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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Four students recount climate change’s impact on their lives – Harvard Gazette

Concentration: Environmental Science and Public Policy

I live on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii, in a very small town called Kahuku. Our population is 20,000. We have one stoplight. We used to have a gas station; now it’s in the town over. Our sense of community identity is strong.

As far as the impact of climate change in my community, I’ve seen the way beaches and landscapes have changed tremendously from when I was little to now. I remember that whenever we would go to a beach we hadn’t been to in a while, my dad would say, “This looks so different than it did when I was younger.” I would find shells, and my parents would be, “You can look at them now, but make sure you put them back because if you take it, there’s not going to be something for your kids to look at.” I went back home this summer, and when I took my 6-year-old sister to go dive with me, I couldn’t show her all the wildlife I used to see under the water. She’s seeing a fraction of the beauty I got to see. I now wonder, will there be anything left for my children to see?

I’ve also seen the effects of environmental injustice in the proposal for a 30-meter telescope to be built on Mauna Kea, which is a sacred place for native Hawaiians, and more recently, the U.S. military’s leak of jet fuel into Oahu’s main aquifer, which poisoned the water and made people very sick. There is also a lot of nuclear testing in the Pacific, and many people have been forced to relocate.

Native Hawaiians, and Indigenous folk everywhere, have a deep connection with the land and the water, and this is hard for other people to understand. For us, the land and water are living beings, sort of relatives that hold lots of stories that are so connected to our culture and identities.

Hawaiian lives are deeply impacted by climate change and over-tourism, which is not sustainable and is also harmful to the environment. Indigenous people are forced to face the worst and most harmful impacts of climate change when we contribute the least to it. We need to ensure that we incorporate our indigenous ways of life and indigenous knowledge into climate policies to ensure that future generations remain here and enjoy this relationship they are meant to have with the land.

My hope is that governments implement climate policies that incorporate and include Indigenous voices and Indigenous perspectives because the way our ancestors functioned and lived their lives was sustainable. Whatever my work is in the future, I want to contribute to climate policy throughout the Pacific to help make sure that my community and other Indigenous communities are heard and that the policies we’re making are going to be beneficial for them. I also want to work in environmental law so I can help Native Hawaiians get land back and help contribute to Hawaiian sovereignty.


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