The fact that the ocean is creeping up ever further on Maui and Hawaii shores is a reality anyone here can see. We see most pronounced it in the form of old trees toppled over in the sand as the surf sloshes around their roots on Maui’s north shore and along the road between Olowalu and the Pali. And this past weekend, so-called King Tides really pounded home the feeling that the big blue Pacific will, sooner than any of us wish, make coastal living around here decidedly more difficult.
Local TV news ran with tons of footage of a sandbagged Waikiki, but as you can see from the accompanying photo, taken near Olowalu, water levels got pretty high on Maui, too. Sea level rise is the planning nightmare of the future for Hawaii’s coastal communities. All of our beaches, perhaps in our lifetimes, will become a thing of the past.
“This has big economic impacts and the structures here are increasingly in danger,” said Phil Thompson of the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center in this May 24 Hawaii News Now story. The next day, Mark Merrifield of the UH Sea Grant Program told KITV that “The problem is that we are going to see more and more of this as sea level keeps getting higher and higher, more of these tides poke through and reach the threshold level.”
While our civilization may have already doomed itself to live with climate change, it’s still possible for us to moderate its effects–if we act in concert through agreements like the Paris Accords, which limits each nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, given that the current President of the United States is a corrupt fool, this is probably asking for too much. Indeed, the Los Angeles Times reported on May 27 that “this week,” Trump will decide whether the U.S. will continue to adhere to the terms of the pact.
Keep in mind, though, that the growing physical evidence of climate change is irrelevant to Trump. Same with the fact that 195 nations signed on to the Paris agreement. Ditto the ironclad commitments from the rest of Europe on the immediate need to deal with climate change. Even the recent plea from Exxon–EXXON!–that the U.S. should continue to take steps to lessen our collective carbon footprint is likely lost on the old doofus. No, the bitter sociopath Trump can see none of that, and cares not one bit about anything beyond his need to live a gold-plated life.
“We have to stay in the Paris deal because climate change is a threat to agriculture, fishing, security, prosperity, and our way of life,” U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D–Hawaii, said on Twitter this weekend. A few hours later, Schatz–one of the biggest environmental advocates in the Senate– followed that up with this: “Dumping the Paris agreement would anger our allies and embolden our adversaries. You don’t have to be a climate hawk to think that’s dumb.”
Photo courtesy Branden Hazlet