I was reading a biography of Charles Darwin when a colleague rang me up and interestingly used the phrase, “carrying capacity.” The term made me think of what I was reading and where I am living.
First, did you know that Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, came up with the concept of evolution before Charles? Erasmus was a celebrated physician who wrote erotic poetry about plants. And did you know that 30 percent of Americans consider themselves creationists?
Here is one argument in Darwin’s favor. Look at flightless birds such as the apteryz of New Zealand (known here as kiwis). How could a supreme being intentionally have done this to a bird?”
Know what the creationist said when asked, “If what you believe is true, then why do men have nipples?” I forget what he said, but it was funny.
By the way, if you care, Darwin did not dispute the existence of a God. What Darwin challenged was the supposed godliness of man. Darwin wrote, “I am not of the conviction that we above all other life forms are spiritually elevated, divinely favored, possessed of special status in the expectations of God, with special rights and responsibilities on the Planet.” That is the piece that drives that 30 percent of us bonkers even today.
I prefer to contemplate and appreciate the Hawaiian state motto, appearing on the Great Seal, “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” I am surprised we do not see it more frequently. I like to remember that the name Kauai means “season of abundance.”
Back to work. One of the pillars of evolution is competition for limited resources; i.e., carrying capacity. Here on Kauai there is a carrying capacity for taro plants and taro farmers, for feral pigs, for surfboard shops, for coral reefs, for our wonderful chickens, for our song birds, for tourists, for horses and cows, for air traffic, for albatrosses, and for pet hamsters. (A pet hamster had to be flushed down an airplane toilet after failing a care-animal test, as reported in a recent issue of TGI.) There is a carrying capacity for almost everything on this rare and exotic island except rainfall and water falls.
This column will comment on Kauai and its unique place in the world, with an eye on carrying capacity, interwoven with whimsical references to poesy and history, such as this paean to my favorite activity (author unknown):
Ode to Reading
There is no Frigate like a Book/
To take us Lands away,
Nor any courses like a Page
Of prancing Poetry
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll—
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul.
The best idea I have heard in a while? All Kauai resorts should at least consider doing what the developers of Coco Palms are planning: Electric cars to be used on an as-needed basis. Room rates will include airport shuttles. It is a huge win-win-win.
Fewer rental cars, less costly, less pollution, less congestion.
Separately, for any golfers (and others — see below re impact) I quote from some of what Don Cunningham, who lives near the Prince Golf Course, wrote in his letter to the County Planning Commission last month.
“The Prince has been recognized by multiple golf and travel magazines as one of the top 100 courses in the country out of more than 11,000 courses. Yet is has been closed for over 3 years. World-renowned courses like the Prince will fill your hotels rooms, the tables in your restaurants, and the case registers of retail establishments. All of which brings significant tax revenue to the county and state. There is a resort Golden Goose in existence that sits idle.”
I agree in spades. Open the Prince, we say.
Did you hear the one where past, present and future all walked into a bar together? It was tense.
The biography referred to above is “The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution.” (2006) Norton.
Douglas Slain is a retired law publisher and recovering academic living the “Lucky we live Kauai” life and playing as much tennis as possible. After getting an master’s degree from the Social Thought Committee at the University of Chicago (studying with Saul Bellow and Hannah Arendt), he received his juris doctorate degree from Stanford Law School and founded a law publishing company. He served as the secured transactions adviser to the Ministry of Finance for the Republic of Latvia and as chair of the American Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility Committee. He taught at Stanford Law School as an adjunct clinical law professor. He sailed a 43-foot Swan sloop around the Caribbean and the Pacific for over a decade. He now lives in Kapaa.