2019: Change We Must

Jan 1, 2019

Sunrise over Koko Head. "Change We Must" is the title of a seminal book by the late Hawaiian spiritual leader, Nana Veary. The book is a bracing description of her search for spiritual meaning.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

The United Nations Climate Change conference in December faced urgent news from the UN Climate Change Panel, which had concluded that previous CO2 reduction goals are not enough to avert catastrophes.  In addition, our window of opportunity to act is shrinking---to a dozen  years or less.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports, we in Hawai‘i can contribute to the global transformation required.

Hokulani Holt-Padilla is Director of Ka Hikina O Ka La Hawaiian programs at UH Maui and Kumu Hula for Maui's Pa'u O Hi'iaka. She served for many years as the Maui Arts and Cultural Center's Cultural Advisor.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

The UN Climate Change Panel outlined impacts from global warming in the Pacific islands, including more extreme weather conditions, and sea level changes that threaten fresh water supplies.  Specifically for Hawai‘i, in higher warming scenarios, rainfall could increase 30% in wet areas and decrease by 60% in already dry areas, along with more extreme weather events.

The U.S. NOAA Climatic Data Center provided these indicators of a warming planet in 2009. More than 300 scientists from 48 countries worked on the data substantiating these findings.
Credit Photo © Julian Osley (cc-by-sa/2.0)

On Maui, Kumu Hula Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla wrote recently, “We are all discovering, the wisdom of indigenous people who are close to their land, is even more timely today.” 

I asked what she thinks could cultivate that indigenous understanding?

Holt-Padilla:  For me, go outside.  Go outside.  Use the ocean.  Go climb the mountain.  Go up to Haleakalā more than one every five years.  Go outside, appreciate the sunrise and the sunset.  Appreciate how the waves move when you surf, you paddleboard, when you swim.  Go outside!  Know that about your home.   

Holt-Padilla:  Because we have all chosen Hawai‘i to be our home.  No matter who we are, we have chosen, whether we came here last week to make Hawai‘i our home, or we’ve been here for generations and have made Hawai‘i our home.  We chose this place and we love this place---- because of the place.  And because of the people who have come from this place.

Credit Noe Tanigawa

Holt-Padilla:  We’re different, yeah?  We’re different from other people when we come from this place.  So how people can get into that head space?  Come from this place!  Go outside!  Know your home.

Holt-Padilla is Director of Ka Hikina O Ka La Hawaiian programs at UH Maui, and comes from a line of hula practitioners.  She has led her hālau, Maui’s Pa'u O Hi'iaka, for over 40 years.  Holt-Padilla contends connection with our home, mālama ‘āina, or care for the land, can be the foundation for changes we need to make.

Holt-Padilla:  We physically experience, whether we know it or not. What we smell, what we feel, what we see, maybe even taste!  Maybe you taste the salt in the air, maybe you taste the smell of the wet earth in the mountains, maybe you can taste that in the air.  It is totally transformational when it touches all of your senses.

Holt-Padilla:  It’s about what does the land say? What does the place mean?

The U.S. NOAA Climatic Data Center provided these indicators of a warming planet in 2009. More than 300 scientists from 48 countries worked on the data substantiating these findings.
Credit creative commons/NOAA

Holt-Padilla:  It is absolutely physically transformational.  Because it affects all of your senses.  It affects the wind blowing on the hair that is on your arms and down the back of your neck.  Smelling the environment that is there, the wet on the ground, is transformational.  Seeing the different colors and formations of the natural environment, is all transformational.  And then, trying to make that a part of you, because you live in this special place called Hawaii, is transformational.

Climate change scientists are saying, in order to preserve a world even similar to the present, we will need the kind of total mobilization humans have mustered in the past----during world wars. 

Sunset, North Shore, O'ahu
Credit Noe Tanigawa