• Lis & Bob Richardson

Preparing for Sea Level Rise

(Submitted as a Letter to the Editor, Maui News)

Global warming can be a controversial subject, but it seems most people don’t deny sea-level rise. Global warming is more like a distant locomotive rumbling around the bend, whereas sea level rise is like the train’s white headlight bearing right down on us through a tunnel. It is best to act quickly and prepare early for sea-level rise challenges to avoid catastrophe.

There are frequent articles in the Maui News about sea level issues impacting various shoreline areas of Maui County. The long-term consequences of the rising sea waters may include losing some of our beaches, dunes, coastal roads, and nearby buildings due to flooding and erosion. We need to think in terms of coastal alternatives for dealing with the effects of an eroded coast. Storm surges are already damaging our shorelines, but when combined with sea-level rise, we may see many more instances of roadway flooding and erosion in the future. When coastal roads flood, neighboring properties can become isolated by flood-waters that also eliminate vehicular access or evacuation. The most at-risk properties may see repetitive flooding and will require some remedy. These difficult solutions will likely include retreating from some areas or roadways and creating new inland infrastructure.

We might debate the Theory of Global Warming, but when the waves hit the road due to rising sea-level, it’s time for more than theoretical discussions. Maui County is in the driver’s seat and can lead this community toward important and meaningful solutions for a more secure tomorrow.