Sunday, April 14, 2024

Jason Momoa: We can bounce back from tough times like nature does — the power of healing

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Seven months back, a big fire tore through my family’s land in Hawaii, burning up lots of space, especially hitting Lahaina in Maui. The experts say the fires got extra bad because of climate change and the good native plants being replaced by less fire-resistant ones that just look nice.

Almost 100 people died, and lots of pets and wild animals too. Loads of buildings got wrecked, and it’s gonna cost more than $5 billion to fix everything. Bad stuff is in the water now, making people sick, and the soil washing away is gonna hurt the corals.

More bad fires are happening all over, even up to the Arctic. The UN Environment Programme, where I work to help the oceans, says that by the end of the century, there could be 50% more fires worldwide.

Fires are just one big problem for the Earth’s future. Lots of signs show that nature is falling apart because of what people are doing. Around 1 million types of animals and plants could disappear. The water and coasts are getting worse fast, and so are the forests, grasslands, shrublands, and peatlands. From big open areas to small towns, three-quarters of the land on Earth has been changed a lot by people, and two-thirds of the world’s oceans, which are 70% of Earth’s surface, are messed up too.

Weeks after fires destroyed much of our old town Lahaina, newspapers talked about a huge 150-year-old tree that got burned but then grew new green leaves. Nature bouncing back is good, but it’s not enough to fix things quickly.

The key to success is listening to Indigenous people and their wisdom in decision-making. Western systems have kept us from seeing clearly. Indigenous folks take care of the land and Earth. We should let them do it. In Lahaina’s recovery, local groups and grassroots projects should lead the way, working hard to help their community.

Learning from the Hawaiian people, who’ve been sailing the Pacific for over 2,000 years using traditional navigation to travel between Tahiti and Hawaii, means recognizing them as the original ocean people.

Governments are starting to take action too. All 193 UN countries promised to restore one billion hectares, like the size of China, by the end of the decade. In 2022, a historic deal to protect nature and the first-ever agreement to protect the high seas were made.

On the ground, there are great efforts to restore nature. Andean forests across seven countries, Sri Lanka’s mangrove cover increased by 50%, a forest in Nepal doubled the tiger population. Regreening projects with farmers from Senegal to Tanzania are creating jobs and bringing life back to areas affected by desertification. Pakistani communities are restoring over 30% of the Indus River Basin after deadly floods. The biggest-ever initiative in the Mediterranean is preventing wildfires.

These seven plans are now known as UN World Restoration Flagships. Last week in Nairobi, at a meeting of the world’s environment ministers, restoration was a big topic among ministers of environment and leaders from over 180 nations.

Being kind to nature has a spreading effect, and it can encourage more action from people, communities, NGOs, famous people, science groups, businesses, and governments. Solutions can create more hope, and each person’s action can add up to a big positive change, like a powerful wave called mana nalu.

Even without superpowers, we are the most powerful beings in Earth’s history. It’s completely up to us to decide how to use that power.

Should we fix places like Lahaina and other damaged areas using natural methods that worked for centuries, or should we let big companies focused on profits ignore our opinions? I’m asking our generation to support and speak up for restoring nature and start making positive changes.

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