By Rachel Roberts
Thinking about going to vacation in Hawaii? Well you better go soon. According to scientists at the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology (SOEST), costal erosion in Hawaii is predicted to double by 2050.
In a study, titled “Doubling Of Costal Erosion Under Rising Sea Level by Mid-Century In Hawaii,” lead researcher Tiffany Anderson said their results “indicate that approximately between 92% and 96% of the shorelines [in Hawaii] will be retreating by 2050 and 2100, respectively.”
Within the past century, more than 13 miles of Hawaii’s beaches have eroded and about 70% of beaches on Maui, Kauai, and Oahu are currently experiencing chronic erosion.
Lawmakers believe the increase in erosion is primarily a result of the state’s rare weather conditions this past winter. However, according to Sam Lemmo, an administrator for Hawaii’s Office of Conservation and Costal Lands, recent erosion problems are “just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the beaches in the state are on an erosion basis now, and that’s only going to increase in the future with sea level rise.” Sea level rise in combination with the construction of sea walls and buildings too close to the shore are heavily contributing to the problem.
Beach erosion in Hawaii has always been an issue, especially in Waikiki, where the beaches are man-made. In 2012, approximately 27,000 cubic years of sand were deposited onto the beaches to restore more than 37 feet of beach, costing Hawaii about $2.9 million.
If Waikiki were to continue eroding at the pace it is predicted to, it could cost the state about $2 billion per year in visitor spending. Beaches in Hawaii are not only the basis of the state’s tourism economy, but also hold significant value to the local residents as well.
Currently, the state’s Senate is planning to introduce a bill that would allocate between $3 billion and $5 billion dollars to beach restoration. Senate President Donna Mercado Kim said in a statement regarding the proposed bill that beaches are “one of the most important things that we need to focus in on, because we are known for our beautiful beaches, our sand, our environment… if that should go, that would be so detrimental to the economy and to the environment.”