State lawmakers addressing climate change, sea-level rise

Published On: Jan 09 2014 06:28:18 PM HST   Updated On: Jan 09 2014 07:59:08 PM HST

With the recent North Shore erosion fresh on their minds, state legislators are taking action to fight sea-level rise and climate change.

Click here to watch Justin Fujioka's story.

Experts said on Thursday that damage to coastal homes near Rocky Point last month will occur more frequently at locations all across the state as our climate changes.

"Greenhouse gas accumulation is making it hotter and that heat is driving a whole bunch of other effects that cascade throughout the atmosphere and in the oceans," said Deanna Spooner, coordinator at Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative.

Spooner was one of two climate change experts to speak to state lawmakers Thursday.

Her predictions for Hawaii are dire. She said our freshwater supply will decrease, changes in the ocean will impact our tourism and food supply and beach erosion wouldn't be extreme, it would be normal.

"If we lose our beaches, we lose our economy, we lose our way of life and we can't let that happen so we had to start the discussion," said Rep. Chris Lee, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environment Protection.

The big scare -- a possible sea-level rise of up to two meters.

"This is interesting cause a few years ago, I thought one meter was very aggressive and I thought wow, this is you know, people are going to really kind of shake their head at us in saying a meter and now I'm wondering if we're slightly too low," said Dolan Eversole, a University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program Coastal Hazards Extension agent.

Legislators said they're trying to get a hold on the science of climate change before moving forward.

"We're putting together a bill to take the goals that we set into law a few years to be ready for climate change and to be able to handle these situations and actually take the next steps to implement," Lee said.

He said the bill allows two years to formulate a plan of action.

"We're going to get everything in order so that we can get policy that we can implement so that we have tangible results after those two years," said Lee. "It's not going to be easy, it's not going to be cheap, but we have to start today because if we don't, it's only going to be worse for us all."


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