Maui beach erosion is a direct impact of rising sea levels and global warming, experts say

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Dramatic drone video shows the incredible erosion damage along one of Maui’s most popular tourist destinations.

The video shows fallen palm trees and a sidewalk collapsing into the ocean as waves crash against the shore along Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui.

Climate experts say this is a direct impact of sea level rise and global warming.

San Jose resident Steve Sordello and his wife walked us through what it looks like outside their Ka’anapali Ali hotel.

“We’re literally sitting poolside on lounge chairs watching palm trees fall into the ocean,” Sordello said. “As we walk through the palm trees towards the beach, we see the sidewalk disappearing more and more each day. It’s been a crazy week here.”

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Maui native Tiare Lawrence captured the drone video showing palm trees toppled as the waves nearly crash into the Ka’anapali Ali Hotel.

The walkway connecting the West Maui resorts is impassable.

“Every year that passes, it gets worse and worse,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence blames the island’s tourism industry and climate change for coastal degradation.

“It makes me sad for future generations that the state continues to make these temporary fixes that do more harm than good,” Lawrence said. “We have lost 21 kilometers of coastline over the past 30 years. And with rising sea levels, island nations around the world are feeling the effects of climate change.

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San Jose State geologist Dr. Kimberly Blisniuk agrees and says this increase is impacting even Bay Area residents who have never visited Hawaii.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says sea levels will rise 20 centimeters by 2050. This will crash waves higher and erode beaches up to 15 meters, including here in the Bay Area.

Dr. Blisniuk says our only option is to move the buildings.

“If we stay on the shore, the shore will be eroded and if you build on it, whether you have a road, a lighthouse or a house, when the ground under your structure erodes, there is nothing you can do.”

Dr Blisniuk says the images are reminders of the inevitability of climate change.

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