Is Hawai‘i Prepared for Climate Change?

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Is Hawai‘i Prepared for Climate Change?

Coastal taro fields in Hanalei.

Coastal taro fields in Hanalei.

A partnership between the University of Hawai‘i and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority has produced a report outlining the current state of climate science and projected impacts to Hawai‘i in a comprehensive, easy-to-read format.

The Hawaiian Islands represent a wide diversity of ecosystems and environments, including areas of breathtaking natural beauty as well as densely populated coastal cities. These unique environments are already changing under the influence of climate change from the effects of increasing temperatures, decreasing rainfall, rising seas, coastal erosion, land use and development changes, and increasing demands on our natural resources.

What can we expect in the future, and how can we best prepare?

A new report, Climate Change Impacts in Hawai‘i: A summary of climate change and its impacts to Hawai‘i’s ecosystems and communities, produced by the UH Sea Grant College Program with funding from the HTA, helps to answer this question. It begins by answering such basic questions as “What does climate change look like?” “What is the current state of scientific knowledge regarding climate change globally, and how does it relate to Hawai‘i specifically?”

Idealized model of the natural greenhouse effect.

Idealized model of the natural greenhouse effect.

By addressing these fundamental questions, UH Sea Grant and the HTA are striving to improve the general understanding of climate change and its associated impacts, which in turn will help communities be better prepared to undertake climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.

“While there is a large amount of science on global climate change available, sorting through and interpreting this often very technical and sometimes disparate information can be confusing and time-consuming,” said Dolan Eversole, coordinator of the NOAA Sea Grant Coastal Storms Program for the Pacific Islands Region and lead author of the report.

“We produced a series of reports which we hope will make this information widely accessible and easy to understand, and in turn will help all of us anticipate and prepare for the changes that we are beginning to see in the islands,” he said.

HTA president and CEO Mike McCartney said HTA partnered with UH to fund the climate change study.

“HTA is a knowledge based organization and we believe it’s important to be informed about Hawai‘i’s environment as it relates to tourism,” McCartney said. “We will use this study to help guide us in how we address our environmental initiatives.”

The report is part of a series which also includes Climate Change and the Visitor Industry: People, Place, Culture, and the Hawai‘i Experience; and HTA Stakeholder Outreach Workshop: Summaries and Risk Perception Analysis. Digital versions of all three reports are available at http://seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/publications , and a limited number of hard copies are available by request by calling (808) 956-7410.

 

By | 2016-11-10T05:41:43+00:00 August 30th, 2014|0 Comments

About the Author:

Léo Azambuja, editor of For Kaua‘i, has won multiple journalism awards in the state of Hawai‘i, including investigative and enterprise reporting, spot news and feature writing, photojournalism and online reporting.

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