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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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How will Hawaii fare as the climate changes ?

December 10th, 2012 · 30 Comments

The Star-Advertiser reports this morning on a new report predicting impacts of climate change on Hawaii (“Climate-change scientists predict sea to rise 1 foot by 2050“).

The S-A story is based on an East-West Center press release dated December 4, which included links to the executive summary and the full report. By the way, I didn’t see the links in the S-A story.

This is dour stuff. If you visit here often, you’ve probably seen plenty of the long posts by “skeptical once again” running down various scenarios as trends converge over the next several decades.

Sea levels are rising as average temperatures rise. The number of trade wind days are falling (making those wind farms far less efficient). There will be less rain and more frequent drought in parts of the state. Rising sea leaves will raise the water table, causing more routine flooding in low lying areas of the city. Tides and storms will have greater impacts. Fuel costs will continue to rise. Imports will get more expensive. Travel is likely to get more expensive, putting mass tourism at some risk. The list goes on and on.

Every day we walk down the beach in the morning and worry about friends with oceanfront homes, some who have been there for decades, some who bought their homes relatively recently. How long before their homes are at risk?

Here’s one assessment that I found this morning:

But as I’ve noted (see “What year will coastal property values crash?“), coastal property values won’t wait to (permanently) fall until sea levels have actually risen 4 or 5 feet, as they almost certainly will by the end this century on our current CO2 emissions path:

Coastal studies experts: “For coastal management purposes, a [sea level] rise of 7 feet (2 meters) should be utilized for planning major infrastructure”

Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100

No, coastal property values will crash when a large fraction of the financial community and of opinion-makers — along with a smaller but substantial fraction of the public — realize that it is too late for us to stop 4 to 5 feet of SLR. I tend to think the peak in U.S. coastal property values comes some time in the 2020s.

And when those coastal values crash, what will the impact be on other island real estate values? It probably won’t be good.

You may want to check the calendar and realize that’s not too far in the future.

And what about Kamehameha Highway, much of which runs along the ocean, as it does here in Kaaawa. It’s extremely vulnerable to damage if sea levels or storm intensity increase much at all. Will it have to move mauka? Where? Are plans in place to do this? I don’t know.

Doom and gloom aside, I did find one very upbeat discussion of the positives of Hawaii’s location. Here’s a long excerpt:

The BEST place to be located is upon the larger remote Islands within the deep oceans near the equator or even better situated near the tropic lines. Hawaii is a prime example as to why such remote islands will weather best for their human inhabitance. The surrounding ocean and its surface water temperatures will help tremendously in stabilizing the lower elevation atmospheric temperatures within comfortable levels. Consider Florida for example, with temperatures that often reach 100F+ while at a latitude further north than Hawaii. Where Hawaii experiences extremely stable year round temperatures in the 80′s near ocean elevations all the while being situated far closer to the equator where the atmosphere should theoretically be hotter than Florida. Florida is surrounded by vast shoal (shallow) waters and therein lays the dilemma.

These perfect conditions in Hawaii are due to several factors. Hawaii experiences more moderate and stable temperatures because it is fully surrounded by deep remote ocean waters and because it has a near stable exposure to the sun all year round. The deep waters mix with the warmer surface waters of the sun about the island effectively cooling the warmer waters and keeping the island cooler during the day in the sunshine. Whereas during the evening the warmed surface waters continue to heat the lower elevation atmosphere via evaporation keeping the air moderately warm during the evenings. Thus Hawaii has a near perfect natural thermal control system built into its environment that fits human needs to near perfection, whereas no such place can be found in a continental environment.

Hawaii has two fairly stable factors, a near stable solar exposure and a stable deep ocean temperature. The surface waters about the island are locked between two opposites in energy absorption and transmission and we’ve a greater mass (water) in fluid dynamics to consider. The averaged outcome is experienced and enjoyed by the lower elevation inhabitance of the island. Global warming will have less influence on the temperatures in Hawaii and far greater influence on continental land masses. Hurricanes/Typhoons may become more prevalent in Hawaii but none the less, because of its remote location, such storms will always be less likely an extreme threat comparatively to the extremes that will be manifest on and around the continental environments.

The most disturbing thing to me is that while our science community is deeply involved in relevant research, our policy makers are lagging in seriously addressing the need for immediate changes to meet the future threats. This is another area where Hawaii’s conservative political system is going to increase the future costs of climate change.

