In December 2017, the Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission released a monster 304-page report. The title tells you all you need to know about its importance: “Hawai‘i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report.” It pulls no punches about the dire threat that faces Hawai‘i, and the rest of the world.
“[R]apid warming of the atmosphere and oceans, caused by two centuries of unabated carbon emissions, is causing increasing rates of sea level rise, unprecedented in human history, that threatens natural environments and development on low-lying coasts,” states the report. “Sea level rise is an inevitable outcome of global warming that will continue through many centuries even if human-generated global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were stopped today. However, much of what happens with future sea level rise will depend on our ability, or inability, to implement aggressive global carbon emissions reduction programs envisioned through the 2016 Paris Climate Accord.”
On Mar. 2, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa signed a proclamation officially accepting that report. “The Proclamation acknowledges that climate change is real and directs ‘County departments to use the Report in their plans, programs and capital improvement decisions, to mitigate impacts to infrastructure and critical facilities triggered by sea level rise,’” states a mar. 2 County news release. “It also calls on the Planning Department to propose rule changes to the Maui, Molokai and Lanai Planning Commissions to include sea level rise in their shoreline setback calculations.”
This is a big deal, and frankly, should have been done a decade ago. Then again, the whole U.S. response to climate change–especially his corrupt majesty Donald Trump festering in the White House–has been tardy and pathetic.
“We appreciate the leadership that the Mayor has shown in issuing the Proclamation and in supporting changes to the shoreline setback formula,” said Deputy Planning Director Michele McLean in the Mar. 2 news release. “For years we have been asking, begging or urging applicants for shoreline projects to move their developments farther mauka, but we cannot require them to do so because it is not in the rules. We will ask our three planning commissions to amend their shoreline rules to include sea level rise in their shoreline setback calculations to further protect shoreline development from coastal hazards.”
Click here to read the Hawai‘i Climate Change report.
Photo: Rick Obst/Flickr