Beaches play an important role in our island way of life. Hawaiʻi’s beaches provide unique habitats for a variety of plants and animals and protect residents living near the ocean by acting as a natural buffer against the high wind and waves of powerful storms. We also rely on our coastal resources for subsistence, recreation, economic support, and traditional and customary practices—all of which will be impacted by rising sea levels. Now is the time for Hawaiʻi’s communities to take action to not only mitigate the long-term effects of climate change but also adapt to the impacts we will continue to see in the future.
In 2017, the new Hawaiʻi Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission issued the first statewide assessment of sea level rise. You can read the report in all its entirety here. Here are some brief takeaways:
Sea levels could rise in Hawaiʻi more than 3.2 feet by mid-century. See what 3.2 feet looks like in your community here.
Why does this matter?
If greenhouse gas emissions stopped today, the sea level would still rise, so preparations must me made now, even as we mitigate climate change
At minimum, 3.2 ft of sea level rise would:
- Displace 20,0000 residents,
- Impact 35 miles of road,
- Inundate 2,000 sewage disposal systems,
- Affect 550 cultural sites, and
- Compromise 6,500 structures - like hotels, shopping malls, and small businesses
How you can help
Call your legislators and ask them to support bills that:
require upon sale, disclosing that the property is in the sea level rise vulnerability zone
require the state to incorporate sea level rise predictions and implement recommendations from the Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report
document the value of North Shore beaches to Hawaiʻi’s culture, health, and economy
Submit testimony in support of these bills when scheduled for hearings