Cane shutdown wouldn’t cause much hardship

A June 8 letter reminded me of meeting a group of four astonished senior ladies from Australia some months back because Hawaii did not use mulching like the rest of the sugar-growing countries.

Last year, I wrote to the mayor about how badly cane burning affects older people like myself, having been on an oxygen tank for seven hours in the emergency room at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

According to a report from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (www.ctahr.hawaii.

edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/EI-6.pdf): “Had the sugar industry been shut down in 2002, its total impact on Hawaii’s economy would have been a loss of $264 million in output, $137 million in value added, $71 million in labor earnings, $9.4 million in state taxes and 2,570 jobs. For comparison, the entire economy in Hawaii generated a $46 billion gross state product (GSP or value added), $26 billion in labor earnings, and $3.6 billion in state taxes in 2002, and over 772,000 jobs in 2001.” (Therefore, not much of a hardship in shutting down the cane industry.)

The report also states, “The sugar industry also has an aesthetic value” (This is the part that really rubs me.) “providing an open, green, agricultural landscape pleasing both to residents and to the millions of visitors.”

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. sends alerts it is canceling the burning, yet the cane smoke fills my lungs during the early hours just past midnight every time.

Bill Pye