Take Action for Communities Impacted by Wildfires in Hawai’i

Last week wildfires swept across the Hawai’ian island of Maui and destroyed much of the town of Lahaina. The impact has been devastating. We are in solidarity with the communities and families who have lost loved ones and their homes. Here are ways you can join Justice Outside in taking action: 

  • The Hawai’i People’s Fund is supporting the work of community organizers and organizations who are already on the ground. Their fundraiser reads “We understand that low-income families, houseless communities, service workers, people with disabilities and people who are incarcerated, as well as Indigenous communities, immigrant communities and communities of color, are disproportionately impacted by crises such as the recent fires in Maui.” Contribute here. You can also follow the Fund on Instagram to stay updated on their work and uplift it. 
  • The Maui Mutual Aid Fund is accepting donations to support Maui families, elderly residents, people with disabilities, and those with limited or no insurance. Donate here
  • Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement is matching donations to community organizations up to $1,000,000. You can donate here.
  • Support the Hawai’i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund here. You can learn more about their work and follow the Foundation on Instagram here.  
  • Read and uplift this op-ed by Naka Nathaniel, columnist for Honolulu Civil Beat, about how we can support culture change to show up for communities in Hawai’i in the long run. 

The devastating wildfires did not take place in a vacuum and are a clear example of climate change. Colonization of Hawai’i introduced invasive species and extractive industries that have decimated native ecosystems and contributed to the frequency and strength of fires. The fires were exacerbated by a flash drought that has impacted 83% of the island this summer. Flash droughts are becoming more common due to climate change. Hurricane Dora’s strong winds also contributed to the increased danger of wildfires in Hawai’i. Extreme weather patterns caused by climate change, such as hurricanes, have increased around the country, resulting in catastrophic floods in Vermont and unprecedented heat in Arizona. The impacts of climate change disproportionately harm communities of color, Indigenous communities, and those living in poverty. Lack of investment and infrastructure due to neglect by policy-makers have long exasperated the impacts of climate change on communities. Our government can take an active role in putting an end to this disproportionate and unjust harm. 

It’s past time for the Biden administration to declare a national state of emergency due to climate change and speed up the country’s divestment from fossil fuels. A declaration of emergency would allow the Biden administration the authority to slash greenhouse gas emissions, ban the import of harmful material, halt new oil and gas drilling, and build new green energy technologies. Every day that goes by without serious investment in mitigating climate change and making it our national priority, more harm is inflicted on our communities. 

Take action: We can all join the advocacy for an emergency declaration by using our voices on social media and participating in local action. Here’s a great article about this to share with your community. The vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by corporations, with only 100 companies being responsible for more than 70% of emissions worldwide. We can and must hold them accountable. Here are also ten actions each of us can take in our personal lives to divest from fossil fuels on a daily basis. 

Featured image depicts a donation drive organized by the Hawai’i State Senate in response to the wildfires. We’re thankful to them for the photo and for their work. You can see other images from this drive on their Flickr album here.