University of Hawaii System newsletter

New Book Examines Living on Hawaiʻi Shores

Posted on | November 12, 2010 | Comments Off on New Book Examines Living on Hawaiʻi Shores


Rarely a day goes by in Hawaiʻi without the media reporting on environmental issues stemming from public debate.

Will the proposed housing development block my access to the beach?

Is the rising sea level going to cause flooding where I live?

How does overfishing damage the reef?

Is the water clean where I surf?

A new book by Mānoa Professor Charles Fletcher, Living on the Shores of Hawaiʻi: Natural Hazards, the Environment, and Our Communities, considers the paradox of environmental loss under a management system considered by many to be one of the most stringent in the nation.

The book reviews a wide range of environmental concerns in Hawaiʻi with an eye toward resolution by focusing on “place-based” management, a theme consistent with—and borrowing from—the Hawaiian ahupuaʻa system.

Living on the Shores of Hawaiʻi: Natural Hazards, the Environment, and Our Communities is available from UH Press.

Book description continues after the jump.

After describing a typical situation in Hawaiʻi where a sandy beach is lost because a seawall has been built to protect a poorly sited home, the authors step back in time to trace land-use practices before and after the arrival of Westerners and the increased tempo of destruction following the latter. They go on to discuss volcanoes and the risk of placing homes in locations vulnerable to natural hazards and the potential dangers of earthquakes and tsunamis to a complacent public.

Water issues, including scarcity, flooding and pollution, are surveyed, as well as climate change and the possible outcomes of projected sea rise for Hawaiʻi. The authors explain coastal erosion and beach loss and the problems of over-fishing and ocean acidification. Later chapters assess residents’ risks to hurricanes, offering mitigation techniques and provide a summary and some management conclusions.

As tensions increase because of conflicting standards, misunderstandings, and contradictory ideals and actions, we put our economy and quality of life at risk. Sound decision-making begins with asking the right questions. Living on the Shores of Hawaiʻi addresses these questions within the context of sustainability and thus their influence on the future of Hawaiʻi.