Isles warned of grim future for tourism
|By Timothy Hurley, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Is this the kind of place tourists will want to visit?
Among some of the more interesting findings:
--Surfing, the sport of kings and ancient Hawaiian tradition, will suffer. Some of
The report, paid for in part by the
Called "Climate Change and the Visitor Industry," the report suggests strategies for adapting to the changes and includes a list of vulnerable tourism sites, including major beaches, parks, attractions, hospitals and transportation assets.
"HTA is a knowledge-based organization and we believe it's important to be informed about
The report paints a rather bleak picture of the future as
As a consequence, the report said, the cost of living and the cost of doing business in
"It becomes so overwhelming," Eversole said of climate change. "Some people just throw up their arms and say, 'We're screwed -- there's nothing we can do.' But there's a lot we can do to start preparing."
Eversole said that while climate change, driven by a rise in greenhouse gases, is already underway, the tipping point for major problems may not be seen for 20, 30 or 50 years.
"It's like a freight train," Eversole said. "We can see it coming. Are we going to be ready?"
One of the biggest challenges for the state and its tourism industry in the coming decades will be dealing with sea level rise. Because nearly all of
"We have a very steep hill to climb to get on top of this problem," said UH associate dean and geology professor
Because beaches are one of
As time goes by,
But it might cost more to ignore the
As for the longer term?
Current research suggests that global sea level will rise about 3 feet by the time the 21st century comes to a close, Fletcher said.
"By the end of the century, I would be surprised if Waikiki Beach is still there," he said.
At some point,
In the meantime, he said,
Here are some of the other climate change-related problems outlined in the report, along with some suggested adaption strategies:
--Higher energy costs from increasing demand on cooling systems due to warmer temperatures.
More energy efficiency is needed, including the installation of devices that allow for cooling and lighting only when a room is occupied, the use of energy-efficient appliances, using alternative fuels and renewable energy, and accelerating the maintenance and cleaning of heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment.
--A decline in the popularity of outdoor activities due to the deterioration of the environment, plants and animals. Hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, horseback-riding and bird-watching will suffer from loss in quantity and diversity of plant and animal species.
What's needed are support programs that control invasive species, reintroduce native plants, provide educational activities and maintain trails, among other things.
--A decline in the popularity of snorkeling, fishing and scuba diving because of rising ocean temperature and acidification leading to coral bleaching, algal blooms, and invasive coral and fish species.
Environmental and human pressures on coral reefs need to be reduced. The report suggests protecting larger areas, promoting different kinds of water activities in different locations, tightening controls and regulations of the marine environment, and reducing pollution and agricultural runoff.
--A decline in the freshwater supply and rise in water prices due to lack of rainfall and stream flow and more drought.
Businesses should use water conservation techniques and fixtures and best practices in the maintenance of gardens and pools. Restaurant and hotel kitchens could invest in efficient dishwashers and ice makers and apply flow-control regulators at sinks and basins.
Golf courses will be hit hard. Superintendents should monitor soil moisture to control and optimize water use, reducing playing surfaces and excessive irrigation, and/or change turf to less-water-demanding or salt-tolerant species.
» An increase in the cost of infrastructure repair and insurance costs because of the growing intensity of extreme weather due to warmer seas, plus a decline in tourist numbers attributed to the storms. "These events are expected to increase the chances of visitors experiencing death, injury and suffering" and will prompt visitors to consider other destinations, the report said.
Regular maintenance and major upgrades are needed in anticipation of extreme weather.
Eversole, who serves as Pacific islands regional coordinator of the
"Previously, we would hear, 'So what?'" Eversole said of the education efforts. "Now we're hearing, 'So now what?'"
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