Last week, we sent MauiTime to press with the cover headline “Visualizing Sea Level Rise.” We didn’t realize that king tides, which rolled in on July 2, would be doing the work of predicting sea level rise for us. In our story, writer Susan Halas interviewed Sea Grant scientist Tara Owens, who showed us how to use the web-based Hawaii Sea Level Rise Viewer program (Hawaiisealevelriseviewer.org) to see coastal changes that are predicted to occur with 3.2 feet of sea level rise (as early as mid-century). It’s one way to make the abstract language of climate change and sea level rise visual.
Another way is to observe king tides. King tides, or the “highest high tides of the year,” offer a glimpse into the future of sea level rise.
“They are windows for us to see what the future of sea level rise from global climate change might look like along our coastlines,” states the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant Website. “With future sea level rise we can expect more frequent high tide flooding and monthly and even daily high tides exceeding coastal inundation thresholds.” And indeed, just as the images by Asa Ellison show stretches of Honoapi‘ilani Highway getting gnawed at by the tides, the Hawaii Sea Level Rise Viewer predicts this kind of flooding will soon become a more constant reality.
“In my work I don’t see ‘climate deniers’ so much as ‘climate ignorers,’” Owens told Halas. Well, like a king tide splashing on your windshield, here’s your weekly reminder that climate ignorance and inaction are only to our detriment.
You can comment on the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization’s draft Transportation Improvement Program at Mpo.org/public-review-comment. It includes information regarding the funding and prioritization of projects such as the Honoapi‘ilani Highway Realignment and Shoreline Protection/Mitigation Program. Spoiler: Neither of these projects are listed as priority No. 1.
Photo by Asa Ellison