hawaii

Sharing is Sustainable – Expanding the Sharing Economy

Sharing—with your partner, parents, children, friends, community, or even a total stranger—is a big part of what life is all about.

My neighbor Henry has nearly every power tool that a grown man could want, and he generously shares them with me and others on our block. Which means we don’t need to buy tools and let them sit idle in our garages.  By connecting with people, we are entering an era in which everything from a bicycle to a car to a power tool can be fully utilized by a network rather than just one owner. And that’s good news for our environment and our economy.

Bicycle-and car-sharing can happen informally between family and friends, but collaborative websites and organized programs now help us do the sharing. Last year, Bay Area Bike Share put 700 bicycles into curbside stations in five cities. The 350 bikes within San Francisco—half the fleet—are used 900 to 1,000 times per day.  That translates into a significant decrease in local auto traffic and tailpipe emissions. EPA has been working with the City of Honolulu to promote bike sharing and reduce congestion.

Our cars sit idle 90% of the time, so sharing them can have a huge impact. For example, when miles driven in the U.S. dropped just 3% in 2008, road congestion declined 30%. Every shared ride is a win for our environment and our health, because less traffic means less stress. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Coquis and EPA

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Saludos-Greetings-Aloha to one and all in the new year.

When I wrote last May about the unwelcomed arrival of the Puerto Rican coqui frogs to Hawaiian shores, little did I know that there was going to be such a heated debate in blogosphere. Personal feelings aside, the multiple responses received motivated me to actually find out what is the Agency’s role in addressing the growth of the coqui population throughout the 50th state. After making several calls and sending some emails, I was surprised to find that EPA’s role is limited.

In fact, the Agency was asked to step in the control efforts when the State of Hawaii needed an exemption to use an unregistered product to control the coquis. EPA is involved in this issue because products sold and used as pesticides must be evaluated and approved by the Agency under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to ensure they can be used safety and without posing any unreasonable risks to people or the environment. In this case, Hawaii has requested an emergency exemption to use an unregistered product (calcium hydroxide or hydrated lime) as a pesticide in a quarantine program to control the invasive species, the Coqui. Hawaii is concerned that the frogs pose a serious threat to both agriculture and to the native Hawaiian forest ecosystems, including endangered species. I have been informed that the Agency is in the process of reviewing this request. Currently, there is a multiagency effort to stop the spread of the coqui in Hawaii led by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

While I confess that this dialogue in Greenversations has been eye-opening, I still yearn for the nocturnal coqui chants I experienced in my youth. Recently a friend asked why the coquís in Hawaii seem so much louder and active than the original coquis in their natural setting. In addition to the invasive nature of the coqui in Hawaii, I think we also can attribute the contrasts largely to the differences in population density and urban sprawl. In Hawaii, the population density is 188.6 inhabitants for square mile. In Puerto Rico, it’s 1,127 inhabitants for square mile! While there are numerous groups to save the coquí in Hawaii let’s not forget the plight of the coqui in Puerto Rico.

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Los coquí y la EPA

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Saludos y aloha para todos en el nuevo año.

Cuando escribí en mayo pasado sobre la llegada poco acogida de los anfibios coquí puertorriqueños a las costas hawaianas, nunca pensé que se fuera a producir un debate tan intenso en la blogosfera. Dejando a un lado mis sentimientos personales, las múltiples respuestas recibidas me motivaron a investigar realmente cuál es el papel que desempeña la Agencia para abordar el crecimiento de la población coquí en el estado número 50. Después de varias llamadas y correos electrónicos, me sorprendí al ver que el rol de EPA es limitado.

