Hawaii – Are the Recent Rain and Flooding Caused By Climate Change?

Dark Clouds over the ocean

By: T. Jeffersonian

This past week, the Hawaiian Islands have been deluged by continual rain. The rain fall flooded the islands to some degree and caused landslides on several. These landslides closed roads and blocked traffic. The floods destroyed and damaged property. Priceless memories are gone forever. Last week, I wrote about the tsunami being a black swan in the middle of coronavirus. At that time, I asked, “Is Hawaii prepared for a tsunami”? Little did we know that our second black swan occurring in the matter of one week was already forming and headed this way. Previously, I have also written about climate change and the forecasted effects that they will have on this state. Are the heavier than normal rains this week also caused by climate
change? The answer is yes, they are.


When people think of climate change and its effects on Hawaii, we think more of melting polar ice causing rising seas flooding Hawaii’s coastal areas. We will get to melting polar ice more in a minute, but climate change for Hawaii involves more than just rising seas. Climate change involves both droughts and floods. Overall, Hawaii has had less rain in recent decades and at times, most recently has been battling drought. Just Tuesday of this past week, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture approved a drought disaster declaration for parts of Maui County.

A 2010 report from the University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant College Program said Hawaii’s rainfall declined 15 percent over the past 20 years. Yet the same report said between 1958 and 2007, rain events with the heaviest downpours increased 12 percent, underscoring that more intense rainstorms more frequently, are growing in number. This week’s rain bomb itself is an example of the increased atmospheric moisture stemming from a rise in sea surface temperatures. Theoretical studies suggest that for every one-degree Celsius increase in sea surface temperatures, there is likely to be a 7 percent increase in atmospheric moisture.


This week’s rain bomb is a prime example of the increased intense bouts of moisture
causing rain bombs that Hawaii has seen in the more recent past. In April 2018, Kauai set a national record for the amount of rain recorded in a 24-hour period when 49.69 inches fell. That same storm three years ago set off landslides and blocked the only highway connecting small Kauai north shore towns to the rest of the island. We have seen similar landslides on both Kauai and Oahu this week. Climatologists warn that intense rain bombs like the one this week are indications that people should be prepared for such events more often. We can no longer think
of these events in terms of once-in-a-generation level occurrence. Due to climate change, droughts, rain bombs, and hurricanes are going to occur in Hawaii more often with increasing intensity and severity.


Now let’s return to melting polar ice and an interesting but very problematic side
effect. The side effect is the increasing speed of magnetic north pole migration. The magnetic north pole – where a compass needle points to – does not have a permanent location. Instead, it usually wobbles around close to the geographic north pole – the point around which the Earth spins – over time due to movements within the Earth’s molten core. For reasons still not entirely clear, magnetic pole movements can sometimes be more extreme than a wobble. One of the most dramatic of these pole migrations took place some 42,000 years ago and is known as the Laschamps Excursion.

To investigate what happened, scientists analyze ancient New Zealand kauri trees that had been preserved in peat bogs and other sediments for more than 40,000 years. Using the annual growth rings in the kauri trees, scientists create a detailed
timescale of how Earth’s atmosphere changed during the last geomagnetic shift. The trees revealed a prolonged spike in atmospheric radiocarbon levels caused by the collapse of Earth’s magnetic field as the poles switched, providing a way of precisely linking widely geographically dispersed climate records occurring across the globe at around the same time. Magnetic north was drifting at a rate of up to about 9 miles a year.

Since the 1990s, scientists have recorded the drift of Earth’s magnetic north pole becoming more of a sprint. Its present speed is now about 30- 40 miles per year. The magnetic north pole’s sprint is attributed to melting polar ice. Less ice, suggests the pole’s migration becoming faster. Though at present speeds, it will take nearly
5,000 years for the magnetic north pole to shift completely to Siberia, during this migration time, our magnetic field will weaken and weather on this planet may become increasingly severe. This last major geomagnetic reversal some 42,000 years ago triggered a series of dramatic events that had far-reaching consequences for our planet.

Today such consequences would read like the plot of an apocalyptic horror movie: the ozone layer was destroyed, electrical storms raged across the tropics, solar winds generated spectacular light shows (auroras), Arctic air poured across North America, ice sheets and glaciers surged and weather patterns shifted violently. Tropical Pacific rain belts and the Southern Ocean westerly winds abruptly shifted at the same time, bringing enduring drought conditions to places like Australia. At the same time, a
range of large animals, including giant kangaroos and giant wombats went extinct. Further north, the vast Laurentide Ice Sheet rapidly grew across the eastern United States and Canada, while in Europe the Neanderthals spiraled into extinction.


Between climate change and the geomagnetic reversal, Hawaii is in for a rough ride that may worsen. The whole world stopping greenhouse emissions today will not be enough. Climate reinforcement caused by thawing tundra and the release of natural greenhouse gasses will continue climate change. Strangely perhaps, the geomagnetic reversal might be Earth’s natural remedy to climate change since the last shift ushered in Arctic conditions throughout North American and Europe. It appears that climate change and Earth’s natural geomagnetic shift remedy are catastrophes which Hawaii should prepare for, live through, and thrive beyond.
How does Hawaii benefit from the ensuing destruction and devastation of climate change and geomagnetic reversal? We are going to experience both drought and flooding. Although we are not short of drinking water here yet, other places in the world are.

India will a population of 1.4 billion, is experiencing monsoons that are smaller and less frequent. India has never water harvested the monsoons optimally. India is experiencing water shortages today. In the next 80 years, India’s water shortages will become even more severe as its population increases to almost 1.9 billion while droughts become longer and more frequent. Equally, Africa’s population in the next 80 years will continue to rise to nearly equal that of Asia’s 2100 population. Both Asia and Africa will need fresh water.

Therefore, Hawaii residents could harvest Hawaii flood waters and sell them overseas to drought-stricken areas. Hawaii also imports fossil fuels to make 62 percent of the state’s electricity. Flood resistant dynamos installed in our storm runoffs could provide
the state with additional alternative energy sources. Great care would certainly have to be taken to ensure that dynamo installations do not block storm runoffs, thereby leading to even greater flooding here in the state. Due to climate change, new construction techniques and material will have to be created and employed throughout Hawaii. Perhaps each house will not only have solar panels, but will have rain catchments in the future. Perhaps affordable houses on stilts will need to become commonplace. Road construction is also going to have change. Coastal roads are surrounded on all sides by threats. Rising seas threaten roads on one side, while landslides threaten roads on the other. We will have to create alternate routes, move roads further inland, elevate the roads altogether, or simply become the Venice of the Pacific and embrace amphibian transportation throughout the islands. There is always the possibility of a Jetsons fly-car
transportation.

Though climate change and geomagnetic migrations are truly very serious growing threats to Hawaii, we must embrace these threats as economic growth opportunities. Through these economic growth opportunities, our state generates the revenue
necessary to adequately prepare the state and protect the Hawaii population allowing us and our neighbors to not only live through, but to thrive far beyond the climate change catastrophe.