Climate Change is real. The Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report published over one and a half years ago included graphics demonstrating where the sea will take over coastal roads and residential areas, based on the best available data and methods. These obvious dangers have difficult remediation that need to be addressed at once. Unfortunately shoreline retreat is going to be a fact of life here on the islands.
In the past decade, we’ve also begun to see destruction caused from changing weather patterns. Hurricane Katrina has stuck in my mind as the moment I first understood how warmer ocean water fuels the force and size of a hurricane. Since Katrina, we’ve seen an increase in Category five storms and just in the last year had three Category five storms approach the Hawaiian Islands. In the past the deep cold Pacific waters have helped dissipate the power of large hurricanes, but now that these waters are warming, what will be the tipping point from temperature increase? When, not if, a large hurricane hits Hawaii, will we be prepared? Last year we witnessed the failure of the US Government to support the recovery of Puerto Rico. In large part we may need to be responsible for ourselves when the time comes.
In a July article in the MauiTimes Weekly Tara Owens, a local Coastal Hazards Specialist with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program stated, “In my work, I don’t see ‘climate deniers’ so much as ‘climate ignorers.’ They know about the impacts because they can see them, but they choose to either ignore the effect and/or defer action.”
So what can we do? Prudence and preparation are first cousins. If we face a direct hit from a hurricane, our first need will be to mobilize our food and water. Growing food and island food sovereignty is a critical element to our survival for the new future we are facing. We need to re-enliven our agriculture sector in Maui County and Hawaii Nei. The good news is we have people with skills, land, and water for growing food.
What can we grow? Think proteins, starch and phytonutrients just as the Hawaiians did when they set off in their voyaging canoes on their way to Hawaii Nei. Banana/plantain take one year to mature and produce fruit, as does kalo and yacon (starches). Fruit, nut and ulu trees take several years to mature, while sweet potato, beans and cassava (tapioca) are starch staples that grow rapidly.
In the short term make sure you have three days, but preferably two weeks of food reserves in your pantry and plenty of water. Dried, canned and nutrient dense foods are best. Climate change is here but with preparation we can weather this storm.
Image Credit: energy.hawaii.gov