Category Archives: Environment

Busted Turbine

I don’t think I mentioned it lately, but the wind turbine that GPA installed several years ago that powered my neighborhood has been down since early September. The turbine featured this collapsible system that allowed GPA employees to lower the turbine when typhoons or other high winds were expected, or for servicing.
GPA Wind Turbine at Tarzan Falls
Apparently the turbine was damaged during storm preparations a few months ago and it cannot be fixed by GPA. They’ve sought assistance from the French company that sold the turbine, and the generator is offline until further notice. That’s a drag. I really think they need to deploy more wind turbines here on Guam to meet our energy needs instead of building more fossil fuel plants. It gets pretty windy here, especially during dry season when the trade winds are blowing.

Yep, It’s Load Shedding Time

Just to confirm my last post…

Yes, Guam is in the midst of load shedding again. This was a common theme throughout the 90’s on Guam, with months and months of load shedding. At the time, my response was to just stay late at the office (with backup generators) then hit a couple bars and not come home until later at night when the demand for power was less and load shedding was over. Not really an option this time around. There are kids to be fed and bathed now, homework to be done, laundry, dishes, etc.

Sunday night GPA took a couple more generators off line and finally owned up to the situation. Instead of just bonking out neighborhoods at random they have started publishing schedules for load shedding. Back in the 90’s they were terrible at keeping to their schedules, and it would appear they still have difficulties. My power went out at about 10:15 last night, so I went around and secured the house, brushed my teeth and headed to bed. As soon as I laid down however, the power came back on about 30 minutes later.

I am sure this is just going to cause havoc with my appliances and the computer, tv, etc. Time to just keep those things off indefinitely and hunker down with flashlights and candles. And here I was so excited about the new solar farm coming online. Maybe it’s time to talk to Pacific Solar or Micronesia Renewable Energy about outfitting my house for solar power. Both these outfits offer affordable plans and basically take the place of GPA as the power utility. They take the excess power harvested from my rooftop (like during the day when I am at work and all that sunlight is shining on my empty house) and sell it to GPA. Guess I should make a phone call and find out if they can help with this load shedding situation.

Get Up Stand Up

My lovely wife bought me a wonderful birthday/Christmas present; a 12’1″ Laird Hamilton Standup surfboard. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever gotten. Took it out surfing last weekend, and I can’t wait to head out tomorrow too. It’s a great combination of surfing and paddling, and getting out the SUP is great exercise and loads of fun.

Thanks go to Fred and Mae at Lotus Surf, they really brought the board in fast once we made the order. I highly suggest shopping at Lotus for all your surfing needs. This couple recently took over the store and they are great people and good friends of ours.

Weather Weather Weather

How boring am I? I am going to talk about the weather on Guam.

It is raining. Raining like mad. I think 2 inches dropped overnight.

Actually PCR Environmental says 2.06 inches fell since midnight.

PCR Environmental has a very cool setup for weather observations. Since they are about 300 yards from my place, they have the most accurate weather for my location, much more pertinent than the weather up at the airport or the air force base. They have a weather system set up on their roof, which is plugged into a Mac running wView, which puts the data up on the web.

Jeff Pleadwell has a similar system set up down in Ipan and his eponymous restaurant. But since he is about 15 miles from my location now, I will stick with PCR’s data.


So gasoline hit $4.20 a gallon yesterday. That hurts. I’ve basically stopped driving my truck unless I really have to.

Someone Should Be Held Accountable Part Two

The federal court wrested control of Guam’s solid waste program from the Government of Guam on Monday, basically saying that GovGuam is not interested in closing Ordot dump and that the situation is spiraling out of control. Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood placed the solid waste operations in receivership and gave a Virginia company the go ahead to develop a new landfill and close the festering sore of the current landfill. She was scathing in her scorn for GovGuam, DPW and the Legislature.

So a new landfill is on the way. Unfortunately this receivership into the hands of a private firm means the costs will skyrocket, and those costs will of course be passed onto me and other Guam taxpayers. Joy. Another banner week for GovGuam ineptitude.

Chilling Out Is The Secret To Long Life?

I linked to a story yesterday about Inuit hunters in Alaska who caught a bowhead whale last month and began to carve up the carcass when they came across a harpoon tip inside the whale that was only used between 1885 and 1895, making that particular whale at least 115 years old, if not older. Indeed scientists in 1999 examined another bowhead whale and placed its age at 211 years.

