Everyone always seems to want to focus on the economy, but outside of the current impacts of the pandemic, compared to most of the rest of the world we’re doing pretty damn good. The U.S. does have a significant number of disenfranchised citizens, but most of that is a problem with income equity, not a lack of wealth as a nation. We need to restructure our system so the benefits of society are shared by all its members.
Many of our biggest problems stem from our insatiable drive for more and more stuff, bigger cars & houses and things we can never use. Climate Change, what is arguably the major issue of our time, has been primarily caused by our thirst for more at a cost to the health of the planet.
The pandemic is probably the major concern for most people right now, both in Hawaii and Nationally. Here on Kauai we’ve been pretty fortunate and fairly isolated, and our decision makers have done a fairly good job controlling internal spread. Our major problem will be how do we open up the island to tourism without opening it up to the spread of the virus.
Systemic Racism is the major issue of the moment Nationwide and something we should have dealt with long ago. Our failure to address the discrimination and injustice faced by people of color, primarily Blacks, is immoral and a stain on our National identity. Locally we have failed to address the issue of systemic repression of Native Hawaiians and their indigenous rights.
The big issue for me, and for many of the groups I’m involved with, is the environment and more specifically Climate Change. If we can’t protect our planet and modify our extravagant lifestyle now for the future of our children and grandchildren, all our other efforts are wasted.
The problem is that it’s such a complex issue and in most cases not an immediate problem, so it is often put off, to be dealt with later, in favor more urgent concerns.
• We need to move towards a more Sustainable community and society. Sustainability is also an economic and food security issue.
• The exponential growth in the proliferation of Marine Plastics, and the overarching issue of the proliferation of Plastics in general, has become a major public issue. It is both highly visible in our island community and a focus of National and International concern.
• We need to address solutions to the unconstrained development of the island and its impact on sustainability, housing, and traffic.
• Again, by far, the major issue of our time is Climate Change. As I mentioned earlier, if we fail to address the health of our planet all our other efforts will be for naught.
We need to reduce energy consumption through conservation and efficiencies; Move rapidly towards an all renewable energy portfolio; Improve and use our public transportation network; and live our lives as if the lives of our children depend upon it – because it does!
John Harder is a resident of Anahola