The business of climate change

  • Jessica Else/ The Garden Island

    Pat Griffin, of the Lihue Business Association and local business owner Sarah Piano-Tjarks talk story with other community members about climate change solutions and preparations during the first of several community meetings aimed at addressing climate change impacts on Kauai.

LIHUE — The sea level is predicted to rise at least 3.2 feet by the end of the century, and it’s already impacting coastal areas in Hawaii, as the ground beneath highways and shoreline buildings starts to erode.

Statewide, government and community groups have started working toward plans to respond to sea level rise and other impacts of climate change. On Kauai, the first of five conversations on the topic happened Monday at a meeting at Kauai Community College attended by about 40 people that was part lecture, part brainstorming session, focused on Kauai’s business sector.

Pat Griffin, president of the Lihue Business Association, said it was the beginning of an important conversation.

“The specific business focus brought the discussion down from that abstract, conceptual concern to a personal, how-we-gonna-solve-this, action orientation,” she said.

The workshop featured guest speakers Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, and Makena Coffman, who holds a Ph.D. in economics and works with the Institute for Sustainability and Resilience and the Honolulu Climate Change Commission.

Coffman and McNamara brought the audience up to speed on some of the impacts Hawaii is already seeing due to climate change and outlined the state’s response by emphasizing renewable energy.

Then, the audience was broken into groups to brainstorm ideas for action on three topics related to climate change: mitigation, resilience and equity.

The groups came up with ideas like improving cesspools and wastewater treatment infrastructure to ensure clean water on Kauai, reducing landfill waste and the amount of methane being burned, and a focusing on local food production.

They also suggested providing incentives for business to become more green, like a program to promote businesses that invest in carbon offsets or use green packaging for their products.

Lecturers highlighted impacts like infrastructure failures in the face of severe floods that could raise insurance rates for home and business owners and negatively affect credit ratings.

Kauai already has incorporated sea-level rise into several plans and has some specific plans in progress that address the impacts to coastal areas.

While organizers said it was a great start, other meetings to come will provide people with the opportunity to respond to climate change from many different angles.

“I think we’ve gotta siphon these things down to tangible action that every sector can participate in,” said Councilmember Mason Chock, who attended Monday’s meeting. “Provide tangibles that translate into how everything we’re doing will help our economy to become more sustainable.”

The event was sponsored by Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Kauai and County of Kauai, alongside other partners. Upcoming meetings, yet to be scheduled, will focus on sectors like conservation and youth.


Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at

  1. John Patt October 23, 2019 7:30 am Reply

    One small condo complex in Poipu pumps out 33 tons of CO2 per year, just to heat water. Yet it’s board refuses to install solar, which would cut that output by 65%, and save the owners $20,000 per year. The overwhelming majority of owners live on the Mainland.

  2. Bluedream October 23, 2019 7:48 am Reply

    Oh climate change is a business for sure! No scientists in attendance? Sounds about right. Shouldn’t we be preparing for tsunamis instead? We have had 3 fatal tsunamis last century. We will get more. It won’t take 80 years. The sea level will rise very abruptly- and cause much more damage than the tiny possibility that we will have a 3.2 feet sea level change after everybody reading this is likely dead. Stop scaring kids with bs and start preparing for very real natural events.

  3. hutch October 23, 2019 9:52 am Reply

    The whole Climate Apocalypse scenario is getting ridiculous. It reminds me of other doomsday cults that keep predicting that the end is near unless we repent (or in this case, destroy the world’s economy because a teenager goes on a rage at the UN). The dates for the end of the world in both cases keep changing, namely because they’re bogus. Lighten up!

  4. RG DeSoto October 23, 2019 3:35 pm Reply

    Absolute nonsense….and a waste of resources over a non-issue. There is NO evidence that CO2 has a causal relationship to global temperature or rising sea levels. Coincidence does not equal causation.
    Besides, the fate of the Hawaiian Islands is already sealed by a geologic and unstoppable force: plate tectonics. So…quit wringing your hands and worrying over forces that are beyond ANY human control.
    RG DeSoto

  5. RG DeSoto October 23, 2019 3:58 pm Reply

    Algae Sucked all CO2 out of the Atmosphere Causing a Virtual Ice Age
    Posted Oct 23, 2019 by Martin Armstrong

    Algae absorbs CO2 and a 500% increase in its population caused a mass extinction that wiped out more than three-quarters of all marine life and turned the planet into a phase of global cooling. Researchers
    from Harvard University made the discovery while studying ancient ocean sediments unearthed in Nevada. The sample of shale and limestone contained excessive compounds derived from chlorophyll, warning that over a period of just a few million years, the amount of these compounds increased approximately five-fold. They sucked so much CO2 out of the atmosphere that the planet was thrust into a virtual Ice Age. The idea of zero-emissions would create a major shift into global cooling.

    Instead of seizing the economy and taxing everyone into non-existence, how about just requiring the construction of algae farms?

    What about that?
    RG DeSoto

  6. Craig Millett October 25, 2019 9:00 am Reply

    First, to you climate deniers with your heads in the sand, please keep them there and don’t bother the rest of us with your drivel.
    Second, to the “Business Community”, it’s not about the stupid economy . It’s about the stupid humans and how they live on the planet that created them. Carbon offsets are only a half-baked scam to pretend that you really care. In other words business as usual is the problem and will never be a part of the solution.

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