Is New Hawaii Climate Change Strategy Enough?

Skyseeker via Flickr

State officials are touting Hawaii's new policy to deal with the impacts of climate change, from sea-level rise to decreased stream flow.

But the 10 "priority guidelines" signed into law last week are at best just a step in the right direction. At worst, they're a lot of feel-good language that compared to other states covers up a missed opportunity to take significant action to prepare for the inevitable.

The latest science predicts devastating effects on coastal communities and forest ecosystems alike. Rising sea levels could force beach developments to be abandoned. Less rainfall could mean less fresh water for Hawaii's population.

This reality provided the impetus for the climate change adaptation policy, a concept increasing in popularity nationwide as states realize mitigation-only strategies won't suffice.

But while other states, such as California and Washington, have already gone from policy to comprehensive strategy, Hawaii is only now laying the groundwork. California, for instance, has a 200-page strategic plan full of specifics like considering the effect of sea level rise on recreational shellfish harvesting.

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