Civil Beat: What climate change effects we can expect in Hawaii
As we speak changes are happening at beaches across Hawaii. Chad Blair from our partners as Civil Beat joined KITV4 to talk about climate change and how it's making beaches here more dangerous.
There's a long list of ways that climate change is affecting ocean safety. It's a result of rising seas, more frequent tropical storms, less days with good trade winds, and warmer, more acidic waters.
Q: Your colleague Nathan Eagle reports the state and counties expect more jellyfish to show up here, more powerful rip currents from higher sea levels, and bigger shore break. Is it true that it puts us at a higher risk to be in potentially deadly situations?
A: We may have seen an example of that just yesterday when thousands of jellyfish -- more than longtime lifeguards could recall ever seeing -- washed up at Makapuu, Waimanalo and Kailua beaches and stung hundreds of people.
As the ocean warms, it can create better breeding grounds for jellyfish, which is something other parts of the world are already monitoring.
Q: We've already seen erosion on Oahu's north shore. In the past couple of years we watched as Sunset Beach was wiped out. This is causing problems for lifeguards and it's costing taxpayer money to keep up with. Explain more...
A: We're spending millions of dollars to keep up with our eroding beaches, which is only expected to get worse as the sea level rises. Lifeguard towers at Sunset Beach, Pipeline/Ehukai, Waikiki and other beaches around the state have already had to be relocated multiple times.
In some places, like Kuhio Beach, the erosion is exposing concrete and leftover rebar from buildings that were demolished decades ago, like the old Waikiki Tavern.
Q: Brown water advisories have been happening more often and if the trend continues -- will people be exposed more to water-borne diseases from flooding and runoff?
A: The state health director, Bruce Anderson, says it's a serious risk that he expects will get worse as the climate changes.
A lot of of will come down to public education and staying informed with timely updates about unsafe conditions. The health department website lets the public sign up for email alerts about brown water advisories.
Q: At this point, is it too late to slow down? How can Hawaii cope with climate change?
A: The climate is changing. To many experts, it's actually more of a climate crisis than just a change. So right now and into the future, it's all about adapting and building resiliency.
Lifeguards are already doing this by relocating their towers and creating mobile units so they can be where they need to be, when they need to be there.