By Rich Figel
PROGRAM ALERT: I feel like I should have a BUZZ... BUZZ SOUND EFFECT followed by a robotic voice mispronouncing Hawaii town names like the red-banded TV flood warnings that crawl across the screen and cut-off the audio to whatever program you're watching -- including, ironically, the local TV news "SEVERE WEATHER" alerts. And yet there are still clueless idiots who will be out there hiking despite all the advance warnings, so maybe the only ones heeding the dire forecasts are people who are already safely ensconced on their comfy living room couches watching TV.
ANYWAY, back to my originally scheduled program alert. The new "Going Green" themed September episode of Career Changers TV premieres at a new time tonight, Weds. at 9 PM on Oceanic Cable channel 12/high def 1012, otherwise known as OC16 (not to be confused with OC16 Sports, which is on channel 16/high def 1016... so you will not find OC16 non-sports shows, including mine, on channel 16 as you might expect). Other daily viewing times, which have also been changed and are subject to preemption by high schools sports (which are NOT shown on OC16 Sports, as you might think they would be) can be found at the CareerChangers.TV website.
For anyone who is suffering from "severe weather fatigue" -- correction: people aren't fatigued by the non-events so much as they are tired of the TV news reports or suffering from anxiety induced by the ominous RED BLOTCHES headed almost, kind of directly at our tiny little islands, OMG, we have to head for higher ground!!! Oh, sorry, excuse me. As later pointed out by the TV forecasters, there is a margin of error of 150 miles when they are talking about "hurricanes" or tropical depressions that are five days away from reaching us...
ANYHOW, if you've grown weary of watching local TV non-news, we have some segments that are about people who are doing more than just talking about the weather -- they're developing new technology and approaches to reduce waste and create alternative energy sources right here in Hawaii.
When the local TV newscasters weren't hyperventilating about the latest "possible" weather threat or running another somber update on the homeless issue (the homeless are still there -- or somewhere else now; it's like the weather, the news reports don't really do anything other than tell you what you can see with your own eyes) they seemed happy to have some real rain run-off and flooding stories to provide relief from having to watch them stand in front of weather maps and radar screens, or worse, stand outside somewhere in Hilo while patiently waiting for a deluge... or at least intermittent showers.
Yet in all the reports about the millions of gallons of raw sewage and wastewater flowing into our oceans, was there a single story about alternative systems that could actually make use of that wasted wastewater? None that I'm aware of, and I record or watch all three TV news stations.
As it happens, thanks to Karl Fooks, President of the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation, I was introduced to the Energy Excelerator program and Lamplighter Energy. Never heard of them? You're not alone. Those kind of stories get short shrift in the local news media landscape, unless they are located at the site of a major crash, on fire or flooding at the moment. But they should be getting more coverage because they're doing important work that in the long term could make a difference for all of us.
How, you ask? Okay, start with all the wasted sewer wastewater that gets treated, then dumped in the ocean. Did you know there is actually a pilot program at the Hawaii Kai sewage treatment plant that can convert wastewater into hydrogen fuel? What's more, it traps the lovely methane odor you smell when the winds shift, and also turns that into non-smelly fuel (here's the video link). Lamplighter Energy is going to use the same technology to take the existing Kunia sewage treatment plant offline, and replace it with a hydrogen-producing system to provide fuel and power for the farm operations there. Here's a link to the lower res YouTube version.
And there are interesting projects being nurtured by the Energy Excelerator too. One of them we're featuring is about Prota Culture, which is growing insect larvae that feeds on discarded organic waste. The larvae are then processed into nutritious animal feed that could lead to increased production of homegrown chickens, pigs and fish because the biggest cost to local farmers is paying for feed that has to be shipped to Hawaii. Reason: with our high land costs, it doesn't make sense to grow soy or corn for animal feed. But if we can use our food waste to make animal feed that can be processed right on the farms (without using insecticides and chemical fertilizers associated with growing soy/corn) we won't be as dependent on importing food and feed from the Mainland... I mean, what if THERE'S A HURRICANE OR TROPICAL STORM THAT INTERFERES WITH OUR FOOD SHIPMENTS, OMGGG!!!!
Phew, just looked out the window and the sun is shining. So, if you'd like to watch our segments online instead of waiting to see it on TV, you can click here for the Energy Excelerator piece and Prota Culture story.