Famed climate journalist draws local crowd

Lucy Fagan, News

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Journalist David Wallace-Wells delivered a public address on the global climate crisis at the Kahala Hotel and Resort on Tuesday, Jan. 14. Over a hundred people attended the event, including Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Lieutenant Governor Josh Green. 

“Climate change is a global problem,” Wallace-Wells said. “It can only be solved globally and can only be solved by humans. The challenge before us is to secure a livable, prosperous future.”

David Wallace-Wells delivers a public address on the global climate crisis at the Kahala Hotel and Resort to a crowd of over 100 people. Photo by Lucy Fagan 2020.

Wallace-Wells is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Uninhabitable Earth. His address detailed the facts surrounding global warming and outlined the grim future many scientists believe we could see. 

He also spoke about his own climate journey and his previous delusions about climate change, using these talking points as a way to share alarming facts. 

“I started to see this is not a limited problem,” Wallace-Wells said. “It’s not about sea-level rise which we can escape if we live somewhere other than the coast. It was an all-encompassing story, which governs everything we do, and no matter who you are, where you are, what country you are from, how wealthy you are, your life will be affected in some way, too.”

The global temperature has already risen 1.1 degrees since the industrial revolution Wallace-Wells shared, raising the earth’s temperature to a degree it has never reached before. He predicts there will likely be another two degrees of warming between 2040 and 2050 leading to millions of climate refugees, extreme catastrophes such as storms and fires, the loss of agriculture, the deaths of many underprivileged people, and many more global issues he explained. 

Wallace-Wells closed off the night, however, by highlighting why he has hope. He discussed the progress made in just a year and a half since he published his book, and highlighted the efforts of new world leaders that have risen to inspire, like youth activist Greta Thunberg.

Wallace-Wells wrote an essay in 2017 called “The Uninhabitable Earth” for New York magazine which he expanded into his April 2019 book “The Uninhabitable Earth.” The book has since become a New York Times’ bestseller and has been named one of the best books of the year in 2019 by The New Yorker, NPR and The Economist. Photo by Lucy Fagan 2020.

If the world can mimic the progress that has been made, he believes there is hope we can begin to move in the right direction, despite many of the unavoidable issues we will run into. 

Wallace-Wells final message was to not let the fear of the crises paralyze you but to instead use it to push yourself to get involved and promote policies that will make a difference. 

Wallace-Wells’ address was followed by speeches from Mayor Caldwell and several community members and spokespeople from organizations such as Blue Planet Foundation. Afterward, Wallace-Wells signed books. 

The event was hosted in partnership with the University of Hawaii, Kamehameha Schools, and the Hawaii Community Foundation.