Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service
Public News Service news story
PORTLAND, Maine – Extreme weather events, including heavy rains and flooding, are just the tip of the iceberg for potential effects of climate change in Maine, experts say. One climate-related concern is national security, according to military leaders, scientists and environmentalists.
Judy Berk, Natural Resources Council of Maine spokesperson, said the more energy-independent the nation can become, the better off it will be, “because we don’t have to depend on foreign sources of fuel and we don’t have to fight wars over it. We also could increase our use of clean, renewable energy and efficiency dramatically. All of that would be good for our economy, it would be good for jobs, and it would be good for our ntional security.”
Berk said President Obama’s plans to address climate change are a good step in the right direction. They include a renewed effort to prepare the country for the effects of climate change and setting the first-ever limits on emissions from coal-burning power plants, which account for about 40 percent of carbon pollution in the U.S.
The President also wants the U.S. to lead global efforts to reduce carbon pollution, a move former Army Captain Michael Breen said is crucial. Many military and security leaders already take the threat of climate change very seriously, he added.
“We’ve seen far too often that if the United States does not lead on that world stage, nothing happens. We’ve got to step forward and lead. We may have other priorities here at home, but it’s time to take leadership on this climate issue as well – we’ve got to,” Breen stressed.
Besides effects on infrastructure and the coastline, climate change is also causing concerns for Maine’s most valuable fishing industry, Berk warned.
“Our lobster populations are strong right now,” she said, “but warmer waters in the ocean could mean a lot more stress and a lot more threats to our lobster population.”
She said carbon pollution is warming and acidifying waters in the Gulf of Maine. On Tuesday, her group announced a campaign to raise awareness about the issue.