I am an environmentalist and I believe in protecting the precious resources we all rely on to survive and thrive here in the Hawaiian archipelago. Our island home deserves to be treated with care, and it is in our own best interest to preserve this place we all love so that future generations can continue to live and prosper here. Globally, we must be conscious of the grave threat that human-induced climate change poses to our future as a species on Earth.
Preserve and Expand Wild Spaces: Hawaiʻi is the endangered species capital of the world. Everyday, around the world, we lose ecosystems and biodiversity plummets. This is not simply a tragedy; as we lose species for every, we expose ourselves to a very serious threat of increased susceptibility to pandemic events. In an isolated archipelago like Hawaiʻi, lost biodiversity could prove especially dangerous and make weathering disease events more difficult.
The solution is to limit our development to within the current Honolulu County urban growth boundaries, end exemptions to these boundaries, and focus instead on incentivizing responsible, sustainable development with high urban density and minimal sprawl. This kind of development lessens our reliance on automobiles and preserves wild spaces outside the urban core, preserving critical habitats and protecting species diversity and our own public health.
Ban Styrofoam and Oxybenzone: This is common sense legislation to protect our environment. Oxybenzone is a chemical found in many sunscreens that, in high enough amounts, can be detrimental to reef health. With Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry bringing in tens of millions of tourists a year, the volume of oxybenzone in our nearshore waters is negatively impacting our precious coral reefs. Our reefs are critical sources of biodiversity and they protect our islands from damaging erosion from the ocean’s waves. They are also a major economic resource for the state, generating millions of dollars in tourism industry revenue. They deserve to be protected, preserved and respected for the many benefits they provide to us.
Everyday, microplastics wreak havoc on our marine ecosystems, doing irreparable harm to many different species and degrading the state of our oceans and beaches. Styrofoam is a major contributor to the microplastic pollution we see in our waters and on our beaches. Any single-use petroleum byproduct has a toxic impact on our environment, but styrofoam’s lightweight nature and tendency to easily break apart makes it particularly bad.
On beach cleanups, I have witnessed garbage bags full of microplastics scooped up and hardly even a dent seems to have been made. In the north pacific, a heap of plastics and other garbage the size of Texas or France, from around the world, has collected as a result of the global ocean currents. This floating continent of debris is a sickening legacy to leave behind, and I am committed to finding ways to reverse the impacts human pollution has had on the planet’s ecosystems.
Restore Native Forests and Protect Endangered Species: I support increased funding to provide adequate protection for our endangered species and to actively work to restore native forests. Restoring forests is more than simply a way to save our biodiversity; it also combats the negative effects of human-induced climate change. Each day, humans release tons and tons of carbon into the atmosphere, along with methane and other greenhouse gases, warming the Earth and creating climate chaos. One way to help prevent this from getting any worse is to offset our carbon footprint with carbon offset programs. Trees and plants are excellent at offsetting carbon. I would like to see Hawaiʻi invest in reforesting initiatives and sustainable ecological management programs.
Stop Development in Conservation Zones: I believe development must be confined to within the defined growth boundaries set forth in the county and state growth plans. We should not be taking conservation land and building on it. Doing so would violate the public trust doctrine of the State Constitution which calls on conservation land and the resources contained within them to be protected for public use, beginning with Native Hawaiians, in perpetuity. We must find ways of generating economic activity without exploiting either the environment or the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi. This is true globally as well as locally.
Green Our Communities: We should be taking every available opportunity to green our communities, whether it means planting trees to beautify our neighborhoods and enhance our quality of life, or whether it means establishing urban gardens to help feed our families and communities with good, healthy, local food. We should similarly be looking for ways to utilize renewable energy in our communities. I am committed to working toward making our society more sustainable and our communities more independent when it comes to food, resources and energy.
Preserve the Public Trust: I am opposed to any attempts to privatize public lands. Our constitution guarantees public access to public resources like water and native plants; it also requires that the government guarantee that these resources remain in perpetuity. I am also opposed to the privatization of our education system, our healthcare system, our corrections system and our information systems like the Internet and believe the government must guarantee public access to these resources as well.
Safeguard Our Drinking Water: Both a grave environmental concern and serious threat to public health, the Navy fuel tanks above Red Hill are leaking. These tanks are positioned just 100 yards above the primary drinking water source for all of urban Honolulu, from Hawaiʻi Kai to ʻAiea. While they have not yet contaminated the water source, we need to address the issue before they become a crisis. The Navy is currently looking for support for a proposed 20-year containment upgrade plan. I believe 20 years is far to long a time to wait for the security of our primary source of drinking water. The Navy has a fiduciary responsibility to the people of Hawaiʻi to ensure the safety of this drinking water source.