Why Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach could soon be underwater
Hawaii’s islands and the iconic Waikiki Beach is under threat due to rising sea levels caused by climate change.
State politicians have predicted that Honolulu will start experiencing frequent flooding within the next 15 to 20 years and are working hard to pass legislation that includes a coastline protection program.
This program would cost millions of dollars and is aimed at defending the city from regular tidal inundations.
The highest tides of recent years have sent seawater flowing across Waikiki Beach and onto roads and footpaths.
Naturally, this is an alarming scenario for a state that makes its money from beach tourism.
“The latest data on sea level rise is quite scary and it’s accelerating faster than we ever thought possible,” said state Representative Chris Lee, a Democrat and lead author of a bill calling for the creation and implementation of the shoreline protection plan.
“The loss of coastal property and infrastructure, increased cost for storm damage and insurance, and loss of life are inevitable if nothing is done, which will add a significant burden to local taxpayers, the state’s economy, and way of life,” says Lee’s bill.
The bill proposes sinking $USD4 million ($AUD5.6 million) into the program’s development over the next two years.
The push for action comes after a state-mandated sea level rise adaptation report was made public.
Research from the report suggested that Hawaii will see a 0.9 metre rise in ocean levels by the end of this century. The research also predicted that more than 6,000 of the state’s buildings and 20,000 people across the islands of Hawaii will experience chronic flooding.