Local environmentalists fanned out across the state yesterday to shine a light on the perils of climate change, the need for energy independence and the simple habits people can adopt to reduce their carbon footprint.
And, of course, they made darn sure the light they shone wasn’t incandescent.
As part of the international 10/10/10 Global Work Day organized by the climate change watchdog group 350.org, Blue Planet Foundation teamed with green-minded organizations around the state to stage 10 events designed to encourage residents to work toward a clean-energy future.
The day’s activities included "green fairs" on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Molokai; a loi restoration on Lanai; a campus-beautification project at Lokelani Intermediate School on Maui; and a beach cleanup at Ala Moana Beach Park that attracted nearly 50 participants. Several of the events featured free bike tuneups and free exchanges of incandescent light bulbs for more energy-efficient CFL bulbs.
"We want to encourage everybody to take easy steps to reduce their carbon footprint," said Joy Leilei Shih, a University of Hawaii graduate student in oceanography and a member of the Surfrider Foundation Oahu Chapter and its UH affiliate. "You can switch to CFL bulbs, drive less and ride more, stop using single-use plastics and recycle. All of these things make an important difference."
Shih was at Manoa Garden on the UH-Manoa campus last night to discuss ocean acidification and present the film "Acid Test."
As one of the leading voices for environmental causes on campus, Shih says she has seen a significant increase in the number of students who are aware of climate change issues and are willing to adjust their personal habits to be more environmentally responsible.
"At our Surfrider meetings we have 20 or 30 people now when we used to attract maybe 10," she said. "Students are biking more. They’re horrified by incandescent lights. They want to recycle, which is especially important because we’re on an island in the middle of the ocean and things don’t just disappear."
Cyrus Camp, owner of the Kickstand bicycle shop, spent the day giving free tuneups to people who rode their bicycles to the various events. In fact, Camp devotes much of his time teaching people how to repair and maintain their bicycles.
"Once people get their bike fixed up and ready, they’re less likely to drive and more likely to keep riding," he said.
Camp also helps to refurbish donated and abandoned bikes for cheap resale. He says this cuts down on the number of bicycles that have to be shipped to Hawaii and keeps still-usable bikes out of local landfills.
Stuart Coleman, Hawaii coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation, said the increased attention paid to environmental issues on campus and in the community is no fad. Rather, he said, it is a necessary recognition of the urgent threat of climate change.
"It can’t just be preaching to the choir," he said. "The message has to get out. The media and pundits and politicians may still argue about the causes, but climate change is as real as sunrise and sunset. It’s here and it’s serious."