POSTED: 31 DECEMBER 2006 - 12:00pm HST

Part Three: Kauai - 2030 to 2050

Storybook Theatre & Volcano Circus begin a parade through streets of Hanapepe, Kauai

[Editor's Note: The events between 2030-2050 are too far distant and too indeterminate to be predicted. However, we feel that the character of those events can be foreseen. In this article we hope to give a sense of a future that will be pleasant and sustainable... and achievable.

The way we exert ourselves today will have much to do with the extent of desirable outcomes and the speed with which we regain our feet after the "Crash" and "Special Times" we face today. The more we do in preparation for self sustainability now, the less chaos and authoritarianism will be required to live successfully in the future.]

Part Three: Kauai - 2030 to 2050 Permaculture to Permanent Culture

by Juan Wilson & Linda Pascatore on 31 December 2006
Revision 2.0-091015 (removed Superferry reference, adjusted district bounds and cash crops)

Loosening of Central Authority
Local military and police will provide career opportunities for many until 2030. The Hawaiian National Guard and Reserves will play a role in inter-island population and food distribution, maintaining order and population control. But that authority will begin to erode as young dislocated people, who restarted life in an unfamiliar feudal economy begin to come into their own.

It will take at least a generation from the "Crash" and the difficulties of the "Special Period" for the conditions to improve enough for a loosening of central authority that maintain strict kapu order on Kauai.

Eventually, the population will be reduced enough, and food production will be plentiful enough for this less authoritarian society to flourish.

Agriculture and Food

By 2030, Kauai will be well on it's way to an agricultural system which will sustain a steady-state population. There will have been a big effort during the special period to encourage permaculture practices and organic farming, which are not dependent on petrochemical fertilizers, pesticides, and mechanical tilling.

Almost all food consumed will be either grown at home, hunted nearby or purchased in the daily farmer's market operated in every town. The bulk of food production will continue to come from backyard gardens and small community horticulture and permaculture efforts. Over half of the food produced on Kauai will be grown in residential settings.

The backbone of the vegetable portion of the Kauai diet will be provided by a combination of the Polynesian plants that had proven successful for over 1000 years; including, taro, breadfruit, yam, banana, papaya as well as a variety of new well suited plants that are hardy and sustainable that bear seed, nut, and fruits.
The majority young people will work in agriculture to feed the populace, which will be the main priority on the island. Agricultural jobs will have higher value, more prestige and pay more than currently. Almost everyone will have some connection to supplying food; whether tending a small family garden plot or simply harvesting fruits and nuts from the trees.

There will be some commercial cash crops, like marijuana, cacao, macadamia nuts and coffee. These products will play a role in Kauai's exported agriculture economy. Even the durable coconut will have a place.

Extensive efforts will be directed towards commercial cultivation of bamboo, koa, sandelwood and hemp. These products will be used for manufacture of a variety of products. Hemp seeds will also be used for oil and food.

To the degree our efforts can effect events, restoring reefs and wetlands will be a great investment in our future. These areas will be cradles for increasing bird and fish populations lost to human meddling. Early twenty-first century program successes will spur a second wave of intense efforts.

Early twenty-first century reforestation efforts will also begin to bear fruit and the hope that a robust timber industry might be successful on Kauai. Reproduction from these early trees will allow an increased rate of planting Koa and Sandalwood on what were once forested hillsides a few centuries earlier.

Energy & Communication
Some agricultural fields will be used for growing the best adapted biodiesel crops, including hemp and jatropha. The resulting diesel fuel will not even provide 10% of what had been supplied by imported petroleum products but will be a crucial source of energy for a small group of selected critical missions. These will include electrical generators at the four central hospitals in Waimea, Lihue, Kapaa and Kilauea; the radio stations and their transmitters; and other emergency services and telecommunications equipment.

Most residences and businesses that use any electricity will be producing their own; almost all of that from windmills or solar-voltaic panels. By 2030 some small efficient and long-lived units will still be operating more than a decade after the Peak Oil years unfolded and many such products poured into the marketplace.
Those little generators still going strong will be capable of supporting a small home office, a craft shop or even a few home entertainment systems that still work.

