It’s necessary to take steps now for the sake of our kids and grandkids.
by George Smith
Bangor Daily News column
What will it take to convince you that climate change is happening and is a problem that must be addressed? That was one of the questions posed at a recent Maine Climate Table meeting, a group chaired by Cathy Lee.
Perhaps Lyme disease and deer ticks? The terrible loss of commercial fisheries along the Maine coast as the ocean water warms? The huge number of moose dying from ticks? Erratic weather, including a frightening increase in fires, floods, and hurricanes?
Well, you better get on this soon, because your help is desperately needed to save our planet. At the Climate Table event, I suggested that we put the photos of young children on every climate change column and handout, because we must solve this problem for our children and grandchildren. If we fail to do this, they are the ones who will suffer, and eventually blame us for failing to act.
One of the things you must do is express your concerns to our congressional delegation. If our country is going to tackle this, we need Congress to step up on several key issues, including stopping the president’s proposed cuts in the EPA budget, repeal of rules protecting our streams, rivers, lakes and ponds, and revival of the coal industry.
The latter seems to me to be particularly awful, especially for Maine, where prevailing winds blow that pollution to us from states to the west. That’s why we’re known as the tailpipe of the nation.
Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said it well in a recent press release: “In Scott Pruitt’s ideal world, polluters have total control of America’s energy and environmental policy. That is a disaster for Maine, which is not only downwind from many of those polluters, but is also blessed with abundant clean, local, renewable energy supplies, rather than dirty coal and oil.
“Rolling back the Clean Power Plan will allow unlimited levels of carbon pollution — the major contributor to climate change — to be dumped into our air from power plants across the country,” Pohlmann noted. “Letting these polluters off the hook exposes Mainers to more ‘bad air’ days, asthma attacks, and damage to our economy from a warming climate.”
And I hope you know that carbon dioxide and methane are two of the primary greenhouse gases that scientific studies have cited as causes of climate change.
Eliot Stanley of Portland, former chairman of the Maine Regulatory Fairness Board and a record-holding Sebago Lake angler who serves on the board of the Sebago Lake Anglers Association, expressed my concerns as a fisherman in a recent letter in the Press Herald.
“Summer is here,” he wrote. “It’s the time of year when I enjoy spending as much time as possible fishing in Sebago Lake. One of my favorite things about Maine is its abundance of lakes, streams, ponds and coves where I can cast a line. A few years ago I landed the largest northern pike ever caught in Sebago, still a record at 41 inches.
“Sebago Lake has such outstanding water quality that it is one of only six municipal reservoirs in America not required to have its water filtered or treated, although that is done by the Portland Water District for extra public safe … Unfortunately, the current administration in Washington is poised to deliver a one-two punch that stands to cripple efforts to protect and restore clean waters, including favorite fishing spots across Maine such as Sebago Lake.”
Disappointing, to put it mildly.
One thing you need to advocate for is congressional support for the carbon fee and dividend legislation. Here’s how the Citizen’s Climate Lobby explains it: “This is a key element in reducing the risks of climate change. It will significantly reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, grow the economy, save lives, and protect households from higher energy prices.
“Carbon Fee and Dividend will place a fee on fossil fuels at the source (at the well, mine, or port of entry), beginning with a $15/metric ton CO2 equivalent emissions, and steadily increase annually at $10/metric ton. 100% of the net fees are returned to American households on a per-capita basis as a monthly dividend.”
Two-thirds of American families will break even or receive more in dividends than they would pay for in higher living expenses. It will also move businesses toward clean energy.
I liked this conclusion from Polhman: “We can have a cleaner energy future and a stronger economy. But it is one based on renewable power and energy efficiency technology, not their dirty fuels from the last century.”
I can only add this: we won’t have that cleaner energy future and stronger economy unless you join us in this fight. Please do this now.