Why is a technology adopted in one place but rejected in another? This basic question has motivated my research since graduate school. I wanted to know then, why waste-to-energy incinerators (WTE) were used in some circumstances, deployed with great ambivalence in others, and completely rejected in others. After all, this particular technology solves a lot of the problems related to solid waste disposal. WTE reduces volume while generating electricity, and it may even improve recycling in the right context. Shouldn't a place as beautiful, isolated, unique, and ecologically fragile as Hawaii embrace such a technology?
Hawaii Infrastructures examined the history of solid waste management in Hawaii, to try and understand the diversity of responses to garbage across the Islands. Some places, like Honolulu, use WTE. Other places, like Maui, have looked to a mixture of other processes - like recycling, composting, and landfilling - for solutions. In either situation, decisions surrounding waste management have been made in light of diverging perspectives on the ways humans are connected to the environments around them, involving multiple tiers of government as well as private firms and civic groups. My approach, linking historical-geographic analysis to contemporary issues, demonstrates the importance of simultaneously considering multiple scales and incorporating a spatial sensibility in environmental policymaking.
See my CV page for links to publications in this area.