Keeping this technology running on our own through 2050 will be difficult at best. If telecommunications systems connecting Hawaiians to a worldwide network like the internet continues beyond 2050 it will be because enough technology survives on the mainland and it can be manufactured cheaply enough that Hawaiians can still afford using all that the technology entails. This may be possible, but seems unlikely.

Manufacturing & Imported goods
The daily influence of the mainland economy will have been reduced substantially in Hawaii by 2030. The staples of everyday life will be made on Kauai, or at least within the Hawaiian island chain.

The cultivation and commercial use of Hemp (the industrial variety, not the drug variety) will facilitate the local manufacture of a large variety of very functional products. Hemp grows very quickly, needs no fertilizer and little water, and has great tensile strength. It can be used for making cloth, canvas, rope, paper, biodiesel, and in building construction.

Growing hemp will allow us to make our own clothing, something which is presently imported almost exclusively. Tapa making may also be revived, but hemp clothing will be more easily mass produced to clothe the islanders. Paper made from hemp will probably be another abundant local product. Bookmaking and printing will become important industries, at least somewhere in the island chain.

Wood, bamboo, and coconut will also be used in manufacturing useful products such as furniture, dishes, utensils, musical instruments, and tools. Many things that were once made of Douglas Fir or plastic will be made of bamboo. Local tree and bamboo farms will be growing these materials for both home construction and manufacturing. These new industries will create jobs which actually produce useful products again, unlike the tourism and service jobs that drove our economy in the past.

For Kauai, direct contact with off island people and manufactured goods will happen through visits of ocean going sailing ships rather than the containerized transportation and distribution systems we see today. There won't be any Second Day Air delivery by FedEx or UPS in 2030.

Off island cargo will come through Nawiliwili and Port Allen Harbors with some seasonal delivery to Hanalei. The Big Box stores of Kukui Grove and Lihue will be long closed. Those still standing will do warehouse duty for goods still coming from cargo sailing ships entering Nawiliwili Harbor.

At Port Allen the tour boats that began serving visitors at the beginning of the 21st century will be long gone and replaced by fishing vessels. Some cargo will arrive there and be stored in parts of the old industrial buildings that now house tee shirt emporiums and tourist traps. Much of the commercial spaces will be used for the fishing industry and agriculture exporters.

Most metal manufactured goods will not be new but recycled parts of the technology of the industrial age. Most of that "high" technology like televisions, computers and automobiles will be unusable because of lack of crucial working parts or lack of energy to operate them.

The Kekaha Landfill will be mined for glass bottles, pieces of stainless steel and anything else useful that can be retrieved from the decomposing mountain of trash. Unbroken bottles will be the only reliable sterile containers available on the island.

The non working appliances and vehicles, particularly the bulk of abandoned cars, will be a vital and plentiful resource for such things as plastic parts, sheet metal, glass and the like. The success of keeping some technology running will be dependent on recycling and reusing parts of other abandoned manufactured goods. Recycled sheet metal will be a fountainhead of small local manufacturing businesses in Kekaha, Port Allen, Puhi, Nawiliwili, Hanamaulu and Anahola.
These businesses will thrive as long as recycled material can be found or traded. There will be operations for cutting and shaping recycled sheet metal into small wood burning stoves; and retooling unusable equipment into foot powered water pumps and the like.

Rail and Transportation
Lihue airport will have no direct traffic from the mainland nor operate at night, and will be more like it was fifty years earlier. The airports in Hanalei, Lihue, Hanapepe and PMRF will have small intra-island flights and there will be irregular shuttles from Oahu. Eventually, the few long runways will be too unreliable for big jets. On Kauai, only ultra lights and small planes that were meticulously maintained will even be operating by 2050.

A steel foundry will operate in Lihue and Port and there will barely be enough salvageable steel from scrap metal, engine blocks, and unusable heavy equipment to manufacture a light rail system system connecting Kapaa to Waimea along the mauka side of the old Kamualii and Kuhio Highways. Railroad trucks will cobbled together to support timber framed railcars for carrying people and goods.
The decision to commit so much of the resources left on the island to a rail line linking the the major populations from west to east was not popular with the communities on the north shore that were beyond the service, but the lack resources and difficulty of engineering a route were simply too overwhelming to justify reaching them.

