▲ One of the workshops held at Jeju National University campus, Sept. 2-3. Photo courtesy Jeju Sea Grant College Program
For Andy Bohlander, the Coastal Processes and Hazard Specialist for the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, adaptation was the key message in his speech concerning sea level rise around Hawaii at the Korea Sea Grant Workshop held at Jeju National University Sept. 2-3.
“In a climate context, adaptation refers to actions taken to reduce the impacts of climate-related stimuli,” Bohlander said in an interview with The Jeju Weekly.
He continued that both Hawaii and Jeju have more in common than simply palm trees and a rich fishing culture, they are both exposed to many of the same effects caused by climate change. “Both have accelerated sea level rise rates that exceed the global average.”
According to Bohlander, over the past 40 years the Korean peninsula has seen the sea level rise 2.16 millimeters per year, and Hawaii, depending on the island, has seen an increase between 1.50 millimeters to 3.27 millimeters annually.
The two major factors for the rise in sea level globally are “thermal expansion of ocean water and the addition of water to the oceans from the melting of glaciers and polar ice sheets,” he said.
The rising seat level poses a threat to Jeju’s ground water, agriculture and fisheries; it will intensify coastal erosion, increase the impacts of violent storms and is detrimental to the island’s tourism industry. “The ocean and the coastline are our life lines,” he said.
When confronted with long-term processes of t his magnitude there is very little to do in terms of prevention; adaption to the change is the best form of action.
“Adaption and resilience are the two important words in my mind,” Bohlander said, with resilience referring to the capacity for communities and individuals to cope with and recover from a hazardous event.
With Hawaii, one of the primary concerns is the potential impact to the tourism industry, which is a critical component of the state’s economy. Currently hotels built close to the shoreline are ever inching towards the water and luxury accommodations may eventually become uninhabitable by the constant beating of waves against its walls. Sea level rise presents a threat also to Hawaii’s coral reefs.
Bohlander and other members of the SGCP hope to promote more sustainable coastal development in the future by implementing regulations such as shoreline setbacks and sustainable coastal construction techniques.
Bohlander explained that it is important “to explore what the provincial government is willing to do,” for it is ultimately their decision to develop and implement regulations and preventative measures based on SGCP research. The key to adapting to sea level rise Bohlander believes is to create an environmentally educated public. “Once you have an educated public they can drive the government,” he said.
Five delegates hailing from American SGCPs gave lectures during the workshop to exchange best practices. The purpose of the event was for the newly established Korean SGCP, Jeju’s department only began in 2009, to learn from their American counterparts who founded the program over 40 years ago. “I think at this point,” Bohlander said, “Korea has more to learn about the Sea Grant model.” Jeju Sea Grant Director Lee Joon Baek agreed stating that from Bohlander’s lecture Jeju was very interested in the implementation of public education programs concerning sea level rise as well as coastal erosion prevention and regulations Hawaii already has in place.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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