I don’t know why I do this. Climate Change is one of those things that I write about from time to time, but I doubt it matters much that I do so. For the majority of the world, including me, the term refers to a scientific phenomena that was started by industrialization and will bring about massive, negative consequences for the way people live. For others–mostly, those beholden to big business, the oil industry or the Republican Party–it’s a fairy tale, told by eggheads to fools as part of the Nanny State’s war on suburbia, automobiles and all things Capitalism.
Whatever. For those who care about the future of the planet, there’s a new report out (I know, there’s always a new report out…). But this one, the Third National Climate Assessment, is a bit more specific than past studies on how climatic changes will alter our way of life. According to a May 7 news release from the Environmental Defense Fund, the report’s conclusions for Hawaii are particularly stark:
- Rising air and ocean temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and changing ocean chemistry will affect people and ecosystems in Hawaii.
- Rising sea levels will increase coastal flooding and erosion, damaging coastal ecosystems, infrastructure, and agriculture.
- Low islands are particularly at risk, but low-lying portions of high islands — where nearly all airports are located and where each island’s road network is sited – will also see profound impact.
- “Because Pacific Islands are almost entirely dependent upon imported food, fuel, and material, the vulnerability of ports and airports to extreme events, sea level rise, and increasing wave heights is of great concern.”
- On most islands, increased temperatures coupled with decreased rainfall will reduce the amount of freshwater available for drinking and crop irrigation.
- Warmer oceans are already leading to increased coral bleaching and disease outbreaks, and threatening fisheries.
In case you were wondering, this new report “is the work of more than 300 experts who looked at all available data on the effects climate change is having on the U.S.,” stated the EDF news release. “It was overseen by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee and was reviewed by the National Academies of Sciences with input from the public.”
So if you’re into understanding our planet’s complex climate and ecology, go ahead and read the study. Hell, tell your friends about it. And if you’re one of those who finds climate change to be nonsense, go right ahead and think that. Because one of the great things about science is that it doesn’t require our approval.
2004 Photo of erosion at Kanaha Beach: Forest & Kim Starr/Wikimedia Commons