THE BLOG

The Sustainable Expo for 2020

Dec 14, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

Hawaii, the most isolated major populated area on this planet, is that canary in the coal mine of Peak Oil. The economy is so locked into the visitor industry, that the coming jump in oil prices will mean skyrocketing jet fuel prices and the end of tourism as we know it.

You would think that with this so obvious inevitability the State would by now have forged a plan to avoid this calamity? Nope. As pointed out in "We Need to Work Together, Now," politics, union-management relations and personality clashes have overwhelmed good sense. Maybe worse, there appears to be no sense of urgency.

Is the problem beyond realistic salvation? Absolutely not, for all we need to do is diversify our economy, accelerate a next generation aircraft (as, perhaps, one powered by hydrogen) and develop a bio jet fuel. There is that worry about timing, of course, because the former has been attempted, and went nowhere, and the latter two will take time, many, many decades, in fact, and Peak Oil could happen tomorrow. Well, to be a bit more optimistic, world oil futures only show crude up to $95/barrel into December 2018, and I personally know respected advocates who feel that both a sustainable aircraft and competitive jet fuel from algae can be developed in time.

Yet, many of my local colleagues have already entered a survival mode, and feel the best they can do is to properly educate the masses about this doomsday scenario. I've been chided for advocating false hopes. But giving up cannot be an option. Fortunately, monumental solutions can best come when there is sufficient desperation. So, what then?

I am today midway on an around the world adventure to seek solutions for our global society, as reported in various Huffington Post and Planet Earth and Humanity postings. Unexpectedly, this broad search resulted in clarity regarding my home town, for I noticed that a few cities I have visited found a way to transform themselves. The Olympics, in particular, served as this catalyst. In Seoul, Barcelona, Munich and Helsinki, if not for this event, they probably would not have attained their present greatness. World Expos can also work, for from Montreal to Shanghai (begins in May), what happens is that people begin to work together for a common cause. The experience is enlightening, for they learn that rivals in unison can, indeed, accomplish miracles. Cooperation leads to success reinforcing credibility cascading into a progressive municipality.

Okay, Hawaii can forget any Olympics. A World Expo? Hmm ... maybe. This is hardly a new idea, but the conjunction of Peak Oil, Global Warming and a range of impacting factors suggests that the timing is now.

What is needed is clear and imaginative leadership. Usually, some unknown has triggered this all in these resurgent cities. That individual had those qualities to involve power brokers and gain consensus. Then, somehow, the effort gained a life of its own.

Hawaii has a few wild cards in this mission. For one, this is the most beautiful spot in the world. Everywhere I've been, just about everyone thinks there is a certain magic about these islands. Two, we have a host of billionaires, some relatively young, who have already shown a high sense of community activism. Now, if some of them can somehow work together, they should be able to transcend politics, unions and personalities. Three, if we don't do anything magnificent, soon, it will all be over.

Since I've come this far, let me suggest a theme and, further, how to optimize the infrastructure, paving the way towards a Hawaii of the 21st century that can indeed be that worthy dream, as featured in my final chapter of Simple Solutions for Humanity. We are in the middle of the largest ocean. The expo can set the stage for the utilization of the riches of the sea for clean energy, green materials and exciting habitats in harmony with the marine environment.

Lockheed Martin is supposedly designing a 100 MW ocean thermal energy conversion facility, and the timing would be ideal to feature this technology. More so, that floating platform could house a major resort, perhaps with a, shudder, casino. A mature Disney at Sea, perhaps. Yes, a Blue Revolution.

A dozen years ago Lisbon hosted what they termed as an Ocean Expo, but there was nothing...nothing, of any nautical moment. Nearly a quarter of century before that, Okinawa showcased Aquapolis. Say 2020 is selected as the target year, the timing would be ideal for another ocean expo.

To link with the "Lockheed Martin/Disney" platform, rather than set aside a plot of land and have various countries build structures that will become obsolete, there already are twenty ideal locations awaiting inspiration. Honolulu is suffering through the pangs of planning a mass transit system. Funding crises will no doubt appear, again and again. Why not find a way to allow international teams to finance, design and manage these stations? Like in EPCOT Center around a lake, each site would feature a different region of the world interfacing, in principle, with the Pacific Ocean. A China village, with the architecture, restaurants and entertainment otions of that country. Maybe they'll bring and leave two pandas. Same for Japan, Korea, the European Community, South America, Africa...and more.

Yes, provide each world partnership development rights and free access to space for a century within a hundred yards of each station, with an ocean corridor, as appropriate. Condominiums and even hotels might be included. Certainly, a few corporate outreach centers, for everyone else will only be a mass transit ride away.

The traditional naysayer, and we really have too many of them these days, will predictably argue that we will be selling Hawaii to the highest bidders, and worse. We need to look on this as our final opportunity to attain supreme world class status. That other option, I remind you, could well be a continuous local depression.

Heck, why not have each island also form international teams and spread the exhibit state-wide. Thus, Hawaii Sustainable Expo 2020: Visions for Blue Planet Earth. When the official exposition runs its course, nothing really ends. The State rather suddenly is transformed into the international gathering place for pleasure, blue-green development and global commerce.