UNWorldOceansDay.org: As a poet and professor, what do you think we need to do as countries and as individuals to instill in the new generations the love and concern with the protection and sustainable use of the ocean?
C.P.: Countries need to support and fund environmental literacy initiatives, which could include media, arts and educational programs. As individuals, we need to continue to educate ourselves about our local environments and our connections to global ecologies--and we need to pass on this knowledge to the next generations. One project I am involved in is the "My Hawaiʻi Story Project", which is an environmental writing contest for middle school students here in Hawaiʻi. The students learn about their environment, express their thoughts and emotions in creative writing and are honored with publication and prizes. Instilling the love and passion for nature at a young age is so important.
Additionally, I teach a course at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, called "Eco-Poetry" and in the years I have taught it I have found that students are very open to learning and writing about the natural world around us.
UNWorldOceansDay.org: What specific problems related to the ocean worry you the most? (pollution, acidification, etc.)
C.P.: I am worried about plastic and other nuclear and waste pollution, rising temperatures and acidification, coral bleaching and the massive die-off of marine species. In the Pacific, I am also very concerned about military testing and training in our waters, as well as plans for deep-sea mining. I am thankful for all the organizations and grassroots movements that are fighting to protect and defend our blue planet.