I went to my third County Council meeting in fifteen years last night. Now I remember why I don’t go to them. The agenda was geothermal but, as with everything in Puna, everyone in attendance was against it. As a scientist, I expected to hear facts. What I heard – for the first hour – was why drilling holes in solidified lava was killing the Goddess Pele.
OK, people can believe what they like – but Pele didn’t become a goddess until her sister killed her and goddesses don’t die. This is one of her stories. This is another one. One must respect people who choose to believe them, but Pele isn’t the only god/goddess, and in order to respect her, you have to go through a few others first and there are two distinct trails.
One breakdown of the Hawaiian pantheon consists of the following groups:
- the four gods (ka hā) – Kū, Kāne, Lono, Kanaloa
- the forty male gods or aspects of Kāne (ke kanahā)
- the four Hundred gods and goddesses (ka lau)
- the great Multitude of gods and goddesses (ke kini akua)
- the spirits (na ʻunihipili)
- the guardians (na ʻaumākua)
Another breakdown consists of three major groups:
- the four gods, or akua: Kū, Kāne, Lono, Kanaloa
- many lesser gods, or kupua, each associated with certain professions
- family gods, ʻaumakua, associated with particular families
|Akea||first Hawaiian king who founded a kingdom in the afterlife (Peles brother)|
|Apukohai||Shark God of Kauai|
|Haulili||God of Speech|
|Hai||God of Kapa making|
|Hiaka||a Mountain God on Kauai|
|Hiiakawawahilani||the Cloud Holder|
|Hinakuluiau||Goddess of Rain|
|Kalaipahoa||Goddess who harms trees|
|Kaluannuunohonionio||a God of a temple’s sacrificial house|
|Kamapua’a||the Hog God|
|Kamohoali’i||Keeper of the water of life|
|Kamooalii||King Moho, the God of Steam|
|Kanaloa||God of the Ocean|
|Kane-hekili||Spirit of Thunder|
|Kapo||the Goddess of the South Pacific; Pele’s sister|
|Keoahikamakaua||the Child of War; Spirit of Lava Fountains|
|Kapohoikahiola||Spirit of Explosions|
|Keuakepo||God of Rain and Fire|
|Kiha||a Goddess of Maui|
|Koleamoku||God of the Art of Healing; patron of the Kahunas|
|Ku||the Architect and Maker of War|
|Kuahana||God who kills men|
|Kukaoo||God of the Husbandman|
|Kaupe||The Cannibal Dog Man|
|Kukailimoku||God of War|
|Kuula||God of Fishermen|
|Laamaomao||God of Winds, lives on Molokai|
|Laka||the Goddess of Hula; Pele’s sister|
|Lakakane||God of the Hula|
|Lie||Goddess of the Mountains|
|Lono||God of Peace and Prosperity, Wind and Rain, Lord of the Sun|
|Lonomakua||Keeper of the Sacred Fire Sticks|
|Mahulu||names of Gods in Lono’s temples|
|Manua||Supreme Sovereign of Po; the spirits of chiefs and priests live within him|
|Maui||the Time Shifter|
|Milu||Lord of the spirit world (Pele’s brother)|
|Moaalii||the Shark God of Molokai and Oahu|
|Mokualii||God of Canoe Makers|
|Mooaleo||a Gnome who lives on Lanai|
|Ouli||God who could kill people if prayed to|
|Poliahu||Goddess of snowy Mauna Kea and a rival to Pele|
|Papa||Goddess of Nature|
|Pele||Goddess of the Volcano|
|Puea||a God worshipped in darkness|
|Ukanipo||the Shark God of Hawaii|
|Ulaulekeahi||God of Distillers|
|Uli||God of Sorcerers|
And then you have to disregard the orders of the lawful rulers of Hawaii. Kamehameha the Great died in 1819. In the aftermath, two of his wives, Kaʻahumanu and Keōpūolani, then the two most powerful people in the kingdom, conferred with the kahuna nui, Hewahewa. They convinced young Liholiho, Kamehameha II, to overthrow the kapu system. They ordered the people to burn the wooden statues and tear down the rock temples and stop eating each other. Without the hierarchical system of religion in place, some abandoned the old gods, and others continued with cultural traditions of worshiping, them, especially their family ‘aumākua.
