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Changing Climate in Hawaii Affects the Economy

January 6, 2014
Hawaii economy and climate change

Original artwork by R. Mason

The Hawaii economy relies significantly on tourism, fisheries, and agriculture. All three are under threat as the climate changes.

If coral reef ecosystems are damaged by warming oceans and acidic seawater, then the fisheries dependent on the reefs will also suffer. Tourists flock to Hawaii for the beautiful coral reefs and the white sand beaches created by natural coral erosion. The net economic benefits of coral reefs for Hawaii are estimated at $360 million annually, with the overall tourism value estimated at over $10 billion.

Any roads, parks, and buildings near the coast are vulnerable as the sea level rises. Rebuilding will be expensive and sometimes impractical. Significant areas of economically important Honolulu will be susceptible to floods with higher sea levels. The Hawaii economy is intimately tied to a healthy environment.

Agriculture in Hawaii is a vital industry for a state that otherwise imports most of its food. Temperature, precipitation, and the intrusion of saltwater into freshwater systems all have the potential to harm agricultural production. Taro farming, for instance, is often acutely vulnerable to sea level rise.

This Week’s  MYTH  Buster: “The sun is causing climate change.”

The sun’s activity does affect Earth’s seasonal cycles, but on timescales of thousands of years.

I Will Make a Difference: by telecommuting or web conferencing.

More on the NPS and climate change

One Comment leave one →
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