Other traffic on the old highway will be a mix of various transportation modes limited to 30 mph that include horse drawn carriages, bicycles and a limited number of lightweight electric cars. Moreover, small manufacturing will cannibalize old bikes to fashion new family trikes. Heavy carts will be produced from the frames and suspensions of abandoned vehicles and pulled by draft animals to rail heads.

Increasingly canoe and footpaths will be used to connect people from point to point around the island. Traditional ancestral paths that were long forgotten will be cleared and well traveled. The craft and knowledge gathered in the Hokulea project at the beginning of the century will prove pivotal in the development of Kauai producing oceangoing sailing vessels that have access to the entire Pacific Rim. Kauai will have excellent cash crops that it can trade around that rim.

Limahuli Valley agriculture in Haena, Kauai, showing terraced lois separated by rock walls

Technology & Science

In 2030 the population of Kauai will be just over 100,000 and dropping slowly by attrition of the elderly baby boomers. More than half the population will have been born after September 11th, 2001 and about half will have migrated to Kauai from Oahu after "The Crash".

The following decade up to 2040 will be the most productive years for these young people. To them September 11th is a date used to commemorate the beginning of the "Dark Time" before the Crash. These young people will have no memory of the events immediately following "911" and little memory of 21st century technical luxuries like hand held electronic game machines and daily scheduled jet travel to Vegas.

Many technologies based on maintaining and recycling Pre-Crash industries will disappear before 2030. Some will persist, however for a few generations. Those with the fewest moving parts will have a leg up - the less complex and fragile, the better. But sustaining those old technologies and the need for them will fade.
For a twenty year old Kauaian in 2030 the need to dig out a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young CD and give it a spin on the the wind powered boombox won't be a high priority more than sixty years after Woodstock. In fact, most born on Kauai after the Crash will find little interest in the entertainment or technology that permeated the petroleum age culture.

Technology and science will be low-tech in that they will not rely on highly refined materials or multilevel abstract structures requiring continual use of energy and constant maintenance. Knowledge of material behavior based on agriculture and applied crafts will be our technology. With the loss of the Baby Boom, X and Y generations will be the loss of the techno-culture of electronic media.

Art & Sport
In a permaculture society where agriculture largely takes care of itself, the population is low, and the climate pleasant, there will be a lot of time for fun.
Ocean and water sports will become even more important, with the decline of electronic entertainment. Swimming, body boarding, and surfing will be a daily pastime for many who live near the ocean. Canoeing and kayaking will become more important as a means of transportation around the island as well as for sport. Fishing will also provide a valuable protein food source as well as sport.

More extreme sports such as windsurfing, para-sailing, hiking and climbing will continue to appeal to young people. Ancient Hawaiian footpaths along the Na Pali and over the mountains will be reclaimed. Soccer and other contests of physical prowess will continue to provide competition and entertainment between towns.

Art will be locally made. Music will be live, acoustic and everywhere. Cutting petroglyphs, creating body art, designing floral arrangements, painting tapa cloth, making bamboo toys, and uncountable other craft activities and art forms will play a central role in passing the time and making life meaningful.

There will be a great revival of Storytelling as entertainment and a way of preserving culture. Besides ancient Hawaiian and other ethnic legends, there will be new stories created to pass on the lessons learned through the Special Period.

Education & Religion
Education will become much less centralized by 2030. There will be small neighborhood schools within walking distance of most Kauai children. In some ways, they may resemble the plantation schools that were built for each encampment, but will be centered around the small towns across the island. For the most part, Elementary schools now serve those neighborhoods, but with the shortage of fuel, and cost of transportation rising, even Middle and High School levels will be included in small neighborhood schools.
Sustainability will be a core value that will be integrated into all levels of the curriculum. Care of our aina and its limited resources, in addition to the principles of ecology and environmental education, will be a centerpiece of the education of the future.

While elementary schools will still focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic, secondary education will include more vocational courses teaching the basics of agriculture, manufacturing, and renewable energy technology.

These courses may take place off campus, on location in the fields and factories, and be more like apprenticeships or internships. There will still be college bound students, most of whom will be educated right here on Kauai at the Community College, which will be expanded to include higher degrees to provide the professionals we need on the island.

