This piece was submitted to the Honolulu Star Advertiser newspaper for publication consideration on Monday, December 13, 2021. The piece was published in the newspaper’s views and voices section on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.
Unfortunately, the previous posted link does not allow a reader to read the piece unless you have a subscription to the Star Advertiser. If you are interested, here is the original submission:
Protect What You Love by Bill Pike draft started 12/13/21
On Tuesday, November 30, I was excited when our plane touched down on the runway at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu. For my wife and me, this was our first visit to Hawaii. We made the trip to attend the wedding of her nephew.
During our stay, we would be based in Waialua. My wife’s sister and her husband have a home in a quiet neighborhood.
As we eased ourselves off of the interstate, my eyes were quickly captivated by the landscape— shades of green, mixed with colorful blooms, the indescribable color of farmland soil, and fading sunlight slowly sinking behind the hills. Hawaii, you had me even without a peek at the ocean.
Over the next two days family members arrived, and on Friday, December 3, I could not believe the weather forecast map from the National Weather Service for the Hawaiian Islands—especially the blizzard warning.
Not a drop of rain fell during the backyard wedding ceremony on Saturday afternoon. We adapted to rain showers for a visit to Turtle Bay on Sunday. Monday was a washout. By Wednesday, the weather was better.
Back home in Richmond, Virginia, my family and I have ridden out remnants of hurricanes and strong summer thunderstorms. But, I have never heard such torrents of rain as created by the Kona low. It rained so hard Monday night into Tuesday morning that I could barely hear the crashing of waves on the beach. I wondered how much water could the land hold?
I read with great interest how the storm impacted Honolulu. Friends back in Richmond, emailed or texted us wondering how we had fared with the weather.
As the week progressed, we could see the impact of this powerful rain event on the beach. Nearby rivers, creeks, and inlets spewed into the Pacific blue. Gradually, the wind and tides changed the water color to a murky brown, and the shoreline was filled with debris like items that couldn’t be sold at tired yard sale.
Plastics, lumber, flip-flops, mammoth tree limbs, chainsawed trunks, tires, irrigation piping, styrofoam, aluminum cans, and rusted cans were among our findings.
A year ago last fall, my wife and I spent a Saturday morning volunteering for a local conservation group. Our assignment was removing debris from an urban stream that runs through Bryan Park. Regrettably, most of the items I found on your beautiful Hawaiian beach were also in our pretty stream.
I wonder when you, me, we, us are going to wake up and responsibly care for our environment?
Just as the Star Advertiser was reporting about contaminated water from the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility, our paper back home reported about two environmental groups suing our county over a “series of pollution violations” into the James River.
Again, when are we going to wake up?
On Saturday morning, December 11, we took a hike out to the albatross nesting grounds at Ka’ena Point. As long as I live, I will never forget this trek.
No matter where my eyes scanned, I was treated to majestic views. I could not stop taking photos. However, one sign really grabbed by attention:—Marine Debris Drop-off Station—Protect What You Love.
I wonder why we are so challenged to protect and love our land, water, and air?
Perhaps, our senses have been obscured by a selfish, self-denial that make us oblivious to the urgency of protecting what we ought to love.
Time is rushing by us.
Not protecting what we ought to love isn’t an option.