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The state of Hawaii, due to its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Recent events, such as the wildfires in Maui can be traced back to climate change. Let's explore why...



The Bigger Picture

Remedying Climate Change


Works Cited

“Adapting To Climate Change.” Hawaii.Gov. State of Hawaii, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2023. Climate Impacts and Outlook. Hawaii and U.S. Pacific Islands Region. Silver Spring, Md: [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], 2012. Print.Karl, Thomas. Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate : Regions of Focus: North America, Hawaii, Caribbean, and U.S. Pacific Islands. Washington, DC: U.S. Climate Change Science Program, 2008. Print.“Nature’s Remedies.” The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy, 16 Nov. 2017. Web. 25 Nov. 2023. “What Climate Change Means For Hawaii.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. United States Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2023.

The climate of Hawaii is changing rapidly. Air temperatures, with the increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, have increased in Hawaii by 0.5 - 1 degree. As the atmosphere warms, evaporation and humidity increase, contributing to drought and a decrease in precipitation on some islands. This has reduced the availability of freshwater, hurting native species to Hawaii and its land-based ecosystems. The figure to the right shows an increase in the average annual temperatures in Hawaii since 1950 ("What Climate"). Increased drought will, specifically impact the growth of taro and breadfruit; fruit that is traditional to Hawaiian Natives.

How has climate change impacted the environment, animals, and humans on the islands of Hawaii?

Impact of Climate Change on Hawaii

In terms of the ocean surrounding the islands of Hawaii, temperatures are gradually warming, as well. These rising water temperatures can harm the algae that live in coral reefs, killing their ecosystem as they each depend on each other to survive. This is known as coral bleaching. Ocean acidity has also been increasing, further "damaging the corals, shellfish and other organisms that depend on minerals in the water to build their skeletons and shells" ("What Climate").In the last 70 years, sea level has risen two to eight inches, relative to Hawaii's shoreline. This will lead to other detrimental effects, such as coastal erosion, damage to coastal infrastrucutre (which could hurt the state's influx of tourism, and, therefore, its economy), wetland migration, and cliff collapse ("What Climate"). More vulnerable to shoreline loss with the destruction of coral reefs, native animal species that nest on beaches, such as the green sea turtle, Hawaiian monk seals, and the endangered Laysan finch, are also at risk of harm.

The state of Hawaii, in an effort to combat climate change and enhance their "prospects for achieving their goals of disaster resilience, water and food security, a robust economy and high quality of life," are "planting native trees, protecting native forests, restoring wetlands and bolstering the resilience of coral reefs" ("Nature's Remedies"). The best response to climate change, however, according to research, is adapting to its impacts. By adjusting Hawaii's natural and built-in environments in response to actual or expected climate changes and its effects, can greatly decrease their impact ("Nature's Remedies). In fact, the state of Hawaii established the Hawaii Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Program to combat climate change.

Remedying Climate Change in Hawaii

The country of Australia is experiencing similar climate change to Hawaii. There, average land and sea temperatures are increasing, fire danger is increasing, and the area has fluctuating rainfall patterns and rising sea levels. Similar to the coral reefs in Hawaii, the Great Barrier Reef, located in the ocean surrounding Australia, is also falling victim to coral bleaching. With increased temperatures, shallow water coral reefs, such as the Great Barrier Reef, have reduced by about 50%. Hawaii, recently, has had a massively devastating wildire on the island of Maui, and the same has occurred in recent years in the southern part of Australia.

Where else in the world is experiencing a similar form of climate change?

The Bigger Picture

The country of Australia contributes greatly to global warming.Livestock grazes at a large scale, putting just as large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gas emissions in Australia contribute to their rising temperatures, as well as to the rising global temperature. Further, large carbon emissions from Australia's energy production and transportation industries is also a factor.