Nainoa Thompson Receives Explorers Club Medal, the Most Prestigious Recognition in Exploration

Navigator and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society Nainoa Thompson was honored this evening with the 2017 Explorers Club Medal, the most prestigious recognition in exploration. The award was presented to Thompson at the 113th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at Ellis Island in New York City.  The medal is awarded annually to select individuals for their extraordinary contributions directly in the field of exploration, scientific research, or to the welfare of humanity.

2017 Explorers Club Medal winner Nainoa Thompson with ocean explorer, Sylvia Earle.

Thompson was recognized for his historic work to revive and perpetuate Polynesian wayfinding and for leading the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage as captain and navigator of iconic sailing canoe Hokulea. Thompson has dedicated his life to teaching the art and values of wayfinding to generations of navigators throughout Polynesia and from across the globe. He was the first Native Hawaiian to practice long-distance wayfinding since the 14th century and consequently inspired a voyaging renaissance throughout the Pacific.

Today, Hokulea is completing the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, a journey to inspire communities to care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments for a more sustainable future. To date, Hokulea has sailed over 31,000 nautical miles around the world.

Hokulea is currently on her way to the Marquesas Islands. The canoe’s last stop will be in Tahiti where she will meet up with her sister canoe, Hikianalia and sail back to Hawaii together on the final leg of the Worldwide Voyage.

The Explorers Club also honored Hokulea at a special Presidential Dinner in June 2016 on World Oceans Day.

In addition to Thompson, Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, M.D. received the Explorers Club Medal for Solar Impulse, a solar powered airplane circumnavigation project that has raised public awareness and encouraged political actions in favor of clean technologies and energy efficiency around the world. The event was hosted by two-time Academy Award winning actor, Robert DeNiro, who introduced a congratulatory video from past Explorers Club Medal recipient, award-winning filmmaker, and fellow Ocean Elder, James Cameron. Cameron’s video discussed the importance of education, conservation, and oceans exploration, lauding the night’s awardees for their landmark endeavors and environmental stewardship.

Founded in 1904 in New York City, The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. The Club serves as a meeting point and unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide, promoting the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. An illustrious series of first explorations are credited to members of the Club, including the first visit to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean and first to the surface of the moon.

The Explorers Club Medal is the Club’s highest honor. Past recipients of the Explorers Club Medal include James Cameron, for his outstanding contributions to ocean science; Walter H. Munk, for his extraordinary oceanography achievements that span his 75-year career; and Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D., for his significant contributions to the welfare of humanity through science and education.

For information on the Explorers Club Awards and other 2017 recipients, please click here.

Sen. Kahele & Rep. Todd Urge County of Hawaii to Reconsider Terminating East Hawaii Organics Facility Contract

We write to express our sincere concern regarding the County of Hawaii’s recent decision to terminate the East Hawaii Organics Facility Contract.

As you are well aware, the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill has a remaining usable life of one to three years and the County has worked hard to find a solution to this problem.  The proposed composting facility is the perfect antidote to this issue and will provide multiple benefits to our community, such as diverting 54% of our County’s organic waste, providing nutrient rich compost to our vital agricultural industry, eliminating invasive species through enhanced mulching aw well as promoting a renewed sense of self sustainability and recycling education on our Island.

The project would work with all Department of Education schools on our island by directing all food waste, paper, compostable dishes, and plastics to the landfill at $21.25 per ton, $63.75 less than what it currently cost.  It would also enable us to educate and instill in our State’s next generation the value of composting, sustainability, and what it truly means to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  This project can be a model for the rest of the State and we have no doubt would be implemented statewide in a few years.  We envision every Island; one day will have its own organic composting facility.

In addition there are potentially several new initiatives to stimulate the agriculture industry on our Island and part of these initiatives require the availability of nutrient rich compost to encourage farming and growing our own food among local farmers and private residents.  The proposed composting facility will produce 40 tons of organic, naturally rich compost once fully operational and this can have a major impact on the agriculture and horticulture industry on Hawai’i Island as well as future farming sustainability initiatives.

The proposed composting facility will also directly address our Islands invasive species epidemic by converting green waste and untreated wood pallets to enhanced mulch and heating it to a specific temperature that will eliminate all known invasive species to include: rapid ohia death, little red fire ants, coqui frogs, coconut rhinoceros beetle, coffee berry borer and the banana bunchy top virus.  Although this process is already occurring at the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill, the enhanced mulch from the composting facility would be of better quality and a product that would be safe for our farmers and community.  This enhanced mulch, in high demand in East Hawai’i, would continue to be distributed at no cost and would substantially decrease the mulch currently imported from the U.S. Mainland.

We also understand the concerns of our neighbors in Pana’ewa and Keaukaha and the proposed sites proximity to the Department of Hawaiian Homes Land agricultural farm lots.  These concerns must be addressed and there are alternate sites in East Hawai’i that the proposed project could be relocated to.  We are willing to work with the County to locate an alternative site on State land should the project be allowed to proceed.

Finally, we are concerned that the termination of this project, which was approved unanimously by the previous County Council that provided for the issuance of a $10.6 million bond, will send the negative message to private industry and investors that the County of Hawai’i does not honor its contractual obligations and decisions. Pending litigation to recover costs associated with the contract termination could amount to millions of dollars in legal fees that County taxpayers will have to shoulder.  This is clearly not in the County’s best interests.

In conclusion, we strongly urge the County of Hawai’i to reconsider terminating this critically important project.

Sincerely,

Hawai’i State Senator Kaiali’i Kahele and Hawai’i State Representative Chris Todd

Hawaii Island Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight – Image Via @IgnazioMagnani

Big Island of Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

Image sent to me from International Space Station Astronaut Ignazio Magnani

It will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, March 25 at 7:05 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes at a maximum height of 62 degrees. It will appear 10 degrees above the South Southwest part of the sky and disappear 10 degrees above the Northeast part of the sky.