New & Noteworthy

posted in: November 2006 | 0

Carbon Calculations: Ever wonder how much your personal travel adds to the Earth’s burden of greenhouse gases? Now a website offers you the chance to find out.

According to Sustainable Travel International’s “carbon calculator,” a round-trip flight from Hilo to Honolulu by an average adult releases about 300 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere. A flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles emits more than 10 times that amount – 3,160 pounds – according to STI.

The calculator allows you to determine what your car emits (plug in the miles you drive over a given period and your vehicle’s mileage), what emissions can be attributed to your home and even your hotel stays. And after you’ve learned more than you might want to about your personal environmental footprint, STI offers you an opportunity to offset the carbon by contributing to projects they are sponsoring to mitigate greenhouse gases, at a cost of about $18 a ton. (Their projects go beyond – and indeed do not include — possibly transient undertakings, such as reforestation. Instead, they tend to involve installation of replacement technologies, such as solar water heaters, winterization of low-income housing, and the like.)

STI’s website is: [url=][/url] Follow the links to the carbon calculator. The organization says that 80 cents of every dollar it receives goes to support carbon-offset programs.

Hawai`i’s Mysterious Killer Whales: Although killer whales are not seen frequently in Hawai`i, they do inhabit the waters around the Main Hawaiian Islands. Robin Baird of theCascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Washington, and co-authors were able to document 21 records of orca sightings in Hawaiian waters since 1994. A report on their research appears in the October issue of Pacific Science.

They note that many of the reports occur in the winter months, coinciding with the humpback whale migration in Hawai`i. While it’s possible that the orca numbers increase when humpbacks are abundant, “there is likely an increase in sighting effort during that period,” the authors write, with far more people on the water, in whale-watching tours, during the humpback season than at other times.

Little is known about Hawai`i’s killer whales. Baird and his colleagues obtained genetic material from two Hawai`i orcas. One sample was identical to a whale from the Gulf of Alaska. The other matches a sample taken from a Hawai`i orca several years ago, but undocumented elsewhere, the authors write, “despite substantial sampling from killer whales throughout the coastal waters of western North America, the Aleutians, the Bering Sea, and eastern Russia.”

“Whether killer whales in Hawai`i are isolated from killer whale populations elsewhere in the tropical Pacific will require analysis of additional samples,” the authors conclude.

OHA Grant: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has awarded a grant to Environment Hawai`i to support the newsletter’s continued coverage of issues relating to management of land and natural resources statewide. “It’s very gratifying to know that OHA appreciates the importance to its constituents of the in-depth investigative work we do,” said editor Patricia Tummons. This is the second time OHA has supported the newsletter with a grant to support ongoing newsletter production and publication.

Volume 17, Number 5 November 2006

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