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Managing editor Michael Keany opined on the cane fires being lit by Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. on Maui, writing, “I’m for ‘em.”
I just don’t know what to say to a man who is willing for us on Maui to get lung disease so he can look at a green landscape. But I’ll try.
1. HC&S can harvest without burning, as they do in Brazil and Australia, where burning is being quickly phased out.
2. HC&S turned down the offer of a company who would at their own cost have installed a stripper and generated energy from the cane debris.
3. This burning goes on nine months a year and our kids are kept in at recess because of it. The smoke plumes mostly collapse on Maalaea, which eats smoke almost daily during that nine months. However Paia, Kihei, Kahului, and even Pukalani get it too.
4. Yeah, we have problems with vog, but the effects of vog and smoke are not just cumulative, they are synergetic. Vog starts the process of weakening the lungs; cane smoke throws people into full-blown lung disease.
5. For people like me who were diagnosed with lung disease after inhaling a bad cane burn smoke, and whose health has been damaged as a result, I find your article uninformed and dismissive of the very real health consequences of cane burning.
It’s easy to sit on O‘ahu and admire the cane fields when you aren’t breathing the smoke on a daily basis. Shame on you for your trite and callous article.
—Karen Chun, Paia, Hawaii
Since I was raised on a plantation in Waipahu (Oahu Sugar), I may be biased about sugar and plantation life. As kids, we were never bothered much about burning cane season. It was something we actually looked forward to, because after the clearing of the cane and debris, we would see an entirely different landscape adjoining our plantation homes. We also accepted the fact that burning was crucial to the harvesting process. Later in life, I found myself as a state official charged with agricultural policy, and one of our projects was the “saving” of Hawaii’s sugar plantations. This was during the 1990s. At that time, we faced opposition to burning from Maui citizens. HC&S, I believe, was quite sincere in trying to come up with alternatives to burning. They are diligent in burning only during days when winds are blowing away from populated areas, for example. But, as you noted, burning is still necessary for the economic survival of the industry. I hope more Mauians will read your column and realize that central plains of the island would be a worse place without sugar cane fields. You’ve done a good thing by writing it.
—Gary Doi, Honolulu, Hawaii
The First Hawaiian Center is a tad worse than the Honolulu Club if you ask me!
Try getting into and out of Palama Market parking lot, especially if there is some traffic on the road. It's small but mightily awful.
(Ahana koko lele)
In our February Best Dentists listings, we mistakenly listed Dr. Lynn Fujimoto as being retired. She is still in practice, and reachable at 98-660 Papalealii Street, 741-4486.