This Is the Climate Crisis: The Burning Reality of Maui

This Is the Climate Crisis: The Burning Reality of Maui

Image by Sean Baek 

This event in Maui particularly touches Marie and me. We met in Hawaii some 25 years ago. We lived in Kauai and Oahu but have visited Lahaina. One of our authors, Will T. Wilkinson, and his wife also met in Hawaii and were residents of Maui. You can read Will's account here. Numerous other authors that have been featured on InnerSelf have lived on Maui: Wayne Dyer, Alan Cohen, Paul Pearsall, our previous astrology collaborator Eliza Bassett, and more.

As Maui's fires raged on, fueled by a combination of drought, intense winds, and climate shifts, the reality of our times became inescapably clear: we are living the climate crisis. A moment that vividly showcases the interconnectedness of nature's patterns, human intervention, and our survival. The recent fires in Hawaii have taken a tragic toll, claiming the lives of at least a hundred people and laying waste on numerous homes, businesses, and vast landscapes.

Anatomy of a Compound Climate Catastrophe

The tragedy unfolding in Maui is not a stand-alone incident. As Professor Michael Mann puts it, it's a compound climate catastrophe—a culmination of various elements. On the one hand, Hawaii is battling a severe drought, intensified by rising temperatures. Simultaneously, Hurricane Dora, a Category 4 storm, passed south of Hawaii, resulting in strong winds from its outer bands, further fanned the flames. While hurricanes are not new, the strength and intensity of recent hurricanes are undeniably connected to climate change.

The scene in Maui was akin to setting fire to a tinderbox. Dry conditions, exacerbated by climate change, provided ample fuel for the fire. Winds, strengthened by the pressure gradients of the nearby hurricane, acted as the perfect catalyst. The very mechanisms that make our planet beautiful – its interconnected atmospheric systems, the balances of pressure, and the forces of nature – also make it vulnerable when pushed out of equilibrium.

President Biden's Climate Stand

Amidst this backdrop, President Biden's comments on the climate crisis take center stage. While he might not have officially declared a 'climate emergency,' his actions speak of recognition and urgency. From rejoining the Paris Climate Accord to passing significant climate control initiatives, the administration signals its intent. But is it enough?

Declaring a national climate emergency isn't just about semantics. It's about mobilizing resources immediately. It's a statement that underscores the acute nature of the issue. But as Professor Mann points out, the climate crisis is a continually evolving challenge. Tackling it requires sustained effort, robust policies, and collective global will.

The very nature of the climate crisis demands an all-hands-on-deck approach. The limitation of a split Congress, a conservative court system, and political opposition make unilateral action challenging. It's here that the essence of democracy shines through. The people have a voice, and they must use it. As Mann advocates, the upcoming elections provide an opportunity. The urgency is apparent: elect leaders who prioritize the climate crisis and are committed to holistic, forward-thinking solutions.

A Needed and Essential Response

I much favor a WWII emergency-type response to our worldwide climate crisis as I believe it is the only way we can come close to adapting and mitigating the human suffering that awaits us. During World War II, nations underwent significant transformations: economies were rapidly retooled, resources were mobilized at an unprecedented scale, and global alliances were formed to combat a shared adversary. The same concept needs to be applied to tackle the climate crisis emphasizing the magnitude of unified effort, urgency, and global collaboration.

Such an approach to the climate crisis would mean swift global policy shifts toward sustainability, industries pivoting from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and nations pooling resources and knowledge. It underscores a reimagining of energy production or policy and a comprehensive societal transformation where the planet's well-being is prioritized above all else. This holistic, all-hands-on-deck strategy emphasizes adaptation to the changing climate and proactive measures to mitigate further damage and ensure a viable future for subsequent generations.

Our Fragile Moment: A Beacon of Hope?

The following video is an interview with Dr. Michael Mann concerning the Maui catastrophe.  While the present paints a bleak picture, the future holds potential. Professor Mann's book, "Our Fragile Moment: How Lessons from Earth's Past Can Help Us Survive the Climate Crisis," sheds light on the way forward. Gleaning insights from our planet's history can provide a roadmap for a sustainable, harmonious future.

As the fires of Maui serve as a grim reminder, they also ignite a flame of hope and action. It's a clarion call for humans globally to understand, empathize, and act. The fate of our planet, quite literally, hangs in the balance. Dr. Mann calls for a massive turnout in the next election, and I wholeheartedly endorse that. Not only must the climate-denying Republicans be turned away, but Democrats and any remaining climate-crisis-acknowledging Republicans must be elected in masse. All hands on deck!

Related Book: Our Fragile Moment

Our Fragile Moment: How Lessons from Earth's Past Can Help Us Survive the Climate Crisis
by Michael E. Mann

book cover: Our Fragile Moment by Michael E. MannIn this sweeping work of science and history, the renowned climate scientist and author of The New Climate War shows us the conditions on Earth that allowed humans not only to exist but thrive, and how they are imperiled if we veer off course. The conditions that allowed humans to live on this earth are fragile, incredibly so. But there’s a relatively narrow envelope of climate variability within which human civilization remains viable. And our survival depends on conditions remaining within that range.
In this book, Michael Mann arms readers with the knowledge necessary to appreciate the gravity of the unfolding climate crisis, while emboldening them—and others--to act before it truly does become too late.

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available in an Audiobook format, Kindle edition, and Audio CD.

About the Author

jenningsRobert Jennings is co-publisher of with his wife Marie T Russell. InnerSelf is dedicated to sharing information that allows people to make educated and insightful choices in their personal life, for the good of the commons, and for the well-being of the planet. InnerSelf Magazine is in its 30+year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as Please support our work.

 Creative Commons 3.0

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author Robert Jennings, Link back to the article This article originally appeared on

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