Climate Witness: Trisha Kehaulani Watson, USA
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.