The Hawaiian Islands are now listed by the Endangered Species Coalition as third on the list of the top 10 endangered ecosystems. “Every native forest bird is at risk,” says Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawaii. “Almost 40 percent of the entire US’s endangered birds is from Hawaii, and we only make up two-tenths of the landmass.” Other endangered native species include the honu (green sea turtle), the honu ‘ea (hawksbill turtle) and the ‘ilioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal). Due to the effects of extreme weather caused by global climate change, invasive species such as mosquitoes and weeds threaten the habitats of many native plants and animals. Coral reef bleaching also endangers fish and ocean animals since it destroys their homes. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if global temperature exceeds 1.5 to 2.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, 20 to 30 percent of the world’s species will be at risk of extinction.
“Our elected officials have to take leadership in order to make the climate change impacts more realized and make the true cost of fossil fuels more apparent,” Ziegler says. She adds that lifestyle changes, no matter how small, can aid in preserving endangered species in Hawaii.
“Make changes where you can to save energy,” says Ziegler. “Don’t waste your children’s energy future, and turn off the lights when you can. Every degree is important.”