Religion may become more nature based, since people will be more connected with the earth. Since more than half of the population will have to be involved with growing food, the natural cycles of the seasons will become more significant. We will see more planting or harvest festivals. There may be a revival of some traditional Hawaiian religious traditions. Of course, Kauai will still keep its multicultural tolerance of the many religious traditions that have been brought here over the centuries.

Hawaiian Sovereignty
Pretty quickly those that are governing will realize the wisdom of reverting back to the Hawaiian Ahupuaa system of land management. It incorporated sound practices of bio-regionalism that will be practical in determining the best land use, political divisions, and ecological sustainability.

This approach will redefine county government as the relationship and health of the natural watersheds of the island. Kauai will be divided into seven major districts that each have a representative on the Island Council. Those districts closely follow the traditional moku and include (clockwise):

1) Na Pali (Poli Hale to Kee Beach)
2) Halelea (Haena to Kalihiwai)
2) Koolau (Kilauea to Anahola)
3) North Puna (Kealia to Kipukai))
5) Kona (Mahalaupu to Waimea)
6) Mana (Waimea to Poli Hale)

As in the ancient past, the communities in each district will develop their own relationship that best suits them to the land. There will also be an intricate system of trading to mutual advantage between the districts. These developments will lead naturally to social structures that will lead to greater independence of each Hawaiian island and a move towards true sovereignty for Hawaii as an independent nation once more.

There won't be many on the mainland who will even be aware when the islands restore their sovereignty.

Friends & Family
The future may be like the "Old Days" that people now reminisce about. We will be living in a simpler, less materialistic culture. People will be living, working and going to church and school in their local communities, and staying close to home by necessity, which will strengthen neighborhood and family ties.

Casual shopping trips to Lihue to fill the void when we have free time won't be the norm. Movies, videos, and television will no longer exist as the major entertainment getting through the night. Someone with a good story or a pretty song will be the center of attention.

The new entertainment will consist of local community events within walking distance; including parties, musical performances, plays, harvest dinners, and local sporting events. There will be communal work gatherings for big projects like water diversion, planting trees, or harvesting.

Extended families will become more prevalent again, with nuclear families being too isolated. Kauai has always kept more extended families intact with a big emphasis on Ohana. During the hard times ahead, the values will be strengthened even more.

Once the population stabilizes to a sustainable level, and food and energy production systems are in place, there will be more leisure time. Families and friends will have the time again to go on "Island Time", talking story, and working a little to have just enough to be comfortable. The rat race of constant pressure and stress to make money and acquire the things that constitute the "American Dream" will be a thing of the past.

Walking, gardening, farming, and not sitting in front of the TV, computer, or video game will improve the overall fitness of the young. There will be no more highly processed, highly refined and sweetened junk food. The new diet of whole, natural foods grown without pesticides and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables will greatly reduce diabetes and obesity in Hawaii.

People will have closer ties to our aina, and to family and friends. They will live a happier, simpler and healthier lifestyle.

The Good Life
With some self control we may get the population of the islands down to 500,000 by 2050. The smaller the population we achieve the freer our lives will be. With under 50,000 on Kauai we could be quite comfortable and laid back.

With less stress to just put food on the table, and a tropical climate that makes life very comfortable, people will be more relaxed and happy. They will learn that simple pleasures and close relationships with family and neighbors can bring greater joy than the old consumer rat race ever did.

By then the old question of "What chance does mankind have if we can't live in balance on a tropical island paradise like Kauai?" will be tested and proved.

For Part One and Two of this series see below
Island Breath: Part 1 - 2050 Introduction
Island Breath: Part 2 - Kauai 2007 to 2029

A PDF version is available at:
Island Breath: 2007-2050 PDF

for info about Hawaii 2050 and your vision statement contact:

or contact:

Carol Taniguchi
Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs
ASB Tower, Suite 1132
1001 Bishop Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Telephone: (808) 585-7931 (ext. 101)
Fax: (808) 585-7932

check out:
Island Breath: Kauai 2050 Meeting
Island Breath: Hawaii 2050 Background

Island Breath: Hawaii 2050 Conference
Island Breath: No growth feasible
Island Breath: Cuba shows how

see also: