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Windward // Windward Oahu News
MidWeek Staff

Climate’s Changing, But Hawaii Now Has A Plan To Make A Plan

Kailua Rep. Chris Lee's climate change measure became law June 9, signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and witnessed by (from left) Reps. Henry Aquino and Karen Awana, Jesse Souki of DLNR, Rep. Lee, Nathalie Morrison of the state Office of Planning, BLNR chairman William Aila, state sustainability coordinator Jackie Kozak Thiel, Chip Fletcher of UH Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Shannon Wood (front) of Windward Ahupua'a Alliance and Sam Lemmo of DLNR. Photo from the Governor's office.

Kailua Rep. Chris Lee’s climate change measure became law June 9, signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and witnessed by (from left) Reps. Henry Aquino and Karen Awana, Jesse Souki of DLNR, Rep. Lee, Nathalie Morrison of the state Office of Planning, BLNR chairman William Aila, state sustainability coordinator Jackie Kozak Thiel, Chip Fletcher of UH Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Shannon Wood (front) of Windward Ahupua’a Alliance and Sam Lemmo of DLNR. Photo from the Governor’s office.

Signed into law in June was the Hawaii Climate Adaptation Initiative (House Bill 1714), which will set up a panel to develop plans to minimize the impact of Hawaii’s rising sea level.

“Over the last hundred years,” stated the bill’s author, state Rep. Chris Lee, “we’ve seen the sea level here rise nearly eight inches. Our rate of warming in the last 50 years has nearly doubled, and that’s reduced our trade winds and our rainfall.”

Grim news, and there’s more. According to Act 83 itself, which was signed June 9 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, climate change has affected freshwater supplies, which will decrease. Coastal flooding and erosion will increase, open-ocean fisheries will decline, more coral will bleach out and die, and sea levels will rise a foot by 2050.

“The new law does not claim to change that outcome, but it gives us a chance to modify the damage,” Lee said.

“Planning ahead now will save billions of dollars for our next generation, and it will make us secure, safe and give (the children) an opportunity to enjoy much of the same Hawaii that we have today.”

Starting from January 2015, the designated climate council will be required to produce a report on Hawaii’s vulnerability as well as plans to adapt to it, overseen by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Planning.

Lee, D-District 51 (Kailua to Waimanalo), chairs the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.

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