IDG’s sustainability philosophy is holistic, connecting renewable energy production, local food security and responsible waste management.
As Native Hawaiians, our traditions tell us of the abundance that nature once provided the indigenous people living on these islands and around the world. As members of a global community, we see the current untenable situation of overpopulation, reckless consumption, energy dependence and irreversible environmental destruction.
As a socially responsible corporation, we’re committed to making a positive impact through our business ventures, and in particular through our Native-to-Native model of economic development.
Our cultural heritage, technical training and social values leads us to envision our home — the Hawaiian islands — as a model for true sustainability. A model that can be shared across the globe to create a better future for all.
Continue reading to learn more about IDG’s vision, Hawaii’s unique position, and the role of geothermal in our sustainable future.
We at IDG believe that Sustainability is a key concept for humankind to focus on as we progress forward into the 21st century. In each person’s immediate living community, sustainability can be broken down into 3 main categories of focus; sustainability in the environment, sustainability in the indigenous or local host culture, and sustainability in the local economy. IDG is very committed to achieving true sustainability in each of these areas for Hawaii and throughout the rest of the Pacific.
Unfortunately there are many obstacles and issues that presently need to be addressed along this path towards survival and prosperity. It is no secret that the human population is larger than it has ever been throughout history and is growing at a steady and somewhat rapid pace. This increase in population creates the need to address specific issues that have devastating potential to our livelihood as humans. As members of the global environment our actions as a race impact the planet in a very direct and distinct way. We must always remember that we are all part of the cyclical system that makes the earth a livable environment for all of its inhabitants.
The global environment has been changed significantly over time, directly resulting from human impact and our increased demand for electricity and food as well as the waste that comes as a result of it. Humans have damaged the land and oceans from foreign pollutants created by our living needs and the belief that natural resources are limitless. It is very dangerous to have an economy and way of life that revolves around oil and the burning of fossil fuels. Simply put, the Earth is getting too crowded unfortunately resulting in a reality where resources are distributed unevenly. Our world is also getting hotter. The ocean levels are rising and our natural resources are disappearing at an alarming rate. The next generations of people will be faced with problems greater and much more severe if we choose not to make the necessary changes now. IDG is focused on bringing together the best advancements in technology and innovation in ideas to explore every plausible and potential solution that will ensure that Hawaii is at the forefront of creating sustainable living practices for all generations to come.
The Hawaiian Archipelago is an isolated island chain located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Rising up out of the sea floor from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, Hawaii has since evolved to form one of the most unique, pristine and beautiful environments throughout the entire world. Due to its geographic isolation, Hawaii has many strategic advantages that we, as inhabitants of this place should be accessing in a responsible manner. Island living has many obvious advantages of which Hawaii is a prime example. An island by definition should be sustainable in all aspects of sustainability. It needs to produce enough food to sustain the entire population. It should be responsible in processing the waste that is created by the ever-growing human footprint. And we need to be producing electricity in the most environmentally conscientious manner utilizing all of the abundant natural resources with renewable energy capabilities. But the unfortunate reality is that we are not. Hawaii imports almost all of the food consumed here, has contacts with local governments on the US continent to ship excess trash and produces virtually all of its electricity from power plants burning imported oil. This reality is not the way it has to be and in fact is a stark contrast to the future of our islands envisioned by IDG. We would like to see these islands become the model for true sustainability that can be followed by all other island communities around the world.
One of the keys for Hawaii to become truly sustainable is energy independence. The government has already set lofty goals for the State to produce 70% of its electricity from renewable sources. Aside from the obvious benefits of being completely unreliant on foreign sources to fuel our electricity, there would also be a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions contributing to the negative effects of global warming and an elimination of harmful by products created by the current method of producing electricity in Hawaii via coal and petroleum burning power plants. The negative effects of relying on petroleum for electricity are numerous and highly publicized. From the dwindling supply of oil reserves, to the US military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the recent oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and China have shown the world that there needs to be other alternatives to oil. Coal burning power plants are also not a very healthy option. They emit carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which have very devastating effects on the planet. These plants also create a particulate matter called soot, a very deadly type of air pollutant linked to many airborne diseases found in humans such as asthma, lung cancer and heart attacks.
