Your articles (Environment Hawai`i, October 2013) touched on several issues which I think a lot about these days. Our state has underway a process which acknowledges the reality of climate change and sea level rise. It remains to be seen if it is a “planning” process, because such would include discussions of impacts, evaluations of costs, and means of implementation. Your articles ask the question, “Is this process fast enough and is it going in the right direction?” (Please excuse my paraphrasing.)
You will remember Martha Black, who chaired a series of “water” workshops some years ago. My view of those workshops is that they were an astounding and awesome success because they brought together many interested persons who discussed water-related issues in a civil and collaborative setting. Martha was not affiliated with government, yet she had the respect of agencies and they participated in the workshops, as did businesses, cultural, and environmental groups. I often think of those workshops and their success, which I believe was due to Martha being a sincere, thoughtful person whose agenda was for the public good – and the attendees responded in kind.
Maybe if we had a series of “climate change-sea level rise” workshops, originated not by an agency, but by the community — the workshops could start with the basic premise that the climate is changing and the sea will rise. Chip Fletcher’s “blue line” and the reports of others have given us some guidance (wide swings in weather, a one-meter rise in sea level in 100 years, lessening of tradewinds, reduced aquifers, shortfall in irrigation or drinking water, more flood hazards, etc., etc.). The workshops would begin the community discussion of how to respond (create reservoir storage for irrigation water, harden shorelines, retreat from shorelines, flood-proof critical public infrastructure like sewage treatment and power plants, etc.) to these threats.
While it makes logical sense to expect the agencies to take the lead in the innovative strategic planning required for the massive infrastructure and life-style changes which are needed in the long term, I think it behooves us to remember that government responds to the will of the people, rather than the other way around.
I commend your newsletter for reporting on these issues. Your publication is widely read and respected. It is a great venue for this extended discussion. Perhaps you readers have thoughts on how to get some action. My question is: Where is the next Martha Black? We need you!