Every few months, it seems, some University of Hawaii scientist puts out a new report giving us more bad news about climate change. In October 2012, four UH researchers published a report saying the trade winds that make life so pleasant–and possible–in Hawaii are steadily decreasing. Four months later, UH researchers published a study showing that climate change would most likely doom the Haleakala Silversword. Then in August 2013, UH climate scientist Richard Zeebe put forward a report showing that global warming would be more intense and long-lasting than previously thought.
It’s all bad news, and it’s all well documented (though substantial political change seems all but non-existent). And now UH has released a new, very easy to read report putting everything together as to how exactly climate change will alter Hawaii as we know it. And this time, national media seems to be noticing–not because the science is overwhelming or revolutionary, but because it’s dawning on people that their future Hawaiian vacations may be ruined.
“Climate change has its sights on its next victim, and it’s one of America’s favorite vacation spots,” James Cave wrote in an Aug. 28 Huffington Post article, which noted that the Hawaii Tourism Authority funded the new UH study. “Hawaii is known for its near perfect weather, but a new report from the University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant program states that islands in the Pacific might be unrecognizable in the coming years as climate change makes them hotter, arid, stormy and even disease-ridden.”
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which also published a big article on the report (subscription required), asked simply, “Is this the kind of place tourists will want to visit?”
Of course, climate change will cause some sort of drastic change to just about every place on the planet over the next century, but if worrying whether the Ka’anapali and Wailea resorts are going to get inundated by rising sea level (it doesn’t look good) gets people to start paying attention to the damage industrialization has been doing to the earth, then so much the better.
Photo of Wailea: Anthony Pignataro