By Ed Diokno
- ‘I’m and island boy,’ says Obama
- Filipino/American’s work critical to Paris climate talks
- Rhyme & reason on climate change
Earlier this week, he announced the expansion of the national monument off of Hawaii, vastly enlarging an area in a region that six presidents have sought to protect.
On Thursday, Sept. 1, he landed on Midway Atoll, now a part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which spans 582,578 square miles – roughly four times the size of California.The enlarged monument is home to more than 7,000 species, including green turtles, endangered Hawaiian monk seals, various seabirds and a newly discovered octopus scientists nicknamed Casper. As many as a quarter of the species are found nowhere else on the planet.
These steps come as sea level rise and the increased strength and frequency of catastrophic weather events pose an existential threat to places most vulnerable to their impacts, such as the Pacific Islands. In addition, and consistent with the theme of this year’s World Conservation Congress, the Administration is announcing policies to promote conservation and combat climate change by protecting wildlife, oceans, and lands.
Throughout the week, senior Administration officials, including Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, are attending the World Conservation Congress to discuss these steps and hear directly from leaders in government, business, NGOs, Indigenous groups, and youth groups on a broad range of topics related to conservation and climate change.
“I have to say that Teddy Roosevelt gets the credit for starting the national parks system,” Obama said, perhaps cementing his record on conservation, “but when you include a big chunk of the Pacific Ocean, we now have actually done more acreage than any other president.”
President Obama left Hawaii this morning for China where it is expected that a major announcement will be made regarding the involvement of the U.S. and China in the international climate agreement achieved in Paris in December.Obama’s visit to the island state where he was born perhaps will be his last as a sitting President. Towards the end of his East-West speech, he got a bit nostalgic noting that “a lot of my life started within a mile radius of here.”
He said his mother and father met “probably a couple hundred yards” from the East-West Center. He went to school about a mile from UH’s campus (at Punahou School), and he was born