Whether you believe in climate change or not, you play a role in how well we protect our environment. And on an island as beautiful and precious as Kauai, we all need to be sure we’re doing what we can.
What’s that, you ask?
Nothing too crazy. The simple things can make a difference.
Bike instead of drive the car at times.
Be careful in how and when we use chemicals that go into the ground and make their way to the ocean.
Be wise with how we use our natural resources.
Funny thing is, we use our ocean like a big toilet bowl and wonder what the problem is.
We send all sorts of toxic fumes into the sky and are puzzled as to why our air isn’t pristine.
We toss trash along the roadsides and question why this island isn’t cleaner.
For some reason, many of us believe we play no role in harming, or protecting, the environment. We figure it’s somebody else’s responsibility or somebody else’s fault.
It starts with each of us.
Which is why NOAA Fisheries is on the right track with its its Regional Action Plan for climate science. This plan identifies management strategies in the face of changing climate and ocean conditions. Some will dispute that climate change is going on. They will point out that the world has, for thousands of years, had fluctuating weather patterns. It’s damn hot one year and damn cold the next. It’s a drought one year and the next, it won’t stop raining. Hurricane and tropical storms have long come and gone. This isn’t new. Weather changes. You know what they say about predicting the weather.
That said, our actions do affect the world around us and we can protect it.
The goal of NOAA’s plan is to increase the production, delivery and use of climate-related information to help reduce impacts to, and increase resilience of, the region’s living marine resources and resource-dependent communities.
“NOAA Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center is collaborating with others around the region to acquire the necessary scientific data and information for science-based strategies that sustain fisheries, healthy ecosystems and coastal communities. This science will be used to inform policy and management decisions. Climate-ready management will be precautionary, preemptive and flexible enough to respond rapidly to changing environmental conditions.”
The Pacific Islands Region spans both the South and North Pacific, from American Samoa to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and from the main Hawaiian Islands to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The region hosts a wide array of living marine resources, from bigeye tuna (one of the most valuable) to coral reefs (one of the most at-risk from climate change).
In the coming years, the Pacific Islands are expected to experience increased ocean temperatures; rising sea level; increased ocean acidity; lower ocean productivity; and changes in ocean currents, weather patterns and extreme weather.
Now, there are very bright scientists who disagree. The weather changes, they say, but it’s not due to man.
Others report they have already observed many of these changes, which are projected to intensify further. Because ecosystems and communities will be impacted by these changes in many ways, decision-makers need information on the timing, nature, and magnitude of climate-related impacts to this region’s valuable marine resources.
Residents, regular folks living on this planet, need that information, too. We need to study, as much as we can, and make smart decisions.
NOAA says climate-related changes are already impacting the distribution and abundance of marine resources, and these impacts are expected to increase with continued changes in our climate and ocean systems.
To be clear, we can’t just blame everything on climate change and go back to yardwork. We need to be wise with our resources. Don’t overfish. Don’t use the ocean like it has infinite resources. Don’t turn our land into waste dumps because we’re not recycling or reducing waste. Don’t send tons of fertilizers into the ocean and figure it’s all going to wash away.
Coral reef ecosystems are being stressed by both increasing ocean temperatures and increasing ocean acidification. And, if you will listen to him, Hanalei marine biologist Terry Lilley has a theory, backed by hundreds of hours of underwater research, of military and other impacts on coral reefs. A lot of people think Terry Lilley is just a guy seeking the spotlight and stirring up trouble and making unfounded accusations. Some believe he is on to something. So, again, check this out for yourself before you agree or disagree.
Over the next five years, strategies of NOAA’s plan include:
w Creating robust management strategies for a changing climate
w Incorporating adaptive decision processes
w Projecting future conditions
w Understanding how things are changing and why
w Tracking changes and providing early warnings
w Building our science infrastructure
The more we can understand our environment, the better we can take on our role to protect it.