A new U.S. Climate Assessment report is out and it highlights many factors that could change the landscape of the islands.
The expected cost of the impact of climate change to Hawaii could cost billions of dollars according to the report.
But instead of this being something we can face in the future, experts say, we are already feeling the impacts.
Victoria Keener of the East-West Center said, “All you have to do is go down Mapunapuna on a high tide day, and you can see the roads already flooding. A lot of these impacts are happening sooner and more severely than they have in been predicted to in the past. We’re on this accelerated schedule of experiencing these risks and impacts.”
According to Keener, some of the areas that could lose thousands of dollars due to sea-level rise and flooding include major economic hubs such as Waikiki and the airport.
“You can interact with this and really look at places on the map. You can scroll around across the state, not just Oahu, to see how sea level rise is going to impact infrastructure and how many thousands of dollars they’re projecting,” said Keener.
But sea-rise is not the only concern. Keener said the change in climate will completely change our island ecosystem.
She adds, “As the temperature changes, a lot of our native species forced to go higher in elevation to respond to these temperatures, and then in things like our coral reefs, our coral reefs are bleaching from rising temps and from acidity.”
She suggests to start planning now and said, “They really have to start looking at this as something that’s impacting them now, can impact their families, where they live and just where they live their lives, and this is something that we can respond to.”