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Save nature, one by one

The Maui News
Saturday, February 24, 2007 1:24 PM

Some see irony and others see some dark motive behind a local developer sponsoring “Focus Green: Conversations on Climate Change.”

It is safe to say environmentalists – at least those who give lip-service to the cause – made up the majority of the 900 people who attended the first of a series of lectures. The big draw was the appearance by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chief counsel for the National Resource Defense Council.

Kennedy’s speech was met with enthusiastic applause, particularly when he went after President George W. Bush’s environmental record and the effects of his foreign policies.

While admitting “all development, of course, is controversial,” Kennedy said there was no need to make community evolution a war between development and the environment. He said when people choose environmental protection, most commonly seen in island nations and places like Hawaii, they are choosing economic prosperity since the environment is “the infrastructure of our community.”

Kennedy said his appearance was prompted by an e-mail from Everett Dowling, whose Dowling Co. is sponsoring the series of lectures on the environment. The connection was made more clearly by the background display of the Dowling Co. logo.

Dowling has been a lightning rod in the necessary development debate on Maui. As he put it, “Anti-development is against all development. They’re never going to like the Dowling Company and they’re never going to like developers.”

Kennedy called for a cooperative approach. That will be difficult to impossible as long as the sides are driven more by emotion than reason. The world’s increasing population – including the homegrown variety on Maui – makes some kind of development on Maui a certainty.

Protecting the environment is more than an issue for organizations, companies and governments. It is a matter of individual responsibility. Kennedy said “nature enriches us.” It does nothing to simply object. Positive steps must be taken, individually, toward recycling, preserving resources, protecting parks and beaches, and on and on. Even developers can see the need to live with rather than against nature. On Maui it makes economic sense.




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