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Environmentalism threatened by environmentalists?

By Marisa Griffin

A Hawaii entrepreneur says he believes that pseudo-environmentalists are threatening the green movement and its economic potential.

Aquaculture entrepreneur Bill Spencer says Hawaii’s new breed of “pop-up environmentalists” is posing a great threat to the growth of the economy by suffocating visionary, revenue-generating projects.

Spencer spoke at the Thinktech & HVCA (Hawaii Venture Capital Association) “Recovery and Transformation” conference on August 25, which included a panel discussion on identifying problems in Hawaii’s troubled economy. Spencer, a panelist, is CEO of Hawaii Oceanic Technology, an ocean science company that is developing open ocean aquaculture technology for sustainable and environmentally responsible industrial scale fish farming.

“There is a new breed of environmentalists that are popping up that are nothing like their legitimate counterparts,” Spencer said. “They pose a severe threat to economic progress.”

According to Spencer, pop-up environmentalists are those who think that environmental entrepreneurs are greedy corporations who only want to make a buck off of public resources. They are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

He said they are influenced by today’s pop-culture, which characterizes corporations and the private sector as “evil.” Spencer commented that there are bad apples in every apple cart, but that doesn’t mean that all corporations are evil. He said he thinks that these pop-up environmentalists need to be challenged by scientists and not be driven by fear.

Spencer said these so-called “pop-up” environmentalists are stopping projects that could help grow the economy. “For example, capping our vast capacity to produce geo-thermal energy, something that could help eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, has been virtually strangled,” Spencer said.

In a short interview after his five-minute speech, Spencer said that we should evaluate our environmental priorities and figure out where action needs to be taken.

“Global warming, for example…the consequences measured in geologic time…millions and millions of years will pass before some of the potential threats are going to occur,” Spencer said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something about it, but I think we need to prioritize and look at things we can do something about now.”

Spencer said that Hawaii’s economy will not improve if we continue to “tolerate this kind of wrong-headed activism that hides under the green flag of environmentalism.” He said that some things are going to have to change, for example, “no longer allowing the military to dump ordinance in the ocean or use sonar.”

Spencer said he believes that we have to be free to design our future. He says that, “progress is not possible without change. Progress is accomplished by entrepreneurs who do things and take calculated risks.” According to Spencer, by setting realistic and achievable goals to make changes and rise above these “pop-up environmentalists”, Hawaii’s economy will grow and thrive.