Nowhere else on earth is quite like Hawaii when it comes to our natural environment. “Lucky we live Hawaii' isn't just a slogan: it’s an acknowledgment of and reverence for the beautiful place we get to call home. We don’t know what the coming years are going to look like in our federal government, but we do know that the current administration has drastically cut measures meant to protect our environment. That is why it must be our kuleana as a state to push for more environmental initiatives and policies to combat the climate crisis, protect our oceans and freshwater, and preserve our coast lines.
What better way to look towards a sustainable future than by adhering to the Native Hawaiian concept of Malama ‘Aina. If we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.
To best protect our environment, I believe we need to do the following:
Hold the government accountable to meet their clean energy goals
Conserve our coastlines and mitigate the effects of coastal erosion
Hold the US Navy accountable for damages caused by Red Hill fuel tanks
Support environmental education in school curriculums.
Hawaii has set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2045 and we intend to meet that goal. Not only will this significantly reduce Hawaii’s carbon footprint, it will also lower many of our highest-in-the-nation utility costs, and bring new industries and thousands of good paying green energy jobs to the islands.When elected, I will hold the government accountable to meet their clean energy goals. 100% renewable energy in the next 25 years is a lofty but achievable goal as long as we stay focused and the government stays committed to introducing new projects, initiatives, research, and necessary funding to meet this target.
More than 13 miles of Hawaiian beaches have been lost to coastal erosion in the last century, and currently 70% are facing chronic erosion. With the added threat of global sea level rise, coastal erosion in Hawaii is predicted to double by 2050. It is a growing reality that must be mitigated and prepared for. With increasing erosion inevitable, we must do everything we can to conserve our coastlines, and mitigate the effects of coastal erosion. It is a difficult matter that unfortunately will come down to property or beaches. In order to have any chance of preserving our beaches, we must fully ban seawalls. We need to look at the hard data to most accurately predict where our shore lines will be with sea level rise and coastal erosion in the next 100 years and ban new development in what will be the affected areas. We also need to think about that impact to the thousands of people who will, unfortunately, lose their properties to the ocean, and how we can help ease their transition inland.
Polystyrene, most commonly known as styrofoam, is terrible for the environment. Polystyrene is non-biodegradable, breaking down into tiny pieces that stay in the environment for hundreds of years. Styrofoam can also leach harmful chemicals into the ground and water sources. Polystyrene manufacturing creates a large amount of hazardous waste, and is also a high contributor of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Polystyrene production is also a public health hazard. The air around factories that produce polystyrene is contaminated by styrene. Exposure to this chemical compound can cause eye, skin, and upper respiratory tract irritation, and prolonged exposure can have gastrointestinal effects and impact the central nervous system. We need to ban polystyrene. There is no favorable outcome if we continue to use it.
We also need to protect the water that we drink, which is why we need to hold the US Navy accountable for the damages caused by Red Hill. The military should fund double walling for any underground fuel tanks. Our military budget is bloated, and it seems like the military is more interested in technological advances for their weapons than paying their service members more, caring for our veterans, and updating their infrastructure. The tanks at Red Hill in particular are a direct threat to the health of our drinking water and ecosystem.
Finally, it is essential to educate our youth about the mistakes that we have made when it comes to the environment. Many cities will be underwater within 80 years due to rising sea-levels and climate change. We must have environmental education in school curriculums. Through environmental education we can inform the future generation on how to combat climate change and best equip them with the skills, knowledge, resources, and technology that they will need to navigate the policies, initiatives, and inventiveness that will be necessary to mitigate the damages caused by climate change and begin to heal the planet.
I personally am afraid of climate change and what it will do to our islands and our planet. If we are serious about passing on a better world to our children and grandchildren, it is time for us to fight climate change starting here in Hawaii. We need to think big on this issue because it is urgent and it cannot be solved by individuals alone. We must have leadership at all levels of government that are willing to stand up for the environment, and put the planet over politics.