HONOLULU (December 4, 2012)—The Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) today released its first report, Climate Change and Pacific Islands: Indicators and Impacts (Island Press). The report highlights the findings of more than 100 scientists and other experts who assessed the state of knowledge about climate change and its impacts on the Hawaiian archipelago and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands. The report also examines the adaptive capacity of island communities in the region.
"Climate change is real, and it's already having an impact on Hawai‘i and throughout the Pacific,” said Hawai‘i Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz, who leads the state’s clean energy efforts and Asia Pacific relations. “We islanders must make the necessary preparations for warmer, unstable weather. It will affect every aspect of our society and economy, including agriculture, real estate and tourism. The time is now for serious change."
Among the major concerns for Pacific Islands discussed in the report are:
- Decreased freshwater supplies in the future
- Higher air temperatures, especially at high elevations
- Higher sea-surface temperatures causing coral bleaching and linked to the increased prevalence of certain coral diseases
- Threats to traditional lifestyles of indigenous Pacific Island communities
- Rising sea levels, causing coastal flooding and erosion that are likely to damage coastal infrastructure and agriculture, impact tourism, and negatively affect ecosystems and endangered species.
“The effects of climate change are already being seen across the Pacific, and now the PIRCA report provides a foundation for prioritizing adaptation measures,” said Dr. Victoria Keener, East-West Center Fellow and Lead Editor for the report. “The report is a truly collaborative effort, incorporating many perspectives to create a clear picture of what is known about climate change in the Pacific Islands to date, and what we still need to study."
Free Public Forum Dec. 10
To highlight and discuss the report’s findings, PIRCA will hold a free public forum on Monday, December 10 from 9:00 AM to noon at the Hawai'i Imin International Conference Center, 1777 East-West Road, Honolulu. Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz will give an opening address, followed by a presentation on PIRCA’s findings and a panel discussion with leaders from diverse sectors across Hawai’i and the Pacific region. Please visit http://tinyurl.com/pircaforum to RSVP for this event.
The 2012 PIRCA report is one in a series of technical contributions to the 2013 National Climate Assessment (NCA). The NCA is conducted under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which requires a report to the US President and Congress every four years on the status of climate change science and impacts. The 2012 PIRCA and the 2013 NCA will inform the nation about already observed changes and anticipated trends. Policymakers will use the NCA to set federal science priorities. Government agencies, communities, and businesses will utilize both reports to make decisions and plans for the future.
For more information, visit: EastWestCenter.org/PIRCA.