Ignoring the heat, you lift the stone.

 

You brace yourself for what you might find. Like forest grasses, tree snakes and carnivorous snails; newly introduced insects are preying on Hawaii’s native species, posing a grave threat to the diminishing ecosystem. You will publish your research and it will be discussed by eminent scientists.

This paradise you call home, Hampton L. Carson, is the planet’s most isolated archipelago. In the seventy million years since its creation, a new species arrived on these scattered islands once every hundred thousand years.

But then Polynesians arrived, bringing pigs which colonised the forests and damaged trees by rooting up the forest floor. The Polynesians hunted Hawaii’s bright-plumed birds to furnish their king with feathers until none were left.

In 1778, Captain James Cook took news of your islands’ natural treasures to Europe. Traders came, bringing diseases which reduced the population by a fifth. New settlers arrived, clearing forests and bringing animals and plants from their homelands.

But the extinction rate has increased a thousand fold over the last two centuries. Today many of Hawaii’s remaining plant and animal species are endangered. Out of two-and- a-half thousand species of plant found on the islands, eight hundred are endangered and nearly a thousand are alien.

 

Hawaii