It’s probably true that solar and wind energy cannot fully replace the heavy demand of industrial nations for coal and oil and natural gas. But those latter three are perishables. They won’t be with us forever. So doesn’t it make sense to lengthen their survivability by mixing in solar and wind energy?

We don’t know if global warming (and it does exist) is a short term or long term happening, and we don’t know for sure that it’s caused more by man-made emissions than by cyclical forces we don’t yet understand. But doesn’t it make sense to err on the cautious side, plan for long-term warming and cut way back on man-made emissions?

We can’t know what 2010 and 2011 will bring for Hawaii’s economy. Even some recovery from the world-wide recession may be late in helping us in terms of tourism recovery, retail sales, re-employment and tax revenue. Doesn’t it make sense to plan for the anticipated state budget deficit with a non-lethal combination of furloughs, layoffs, program cuts, dipping into some special funds and increasing taxes on our wealthiest citizens and perhaps a temporary quarter-percent increase in the excise tax?

We don’t know what our future public service needs will be (or not be) so doesn’t it make sense to plan as if the cutbacks in state and city government programs might have to be permanent? I think we’ll learn we can live quite well with less. We don’t need that real estate recording office open five days a week. We just have it because real estate people made the biggest noise with the Legislature. They were afraid a sale could go sour if a buyer had three days instead of just a weekend to ponder if he’d made a mistake.

All these things are reasonable solutions. We’re not reasonable people. We don’t want our things tampered with. Watch how many seniors yell about no Social Security increase in 2010, even though we’re in zero inflation and nobody had to withdraw from an IRA in 2009 and taxation is stable. Watch people bitch next year as property taxes go up. But they’ll still demand two garbage pickups a week. They’ll say “hey, pay the refuse workers less.”

Hard times have given us some excellent opportunities. To change our energy use, to cut way back on atmospheric emissions, to cut state and city programs and the size of government, and re-jigger our tax structure.

Some of all of that has to be done. But too many people seem to be saying that if we just hang around and stare at the sky everything will turn out okay.

‘Bob Jones is a MidWeek columnist. Reach him at mailto:BanyanHouse@hula.net’

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