The Hawaiian islands are the most isolated island chain on Earth. It is nearly 3000 miles (4800km) to the nearest continent. Because of this life developed in unique ways here. It is one of the most bio-diverse areas on the planet, with hundreds of species here found no where else. Not much is known about who may have lived here before the Hawaiians arrived approximately 1700 years ago. It may well have been unpopulated for thousands of years. The island itself is about 80 million years old and is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands. It is the remnant top of a giant volcano, one that would be one of the biggest mountains in the world if measured from the seafloor! Each of the islands is the result of a moving crack in the earth that has subsequently produced the other islands as well. In fact, a new Hawaiian island called Lo'ihi is currently forming off of the SE coast of the Big Island right now. They say in about 10,000 years it'll begin to break the surface of the ocean!
Despite its isolation, nearly 8 million people visited on of the Hawaiian islands in 2012. It is on many people's "bucket lists" to get there. While I was there I met a few people who came nearly 40 yrs ago and never left! Nearly everyone has to fly there- nearly 30,000 flights I estimate in that year alone. Most enjoy the beauty, not realizing that there are threats to the continued existence of it's paradise beauty. In some respects it is a victim of its own success as a tourist destination. Without these visitors, much of the economy of the islands would collapse. That is part of the reason I'm writing this- to raise awareness in hopes of preserving this amazing land for future generations.
Along the Kalalau trail-Na'Pali coast
We exist on the Earth and are part of it. When we see something that is out of balance it is a reflection of our own imbalance with the planet. It's not the other way around. The Earth will always naturally come into balance on its own. It is up to each of us to honor balance while we are here, to honor the elements, honor Nature and thereby be healed by them. Many know this consciously or intuitively but few speak of it. As we move forward we are being challenged as individuals and as a species to move to the next stage of our evolution on this planet. To deny or ignore this is to miss out on a grand opportunity for growth.
The world is changing on a grand scale not known in recorded history. I did some research and discovered that when I was born there were 3.1 billion people on the planet. Now there are nearly 7.2 billion! That's a lot of people and a lot of commerce and mouths to feed. Yet the planet provides for us food, clothing and shelter to varying degrees. It is said with the food we throw away we could easily feed another couple billion, astounding! I don't want to alarm you, in actuality birth rates are declining to such a point that in a couple hundred years the population will be a lot lower, even without war, disaster or disease. We are at a watershed moment, a moment in time when many many souls have come here to be a part of this planet's evolution and their own personal journey. Let's dream of creating and living in the best version of life on Earth that we can, ok?
It can be scary to be becoming more conscious right now. All one has to do is turn on the TV or read the news online of all the clamor that is going on - war, environmental degradation, corruption, etc. Once you are on that path, there really is no turning back. What do we do? First, take a deep breath and ground yourself into your body! I am here to remind you that we all chose to be here, no one is a victim of anything in fact. What is occurring is that we are being called to awareness of present life - the good and the bad, so to speak. Even though we passed the 12/21/2012 marker it seems like not much has changed, yet we are changing, becoming more awake, more aware. There is no going back into being unaware. So you see, in my case I was able to see the beauty and the challenges facing the island of Kauai together.
Ke'e Beach- where Hula began
Kauai and the other Hawaiian islands faces challenges like we all do. There is no place on the planet one can go and not feel the changes, the whole planet is in change. Now it is our choice to help it and ourselves as well to move into transformation. On the island they have a TV channel devoted to showing the island and while watching it for a bit I learned that the reefs on the North Shore are endangered by a bacteria that is killing the coral. They estimate that if this continues those reefs will be dead within 4 years. The ph of the oceans is changing and pollution is part of it. I also witnessed reefs dying in the Caribbean when I was in Roatan near the country of Belize six months ago. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is also similarly compromised. Clearly there is a global change of the waters causing this.
Second, the info channel did a segment on all of the plastic trash washing up on the north shore of Maui. This trash is coming from the N. Pacific gyre, which is a massive swirling pool of plastic trash the size of Texas several hundred miles north of the islands. It has been accumulating for decades and since it takes up to 500 years for some plastics to degrade it will be with us for a long time.
Thirdly is the arrival of experimental GMO farming on the southwest side of the island in areas that used to grow sugarcane. Because the laws are so lax (Hawaii is well known as a politically very corrupt state in the USA) these corporations came here and people are beginning to realize that they are dumping tons of pesticides that are said to be causing locals to become sick. In an effort to fight back the citizens are pushing a law that says they have to at least disclose what they're spraying. We saw a large protest along the main hwy. while we were there, hopefully they'll be able to succeed to preserve healthy farming on the island!
Lastly, but not least, is the threat to Hawaii from radioactive fallout from the Fukushima reactor in Japan. Current models predict that the radioactive ocean water will be making it's way to the entire Hawaiian island chain in the coming months. It has taken it 2.5 years to circulate across the ocean to the US mainland and now it is circling back west with the great northern ocean currents. Reports are easily available showing that EVERY tuna caught off of the California coast is now contaminated by cesium radiation from this disaster. That this isn't front page news and a global team isn't assembled to stop this from getting worse is beyond explanation. It's quite clear that within a few years any fish from the waters of Hawaii and everywhere else in the north Pacific ocean will be contaminated - including Alaskan King Crab, ocean salmon, etc. My advice is to stop eating seafood from this area immediately!
Above are two links to some of the information I've presented so that you can see it for yourself. I am fairly sure that this is being covered up as if this news was widely known and acted on, tourism would decrease substantially, draining billions from the islands economy and making a severe dent in the airlines as well.
Beautiful waters, beautiful land - Kauai 2013
What can we do to help preserve and protect the amazing beauty of these far-off islands? I know that what I have presented is difficult to acknowledge but it is true. It's not just these islands, but most which are endangered by one or several of these factors. We must remember "All rivers lead to the ocean". Whatever we throw in will eventually make it to the ocean. It is not supposed to be the world's garbage dump. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do:
1) reduce your use of plastics. Stop buying water in plastic bottles. Instead by a refillable glass container with a lid on it. They are available at many retailers.
2) don't purchase anymore products that have microbeads in them, such as exfoliating facial scrubs. An average tube of this type of product has over 300,000 of these beads in them and they're showing up in the water in alarming numbers. In 2012 it was reported that the Great Lakes contain 450,000 bits of these plastics in every square km of water! They of course are in the oceans as well.
3) Continue to wean away from the oil economy. Use less plastic-take a reusuable shopping bag to the grocery store with you. Here in Austin, TX they've made it a law. Support similar initiatives in your community. Consolidate car trips, or telecommute one or two days a month. We have to get beyond this oil and plastic economy at some point, don't we?
4) Join an environmental organization. There are many local and national groups working to clean up, preserve and create earth friendly legislation. Some that come to mind in the USA are the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc. Get educated, read environmental articles about your region. If something doesn't seem right, tell others. Corporations are running rampant all over this planet with little regard that this is the only planet we have, and we are the only customers that they'll ever have. It pays in the long run to be in harmony - those that continue with the old ways will have to change - we cannot continue on this road without regard for mother earth. As I said, she will eventually come into balance once again, if we don't respect her then our descendants won't be around to see it as it's meant to be.
My trip to Kauai took this unexpected twist. Instead of just reporting on it's amazing beauty and the wonderful beaches I have had to look at the obvious challenges this place is facing. I hope and pray that each of these challenges will be met and this part of the world will heal itself with help of all those that live there as well as those that visit. May the spirit of Aloha be with you.