The main geological advantage found in Hawaii that would contribute to achieving the States renewable energy goals, would be through electricity generation using geothermal technology. Located above a volcanic “Hot Spot” Hawaii has access to geothermal resources not found in many other places in the world. Geothermal energy refers to the heat found within our planet, which is essentially the Earth’s “natural radioactive decay” created mostly by the elements Uranium, Thorium and Potassium. This heat was originally created during the Earth’s formation and has since been constantly creating additional heat that is continuously making its way from the depths of the planet to the surface. The highest concentration of geothermal heat is located in areas where magma is closet to the surface and evidenced by the presence of volcanoes. Surrounding the edges of the Pacific Ocean and neighboring areas is a string of volcanoes known as the “Ring of Fire.” This string of volcanoes is geological evidence showing significant heat under the Pacific Ocean and its surrounding areas.
There are significant amounts of energy that can be produced via geothermal technology. Widely considered as a power generation technology with the least impact on the environment, Geothermal alone is capable of solving all of Hawaii’s electricity needs. Scientific estimates show that there is approximately 42 million megawatts (MW) of power with a lifespan in the billions of years ensuring that it will never run out. This number jumps up to 100 gigawatts (GW) if you include thermal heat used for heating and cooling along with the electricity production from geothermal resources. When compared to the global oil and natural gas reserves there is about 50,000 times more geothermal resource capable of being produced into energy.
Another key to achieving true sustainability in Hawaii is through effective waste management. Hawaii currently sustains a population of over 1.3 million people based on the 2009 numbers from the US Census. This number does not take into account the military population living in the islands, the amount of students studying at any of the Colleges or Universities or any of the numerous tourists upon which the local economy is built. Conservatively, at any given time there could be well over 1.5 million people located throughout the islands with each person creating waste on a daily basis. We all know that the trash created by human living will never go away but we as a community can be responsible stewards and turn it into something positive. It should go without saying that recycling efforts need to be improved but even after removing recyclable materials there is still a significant amount of waste ending up in the environment. There needs to be a shift in how we process trash as a community. We can no longer afford to pile it up in and landfill with the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. More trash needs to be recycled so that new goods can be produced out of old ones. And all the trash that is unable to be recycled should be converted into electricity using a Solid Waste To Energy Power Plant.
The final major area of sustainability to be addressed by IDG is food production. Food sustainability is a very important concept that we as humans are forced to face on a daily basis. Every person needs food and water in order to be a healthy, contributing member of society. Food is a necessity of life and in Hawaii however, has unfortunately become a very big area of concern for its people. The island of Oahu where the majority of the population resides has transitioned from a place that produced enough food to export to the US Continent to now having to import over 90% of all the food consumed in the islands. In just a short period of time Oahu has become an urban environment that has catered more towards human development then environment protection and agriculture production. Good food is available at a premium price and is slowly becoming unaffordable to have fresh, organic, quality food. The local farmers here are also forced to deal with rising production costs, lack of water and additional obstacles of getting their products to the consumer. The IDG team has been working hard to come up with potential solutions to this ever-growing problem. One concept that we remain convinced as being a big part of the answer is the Aquaponic method of growing. Aquaponics combines the concept of Aquaculture, defined as growing fish or crustaceans in tanks and Hydroponics, which is the growing of plants in water to create an artificial ecosystem that promotes both systems to grow significantly better.
Facts on Aquaponics:
- Uses less than 5% of water consumed in traditional farming
- Uses less than 10% of the electricity of traditional farming
- Able to produce significantly more food in a smaller land area than traditional farming
- Entire system is based on the natural benefits found in a natural ecosystem
- Ability to become USDA Certified organic in a fraction of the time it normally takes using soil