News, updates, finds, and stories from staff and community members at KAHEA.
Showing blog entries tagged as: climate change

News, updates, finds, stories, and tidbits from staff and community members at KAHEA. Got something to share? Email us at:

All Talk, No Action

From  Andrea:

I attended the Reserve Advisory Council meetings on the Draft Science Plan for Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument last Tuesday and Wednesday.  After two full days of meetings, I left thinking the whole process was, in the words of Shakespeare, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The Reserve Advisory Council is a citizen advisory body with the important responsibility of providing advice and recommendations to the co-trustees (via NOAA’s representation) on management of our beloved Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.  The Draft Science Plan discussed at this meeting prioritizes research activities, meaning this plan determines what access and activities will be allowed for research within the protected Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. What access and activities are allowed within the Monument determines, ultimately, what on-the-ground level of conservation the Monument will be afforded.

These two long days of meetings, full of heated debates and hammering out precise language for this important Science Plan, led to…well, nothing!  The Reserve Advisory Council (RAC) did not even have the necessary quorom- that is, minimum number of members necessary to make decisions and carry out their function, leading me to wonder why everyone spent two long, full days for all talk, no action.

I was particularly frustrated that the RAC went through all the motions but in the end lacked quorom because I have issues with the draft Science Plan.  Under the Plan’s prioritization system of permits, most potential activities for permitting were ranked as “critical” or “high” priority.  Can you call it “prioritized,” if everything is deemed important? Such a high proportion of activities deemed to be “critical” and “high” priority implicates a high proportion of permitted activities in the Monument, which was originally established under a guideline of no access unless permitted.  Clearly, the prioritization system needs some refining to serve the purpose of the Monument.

I am afraid to report that, as the draft Science Plan stands now, access into this protected Monument via the permitting system will not be much of a hurdle.  Just as one example, the Science Plan’s risk analysis section asks “what is the harm of NOT conducting the research,”  without ever asking “what is the harm” of conducting it.  How can you assess whether a proposed research project is worth the risk it poses to the environment, if you never ask the question?

Clearly, the Science Plan needs a lot more work.  Unfortunately, who knows when the RAC will have the necessary attendance to decide on revisions to the Science Plan.  I guess the system for determining which permits are granted in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will have to be put on hold until enough RAC members decide to fulfill their duty of attending RAC meetings.  Otherwise, the plan may be adopted without genuine oversight and input from the “citizen’s” advisory group.

April's Action Alert Line-Up

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Aloha mai Kakou!

Spring is here, which means the rains will be coming to an end soon and so will the 2009 Legislative Session.  In these last heated weeks of the session, the public will get one last chance to be heard on the proposals affecting our environment and culture.  At the same time, it is important not to ignore key decisions affecting our public trust resources that are being made outside the Capitol.

To help you keep track of it all, here are four pressing issues to take action on right now and help protect the things we all love about Hawaii nei.

1. Defend the NAR Fund… because Conservation Can’t Wait!


On Monday, the State Ways & Means Committee will consider a measure to take money away from the Natural Area Reserve Fund in order to balance the state budget.  For the last ten years, this fund has provided for the conservation programs that have successfully protected our native forests, supported important watersheds, and controlled invasive species – not to mention provide affordable housing and encourage local agriculture.

Cutting this fund now will short-change our children by denying them the benefit of clean water, climate change control, and healthy native ecosystems.  Plus, we all know it is simply unnecessary because the state could generate at least $50 million a year from the foreign telescopes that currently use state land on Mauna Kea for free!  If the state just renegotiated those leases to be fair (and legal), then Hawaii could weather this economic crisis without cutting programs (or jobs).

Take action now!  Tell Hawaii’s Senators: Don’t Raid, Make the Telescopes Pay.

2. Struggle to Defend Mauna Kea Culminates This Week!

This is it.  All of the hardwork to protect Mauna Kea from the pressure to build ever-larger telescopes will culminate in two hearings this week:

– On Monday, in Honolulu, the State Ways & Means Committee will decide whether to pass HB 1174 to transfer authority for Mauna Kea to the University.

– On Thursday, in Hilo, the State Board of Land and Natural Resources will decide whether to adopt the University’s latest development plan for the summit.

