Letter to the editor: Maui fire human caused
September 13, 2023
utheast of Lahaina on Maui with sticky-foot gekkoes and cockroaches for roommates and obnoxious rats as my nearest neighbors. As the embers cool and the tempers flair from the recent Maui wildfires, I can’t help admitting geologists are correct in calling this period of our planet’s history the Anthropocine. Humans not only lit the flames of Maui’s conflagration, Humans provided the fuel.
When I first visited the Islands, non-native cane toads hopped through vast plantations of sugar cane that grew where venerable rain forests had been clear-cut. Now, I’m told, the colonial imposed plantations are superseded again, this time by alien, non-drought-tolerant grasses and brush.
Pre-fire records say the moisture content of this parched “wild” ground cover was 2%. Matches have more moisture in them. Maui is not alone. The vacant-lotting of no longer quickly profitable land is being repeated throughout the Hawaiian Islands and the rest of our world as these weedy, too often parched patches are left fallow to await the next economic opportunity.
George was the founding Land Steward for The Nature Conservancy