Earth Day was founded by people who talked about how concerned they were about pollution and environmental destruction. The conversation needs to continue as the effects of climate change are going to test our accomplishments, our lifestyles, and our natural resources. Doctor Stephanie Dunbar-Co, Climate and Protection Manager at The Nature Conservancy, joined John Veneri in the Living808 Lounge to talk more about Earth Day and climate change.

“I’m inspired by the people of Hawaii and this beautiful place that nourishes us all. In a recent (Jan 2022) survey, 96% of Hawaii’s people said they believe it’s their responsibility to protect Hawaii’s ocean for future generations. Isn’t that wonderful? I think it’s clear that we all love Hawaii. But loving Hawaii isn’t enough – we need to talk about how to address the things that are impacting Hawaii – like climate change.  We can’t solve a problem we don’t talk about. Many of us, me included! can find it hard to talk about this topic.  We also want more people to learn more about how unique Hawaii is – we will both feel the impacts of climate change acutely and we can contribute to global action because we are the world in a microcosm:  Hawaii has 27 of 36 life zones, high mountains, coral reefs, beautiful oceans and beaches, dense rain forests that provide abundant fresh water, plants and fish and birds found nowhere else on earth, and a cultural foundation of sustainability. By learning (or re-learning) how to live sustainably with nature in Hawaii, we can help other places around the world learn the same.  And Palmyra, a remote atoll 1000 miles south of us, shows us how nature responds with very few human impacts – as well as what climate change is doing to nature without the pressures of a human population.”

And this will be a team effort and Hawaii can help.  Dr Stephanie explains how.

“One way people can help is to thank Hawaiʻi’s Congressional delegation for securing funds for multiple projects and organizations to boost the resilience of our native forests, coral reefs, coasts and communities. And we all need to continue to insist that Hawaii invest more in forest and coral restoration, wetland restoration and food security, and community-based management. Our small individual contributions can feel insignificant, but they are empowering, and that sense of empowerment can motivate me to do more, to feel a part of it, and to help me and others take more action. How you interact with the ocean and the forests, whether you carpool or hang your clothes on the line, little things that don’t seem like they’d make a big difference but lead to change. And of course, talk to your friends and family about climate change!”

You can download the guide HERE which gives helpful pointers on how to have these conversations.