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Climate Change in Hawai'i: Building Resilience

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Title: Climate Change in Hawai'i: Building Resilience
Authors: Wong, Lindsay
Advisor: Leineweber, Spencer
Issue Date: May 2014
Abstract: Although climate change has its skeptics, the reality is that climate change is already happening. Studies within the scientific community indicate that the last three decades have been the warmest since 1850, global sea level has risen almost eight inches since 1900, and carbon dioxide levels have increased 40% since the Industrial Revolution. These events are causing the Earth to undergo a significant energy imbalance, evident in recent extreme weather events. Climate anomalies occurred around the world in 2013, as parts of North America and Africa experienced the worst droughts ever, Typhoon Haiyan marked the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land, Australia had its warmest year of record, China and Russia were hit with heavy rainfall, and the United Kingdom experienced a continuing cold wave. There has been strong evidence that climate change is largely anthropogenic. Some scientists suggest that humans are an actual geological force and we have caused a new era, called the Anthropocene. This has been proven by comparing measurements of human activity against natural data, over the same time period. We have clearly exceeded planetary limits. Although, this concept of boundaries and the delicate relationship between humans and the natural world is nothing new to indigenous people. For this reason, climate science has recently looked to incorporate indigenous knowledge, also known as traditional ecological knowledge. Around the world, indigenous observations parallel those of the scientific community, however, offer a finer scale and deeper understanding of climate change. Traditional ecological knowledge spans many generations of paying attention to the environment, being aware of natural patterns, variability, and dependencies. Unfortunately, because many indigenous communities live in the most marginal areas of the world, they have been the most susceptible to climate change. Despite this, many indigenous communities have used traditional ecological knowledge to develop adaptive strategies and survive against climate change. The signs are clear that we are entering a future of unprecedented climate change, with alarming projections. The geographic nature of low‐lying coastal areas and small islands make these communities also vulnerable to the effects of climate change. However, vulnerability can be minimized through enhancing a community's adaptive capacity. As demonstrated by many indigenous communities, resilience towards climate change goes beyond methods of protection, and includes other strategies such as mitigation, adaptation, and self‐sufficiency.
Pages/Duration: 176 pages
Appears in Collections:2014

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