De hecho, se le solicitó a la Agencia intervenir en los esfuerzos de control cuando el Estado de Hawai necesitaba una exención para utilizar un producto no registrado para el control de los coquí. EPA está participando en este asunto porque los productos que son vendidos y utilizados como pesticidas tienen que ser evaluados y aprobados por la Agencia bajo la Ley Federal de Insecticidas, Fungicidas y Rodenticidas (FIFRA, por sus siglas en inglés) para asegurar que se utilicen de manera segura sin presentar riesgos irrazonables al público ni al medio ambiente. En este caso, Hawai ha solicitado una exención de emergencia para utilizar el producto no registrado (hidróxido de calcio o cal hidratada) como un plaguicida en un programa de cuarentena para controlar la especie invasora, el coquí. Hawai está preocupada de que estos anfibios representan una seria amenaza tanto para la agricultura como para los ecosistemas forestes autóctonos al Hawai, incluyendo especies en peligro de extinción. Se me ha informado que la Agencia se encuentra en el proceso de revisar esta solicitud. En la actualidad, hay un esfuerzo multiagencial para frenar la propagación del coquí en Hawai dirigida por el Departamento de Agricultura estatal.

Tengo que confesar que mientras este diálogo en Greenversations (Conversaciones verdes) ha sido aleccionador, todavía añoro el cantar nocturno del coquí que viví en mi juventud. Recientemente un amigo me preguntó el por qué los coquí en Hawai parecen tener un canto mucho más fuerte que sus parientes originales en su medio natural boricua. Además de la naturaleza invasora del coquí en Hawai, creo que los contrastes se pueden atribuir también a las diferencias en la densidad poblacional entre ambos grupos isleños. En Hawai, la población demográfica es de 188.6 habitantes por milla cuadrada. ¡En Puerto Rico, hay 1,127 habitantes por milla cuadrada! Mientras hay numerosos grupos que quieren salvar el coquí en Hawai, no nos olvidemos de los problemas del coquí en Puerto Rico.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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On The Green Road: Post-Hawaii Musings

About the author: As Jeffrey Levy of EPA’s blog team enjoyed a recent vacation, he sent along environmentally relevant thoughts and pictures.

We’ve been back home now for a few weeks. Hawaii was a pretty incredible way to spend our 15th anniversary. Aside from a sense of wonder, a couple of things struck me while I was there that have stayed with me.

First, it amazed me how little air conditioning is used in Hawaii. Between the trade winds and the magically low humidity (I mean, it’s a tropical island!), it was remarkably comfortable even in the upper 80s. And I get hot here in DC when it breaks 75. What’s funny is that when I’ve brought it up to friends who have also visited, they say they were also surprised.

The Honolulu airport was mostly open to the outside. Actually, some gates have air-conditioned spaces, but not the main terminal. I wonder how they decide where to put it? And then there’s the Kona airport, which really goes without AC:

small thatch-roofed buildings bordering an open-air courtyard


You check in under a series of open-air pavilions. Once you’re though security, there is no concourse. Instead, each gate area has its own pavilion, and you walk across an open-air courtyard to get to your gate.

My first hint that’s how it would be came when making reservations, and every place mentioned ceiling fans but not AC. In fact, the only place with AC was our Waikiki hotel. I wonder if that’s a heat-island effect, or it’s just that there’s little airflow through a high-rise hotel room. Or maybe it’s that tourists expect AC, so hotels there include it.

Hawaiians seem in tune with their environment in a way that I envy. And in this case, they save a lot of energy by relying on their special climate to keep things comfortable. If only we could import it here. When we landed in DC at 10:00 pm, it was only 73 degrees but about 20 times stickier.

coqui frogThe other thing I wanted to mention is the coqui frog. You may remember Lina Younes asking people in Hawaii not to eradicate this Puerto Rican favorite. I’ll leave the debate about whether to eradicate them in the comments on that post.

But Lina commented on my first Hawaii post asking whether I’d heard the little songsters. Did I ever! North of Hilo, we heard a single frog, and I can understand Lina’s fond memories of “co-kee, co-kee” lulling her to sleep.

But south of Hilo in the forest, they were so loud we could hear them through the car windows (yes, we were hot, so we put on the AC). So for Lina, I recorded them: Hawaiian coqui (MP3 sound file, 20 seconds, 550 KB, transcript).

Now I understand why people commented on Lina’s post that the coquis had destroyed their peaceful evenings!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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