“Does more need to be done about climate change in Hawai‘i?”
Dr. John Marra, Regional Climate Services Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shared his perspectives in response to this central question in a video interview with Honolulu Civil Beat.
In the interview, Dr. Marra and Honolulu Civil Beat reporter Joe Rubin discuss some of the realities that Hawai‘i faces under a changing climate: increased threats to infrastructure from storm surges and high tides; coral bleaching and ocean acidification leading to coral death, with cascading impacts on fish and marine ecosystems; and even the potential disappearance of Waikiki’s famous sandy beaches with just a foot or two of sea-level rise.
Dr. Marra explains how new policies and adaptive measures can “climate proof” the islands. Some of these measures are the same as actions taken to avoid the worst impacts of storms and coastal inundation that Hawai‘i already periodically experiences.
“If you are citing development further inland to avoid potential flooding during hurricanes, you’re also doing climate adaptation planning, and you’re increasing sustainability because you’re decreasing the potential impacts on your infrastructure.”
Dr. Marra spoke with Honolulu Civil Beat at the Waikiki shoreline and in his Honolulu office at the East-West Center, where he often collaborates with Pacific RISA on initiatives such as the recent Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), mentioned in the video. He was also one of the featured speakers at the international climate change conference “Waves of Change” held at the University of Hawai‘i last week.