Waimea residents ‘wade in’ on reality of climate change

  • Children and adults share their concerns about climate change and its potential effects on Hawaii Island at the Wading in Waimea sign waving event Saturday morning in the center of town. LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY
    Children and adults share their concerns about climate change and its potential effects on Hawaii Island at the Wading in Waimea sign waving event Saturday morning in the center of town. LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY
  • Waimea resident, Harry Betancourt, and other North Hawaii Action Network members wave signs in Waimea Saturday morning as part of the group’s ongoing effort to address current issues. PHOTOS BY LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY
    Waimea resident, Harry Betancourt, and other North Hawaii Action Network members wave signs in Waimea Saturday morning as part of the group’s ongoing effort to address current issues. PHOTOS BY LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY
  • Resident Carolyne Riley holds a sign in Waimea town center voicing her opinion on the perils of climate change and the effects she believes it will one day have close to home.
    Resident Carolyne Riley holds a sign in Waimea town center voicing her opinion on the perils of climate change and the effects she believes it will one day have close to home.
  • Patti Cook and other residents stand adorned with snorkel gear while sign waving at the Wading in Waimea event Saturday.
    Patti Cook and other residents stand adorned with snorkel gear while sign waving at the Wading in Waimea event Saturday.
  • Chris Dunlap decked in scuba gear, waves a sign of regret.
    Chris Dunlap decked in scuba gear, waves a sign of regret.

WAIMEA — Drivers tooted their horns and called out in support of North Hawaii Action Network members Saturday morning as they waved signs displaying climate change concerns from four stop lights in the center of town.

Nearly 50 residents turned out, many adorned with snorkel gear, a kayak, boogie boards and other beach paraphernalia to draw attention to their concerns on global climate change. Among these are the rising ocean level seen at beaches around the island.

Changes have already been measured not so far away at the Marshall Islands, Solomon, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati.

The group’s goal is to educate the community on this issue. They also want the President and Congress stop pretending climate change is a hoax.

Pablo Beimler, community outreach coordinator for Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization and a NHAN member, spearheaded the event.

“We got together to join the nationwide and global effort to raise awareness about climate change and sea level rise,” he said. “Puako, Wailea and communities in Kona and Hilo are all at risk to lose their coastlines. We’ve already been seeing how climate change impacts the rise in wildfires in Hawaii and less trade winds blowing in.”

NHAN members agree that collaboration is key, and the only way to effect change is working in alliance with other residents and groups on Hawaii Island and beyond.

“If we don’t come together now, we will start seeing huge impacts on our islands. This is a crucial time,” Beimler said. “There is a general backlash against scientific evidence right now. Climate change is at the forefront, so we’re facing a consciousness shift. There are a lot of monied interests that are trying to suppress the science, and even some of them have produced science that shows the changes are happening, like Exxon who proved climate change is caused by humans. They suppressed it to continue business as usual.”

He said the President is in denial, forcefully protecting the interests of big oil companies while his administration is being staffed with people who will suppress environmental rights groups.

“We need more people. It’s all about people power and we can’t be complacent in this day and age,” Beimler said. “We need to be aware of actions that are being taken at the political levels by our leaders, and make changes within our community, support alternative energy and local organic foods, and prepare for the inevitable climate effects that we’re already seeing.”

Participants in the sign waiting were predominantly Waimea residents.

“I’m out here because no gated community is going to keep global warming away. It’s all our responsibility to do what we can to save this planet for the next generation,” said Harry Betancourt, whose sign read, “For the climate that is a changin.”

Postcards were also handed out to anyone interested in mailing their thoughts on the climate change issue to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

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