Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Latest Studies: More Bad News...

It's been a long time since my last post. So what's new? Nothing as far as action by the Hawaii State Legislature or Honolulu City Council in regards to protecting public beach access, or protecting what's left of our shorelines.

Yet each week/month/year that goes by, we continue to see more evidence of climate change that is causing sea levels to rise and leading to accelerated beach erosion. On today's Civil Beat website, there was this piece (click here for link to their page):

Inch by Sandy Inch, Hawaii’s Loss of Beaches Worries Tourism Industry

Recent reports cite concerns that elevated ocean levels, drought and hotter Hawaiian nights will hurt tourism and ultimately the state's economy.

·By Breana Milldrum
The look of paradise is changing: Rising seas mowing over reefs that were once able to slow and break the swells are starting to swallow Hawaii’s iconic white beaches. The state has approximately 750 miles of coastline, according to a climate change report released recently by the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Center for Sustainable Coastal Tourism. But 13 miles of beaches have disappeared within the past century.

That has scientists — and the Hawaii Tourism Authority — worried. In a two-part report published in 2013 and 2014, researchers outlined impacts related to sea level rise, drought, and elevated temperatures in Hawaii.

“The first report was more of an academic, theoretical approach on how to deal with the problem,” co-author and NOAA Sea Grant Coastal Programs coordinator Dolan Eversole said. The second, released just a few weeks ago, attempts to illustrate how the effects of climate change will look on the ground, Eversole said.

Waikiki is particularly vulnerable. A 2008 economic impact report surmised that $2 billion in total visitor expenditures annually would be lost if its beaches were to disappear... And Waikiki isn’t the only beach that’s going to get smaller: Others expected to experience significant erosion within a century include: Mau’umae and Hapuna on the Big Island; Makena State Park and Ho’okipa on Maui; Hulopo’e on Lanai; Pu’ko’o and Halawa on Molokai; Waimanalo,  Ala Moana on Oahu; and Ke’e beach and Poipu Beach Park on Kauai... According to the report, approximately 90 experts in the field of sea level rise found that it will occur to the tune of 1-3 feet around Hawaii within 85 years.

Tourism isn’t the only industry that will be affected by climate change. The Sea Grant reports say that increases in the ocean’s temperature could affect the feeding habits and migration patterns of big-eye tuna, with catches expected to decrease by as much as 27 percent by 2100.

Dr. Chip Fletcher of the University of Hawaii at Manoa estimates that ocean levels will rise by a little less than an inch a year in Hawaii. While that may seem minor at first, over time the impacts on Hawaii’s environment and, by extension, the tourism industry, could be great.

Higher ocean levels could create more storm surges which could threaten water lines, roads and a majority of the state’s hotels, which are situated along the coast. Linda Cox, a co-author of the report, said that damages from rising sea levels would be the most economically harmful. “My idea is that the coastline infrastructure will be the biggest challenge due to the expense associated with moving or altering it,” said Cox, researcher with College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at UH.
The effects of rising ocean levels can already be seen on Oahu, said Cox.

“We already have major issues in coastal areas — look at Hanalei  and the North Shore of Oahu. When major storm events occur, these communities struggle to keep roads open, necessities in stock and people aware of the action to take,” Cox said...

The article concludes with "What's Being Done," which I can summarize for you in two words: MORE STUDIES. In other words, no action will be taken until there's a major catastrophe. Sigh.