Are Hawaii’s policy makers as proactive as those in other part of the country? I think we’re lagging, but that’s only a general impression.

Better informed assessments would be appreciated.

Tags: Economics · Politics

30 responses so far ↓

  • 1 we all make mistakes // Dec 10, 2012 at 8:43 am

    “This is dour stuff.”

    Perhaps it should be ‘dire’, not dour.

    A personality is dour. A situation is dire.

  • 2 richard gozinya // Dec 10, 2012 at 8:58 am

    The nugget that I find most worrisome is the potential impact of climate change on our water resources. I hope we give that some thought as we rush head long into west side development.

  • 3 Ken Stokes // Dec 10, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Mahalo for featuring this crucial piece of work, Ian!

    I dug thru the SLR stuff (Ch. 3) and posted some findings on my FB page. In essence, the 100-year inundation event of today become the 3-year event by 2050.

    So, yup, getting more proactive would be good, since we’re already seeing the 10-year event.

    And if we’re going to implement Chip Fletcher’s “managed retreat” from our shoreline, we need to start, like, now!

  • 4 Punaluu // Dec 10, 2012 at 11:37 am

    My concern is the greater potential of hurricanes with the threat of warmer ocean currents.

    Stretches of Kam Hwy become impassable when we have excessive high surf conditions. Living out here comes with some risk of being cut off from services, and ultimately rescue and survival in extreme situations (the impact of a tsunami episode really concerns me!). I figure we are going to be cut off and pretty much on our own until roads can be cleared and repaired… could be a long time. I also worry about my house washing away but that’s the risk I assume from living a few feet from the water’s edge. Wouldn’t change that but it does cross my mind that life along our coastlines includes accepting that it could be a temporary living arrangement.

  • 5 Carrie // Dec 10, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I am very concerned about the current Non Reponse to the severe drought occuring over most of the state. I have seen ZERO calls for water conservation, rationing, or even penalties for simple acts like overwatering a yard and letting gallons and gallon of water run down the street (happens twice a week in my St. Louis Hts neighborhood). I am biased from growing up in CA in the 80s (the Drought decade), but to have those in charge not say anything about the situation we are in is incredibly troubling — both in the immediate and long-term foresight and planning sense. I have NO confidence that anyone at City Hall or the state Legislature is doing serious, significant planning on what’s to come, given that they aren’t saying anything about what’s happening Right Now.

  • 6 Lopaka43 // Dec 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    A good place to start to learn about the local efforts to begin the lengthy process of adaptation to this slow moving tsunami can be found at
    http://icap.seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/

    Local sea level rise by the end of the century has been estimated to be closer to three feet rather than the six feet you quote due to local conditions which Chip Fletcher can do a better job of explaining than I can (See the policy tool kit publication at the site listed above.)

    And Carrie, just because the discussions have not been noticed by the local media does not mean they have not been happening.

    There have been a series of discussions involving a wide variety of people in Federal, State, and county agencies and the University trying to understand the science and to discuss what reasonable steps should be taken to address the local response to climate change.

    With little fanfare, legislation was passed last year requiring State and county agencies to incorporate sea level rise in their planning and permitting (See Act 286 [2012]).

    Federal funds have been given to the UH Sea Grant Program to map sea-level rise for all islands of the State with mappings expected in two years.

    In addition, Sea Grant has also received funding to do a sea level rise assessment for the area from Waikiki to Pearl City which will look at the impact on flooding and tsunami risk with elevated sea levels and provide estimates of potential structural damage and associated costs that can help evaluate the alternatives of retreat, accomodation, and mitigation.

    There does need to be a public debate about what should be done, what is most important to do, and how we will pay for what will be Hawaii’s equivalent of what the Netherlands learned to do long ago, choosing where to resist the rising waters and where to retreat or find ways of accommodating.

  • 7 INTP // Dec 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    > “Our policy makers are lagging in seriously addressing the need for immediate changes to meet the future threats”
    Yup. Most disappointing is HCDA re Kakaako Mauka where there will be Mapunapuna-like flooding at high tide. Specifically HCDA is now in the totally flexible “blank canvas” stage of design where it has all the leverage — and yet has ignored rising sea levels possibly because it will have to start its planning process all over again.

  • 8 Hugh Clark // Dec 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Geez, I recall GOP telling us earlier this year that global warming was just a “Democratic hoax.” None of you believe that?