Though the University continues to claim it now can properly manage the summit, the details of their plan reveal this is just the same old scam to consolidate its control over the public’s sacred summit. The University’s latest’s scheme does nothing to protect Mauna Kea’s unique and endangered alpine habitat, uphold continued cultural and religious practices on this sacred summit, or control telescope development.

Add your voice to the thousands who have already spoken up in support of genuine protections for the sacred summit of Mauna Kea – just click here.

Attend the Public Hearing in Hilo on April 8th and 9th at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel (71 Banyan Drive, 96720) at 9:00 am in the Moku Ola Ballroom.

3. Industrial Aquaculture Invades the Kohala Coast

Huge, untethered, self-powered, underwater spheres crammed with thousands of fish floating off our coast.  Yikes! Sounds like a science fiction B-film, but this is exactly what is being proposed for the Kohala coast of Hawaii Island.

Hawaiian Oceanic Technology, Inc. is applying for a permit to create a new massive tuna ocean fish farm. They want to use 247 acres of our ocean to house 12 orb-like cages so they can grow tuna and export it out of Hawaii.  Their draft EIS does not answer the basic questions everyone is asking:

- How much waste will be created and how will it affect the marine environment?
- Can the cages withstand major storms?  What if one wanders away – since the cages are not tied down and are only one mile from the humpback whale sanctuary?
- What about the sharks attracted to the caged fish? Other farms just kill them.  Is that how to treat our aumakua (diety)?

Our ocean is a public trust resource and the public deserves to know what is going to happen to it before this project causes any harm.  Click here to ask Hawaiian Oceanic Technology and the approving agencies to address the public’s concerns and questions before using our waters for a project that could hurt our ocean and the wildlife in it.

4. Uphold Your Right to Go Beach – Support the Public Access Rights Bill

Even though the public’s right to access the shoreline is protected by law, the lack of enforcement has created a de facto barrier on public beach access.  S.B. 1088 is a simple bill that would help improve enforcement of beach access… if only it could get a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

Click here to urge Rep. Karamatsu to hear S.B 1088 regarding public access.

If you have a few minutes, give Rep. Karamatsu a polite phone call at 808-586-8490.

Mahalo Pumehana,
Us Guys at KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance
phone: 808-524-8220

Image of the sacred Lake Waiau in the Ice Age NARS at the summit of Mauna Kea

Sacred Lake Waiau in the Natural Area Reserve at the summit of Mauna Kea.

KAHEA: the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance is a network of thousands of diverse individuals islands-wide and around the world. Together, we work to secure the strongest possible protections for Hawaii’s most ecologically unique and culturally sacred places and resources.

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 37368
Honolulu, HI 96837
Phone: 808-524-8220

KAHEA is funded grassroots-style, and does not receive any Federal or corporate money. It is the financial support of many INDIVIDUALS, all giving what they can, that keeps the lights on and the campaigns going here at KAHEA.


Sea Level Rise May Flood Out 1-in-10 People on Planet?

Posted by Miwa at Mar 12, 2009 05:48 PM |

Think there are implications for Hawaii, folks?

About 600 million people, or nearly 10 percent of the world’s population, live in low-lying areas at risk of flooding as sea levels rise due to climate change, according to research presented today at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

This means that if emissions of greenhouse gases are not reduced quickly and substantially, even in the best case scenario rising seas may inundate low lying coastal areas housing about one in every 10 people on the planet.

Full report-back from Coppenhagen by ENS here:

killing the canary

From Marti:

I was listening to this on the radio, and the topic of climate change and ocean resources got me thinking.

Effects being felt by islands in the Pacific are often mentioned in the discussion about the health of our oceans as “early indicators” of the affects of climate change. Bleaching and disease in fragile coral reefs supporting marine ecosystems caused by temperture changes. Sea level rise forcing relocations of island residents. Ocean acidification with unknown consequences. Climate change leaves these islands less able to fend off effects of catastrophic storm events by degrading protective reefs. They decimate an important ocean food resources, depriving islands of their ability to maintain food independence.