This was BEFORE the missionaries arrived. This was BEFORE Christianity. So I am white, and not Polynesian and not even Christian. I can and do respect old beliefs, and I probably know more about them than 90% of the people who claim them. But really don’t care to take the blame for them being revoked. I do anyway sometimes, but I accept it with more aloha than I am shown by the haters.
In December 1824 the High Chiefess Kapiʻolani descended into the Halemaʻumaʻu crater after reciting a Christian prayer instead of the traditional one to Pele. She was not killed as predicted. I wasn’t here. Hawaii wasn’t a state. The High Chiefess Kapi’olani rejected Pele and the Hawaiian people choose to ignore her and somehow blame a geothermal plant for hurting Pele. Or the blame for something because I am white. But I am hanaied Kamakawiwo’ole — so I really don’t have to take that from anyone. I did last night, but I won’t again.
OK, enough of that. The next issue was also primarily historical and dealt with the initial, disastrous, preliminary geothermal wells. They weren’t done right, and they weren’t done safely, and the ones we have now probably aren’t much better. But they COULD be better if our elected officials worked for the people they are supposed to represent.
This isn’t a political rant, but I happen to like Dominic Yagong, and if you don’t know him, maybe you ought to invite him to speak to your group. When you talk to him you don’t feel like you are talking to a snake.
In any event, that presentation concerned the terrible operation of the geothermal plant between 1983 and 1999 and up to 2004. I don’t think there is any argument about that. It was a disaster. But some of the pictures shown, which purported to be well blowouts, weren’t. I do not mean to suggest that the gases in lava are good for you. They are not. They are toxic. I am not a physician, only a Ph.D. But I can explain the toxicology of exposure to those gases quite clearly. HOWEVER, even if every well failed, or was sheared, it would simply plug up from the bottom and that’s why they have to drill new ones to replace old ones. They aren’t like bullets sitting in the ground waiting to be shot out of a cannon. The water has to pe PUMPED through the well — and bad wells simply clog. They don’t blow out. They USED TO, back in the ’80’s, but we are past that. There is no way that any of those wells are going to release 400 tonnes of toxic gas every day — which is what is happening naturally, each and every day.
So after the presentation was over last night — and about 80% of it was either too complicated for most of the audience to understand, or boring, and…the last part…about the UCSD microgrid made no sense to anyone unless you understood the system beforehand — people had already begin leaving in droves. I was initially an early speaker, but I asked to put my 3 minutes back so I could address concerns and comments scientifically, but that put me back two hours…so I left and came home.
All that said, I think geothermal is a good, renewable resource….in Iceland. It could be here, but I seriously doubt that sufficient safety procedures would be followed to make it reasonable. That’s too bad, because we are living on a hot-spot in the earth which would provide all our energy needs, at a cost of almost nothing — if either HELCO or anyone in government was honest — but we know better. So, as one of the presenters, Robert Petricci, pointed out last night, for the cost of a large geothermal plant, done correctly, and an underwater cable to Maui, every home in Hawaii could be given solar heat and electricity. He didn’t mention it, but if Helco was smart enough to change their business plan, they could make a lot of money installing and maintaining those systems and replacing batteries, with almost no overhead costs. A gold mine for them.
I simply want off the grid. If Helco has to find a new business model, then they do. But I’ll bet you that if the community owned and maintained the geothermal plants — and got electricity for next to nothing — they’d suddenly forget about disrespecting Pele. Because the bottom line here is that Pele could wash that plant away in a day if she wanted to. She doesn’t need anyone’s help and never has. This issue has a lot more to do with who is making money at our expense than anything else.
For the same money as a new HELCO plant, every home on the Island could have solar heat and electricity. It’s a no-brainer unless you work for HELCO.