Yesterday, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to declare a climate emergency as the state legislature passed Senate Resolution SCR44 to declare that “climate change threatens both humankind and the environment.” In doing so, we join 15 countries, the European Union, and thousands of local jurisdictions around the world in recognizing the existential threat that anthropogenic climate change poses to humanity.
Hawaii is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. At Oceanit, we have been working on the problems created by our changing climate for decades. Since our founding in 1985 as a coastal engineering firm, much of our work has been in mitigating the effects of sea level rise and increasingly severe weather. In 2020, we wrapped up a 24-year-long project addressing critical erosion along a portion of Oahu’s west coast. Since 2003, we have been involved in numerous projects to protect the Ala Wai Watershed from catastrophic flooding, which will become more likely as climate change progresses. We are currently working with the Department of Transportation to figure out how to address tidal infiltration in the basement of Daniel K. Inouye International Airport–a direct result of rising sea levels. And last week, we published a draft Environmental Impact Statement for a project to restore and protect the chronically eroding shoreline of Kahana, Maui.
The world is facing a climate emergency, and we must do everything in our power to address the causes and mitigate impacts. We must do so by balancing the effects and impacts on humans, communities, ecosystems, and more. It is no longer a matter of whether climate change will affect us, but to what degree.
We are extremely proud that our state is a leader in recognizing the severity of today’s climate situation and in working towards a solution. Hawaii has the most ambitious climate goals in the nation, and we are on track to meeting them. The decision to declare climate emergency further cements our commitment to protecting the Earth for the generations to come.
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