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Climate change speaker: Plan now

LIHUE — Kauai is not immune to the adverse affects of a warmer Earth, said a speaker on Tuesday.

“We’ve lost 100 native plant species in 100 years,” said Pamela Gordon, a climate leader with the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

The warmer temperatures on Kauai have made room for invasive species which can weather the heat and take over the land once occupied by native plants. And since there is no room to grow, native plants are being transported into the hills to survive, she said.

“It’s easy to get depressed about climate change — we see it everyday, Gordon said.

Gordon led an hour-long lecture called “Climate Change and Kauai: A Positive Response” at Kauai Community College Tuesday evening attended by about 30 people. The lecture was hosted by the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Some are studying ancient Hawaiian texts to learn what the climate used to be like in Hawaii and what plants grew on the island, she said.

“There’s a lot to be learned from our past about our present and future, she said.

Preparing for the future is critical, Gordon said.

“We need to grow future scientists. We absolutely need to encourage science technology, engineering and math in schools,” she said. “We need to provide hands-on experience, and show students how climate change affects their families.”

Instilling the message of climate change in children is an important investment, she said.

“I really don’t see a more important topic of study than making sure our planet continues in a healthy manner,” she said.

Gordon, who also works as a consultant for businesses who want to reduce their carbon footprint, suggested Kauai residents support businesses that have made those strides.

She also helps companies find ways to maximize re-using materials and recycling. Nokia, Alaska Airlines and HP have taken those steps, she said.

A couple years ago, Nokia changed its packaging, Gordon said. The company cut the size of the box in half, which saved trees and money. HP is researching ways to replace ink cartridges that are less wasteful, she said. As a substitute for fossil fuel, Alaska Airlines is looking at using tree limbs and branches to fuel their planes, she said.

“It’s taken corporations a remarkable time to realize the Earth’s minerals aren’t finite,” she said.

But work remains, Gordon said.

“There’s a lot being done right, but we can’t stop until it’s all done right,” she said.

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