Bracing for a Changing Climate on Three Hawaiian Mountains

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[ wind ] What if the survival of our species was in jeopardy? And the only way to increase our chances of survival was to spread our population to new places. Knowing that any one place we settle could become dangerously inhospitable. Would you move? Would you move? Now imagine that we are talking about some of the rarest plants on Earth. Like this one. It is among the last of its kind. On the brink of anilhilation. They barely cling to survival. Often lost in all the talk about climate change is what will happen to the rare plants. Some might argue that it's survival of the fittest. Only the strong and adaptable will survive, and some of these plants might just not make it. It's the natural order of things, right? The gasses that humans release through the burning of coal and oil, as well as deforestation, have dramatically changed the Earth's balance and carbon cycle. This has led to altered weather patterns and an incredible host of other changes.

Resulting in shifts in temperatures and precipitation. According to the International Panel on Climate Change and related studies in Hawaii, we can plan on 20% less precipitation in the winter months and actually a small increase in rainfall in the summer. Some places will get wetter, but most are becoming drier and warmer. You could imagine that this has real world effects on plants. When a species has depended on the same weather patterns for millennia, this reletively quick weather change can be the difference between life and death. So what does this mean for rare plants like this one? It's true that these rare plants are no longer safe in just one or a handful of places, but there is hope. We can increase their chances of survival by spreading the populations to new places where we believe they can survive despite a changing climate. It's a classic "don't put all your eggs in one basket" approach.

Generations of people have worked to protect national parks, and now they represent one of the best opportunities in the world for these species to survive. [ ticking clock ] The National Park Service at Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanoes have combined resources and know-how with our park partners to give three dozen species a fighting chance to remain on the planet in the midst of climate change. For this project we chose very rare plant species. Some are even endangered with less than ten individuals left within the park. We go to these plants. We collect their seeds. Bring them back to our greenhouse and grow them into seedlings just like one. Then with the help of university scientists, we determined the best places to establish these new populations within the park. We go and plant them in these new sites, and then we wait a year or two, or even three, and go back and see how many of these plants have survived. This geranium is a very special plant. It's among the last of its kind. Its Hawaiian name is "nohoanu" which means cold dweller. That means it's dependent on the fog and mist, and cloudy drip that comes across the slopes of Haleakala every afternoon. Unfortunately, climate scientists think that Haleakala is going to become a warmer, drier place in the near future.

And that's bad news for Geranium arboreum. To try and save it, we're out planting it in a gulch not far from here, where we know it'll get the fog and cold cloudy drip that it needs. We out planted over a hundred geraniums in this gulch. Let's go see them. And they're even producing flowers and fruit. They get so big and strong because of all the fog and moisture coming down this gulch. That's the case now, but will it be in the case in the future? We're trying to answer those questions by studying their habitat and life cycles. And hopefully helping them to survive. Don't worry Kamele. We're going to save these plants. Together we'll do all we can to save rare Hawaiian plants. So that the forest our kids inherit will look like the ones our grandparents left us. .

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