  • 9 Lopaka43 // Dec 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Under State law (see my previous comment), HCDA is supposed to incorporate sea level rise in the planning and permitting for Kakaako.

    Any Environmental Assessment done for the State plans and projects in Kakaako can be challenged if it does not include estimates of what the impact of sea level rise is going to be on the project and if it does not include an assessment of how the project design should be modified to accommodate or mitigate any impacts.

    And they cannot plead that the data and science is not there to assess the risk since the UH studies will provide sea level rise and hazard assessments for the area in the near future.

  • 10 ulu // Dec 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    How high is reef runway?

  • 11 A.Nonymous // Dec 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    It’s called the reef runway because pretty soon it will be a reef instead of a runway.

    So glad I sold out and got off the rock. There certainly will be a real estate crash. Plus, the capital gains tax is about to get lots nastier. Oh, and the home mortgage interest deduction looks like it may disappear very soon. Visualize Hawaii as another American Samoa, a place that’s a food-stamp paradise because nobody in their right mind goes there.

    Sometimes aloha means take the money and run.

  • 12 Mr. Mike in Hilo // Dec 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    There is an important international grassroots organization addressing the issue of climate change: 350.org, founded in 2008 by Bill McKibben and others. Their website is, naturally, 350. org. I follow 350.org on Facebook, where they provide daily updates and huge amounts of information.

    They explain their use of the number 350 this way:

    “350 means safety from the climate crisis. To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million (“ppm”) to below 350 ppm. But 350 is more than a number—it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet. At 350.org, we’re building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and push for policies that will put the world on track to get to 350 ppm.”

    Personally, I am particularly concerned about the impact of rising sea levels in Micronesia, whose many coral atolls, only a few meters high, will be seriously affected. Fortunately, the Compacts of Free Association between the United States and the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia permit citizens of those countries to migrate to the United States to seek higher ground.

  • 13 Sus // Dec 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    The optimistic view of ‘stable weather’ does not seem to take world wind/sea patterns into consideration. How will the trade winds change the temperatures? (Have there been more vog days already?) Also, changes in water temperatures – even small amounts – can kill the reefs, thereby leaving the coast vulnerable to the strong waves. We don’t even know what other changes in the ocean and marine life can occur.

    These changes are slow, but have already started. Does anyone remember ANY incidences of box jelly fish 30 years ago? And hurricanes – how many recently compared to 30 years ago? How many homes – even retail stores – had air conditioning 30 years ago (or even needed it?!) There are a lot of reasons to be concerned.

  • 14 INTP // Dec 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Wow, thanks! In Your Humble Opinion, has HCDA acted in “good faith” re the threat of Mapunapuna-like flooding? (IMHO HCDA might need to go back to its previous skyway connected condo concept.) Hate being a cynic but would not be surprised if OHA sought *gambling* on its newly acquired Kakaako Makai as recompense for being “duped” (not!) re plummeting real estate prices due to vulnerability of Kakaako Mauka to Mapunapuna-like flooding from rising sea levels (we’ll see next legislative session).

  • 15 cwd // Dec 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    In 2009, after intensive work over a two- year period on legislation to specifically address what needs to be done reduce the impacts of climate change, the Legislature sent SB266 SD2 HD2 CD1 up to the Fifth Floor for Governor Lingle’s signature. She vetoed it.

    The Legislature overrode the veto so it became ACT 20 Special Session 2009.

    However, Lingle got her way by refusing to release the funding. The bill expired in December 2010.

    However, the bill was submitted again this past Session, but it was deferred.

    Instead the Office of Planning on behalf of the Abercrombie Administration submitted an alternative bill. It eventually became ACT 286-2012.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t achieve anything except to articulate the complex issues surrounding climate change here in Hawai`i. Here is the core language:

    Climate change adaptation priority guidelines.

    Priority guidelines to prepare the State to address the impacts of climate change, including impacts to the areas of agriculture; conservation lands; coastal and nearshore marine areas; natural and cultural resources; education; energy; higher education; health; historic preservation; water resources; the built environment, such as housing, recreation, transportation; and the economy shall:

    (1) Ensure that Hawaii’s people are educated, informed, and aware of the impacts climate change may have on their communities;

    (2) Encourage community stewardship groups and local stakeholders to participate in planning and implementation of climate change policies;

    (3) Invest in continued monitoring and research of Hawaii’s climate and the impacts of climate change on the State;

    (4) Consider native Hawaiian traditional knowledge and practices in planning for the impacts of climate change;

