Climate change has its sights on its next victim. It’s one of America’s favorite vacation spots.

Hawaii’s known for its near perfect weather, but a  report from the UH Sea Grant program states that islands in the Pacific might be unrecognizable in the coming years as climate change makes them hotter, arid, stormy.  Even disease-ridden.

According to “Climate Change Impact statement the oceans, rainfall, ecosystems and immunity of people who live on islands in the Pacific are all at peril. Tourism-an industry responsible for most of the state’s annual revenue- might vanish.

The study projects:

Higher average temperatures, stressing native animals and plants and causing an uptick in heat-related illnesses in people, as well as a higher concentration of invasive species.
A decrease in trade winds would disrupt  rainfall patterns across  the islands and create periods of drought and heavy rain and flooding;
Warmer oceans and higher ocean acidity,  could trigger massive coral bleaching, marine migration, and affect the ocean’s circulation and the way it distributes nutrients.
Perhaps the most obvious change around the state will be the rise in sea levels, which have risen about 0.5-1.3 inches per decade throughout the last 100 years. The study projects this rate to accelerate, resulting in a 1-foot to 3-foot rise-or possibly more-by 2100.

Most of Waikiki and its famous beach would either be underwater or highly eroded, if sea levels rose 6 feet. The new shoreline would be almost a full mile inland-past the Waikiki hotel strip and into neighborhoods such as Kakaako, downtown Honolulu, even Moiliili. Such a scenario would impact hotel revenues by as much as $661.2 million, with a $2 billion lost overall, each year.

Charles Fletcher, a UH geology professor who contributed to the report, said he imagines that Oahu’s tourist nucleus would have to pack up and move, to a “new Waikiki” on higher ground, “By the end of the century, I’d be surprised if Waikiki Beach is still there.”

Researchers admit nobody knows exactly when or where these changes will take place. Some impacts of climate change have already been observed -such as beach erosion on the north shore of Oahu-while others are “projected to manifest in the coming decades.”  The “warming of the Earth’s climate system is unequivocal,” and climate change is caused by human-influenced greenhouse gases.

Tourism’s still cranking in Hawaii. HTA recently said.  The organization funded the UH study in order to anticipate the challenges Hawaii faces — and try to minimize their effects.

The UH report lists various ways agencies and residents can change habits to  influence change:

Utilize more rain catchment systems. Conserve water.
Preserve and restore coral reefs, beaches, forests, streams, floodplains, and wetlands that have the “ capacity to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the impacts of climate change.”
Go back to the ways of ancient Hawaiian tradition, living along the streams and utilizing  land more efficiently and independently.
“There’s a lot we can do,” Dolan Eversole, an agent with the  program, said. “Like a freight train. We see it coming. Are we going to be ready?”




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