the next two decades. There will be an extra 70m mouths to feed every year Continue reading
The world is on the brink of a food “catastrophe” caused by the worst US drought in 50 years, and misguided government biofuel policy will exacerbate the perilous situation, scientists and activists warn.
When food prices spike and people go hungry, violence soon follows, they say. Riots caused by food shortages – similar to those of 2007-08 in countries like Bangladesh, Haiti, the Philippines and Burkina Faso among others – may be on the horizon, threatening social stability in impoverished nations that rely on US corn imports.
This summer’s devastating drought has scorched much of the mid-western United States – the world’s bread basket.
Crops such as corn, wheat, and soy have been decimated by high temperatures and little rain. Grain prices have skyrocketed and concerns abound the resulting higher food prices will hit the world’s poor the hardest – sparking violent demonstrations.
Early dryness in Russia’s wheat growing season, light monsoon rains in India, and drought in Africa’s Sahel region, combined with America’s lost crop, mean a perfect storm is on the horizon.
Surging food prices could kick off food riots similar to those in 2008 and 2010, Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, told Al Jazeera.
“Recent droughts in the mid-western United States threaten to cause global catastrophe,” said Bar-Yam, whose institute uses computer models to identify global trends.
Hopes were high in May of a bumper corn crop this year, but sizzling temperatures in June and July scuttled those predictions. Continue reading
Americans throw away up to 40 percent of their food every year, cramming landfills with at least $165 billion worth of produce and meats at a time when hundreds of millions of people suffer from chronic hunger globally, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The analysis, a compilation of various studies and statistics, found that waste exists from farm to fork even as an ongoing drought threatens to boost food prices. But the resources that the government has devoted to identifying where the inefficiencies exist and how to combat them pale in comparison with efforts underway in Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, the report concluded.
For now, the relatively low U.S. prices make it easy to toss food, which may explain why the average American family of four ends up trashing the equivalent of up to $2,275 worth of food each year, the report said. These wasteful tendencies have worsened over time, with the average American dumping 10 times as much food as a consumer in Southeast Asia, up 50 percent from the 1970s.
Against that backdrop, it’s no wonder that food makes up the largest component of solid waste in landfills, said Dana Gunders, the NRDC scientist who authored the study. The frustration for environmentalists is that natural resources — water, land and energy — are used to produce all that uneaten food, which is why the NRDC is weighing in on the topic, Gunders said.
“We’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path,” she said in a statement. “That’s money and precious resources down the drain.” Continue reading
America’s worst drought in half a century will push up inflation and put a fresh obstacle in the path of the struggling global economy, one of the UK’s leading banks has warned.
Senior global economist at HSBC, Karen Ward, said sharp rises in the cost of wheat, corn and soya beans came when growth was slowing but said the weakness of wage pressure meant there was no need for central banks to raise interest rates in response to a higher cost of living.
Blistering heat in the US has destroyed 45% of the corn and 35% of the soya bean crop in the worst harvest since 1988. Russia and Ukraine have also had poor crop yields. Ward said higher food prices would result.
“This is another dampener for the global economy at a time when the headwinds are already acute,” Ward said. Continue reading
OUR dams are full, the lambs are fat and the sprinklers are running again. But weather experts are warning Australia’s east coast to brace for a return to dry conditions, perhaps even drought, as another El Nino event looms.
After two consecutive years of record rainfall and devastating floods brought on by La Nina, the Bureau of Meteorology warned yesterday that climate indicators show a shift towards drier weather patterns, and a potential swing to the opposite phenomenon, El Nino.
Warmer waters in the Pacific Ocean can trigger an El Nino, which brings less rainfall and drought such as the one that drained Warragamba dam to one-third of its capacity five years ago. Cooler waters bring on La Nina and associated wetter conditions, including those that spurred this year’s floods across NSW, and the devastating Brisbane floods the previous summer.
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A full moon rises over Clovelly as an El Nino weather pattern begins to dominate the forecast.3rd July 2012Photo: Wolter Peeters
Surface tension … waves wash onto Clovelly Beach last night under a full moon. Temperatures have been rising in the Pacific Ocean for the past few months, suggesting a return to El Nino and less rainfall. Photo: Wolter Peeters
A bureau climatologist, Acacia Pepler, said conditions along the equator were yet to reach El Nino thresholds, but most climate models were predicting the event would develop in late winter and early spring.
”The chances of us reaching El Nino are growing,” Ms Pepler said. ”It’s not certain yet, but probability is increasing as the weeks pass.”
But the Weather Channel, which measures the event using different indices, called the result early, declaring yesterday that El Nino had returned. Continue reading
MAKAWAO – The leaking, redwood Waikamoi flume would be replaced with an aluminum channel supported by an aluminum truss along its entire 1.1-mile length, retaining precious surface water for drought-plagued Upcountry residents and providing a safe working platform for employees of the Department of Water Supply.
The flume channels water from the Haipuaena Stream to the vicinity of Waikamoi Stream and eventually into the water department’s upper Kula system, which supplies water to residents of Kula, Waiakoa, Keokea, Ulupalakua and Kanaio.
The $10 million to $15 million flume replacement project, which is pending necessary approvals, is expected to begin in the last quarter of this year and take about two years go complete, according to plans submitted to the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.
The office published the department’s draft environmental assessment and anticipated finding of no significant impact last week in its current issue of The Environmental Notice. It is available online at oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%Documents/Environmental_Notice/current_issue.pdf.
Public comments are due June 22.
Maui County Council Member Joe Pontanilla, chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, said Saturday that more than $10 million has been appropriated for the flume replacement project in the current county budget.
Located in the Koolau Forest Reserve, the flume was originally built in the 1930s out of redwood timbers and rock and concrete masonry foundations, according to the draft environmental assessment. In 1974 and 1975, the flume box was replaced with redwood planking, although portions of the timber bridges that were built in the 1930s were kept in place. Continue reading
Drought lingered on the Big Island through another dry winter and is returning this summer to more deeply ravaged, already water-stressed places. These next five months aren’t expected to bring any real reprieve, especially for leeward areas, said Kevin Kodama, senior hydrologist for the National Weather Service.
Weather officials are predicting persistence and possible worsening of drought on the Big Island. Most of the island’s leeward sites had less than 50 percent of normal rainfall during the wet season, which typically runs October through April. Some areas that had slight improvement because of rain earlier this year are already intensifying again and not expecting to get better soon.
On the other hand, most of Big Island’s windward areas had 80 to 110 percent of the normal rainfall range during the wet season, which was ranked the 18th wettest season out of the last 30 years. In fact, the gauge at Hilo Airport received 79.65 inches.
The only exception to the latest prediction is the upland coffee belt, particularly in South Kona, which is unique in that more rainfall is typically observed in the summer than in winter, Kodama said. One theory for this is the onshore sea breeze is more persistent, ascending the mountain slopes, to interact with descending trade winds through the saddle, producing local showers usually in the late afternoon. Meanwhile, the rest of the Hawaiian Island chain generally experiences a dry season, running from now through September.
La Niña conditions, which typically last about nine to 12 months, were primarily to blame for the drier than normal wet season. La Niña is defined as cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that impact global weather patterns. Continue reading