Hawaii is vulnerable to warming and acidifying oceans, shoreline loss and species loss

Air temperature has already warmed by one-half to one degree Fahrenheit in the last century in Hawaii.

  • Ocean warming and acidification: Accounting for changes in natural cycles including El Nino, the temperature in the Pacific is warming. Waters around Hawaii have been warming since the 1950s. Increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere is increasing ocean acidity. Algae that live symbiotically with corals are threatened by both warming and acidifying oceans, causing massive die-offs called “coral bleaching” and damaging the entire marine ecosystem. Mass bleaching events are becoming more common, with documented cases in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 1996 and 2002. Damage to coral reefs could harm Hawaii’s economy, which is estimated to bring in $385 million from tourism, direct consumption, and commercial fisheries.
  • Shoreline loss: Since 1960, sea level has risen between two and eight inches on Hawaii’s shoreline, exacerbating threats like hurricanes, tsunamis and extreme tides. Over the last century, 70 percent of beaches on Kauai and Maui have chronically eroded by the shore, causing wetlands to migrate and cliffs to collapse. Sea level rise threatens native communities and may force them to relocate. Many of the natural and built environments in Hawaii, including land, coastal artifacts and cultural structures, are also vulnerable.
  • Species loss: Higher temperatures and increased likelihood of drought have caused a massive decline in native plant species.
  • Adaptation: Under Governor Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii is developing a report analyzing vulnerability to sea-level rise and suggesting an adaptation plan addressing statewide impacts through 2050. The report will be public before the end of 2017.

Hawaii residents support clean energy and climate regulations

Mild climate + abundant solar and wind make 100% renewable goal look easy in Hawaii

  • In June 2015, Hawaii became the first state to commit to 100 percent clean energy.
  • In 2015, Hawaii generated more solar electricity per capita from distributed facilities than any other state, and solar energy from both utility-scale and distributed resources generated 35% of Hawaii’s renewable electricity.
  • With a mild tropical climate, Hawaii had the fourth-lowest per capita energy use in the nation, with transportation counting for half of all energy use.
  • Hawaii is one of seven states with utility-scale geothermal capacity. In 2015, 17% of Hawaii’s utility-scale renewable generation came from geothermal energy.
  • Hawaii ranks 29 in wind capacity with 206 MW installed, enough to power 60,000 homes. There are 8 companies in NH related to wind manufacturing.
  • Hawaii ranks 13 in solar, with 674 MW installed or enough to power 170,000 homes. The solar industry employs 3,200 people across 123 companies across the solar value chain in HI.
  • Hawaii’s renewable portfolio standard requires all of electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy resources by 2045. In 2015, 13% of electricity generation came from renewables.
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