Climate Change Maui: There is a lot of confusion about climate change. There are anthropogenic (man-made) factors that affect climate, like greenhouse gasses, deforestation, and pollution. This is a worldwide problem but has to be managed locally as well. Reducing our carbon footprint using renewable resources like solar and wind energy, as well as recycling and reusing materials rather than throwing materials away after a single use. Also being mindful of not causing harm to the ecosystem by over using toxic agricultural chemicals. Also eating less meat (reduces greenhouse gasses and deforestation) and would be a major step in slowing Global Warming

How climate change affects Maui, we are an island so sea level rise is a problem, There is forecast sea level rise globally with an average of 1.8mm per year. Kahului Maui has a forecast annual sea level rise of 2.1mm per year. which is very small annually by adds up over the longer timescale. Here is an inundation map (below) of Kahului after the 1-meter sea level rise. At current rates, this is estimated to be in approximately 500 years. As you can see Kite beach is still there. The negative effects of climate change should not be underestimated. Severe weather and crop failures will have a dramatic effect on the way we live, Storm damage to property and the relocation and reinforcing of infrastructure will be very disruptive and extremely expensive.

BEACH LOSS: Beach Loss is not solely attributed to sea level rise, it is more directly influenced by man-made problems like destruction of wetlands, destruction of sand stocks, covering shoreline dunes with development, 70 years of sand mining (removal of sand and coral from beaches and nearshore waters), and shoreline hardening. These are things that we can more easily remedy (/ remediate), at least in the short-term. Beach restoration, sand supplementation, Dune stabilization with native plants, sand fencing, limiting overuse of the nearshore zone, and of course shoreline setback regulations for new structures being constructed. Shoreline areas need to be preserved for their vital role in protecting our island from shoreline retreat. Beach loss/sand-loss itself is just the symptom of the underlying problems.

Coral Reef Destruction and Degradation: Coral Reef Protects the shoreline from wave action and allows the build up of sandy beaches. Coral Reefs also provide the raw materials for Coral Sands that most Maui beaches are primarily made of. Healthy Coral needs to be protected and appreciated and valued for its role in coastal protection and beach preservation.


Image from Maui Beach Management Plan. Official estimates for sea level rise (annual 2.1mm) put this “1-meter inundation model scenario” at about 500 years in the future.