Do we have the political energy to face oil crisis?
It is not so much a perfect storm, but rather the perfect time for an intervention.
For years, the state Legislature has been pumping thousands of tax dollars into a Commission on Sustainability.
As gas prices soar, it might have been wiser to dole out the bucks for a commission to figure out how we will simply survive.
There are those, like Gov. Linda Lingle, who have insistently said since 2006 that Hawaii has a problem generating enough reliable power. For two years the Republican governor has worked to make the state more energy self-sufficient.
The campaign was really nothing new. Former Gov. George Ariyoshi in the 1970s recognized that Hawaii was dangerously dependent on crude oil, and tried to sponsor nonpolluting ways of generating power.
Outside of a still-controversial geothermal power plant on the Big Island, nothing came of the other plans.
Today Lingle is also doing more talking than walking, but she is at least trying to bring the state up to the same level of understanding about Hawaii's looming energy crisis.
Our power plants run on oil and sometimes garbage. Across the country Americans get electricity because nuclear power, coal, natural gas and hydroelectric generators turn on the juice.
The cost of damming up the water running in the Columbia River has not gone up 145 percent since January, but the cost of a barrel of crude has.
An akamai, wealthy local businessman I know stopped me on the Fort Street Mall last week.
"What are they doing? They have known about this for years; they are doing nothing," my friend wailed.
Lingle says the more information she can marshal, the more people are focusing on it.
And Lingle says there are both Democrats and Republicans who see Hawaii's energy crisis clearly and are able to keep politics out of it.
"Rep. Mina Morita and Sen. Kalani English were in the hinterlands of public policy, and now she is in the forefront and they are very knowledgeable about it, also our Republicans Sen. Fred Hemmings and Rep. Cynthia Thielen," Lingle said.
Meanwhile, mainstream Democrats such as Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and House Finance Committee chairman Marcus Oshiro are saying they understand and are worried about the whole concept of "peak oil."
"Now that we have heard the talk, it is time for real action before oil turns out the lights in Hawaii.