Climate Witness: Trisha Kehaulani Watson, USA



Posted on 24 May 2010  | 
My name is Trisha Kehaulani Watson.  I was born and raised in the valley of Manoa, in the ahupua`a of Waikiki, in the district of Kona (known today as Honolulu), on the island of O`ahu.  I am Native Hawaiian and a lineal descendant of the high chief Kakuhihewa, for whom the island of O`ahu is named (O`ahu-a-Kakuhihewa).  I also have a JD and specialized in environmental law.  I also have a PhD, which is specialized in indigenous epistemologies and traditional natural resource management.

These observations have been made over the course of my lifetime and in concert with conversations from my family and kupuna (elders).

Over my lifetime, I have seen radical shifts in my ahupua`a (land division).  The beaches I played on my entire life have steadily eroded away.  In many places, there is no more sand and coastline is eroding. 

My valley has always been very waiwai (wealthy, rainy, with much fresh running water), yet the waters have changed.  We have far more unstable weather.  My grandfather used to take me down to the streams as a little girl to watch the water rise when the heavy rains came, things are much different today.  The heavy rains are devastating.  In October 2004, we had a devastating flood wash through the valley.  My street has been shut down numerous times by civil defense due to dangerous flooding conditions. 

The seasons have also changed.  It gets much colder than it used to, and also much hotter.  The plants have changed because of it.  Fruits come at unusual times of the year, sometimes impacting cultural practices.  Flowers bloom at different times of the year as well.  Health problems can also result from these weather changes. 

The Earth is not well.  We have known this for many years.  It is frustrating now to watch the world wake up to the reality so late in the game.  We have been telling the world this. 

I only hope now that people finally start to listen.


 

Scientific review

A scientific review by a member of the Climate Witness Science Advisory Panel is pending.
 
Trisha Kehaulani Watson
Trisha Kehaulani Watson
© WWF / Trisha Kehaulani Watson Enlarge
The day after the 50-year flood hit. Flooding has become a regular occurence in the valley.
The day after the 50-year flood hit. Flooding has become a regular occurence in the valley.
© WWF / Trisha Kehaulani Watson Enlarge
Taken from a walking bridge near my home. The bridge was detroyed in 2004 when a 50-year flood tore through the valley.
Taken from a walking bridge near my home. The bridge was detroyed in 2004 when a 50-year flood tore through the valley.
© WWF / Trisha Kehaulani Watson Enlarge
The rainforest in walking distance of my house.
The rainforest in walking distance of my house.
© WWF / Trisha Kehaulani Watson Enlarge

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