We just got back from Hawaii, and have several stories to tell. First, may we remind our readers that the country is in the throes of a major policy dispute concerning government regulations designed to impose limits on carbon dioxide emissions that are implicated in global warming that according to environmental doomsayers will do us in unless curbed. And carbon dioxide emissions come to a large extent from burning fossil fuels in generating electrical power. So you’d think that environmentally conscious folks would be down on unnecessary power consumption. Right? Not exactly.
The July 22-28, 2009, issue of the Honolulu Weekly, has a major story (at p. 6) entitled A Slow Earthquake, noting with alarm the climate changes in Antarctica and what they portend for the rest of the world. It comes compleat with a full-page (presumably photoshopped) color cover picture, depicting a polar bear disporting himself on a Hawaiian beach, captioned in big letters: Coming Soon to a Pole Near You: Arctic Rising. Speaking of rising, we rise above the urge to raise the niggling point that if masive global warming occurs, polar bears would move north in search of their accustomed cold habitat, not south where the weather is mild even today. Ah, but why quibble over factual details when Environmental Principle is at stake?
So what does all that have to do with our visit to Hawaii? Good question. Being an environmentally conscious state (just you try smoking in a hotel room — of which more presently) you’d think that the Hawaiians would be at the forefront of reducing their fossil fuel consumption. Right? Not really. As we strolled down Kalakaua Avenue, the main drag of Waikiki Beach, we were struck by the fact that a host of upper crust luxury goods stores located there conduct business by keeping their front doors wide open, even as their interiors are kept cool by air conditioning that maintains interior temperatures suitable for hanging meat. And many Hawaiian hotels don’t have ground-level walls at all — their lobbies and restaurants are wide open to the breezes, which also means that they are wide open to air conditioned air flowing outward where it presumably entices well-heeled passersby to enter and spend lavishly. That may be good merchandizing — we wouldn’t know — but it’s a wretched way to conserve energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Possibly, the Hawaii legislature repealed the first law of thermodynamics when we weren’t looking, but the bottom line seems to be all too familiar: the affluent folks there as here may talk a good environmentalist game, but when it comes to their own conduct, it’s a case of “Screw the polar bears; let’s go shopping.”
And what about that business of smoking in hotels? We’re glad you asked. Though no one mentioned it when we made reservations and checked in, during our stay we found a small notice in the hotel room advising that any evidence that tobacco has been smoked in the room would result in a $250 “cleaning fee.” The notice was silent as to whether a similarly draconian consequence would follow upon discovery that pakalolo had been smoked. Welcome to the environmentally-conscious future.