Norton and the Search for Sustainability in Hawai‘i
Hawai‘i is the most isolated landmass in the world. It is a unique island chain where its beauty and isolation form the ideal vision of paradise. Its isolation, however, creates an environment of opportunity and challenge. Prior to European contact, Hawai‘i maintained a population of a million people or more. They developed a land management system that adhered to the ecological limits of the island, and they learned to live healthy and sustainably within those limits. Modern-day Hawai‘i, however, has increased anthropocentric impacts that strain current resources and deplete local ecosystems. Today, the people of Hawai‘i are dependent upon other areas of the world for food, energy, and other materials. In this chapter I draw upon Leopold’s essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” and Bryan Norton’s important work on how multi-scalar relationships can be significantly affected by human decisions and the importance of valuing the entire island system. Today, Hawai‘i is experiencing a surge of new strategies that make living in the islands more ecologically, economically, and socially resilient. This chapter establishes Hawai‘i as a model from which other communities can draw examples for setting sustainability goals, adaptive management techniques, and planning for the future.
KeywordsSustainability Hawai‘i Adaptive management Systems thinking
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