connectVideoHawaii the islands are threatened by rising sea levels, experts warn
Hawaii the world-famous Waikiki Beach could soon be underwater as rising sea levels caused by climate change catch up with its white sandy beaches and the bustling streets of the city.
Known for its beautiful landscape, tropical climate and beautiful beaches, Hawaii is a tourist destination for people all over the world. But concerns have arisen that are world-famous Waikiki Beach could soon be underwater as rising sea levels caused by climate change catch up with its white sandy beaches and the bustling streets of the city.
The state legislators are attempting to pass legislation that would protect the coastline and help defend Honolulu from tidal flooding, with experts predicting receives floods in the next 15 to 20 years.
So far, both the Hawaii Senate and House of Representatives have passed a measure, HB 1487, which would be used for the creation of a “climate protection pilot project.”
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“The climate change and warming of the seas are also caused Hawaii to see more of the hurricanes of increasing intensity than ever before. A direct hit on Honolulu is expected to be a loss of [$40 billion] to Hawaii infrastructure and the economy,” the bill states. “The loss of coastal property and infrastructure, higher costs for storm damage and insurance, and the loss of life are inevitable if nothing is done, will add a significant burden on the local taxpayers, the economy of the State, and the way of life.”
Now, the Senate and the House of Representatives try to reconcile different versions of the bill before it is sent to Gov. David Ige’s desk for him to sign. Ige’s office has not yet said whether he will sign the bill.
“The latest data on the rise of the sea level, it is very scary and it takes faster than we ever thought possible,” State Representative Chris Lee, a Democrat and lead author of the bill told The Independent.
A study that discussed sea level rises in Hawaii suggests that the state will be a 3-meter rise of the sea level up to the end of the century, with more than 6,000 buildings and 20,000 people on the island chain is disrupted by the floods.
In 2045, Hawaii wants to get in the direction of 100% renewable energy, according to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. As the most fossil fuel dependent state in the nation, the initiative would have to be more independent, to save $3 billion in the cost of imported oil and the establishment of a green economic sector, according to the objectives set out in the plan on the website.
Initially the idea had received pushback due to costs, Lee told CNN, but as soon as the state utilities did their due diligence, they found it would save $5.5 billion.
As a series of islands in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii seems to be more sensitive to climate change than other AMERICAN states. According to a report from the National Climate Assessment, an increase of the wave height is considered as a “major concern” due to the fact that the Islands in the Pacific ocean, and Hawaii in particular, are almost entirely dependent on imported food, fuel and materials.”
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The highest tides of the past few years have sent seawater flowing across from Waikiki Beach and on roads and pavements on the main street and interactive maps of the Hawaiian Islands show that many parts of the country are expected to be hit by major floods, erosion and loss of infrastructure in the coming decades.
That is an alarming scenario for a country where beach tourism is the main driver of the economy, causing some lawmakers to insist that the planning for the rising tide needs to start now.
In this June 23, 2017 picture, sand bags line the beach at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu as record high tides hit the islands. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Bruce both asato via AP)
Lee’s bill is similar to the action of New York City following a storm surge of Superstorm Sandy has resulted in 19 billion dollar damage in 2012. The proposal would see $4 million gain in the development of the program for the next two years, as more research for a carbon tax that may have to raise money and reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Hawaiian Electric Industries, the largest supplier of electricity in the state, is at the forefront of investing in clean energy sources for the power supply of 95 percent of the population. According to her 2018-2019 sustainability report, Hawaiian Electric is set to 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources, such as solar, wind and hydro-by 2020.
Lee said urban areas like Waikiki are often built in such a way that it forms a protective barrier against the kind of storm that is inevitable.”
But in the more rural areas, he said, construction could be limited close to the coast “to preserve dune systems and build in a lot of natural solutions that are much more cost-effective and provide a much more robust result than building concrete infrastructure or something in that nature.”
Hawaii, which is largely Democratic, and is a champion of the climate problems in the US. in the past, has experienced widespread support for the legislation, Lee said.
In September, the previously mentioned report is updated with new research showed that the area affected by the flooding and by an increase of 35 to 54 percent.
University of Hawaii researcher Tiffany Anderson, who led the study, said traditional sea level projections make use of what is known as the “bath-model” to measure where the water will rise and floods in the country. But she was surprised by the huge increase revealed when they are processed in more variables, such as beach erosion and wave energy fluctuations, which are not used in traditional climate change, flooding predictions.
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“We have long suspected processes, such as erosion of the coastline, breaking waves, and floods would be additional factors for Hawaii,” Anderson said. “We found it covers a lot more land … I did not expect such a large increase as a result of these two processes.”
State Rep. Nicole Lowen, a bill backer and Democrat, said that people hoping to build in the vicinity of the coast must all be wary.
“It would be useful now to say, ‘If we know this is a sea level rise inundation area, then why would we allow a new structure,'” said Lowen, who was the lead author of a separate legislation would have changed construction permitting standards in the country.
That measure died when he was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and is not scheduled for a hearing.
“I think that the sea-level rise and the consequences of climate change worldwide is going to be a large disruptive effect on the economy,” Lowen said. “And with an economy that is so heavily based on tourism and so easily influenced by something as the price of oil rises, for example, it is not resilient.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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