Is sun setting on Hawaii’s future?
For 25 percent of adults, the first sign of heart disease is sudden death from a heart attack.
For isolated economies, the first sign that you have flamed out might be that the planes stop flying to your airport on a regular basis.
There is a tipping point to governing. At one point you can grab something before it goes down the tubes. But there is a moment when it is going to slip away no matter how hard you try to pull back.
As James Schlesinger, the first energy secretary, put it: "We have only two modes -- complacency and panic."
The recent events here in Hawaii and across the nation make you wonder just how risky is Hawaii's future.
For several years planners and futurists such as the University of Hawaii's James Dator pointed to a condition they call "Peak Oil" as the tipping point. Simply described "Peak Oil" is when the production of the global supply of oil starts to shrink.
In the decades leading up to Peak Oil, there was always more oil to find. Oil was cheap enough that an entire way of living was built on oil powering cars, trains and planes.
Now the demand for oil is soaring, China and India are rushing to build cars and roads for more oil-powered vehicles. Demand makes the price go up and up.
Then one day, oil will be limited by both demand and by availability. Not only will it be too expensive, you simply won't be able to get it.
Three years ago Dator wrote that the Hawaii's actual state plan was "built on the assumption of an expanding global supply of oil."
"A shrinking global supply of oil might be harmful for Hawaii's economy, reducing tourist arrivals, deflating real estate values and resulting in significant economic contraction," Dator and Honolulu engineer Manfred Zapka warned.
In several ways Gov. Linda Lingle has touched upon the these concerns and urged renewable energy, conservation and attempts to redirect the economy. The Legislature assembled a commission to draw up a sustainability plan and putting on a 2050 time stamp. Dator quit the commission, saying it dealt timidly with immediate issues "but should not pretend to have any futures orientation."
Republican Senate leader Fred Hemmings used his opening day speech this year to frankly warn that "our state and the world are at an unprecedented juncture in history. Many of the principles humankind has lived by since the dawn of civilization may no longer be practical.
"We cannot wait until 2050 to achieve sustainability," Hemmings said.
Dator reports that "things have gotten worse while the state has basically played the fiddle."
When one of the nation's leading futurists is so decidedly gloomy about our own options, the state's leaders might want to start making decisions for real and not for show.