I’ve been traveling lately. I recently vacationed on the Florida Keys where it was so unseasonably hot one day in late February that locals remarked how odd it was. And I just returned from a meeting in Washington, D.C., where daffodils were already in bloom and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival has been moved up two weeks.
Sound nice? Not really. In Maine we received a blanket of snow last week, but overall those of us who live in typically snowy states have had a warm and relatively snowless winter. Meanwhile, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois are picking up from a series of devastating tornadoes that took the lives of dozens of people and left behind a long and tragic path of destruction.
We are seeing signs of climate change everywhere: from severe weather and ocean acidification to melting glaciers, eroding shorelines, and northern shifts in the ranges of plants and animals.
Maine has experienced our share of extreme weather, and the consequences of global warming that will result in sea-level rise are on the minds of many of us. NRCM produced maps showing the impact of sea-level rise on a number of Maine’s coastal communities. The city of Portland has taken this threat seriously and has begun to consider how it might deal with rising sea levels. For the third time, the Sebago Lake Fishing Derby, a local and much-loved tradition that has attracted as many as 6,000 anglers in years past, was canceled due to lack of ice, and this year was the earliest cancellation ever: February 2.
A new study by the USDA shows that Maine—and the nation—are getting increasingly hotter, as shown in their new map of hardiness zones, the reference book for farmers and gardeners who use it to determine which plants will best thrive in a particular geographic area. Based on real temperatures for the last 30 years, parts of Maine have moved into a warmer growing zone. Is Maine on track for a shift that makes our temperatures here feel more like Washington, D.C., as experts have suggested?
The EPA soon will be coming out with new standards for climate-changing pollution for power plants. As Scientific American reports, the U.S. currently has about 500 fossil fuel-fired power plants and 150 oil refineries. Together, they emit more than 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other global warming pollution per year, accounting for nearly 40 percent of total emissions in the U.S.
The EPA’s new standards are critical to address climate change, and we should all be cheering. Here in Maine, where our environment is woven into our economy and our way of life, we know and care deeply about what’s at stake. To stay informed about this issue, join the Natural Resources Council of Maine’s Action Network. We’ll let you know when you will have the opportunity to weigh in on the new standards and call upon Maine’s delegation to support them.
Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director