    (5) Encourage the preservation and restoration of natural landscape features, such as coral reefs, beaches and dunes, forests, streams, floodplains, and wetlands, that have the inherent capacity to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the impacts of climate change;

    (6) Explore adaptation strategies that moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities in response to actual or expected climate change impacts to the natural and built environments;

    (7) Promote sector resilience in areas such as water, roads, airports, and public health, by encouraging the identification of climate change threats, assessment of potential consequences, and evaluation of adaptation options;

    (8) Foster cross-jurisdictional collaboration between county, state, and federal agencies and partnerships between government and private entities and other non-governmental entities, including nonprofit entities;

    (9) Use management and implementation approaches that encourage the continual collection, evaluation, and integration of new information and strategies into new and existing practices, policies, and plans; and

    (10) Encourage planning and management of the natural and built environments that effectively integrate climate change policy.”

    Unlike the original bill which would require the Legislature and the county councils as well as the state and county administrations to establish rules and pass appropriate legislation, ACT 286 – 2012 supports getting people together to learn more about climate change and its impacts.
    but not address what has to be done to reduce climate change’s negative impacts.
    Without appropriate laws and administrative rules on the books, there is no mandatory actions which must be taken.

    A few months ago, I attended a meeting in which an issue came up about the State Department of Transportation refusing to pay any attention to a Neighbor Island Planning Department with respect to moving the location of a highway inland by at least 100 ft from the high water mark. The DOT’s position is that if ain’t on the books as a law or a administrative rule, then they don’t have to pay any attention to county regulations/ordinances.

    Granted, there has been in increase in meetings to share research and to talk about impacts, but no one is willing to go down to City Hall or the State Capitol and advocate for new laws/regulations to address these issues.

    We need to do more than sit around a table and talk, talk, talk.

  • 16 richard gozinya // Dec 11, 2012 at 8:31 am

    If things stay as they are now, would the PLDC be able to give its own projects variances and exemptions that make all this moot? I think so….now that’s scary.

  • 17 Laurie // Dec 11, 2012 at 8:45 am

    From Bill Sager,

    “No climate change mitigation included in the plan. Plan recognizes Laie as secondary resort and will forever change the character of the North Shore and Windward Oahu.
    …This is a head in the sand approach to mitigating the inevitable impacts of sea level rise. We need to plan now to protect those areas which cannot be pulled back to the blue line and to plan to pull back from those areas subject to flooding that cannot be protected.”

    http://hawaiienvironmental.org/oahu-general-plan-draft-plan-available/

    How can citizens of the rest of the island and islands have a chance to participate in this process?

    It is critical that we be able to do so!

  • 18 Laurie // Dec 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

    meant to add:
    It seems like the Plan oscillates between being an important doc set in stone when it supports development, or an irrelevant roll of paper in a drawer somewhere for 20 years, depending on some $pecific variable$.

    A projection of 1 foot of sea level increase by 2050 seems extremely optimistic to me.

    Dr. Chip Fletcher, UH Soest offers this:
    http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/coasts/

    Chip Fletcher’s

  • 19 Laurie // Dec 11, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Thank you Lopaka43, I appreciate your posts, did not know that! It’s encouraging to know.

  • 20 Lopaka43 // Dec 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I haven’t seen any evidence that HCDA is considering sea level rise or requiring its applicants to do so. I was just pointing out that, under State law, they are supposed to be doing that, and that reviewers of their EAs and plans should check to see if they are doing so.

    Elevating structures and basic utilities like generators and switchboards is one of the strategies for accomodating the possibility of flooding. Waterproofing, or allowing for structures to float are also possibilities.

  • 21 Lopaka43 // Dec 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I recently reviewed proposed improvements for the airport. It looks like most of the airport is more than three feet above sea level, and is out of the current tsunami evacuation zone. However, it will be interesting to see what happens to the tsunami zone when the higher sea levels are added in.

  • 22 Lopaka43 // Dec 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Agree with CWD that most of the needed changes to regulations, rules, and best practice standards has not yet happened, but there are folks within and outside government working on the specific forms that those should take with the expectation that they would be submitted for approval next year or the following year.

    On the book already are county laws setting shoreline setback based on estimates of coastal erosion which, when combined with the sea level rise information, can be the basis for moving new developments back from the coast line.

