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Changing Climate in Hawaii Affects Cultural Sites

December 22, 2013
climate change and cultural sites

Original artwork by R. Mason

Many historical Hawaiian sites are located along the coasts. Temples, burial and ceremonial sites, as well as the remains of villages are found near the ocean. The National Park Service is just one of many organizations entrusted with protecting these irreplaceable treasures. Climate change poses an enormous obstacle to this endeavor.

The combination of sea level rise, erosion, and storm surges near the ocean are grave threats to culturally significant coastal sites. And coastal cyclonic activity has been known to destroy entire archeological assemblages.

Pelekane Beach at Pu‘ukoholā Heiau NHS, the trail system of Ala Kahakai NHT, and the royal fishponds at Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau NHP are just a few examples of sites identified as threatened by sea level rise. At Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP, the Kaloko Seawall, the beach fronting ‘Aimakapā Fishpond, and ‘Ai‘ōpio Fishtrap are at even greater risk due to climate change related coastal impacts.

This Week’s MYTH  Buster: “Alternative energy just isn’t practical.”

This is short sighted. While alternative energy production may be more expensive in the short-term, when long-term costs such as pollution, global warming, and quality of life are factored in, alternative energy is by far more cost effective.

I Will Make a Difference: by conserving water. Even where water is plentiful, it takes energy to pump it.

More on the NPS and climate change.

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