The Effects of Climate Change on Hawaii: A Reflection Piece

12 months ago

by Tyler Gillette

In Chelsea's absence for the week, Sam Ressin and I will be helping by looking for EcoRight news, making social media updates, and blogging.

Last week, I was on vacation with my mom and girlfriend in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. It was my first time ever being in Hawaii. As a scientific thinker, during my trip I could not help thinking in the back of my mind about how all the natural wonders could be affected in the long run from climate change. How have humans affected these wonders or how will they affect them? Will my future kids and grandkids get to experience these same wonders? With all the current trends with climate change, Hawaii could be an entirely different place and lose most of its beaches. The beachside cities will also be affected by rising sea levels.

The first moment that made me think about climate change was when we were driving along the North Shore of Oahu. We saw an endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal just relaxing on a beach by a busy street. Most people probably would have kept driving or stopped to take a picture then leave. But, for me this was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I also thought about how climate change could affect a moment like this. The Hawaiian Monk Seal is one of the most endangered mammals in the U.S. There are only about 300 in the wild and only 50 on Oahu. Climate change is already affecting these creatures by altering the oceans through ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and raising sea levels. If this continues, we could lose this species forever. When this happens then no one can experience a seal on a white sandy tropical beach in paradise.

The next moment that made me think was when we went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. Hanauma Bay is one of the best places to snorkel in Hawaii and the world. It was my favorite snorkeling experience. I loved seeing so much biodiversity. It was beautiful seeing all the fish and coral. I knew that this reef could have more. To the untrained eye most people probably would just see the fish and some of the corals and move on with their day. For me on the other hand, I could not help but see coral bleaching on some of the coral and the lack of coral. These rocks could be covered in coral, but it was dominated by algae and had small patches of corals. In a few years, we could completely lose the biodiversity of this bay due to climate change. Once again, my future kids and grandkids may not get to see what I saw.