This week an important conference is being held on the island of Hawaii, which is a state within the United States. This follows high level talks initiated by the US government following urges by the UN Secretary General for countries to take concrete action on climate change. Instead, according to news reports, the meeting is closed to Hawaiians.
To make a point, local environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter have been engaged in numerous events to increase awareness and foster local action. I am sharing those here as there are many ideas that we could use to bring about more awareness of sea level rise.
One event included drawing a chalk line on sidewalks to show where one metre sea level rise will get to, eventually. The chalk line emerges from a national project aimed at evaluating the vulnerability of the island to sea level rise. "The point of the Blue Line Project is that we are vulnerable, our community is vulnerable," said Fletcher, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawai'i. "And with a vulnerable community, knowing that we've been warned, and knowing that we have a lot of time between now and then, what can we do to make ourselves more resilient? Let's begin to incorporate information like this map ... into our planning for the future." (source: http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/).
Indeed the incorporation of areas of vulnerability is critical in planning for long-term adaptation. Whilst the public may not be convinced that sea level will eventually impact on their property, it is imperative that we find ways and means to increase public and private sector awareness of the issues. All too often we see enthusiastic hotel developers adamant in locating their development on the beach, rather than respecting a certain distance from the high-water mark.
The politicians in the closed room may be still talking about climate change but the people of Hawaii, knowing where their priorities lie, are taking the necessary action to preserve their island life.