So what is the secret of their longevity? Carl Zimmer explores this idea in an essay in the New York Times, and it boils down to reproductive strategies. Species that are under threat, either from carnivores or their punishing environment, tend to live quickly and reproduce like well, rabbits. Rapid reproduction leads to accelerated metabolisms and shortened life spans, but their prolific fecundity ensures the survival of the species. However, bowhead whales evolved with little competition in their environment and minimal pressure from carnivores, so they could devote their metabolic resources to individual growth and health. They take two decades to mature and produce a single offspring every seven years, a stately pace for reproduction that served the whales well for millenia.

Zimmer makes the point that this long lived lifestyle ran into a crisis a century ago. Large scale whaling brought the bowhead population to the brink of extinction and now, a century after commercial whaling ceased on bowheads, their numbers are still scant. They are still considered a threatened species because they reproduce so slowly. He mentions studies done on fruit fly populations where scientists killed off vast amounts of the flies, the population reached sexual maturity faster and consequently shorten the flies’ lifespans. I wonder if we have done the same thing to bowhead whales?

Gun Beach Condos Stalled Out

Just last week I wrote about the massive development slated for Gun Beach. Now a week later the developer and construction company building the Two Lover’s Condos are in hot water for beginning to clear land before they had the necessary permits. Not only were bulldozers clearing land and destroying ancient Chamorro artifacts, the area is home to an endangered snail that needs to be captured and placed in a proper environment before construction can begin. CoreTech lacked permits for any construction activities, and only possessed a drilling permit from the Guam EPA. Oops. Not an auspicious start to this boondoggle of a development.

Whoops There Goes Another Mountaintop Dam

No real surprises here; the December 2005 dam breaching of the Taum Sauk reservoir was caused by deliberate removal of safety gauges at the reservoir. Ameren/UE officials had the gauges removed in order to raise the water levels of the dam and increase the power plant’s generating capacity.


And even better, Ameren officials hid the evidence of this removal from the Missouri investigators and never gave a complete disclosure of what actually happened that December morning. And Missouri’s attorney general will not prosecute Ameren or any of its employees. I wonder how many folks have to die before the Attorney General considers it worthwhile to indict criminal behavior?

It’s Melting, Melting…

Whoops. Looks like the Arctic polar ice cap is melting 30 years ahead of schedule, according to the latest study. The Arctic Ocean is now expected to be ice free by 2020. That’s 13 years away folks. I got shirts older than that.

In related news, the outer islands of Chuuk were devastated by high tides in March. Check out the photo online to get an idea of what a really high tide does to a low lying atoll.

California Eyes High Speed Rail

California officials are eyeing a high speed rail connection between San Francisco and San Diego, using France’s TGV locomotives. Cool idea, but I wouldn’t ride it. I’ve seen how Amtrak operates and I know there would be a catastrophic derailment within a week of that train beginning service.

At least the French now how to operate it. The TGV made a new speed record for railroads today.

Hawaiian Canoes Reach Satawal

A pair of Hawaiian sailing canoes, the Ho-kule’a and the Alingano Maisu reached the island of Satawal yesterday. The Alingano Maisu is a gift to Mau Piailug, the navigator who taught his skills to the Hawaiians and reintroduced traditional navigation to the Hawaiian Islands.

The Hawaiians left Oahu in mid January, and battled stormy seas, constant rain and contrary winds to reach Satawal. After the presentation of the canoe to Piailug, the Ho-kule’a will continue on through Micronesia, visiting Palau and Yap, before heading to Japan to celebrate that country’s strong ties to Hawai’i. The Ho-kule’a even has a blog to track the voyage.

My Newest Nemesis

I have made a new enemy here on Guam, and he absolutely hates me. He hates me with a passion. For three days in a row, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, he physically attacked me. Luckily he’s only about 10 inches long.

Here he is, the Picasso Triggerfish, or the pulonnon in Chamoru. This mean spirited fish lives on the reef flats and is very, very territorial. This particular fellow has set up his home in the waters off the Marriott hotel in Tumon Bay, directly along the course I swim four or five times a week.Friday night I was swimming along and “POW!”-he got me on my thumb of my left hand. Saturday at roughly the same time and place he hit me again, this time on the right arm. And Sunday evening he got me once more, on my right leg that time. I just know he’s hanging out in his house waiting for the big haolie guy to come by swimming so he can shoot out and pop me one. Sunday I jumped up and cursed loudly at his repeated attacks. I ducked my head back underwater and there he was, about three feet away, quivering in rage and sizing me up for another shot. Mean little bastard wanted another taste of me.

I’m going back in the water tonight and I am actually dreading it. Maybe I should swim with a net so I can catch the little bugger…