    One of the proposed revisions to the Ewa Development Plan currently at the City Council would establish as City policy the requirement that new public and private projects on the shoreline include an assessment of sea level risk in their planning and show how the design will accommodate or mitigate that risk.

    The Corps of Engineers is requiring all new Federal projects subject to Corps review to include a similar evaluation in their planning and design.

    There is progress, but there needs to be greater public involvement in understanding the issues and the choices, and in providing support for smart, sustainable, and economical responses.

  • 23 cwd // Dec 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Lopaka43:

    The Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) partnership hosted the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Forum yesterday at the East-West Center. It was designated as a public dialogue to bring together those involved with the PIRCA, sector leaders, and other interested individuals to share information on climate change.

    The PIRCA is a collaborative effort aimed at assessing the state of climate knowledge, impacts, and adaptive capacity in Hawai‘i and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands.

    The PIRCA engages federal, state, and local government agencies, non-government organizations, businesses, and community groups to inform and prioritize their activities in the face of a changing climate.

    More than 100 individuals have been involved in the PIRCA since its inception in 2011. The first PIRCA output is a report titled Climate Change and Pacific Islands: Indicators and Impacts published in December 2012 that can be downloaded for free from the following web sites:

    http://www.pacificrisa.org/projects/pirca/

    http://cakex.org/virtual-library/climate-change-and-pacific-islands-indicators-and-impacts

    One of the questions addressed to the six people on the stage – including William Aila, Russell Kokubun, and Jesse Souki – was what climate change legislation is going to be submitted to the 2013 Legislature or to any of the county councils.

    The collective answer from all six participants? “As far as we know – nothing.” One person stated that as far as she could tell, there was no indication that the new Congress would be addressing any of these isssues either.

    A HUGE project in Waikiki to replace the Moana Hotel should start up before the end of this fiscal year. When finished, it will be no more than 60 feet from the high water mark.

    Furthermore, its internal infrastructure could be up to fifty feet below the ground level – including some in-house parking.

    I raised the issue about storm surgez, long-term sea level rise, and tsunami impacts during the public input section, but no one addressed these complex issues.

    We need laws and regulations passed NOW – not until some time in the dim & distant future.

    Lopaka – if you want to talk to me in person, contact Ian off the blog for my contact information. Ian – it’s okay to give him (I assume) my phone number & e-mail address.

  • 24 merit // Dec 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    All great points above on global warming’s local impacts.

    But how much of what we worry about falls under the rubric of “same old, same old”? We’re worried about coastal erosion, flooding and dying coral reefs. But these things have been talked about for decades (although little has been done in that regard). But what are we not thinking about? For example, the convention center was built on the fringe of Waikiki in part because the water line is only a meter or two below ground in Waikiki. Will that water line rise? If so, what are the implications for all structures in Waikiki? For their plumbing and electricity?

    The same applies to the un-thought out ramifications of peak oil. It took us a long, long time to recognize that the worst victim of peak oil will be tourism. This oversight is understandable, because most of the discourse on peak oil is conducted by people who don’t live in tourist-dependent economies. But what else are we not seeing? For one, it’s not just that airplanes in the future will be coming in less frequently, but leaving less frequently. This includes flights to Las Vegas. This might mean more pressure in the future to legalize gambling locally. Or not. (We might not be in the mood to gamble.)

    What else are we missing?

  • 25 merit // Dec 12, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Global warming might also mean no more nice green golf courses, soccer fields, cemeteries, etc.

  • 26 Lopaka43 // Dec 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    As I noted earlier, the Ewa DP changes currently before the City Council as Bill 65 (2012) includes a proposed policy requiring new public and private projects to include a sea level rise assessment in their planning.

    A framework for the change has been approved by the Ocean Resource Management Plan Working Group and progress is being made in implementing that framework. See http://icap.seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/sites/seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/files/publications/climate_change_adaptation_framework_2009_2.pdf
    for details.

  • 27 Lopaka43 // Dec 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    The implications for all structures along the shoreline, and not just in Waikiki, is that there will be a need to decide whether they need to be torn down or renovated to deal with the impact of a rising water table and increased risk of flooding/storm surge/tsunami damage.

    This can be done either proactively in anticipation of the changes, or after the fact, when flooding actually occurs.

    At a minimum, building owners in Waikiki should be thinking about getting critical equipment out of their basements.

  • 28 merit // Dec 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Do you think that Oahu’s water table could be compromised by salt?

