Skip to main content

Video: How a Rising Ocean Could Doom Hawaii and the Pacific Islands

[node:summary]National Climate Assessment video details impacts of rising oceans on Hawaii and Pacific Islands.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Among the 400 or more indigenous people who participated in the People’s Climate March on September 21 were dozens of Pacific Islanders. They and Natives of Hawaii are all fighting tangible climate change effects already: namely, the rising ocean that is lapping at the very foundations of daily life, from key infrastructure to longstanding cultural practices.

In this video overview narrated by the convening lead author of the Hawaii chapter of the National Climate Assessment report—released by the federal government in May of this year—the effects both current and impending are made clear.

In this clip, convening lead author Jo-Ann Leong describes the impact of climate change on these people who for millennia have been “some of the most skilled and fearless ocean voyagers on the whole planet.”

Photo: Theresa Braine

Pacific Islanders were among the more than 400 indigenous people who took to the streets of New York City for the People's Climate March on September 21.

So busy are we thinking about the science of it all, she says, that we lose sight of the people.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

“Their whole way of life is being threatened,” she points out. That includes peoples and cultures not only on Hawaii but also on American Samoa, Micronesia and other Pacific islands. Many of these smaller island will most likely be underwater by 2100.

“They’re a part of the U.S., in that regard,” she says of climate change’s effects on these islanders. “They are going to have large migrations from low-lying islands to higher islands. Hawaii is one of the most desired places to come to, so our infrastructures need to be prepared.”

Having airports and major roads on the flat parts of the Hawaiian islands—the shorelines—makes these installations vulnerable as well, Leong says.

There are a lot of things to ponder packed into this short clip that is worth a watch and a listen.

RELATED: Video: National Climate Assessment Focuses on Natives Bearing the Brunt

Video: Scientists Get Into the Nut of Climate Change