Climate Change, Rapid Ohia Death, and Other Hot Topics

We depend on our native forests as a watershed for drinking water and to purify our air by sequestering the overload in carbon we cause.  Fire, invasive species, climate change, and other impacts on our forests are important to our livelihoods.  Dr. Christian Giardina of the U.S. Forest Service is at the forefront of research on the health of our forests.  Interestingly, his message was not what the scientists are doing, but what we can all do by engaging with nature.
All is not well.  Carbon dioxide is consistently increasing, although there are seasonal dynamics such as in summer when vegetation reduce the CO2.  Warming trends are warming the oceans, causing coral bleaching and more severe weather.  In Kona, 2008-12 had a significant reduction in rainfall.
 
A recent crisis is rapid ohia death (ROD).  “Rapid” is a misnomer for the tree could have been inflicted for up to two years before the surface symptoms manifest.  Once the surface symptoms appear, however, the demise is rapid.  One remedy being researched is the use of sniffer dogs to identify trees within that 2-year infected period.  Even if successful, it is a solution for special individual trees and not a large-scale solution.  Research has identified some genotypes that are resistant.  The use of resistant types for replacement planting is a long-term solution.
 
What will be the next crisis?  How do we respond to these changes?  
 
The common scientific approach has been to regard nature in terms of its ecosystem services-- i.e., the benefits we receive from nature.  An emerging approach by conservation scientists is to focus on our relationship with nature rather than “services”.  Humankind is a part of a larger community; we draw inspiration from nature.  This is the wisdom of the indigenous ethic, a stewardship approach that goes beyond ecosystem services.  Traditional knowledge represents a continuous sequence of evolving contemporaneous knowledge directed at sustaining and being sustained by environments.  This emerging approach breaks down the wall between conservation agencies and community groups.  We are all stewards because of our love for nature rather than purely for ecosystem services.  
 
We are a step ahead in Hawaii thanks to the wisdom of the native Hawaiian ahupuaa ethic, from the mountains to the sea, and the caring for the land.  Let's all embrace that spirit in our own ways.