  • 29 compare and decide // Dec 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Here’s an article from the New Zealand Herald entitled “NZ tourism may survive climate change, but travel costs a risk”.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10508276

    Global warming will have winners and losers. Ironically, it’s the biggest carbon emitters who will be the winners in tourism.

    Climate change due to global warming will help determine a new crop of winners and losers – in tourism.

    And a report from Deutsche Bank Research says some of the biggest polluters will be among the biggest winners – with New Zealand among the countries which will initially be better off.

    The Deutsche Bank report said that the countries responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions will be least influenced by the predicted storms, droughts or rising seas.

    By 2030 tourist destinations such as Malta, Cyprus, Austria, Greece, the Bahamas and Jamaica will be adversely affected, and tourism in Asia, Africa and Latin America will also suffer.

    But the bank’s model shows Canada, the United States, Belgium, Germany and the Baltic countries will benefit as tourist destinations.

    New Zealand – which relies on tourists travelling long distances from the northern hemisphere – will benefit but ranks closer to France and Italy, where some regions will be too hot and dry while other parts will become attractive.

    “France and Italy will be slightly favoured, due to the diversified structure of their tourism offerings,” Eric Heymann, of Frankfurt, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank Research, told the Yale Global website.

    “Canada, New Zealand and the USA are the only three further countries outside Europe whose tourist industries will be on the winning side.”

    “Like the north European countries, New Zealand is positioning itself as a `green’ holiday destination,” the report said. “The isolated geographical location of the country is, however, problematic.”

    It will have beneficial effects from climate change up to 2030, with increasing temperatures and lower rainfall.

    As the effects of climate change ripple across the world, greater restrictions will be placed on consuming fossil fuels, including the imposition of carbon fees. This will hit all tourist destinations hard, but will hit isolated New Zealand harder than other Western societies.

    But rising fuel costs and limits placed on travel in order to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions will start having a negative effect on the economies of existing tourism nations.

    Tourism was an important economic factor in New Zealand, equivalent to 11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), particularly adventure holidays in the South Island.

    The North Island had striking landscapes and Auckland was an attractive destination for city tourists, but cultural tours “are still of little importance”.

    “In developing nations which are resource-poor and tourist-dependent, this will widen the gap between the wealthy and the poor”.

    The regulatory and indirect consequences of climate change will have a negative influence on tourism in the whole of Oceania, though the tourists visiting New Zealand include a high proportion travelling relatively short distances from Australia and Asia.

    “The island states in the South Pacific … are particularly reliant on tourism,” Mr Heymann said. “If tourists stay away from them, the economic setbacks are extremely serious.”

    Reduced tourism income for economic development in many emerging markets, including the island states in the South Pacific would be not only due to worsening climatic conditions.

    “If prices for air trips increase, for example, because of their inclusion in emissions trading and if (as a result of that) fewer people travel to faraway destinations, the negative economic impact would be perceptible,” Mr Heymann said.

    “If these changes are irreversible, then the developed world must help these countries develop sustainable economies.”

    In Australia, rising temperatures would affect beach and water sport holidays on the Queensland and New South Wales coasts. The problem of high UV radiation already existed and future coral bleaching would reduce the attractiveness of the Great Barrier Reef to tourists.

    But the report said that up to 2030 the consequences could still be manageable – possibly even increasing visitor numbers – with a change in marketing tactics, along the lines of “Come and see it before it’s too late!”

    This does not bode well for Hawaii’s tourism. Looks like Hawaii might be in the same sinking canoe as Tahiti.

    This might prove to be an ideological litmus test for Hawaii’s Congressional delegation. When carbon fees are proposed in Congress, will Hawaii’s representatives oppose them or support them when it’s recognized that carbon fees will hurt tourism? (However, those fees could be expected to serve as compensation to victims of global warming — if they are treated as FEES, and not TAXES — and Hawaii’s compensation package would be expected to be theoretically in proportion to the damage caused by global warming to Hawaii.)

  • 30 font // Dec 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Think of invasive species. The Africanized honey bee stopped its march north from Brazil at the Mexican border because the climate was too cool. Florida is full of critters in the swamps that cannot live more north at the moment. Their day will come.

    Agriculture in subtropical climates like Hawaii can be tricky because Hawaii has the tough pests of the tropics, but the crops of the temperate region don’t thrive as much in Hawaii’s warmth. (At least, this is what I was told when I tried to grow lettuce.) But one would expect that things might get worse in this way with global warming.

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