Instead of clamoring to make change, and make restitution to these people and places, the continents are instead holding up Pacific islands as”canaries in the mine shaft”–harbingers of things to come for other presumably more important places like the continental U.S. or Europe.

The widely publicized NCEAS map of human impacts to the world’s oceans splits the entire Pacific region, and Hawai`i is not shown at all. (To their credit, Hawaii is there–and can be viewed in the KML version of the map, viewable in GoogleEarth.)


As a lifelong resident of one of these “canaries,” I am extremely concerned that the rapid rise in sea level and sea temperature will mean the loss of our islands – our homes, our communities and our way of life. It is likely, if not inevitable, that the hundreds of unique indigenous cultures in the Pacific–which have existed and developed over millenia–will not be able to adapt to catastrophic environmental changes occuring over the space of 50 to 100 years.

What is most frustrating is these catastrophic changes are the product of unsustainable lifestyels and practices of industrialized nations like the U.S. and Europe, not the Pacific, where the impact isbeing the most directly experienced. This occurs in the context of the well-documented legacy of post-contact 19th and 20th century Pacific imperialsm–in which world powers fought for ownership and dominance of Pacific Islands with little or no concern for the people of these places. The effects of this legacy are still keenly felt throughout Oceania.

From the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific 2000:

  • In 1994, elevated sea temperatures killed over 90% of the living corals of American Samoa from the intertidal zone to a depth of 10 meters and fishing catches declined drastically in the wake of the coral death.
  • Climate Change will shift rainfall patterns causing prolonged droughts in some regions. Each El Niño event has resulted in water shortages and drought in Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Fiji. More frequent El Niño events also bring an increased risk of tropical cyclones, particularly for Tuvalu, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and French Polynesia.
  • The potential socio-economic impacts of climate change on the smaller Pacific island countries were estimated in a series of vulnerability studies. Depending on the worst case scenario (one metre sea level rise), the studies suggest that sea level rise will have negative impacts on tourism, freshwater availability and quality, aquaculture, agriculture, human settlements, financial services and human health. Storm surges are likely to have a harmful impact on low-lying islands.

Their report concludes:

“The options for the Pacific islands, other than continuing to berate the industrial nations on their lack of concerted action, include migration, foreshore stablilisation, resettlement and decentralisation to adapt to the impacts of climate and sea-level changes.”

While global climate change is indeed, a global problem, it is a problem with consequences unequally shared.

Add your voice! Friends of the Earth has launched a Climate Equity Campaign, urging action to assist those most impacted by climate change. Check it out here.

got footage?

Posted by Miwa at Jan 07, 2009 04:37 AM |

From Erin Kiley, NRDC Films:

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is starting production and development on a 10-minute movie about ocean acidification, a largely unknown yet equally serious consequence of fossil fuel emissions.  We will produce this short film to introduce the problem of ocean acidification, discuss its consequences, and link the issue with policy solutions for both climate change and improving ocean health.

We’re currently seeking footage that will help us illustrate the chemical phenomenon of ocean acidification, as well as beautiful underwater footage of the organisms and ecosystems at risk.  ] We will gladly credit you or your organization for any footage provided and share copies of the film upon its completion.  We’re also happy to pay for tape and lab costs of outputting materials where necessary.

Footage in High Definition is even better than Standard Definition, but we happily and gratefully accept anything you have to offer.  Feel free to contact ekiley [at]

Are they hoping nobody would notice?

From Marti:

Late in the day on December 23rd, the final version of the Monument management plan was quietly published on the Papahānaumokuākea website.  No press release. No email to the list serv.  Just a quick post on the eve of the Eve of Christmas, which just happened to get picked up in a google alert days later.

Given all the eco-mojo the Bush Administration has tried to squish out of this “blue asterisk,” you would expect a mighty deal be made of finally finishing the management plan two years later.  The fact that the release was so secretive has gotta make you wonder what’s actually in it.

On their website, James Connaugton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality is quoted as saying:

“When President Bush first designated the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in June 2006, his goal was to move beyond just thinking about conservation to carefully managing this important area.”

Yikes! What does the federal government mean exactly when it says “move beyond” conservation?

