Climate Change and Archeology

by Alejandro Sandell-Gandara

Adam Johnson describes how archeologists are observing tsunami surges as a way to predict the impact of rising sea levels on archeological sites. In 2011 the 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake created a tsunami that caused damage to Japan and communities across the pacific. The costal archaeological sites at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park on Hawai’i were affected by the tsunami.

The Pu’uhonua archaeological site in the coast of Kona is significant due to its ceremonial complex. On the site there is the Hale o Keawe temple which served as a royal mausoleum. The site is located on the coast line and surrounded by a stone wall to the east and south. The site has been excavated by several archeologists and determined to be originally related to chief Ehu-kai-milano in the 1500s. In the 1600s, Umi-a-Liloa built the stone wall around the site. An analysis and excavation of the bedrock shoreline shows evidence of activities such as dyeing of fishnets, processing seaweed, and pounding fish bait.

Tsunamis, hurricanes, and high surf caused damage to this site. The first documented tsunami occurred in 1819; a two-meter-high wave caused by a submarine fault in Chile struck the archeological site from the northwest, filled the royal fishponds with stones and sand, and broke down the northern part of the stone wall. Since 1900, twenty-four tsunamis have been recorded in Hawai’i with eleven causing significant damage.

In 1992, hurricane Iniki struck Hawai’i and caused 143 mph winds and water levels thirty feet above normal. The hurricane damaged the archaeological site by destroying structures and removing surface sand and sediments.

The damage caused by rising sea levels, hurricanes, and tsunamis can be analyzed and used to predict the effects of climate change. The destruction caused by these natural disasters confirm that climate change would cause major damage to archeological sites in coastal areas.

Adam Johnson, Lisa Marrack & Sara Dolan (2015) Threats to Coastal Archaeological Sites and the Effects of Future Climate Change: Impacts of the 2011 Tsunami and an Assessment of Future Sea-Level Rise at Hōnaunau, Hawai’i, The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 10:2, 232-252, DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2014.980472


The Economy of Climate Change

by Alejandro Sandell-Gandara

In “Economists: Climate Change is Going to Cost a Lot More than Previously Thought”, Chelsea Harvey analyses a survey published by New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity. The survey report shows answers from more than 300 experts on how climate change is impacting the world economy.

The survey asked economists a series of questions including when and how the economy will be influenced by climate change and how Unites States policy can influence international action. The report also compared the results to those from a survey conducted on the American public by MIT. Continue reading

Possible Solutions to Fund Climate Infrastructure

by Charlotte Morrissey

In 2008, during much of the world’s economic struggle, a collection of powerful developed countries agreed to collect $100 billion per year to fund effective solutions to climate change damage in developing countries. Buchner et al. (2015) considered the most effective ways to collect and use this money to its full benefit. The paper cites these possibilities as ways to pay for new infrastructure and services to combat the effects of climate change internationally. They are hoping, as a larger objective, for a clear goal to drive the use of funds collected and increased transparency between those providing the money and those using it. The article begins with a call for more concrete language detailing the uses of this money and how to know if it is making positive change. This must be done to “ensure it supplements and compliments public resources,” and is used efficiently by the communities that receive it. Continue reading

Climate Change Policy and Ethics

by Alejandro Sandell-Gandara

In “Why Climate Change is an Ethical Problem,” Stephen Gardiner describes the ethical dilemma that policy makers face when deciding how and to what extent we should combat the adverse effects of climate change. We often confront ethical challenges by adhering to a personal moral code in which we can identify right from wrong and make decisions by weighing sacrifice against the benefits to obtain the best relative outcome. The issue that Gardiner highlights is that not everyone shares the same ethical outlook, which leads to discrepancies in policy making. Continue reading

Quantifying the Implications Protected Area Downgrading, Downsizing, and Degazettement (PADDD) for REDD+ Policies

by Maithili Joshi

REDD+ policies address deforestation and degradation of protected forests. It is believed their implementation causes perverse effects leading to illegal activities, downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (PADDD). This phenomenon challenges the idea of permanence of protected areas. The study was conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Malaysia, and Peru because of its extraordinary biodiversity. Forrest et al. (2014) aimed to quantify the implications of PADDD for REDD+ polices. First, a database that consisted of information on PADDD events since 1990 until 2011 was created. This included protected area name, location and area affected, type, and year. Protected area legislation in these three countries and administrative journals in DRC were reviewed, and also digitized historic maps of PADDD events from government sources. Second the amounts and rates of deforestation and carbon loss within PADDDed lands in peninsular Malaysia and Peru were assessed and compared to unprotected forests. Continue reading

Allowable Carbon Emissions Lowered by Multiple Climate Targets

by Makari Krause

Anthropogenic carbon emissions have been a large factor in climate change since the start of the industrial revolution. Scientists have become increasingly concerned with warming and other effects associated with the release of carbon into the atmosphere. Currently, most world governments have set a target that limits warming to two degrees Celsius since preindustrial times. With this target in place policies are then enacted to limit carbon emissions and hopefully to mitigate anthropogenic effects on earth’s climate. Steinacher et al. (2013) set out to show that setting a target temperature is not sufficient to control many other effects of climate change such as sea level rise and ocean acidification that also result from anthropogenic carbon emissions. They find that when targets are set for these other factors, the allowable carbon emissions are much lower than current targets based on temperature alone.

Steinacher, M., Joos, F., & Stocker, T. F., 2013. Allowable carbon emissions lowered by multiple climate targets. Nature 499(7457), 197–201.


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