developed a foundational knowledge of the Pacific climate system and
longer-term climate projections.
islands contribute less that 0.03% of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet they
suffer some of the greatest threats of climate change. This point was made at the Hawai‘i
Extension Climate Forum organized by CTAHR’s Cooperative Extension Service and
bringing together other university and community partners. The question
addressed by participants was how, as Extension professionals, they could help
their clientele in Hawai‘i and other Pacific Islands to deal with this fact.
As Dr. Clay
Trauernicht, one of the organizers, points out, Extension specialists’ and
agents’ expertise, and their relationships with agricultural producers, natural
resource managers, and the general public, put them in a unique position to
identify ways their clientele will be impacted by climate-related problems as
well as to help find solutions to them. Hawai‘i Extension faculty are already
integrating climate information into their programs, such as by implementing
precision agriculture to better manage irrigation and fertilizer applications
and developing tools to support ranchers responding to drought.
spearheaded by Drs. Trauernicht and Patricia Fifita in the Department of
Natural Resources and Environmental Management, with the support of Extension
faculty in the departments of Tropical Plant and Soil Science and Human
Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, also brought together representatives from
the US Forest Service, the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative,
Pacific-RISA, SeaGrant, and the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center.
Extension colleagues at the University of Arizona and the University of
California discussed their climate adaptation and communication efforts. Also
attending were representatives from Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands,
with whom Drs. Trauernicht and Fifita are developing similar forums that will
focus on local needs, in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Climate Change
surface-temperature map shows that Pacific Islands, surrounded by
warmer-than-normal water, are already suffering the effects of climate change.
developed a foundational knowledge of the Pacific climate system and longer-term
climate projections; learned about existing climate-related tools, which will
be organized on a CTAHR website to facilitate access; and outlined more ways to
integrate climate science and climate change communication into existing
Extension programs. They came away with plenty of ideas, from trialing
salt-tolerant plant varieties and promoting more resilient planting strategies
such as mixed agroforestry to creating online forums or list-serves for
community members to ask and answer questions about climate change and
disseminating water-conservation tips. After all, if the Pacific Islands are
among the most affected by climate change, it only makes sense that Pacific
Island Extension is at the forefront of strategies to address it.