Well, from what we see in the plan it means:

  • no limit on military activities affecting Monument resources (not even a discussion of what it would take to abide by the proclamation and “minimize and mitigate” half-pound pieces of fiery shrapnel hitting Nihoa).
  • no ban on bioprospecting, which is the taking of public trust resources for exploitation and profit by corporations, academic institutions, and private individuals.
  • no limit on the number of people that can access and/or take from this “no take” reserve.
  • no assessment of the cumulative risks and impacts of past and anticipated human activity in the Monument.
  • no public advisory council, which has been key in forcing transparent & accountable decisionmaking.

Over 50% of the proposed 355 million-dollar budget is for government operations and research, while a mere 12% goes to reducing existing threats, like clean-up of marine debris and legacy military contamination. The plan also fails to allocate sufficient resources for Native Hawaiian involvement in Monument decision-making, and leaves decision-making to a closed-door Monument Management Board.

The plan essentially abandons the “precautionary principle,” which was a hallmark of the State’s visionary pre-monument protections that required biological, cultural and historic resource integrity be favored when the impacts of any proposed activity were uncertain.

So while the revised vision, mission, and goals now commit to conservation as the purpose of the Monument, you can see that the actions to implement this plan remain largely unimproved over the weak draft released earlier this Spring.

When the draft version of this plan was released, the National Wildlife Federation, the Center for Biological Diversity and more than a dozen other organizations–representing well over 5 million people–joined KAHEA in strongly criticizing the management plan.  Despite two years of advocacy, and thousands of public letters and comments calling for a stronger, more protective plan, it is apparent that our united call for a true pu‘uhonua didn’t fit with the federal government’s vision for the future of “conservation” in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

So, here’s our take – a quote for the papers  – on the federal government’s attempt to “move beyond” conservation:

“This is conservation on paper, but not in practice. They have reshuffled the goals to say ‘full conservation’ but their proposed actions speak louder than their words. They are exempting increased military exercises proposed for this extremely delicate ocean habitat from management. They are proposing increased tourism, new construction, and extractive research without adequate public oversight and Native Hawaiian consultation,” said Marti Townsend, Program Director of KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance.

To learn more about this issue, including a detailed review of the draft plan, visit our website at:

Hawaii Blue Line Project Rally at Stadium Park

Posted by kahea at Feb 06, 2008 08:50 PM |

from Marion Ano, KAHEA 2008 Graduate Intern:

The afternoon sun cast a warm glow throughout Stadium Park last week Wednesday on the corner of Isenberg and King. I attended the “Blue Line Project” Demonstration to build awareness of climate change, global warming, and to break the silence about sea level rise.


Each participant contributed their own message to Hawai’i. I enjoyed seeing children with their blue chalks in their hands and exchanging in the higher consciousness of the event. A blue line drawn seven blocks from Stadium Park proved to be the boldest statement of the demonstration. Onlookers stopped us and asked questions like “What are you doing?”. We responded by saying that sea level would inevitably rise to this blue line within 50 to 100 years. Unfortunately, no onlookers felt compelled to join in and be a part of this effort.

As I reflect upon the demonstration and the success of the event it is important for all of us to ponder and think of ways to continue building on this momentum. How can we effectively reach out to people and inspire change in the face of an inevitable doom?

One way or another each of us will contribute some effect on global warming. The choice is ours whether that effect will continue to be rapid and unforgiving or slow and responsible. The dialogue must continue before we find ourselves knee deep in water. Nature will no longer allow us to ignore it. Global warming has leaked past the walls of academia and eats away at our existing shorelines.

A fisherman on Moloka’i told me how much land he has lost due to sea level rise and he has done everything to curb the process. But, he knows that nature will win. Besides warmer temperatures and sea level rise, Hawaiian cultural practices could be lost forever. With rising sea levels comes the death of the coral reefs, and the ecosystems that its supports. Our native limu remains threatened by the invasion of non-native species. Furthermore, sea level rise will destroy their habitats and possibly cause remaining limu populations to dwindle.

The bottom line, the blue line that is will cost us more than money. There are some things that money cannot buy. Take responsibility because each of us has that power.

link to Honolulu Advertiser article on the demonstration
link to Sierra Club website find photos and press release

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