From new shipping routes to a crab population explosion, the consequences of global warming are real.
Global warming will have a tremendous effect on life in Maine, and the state should be leading efforts to prepare for it. Maine is poised to become part of a new global transportation hub thanks to global warming, Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, said Friday.
Iceland is building the capacity to be the center of new polar shipping routes that will be opened by warming oceans and melting ice. The national shipping company Eimskip has made Portland its sole port in North America.
Global warming is an “unfortunate” reality, Grimsson said. But “Iceland and Maine are strategically placed in this new global transportation system.”
That sounds like good news. But less encouraging word comes from sources closer to home.
Clammers in Freeport are fighting a population explosion of ravenous green crabs that eat tiny baby clams, known as “spat.” The crabs are thriving in a run of mild winters and steadily warming ocean waters, taking a bite out of the $25 million soft-shell clam industry.
There are indicators practically every day that our climate is changing in ways that will affect us. Unfortunately, action is hamstrung by a pointless debate about whether global warming is “real” or if it is caused by human activity. Mounting evidence that there are serious changes under way are dismissed by critics, who chalk the whole thing up to a conspiracy of environmental extremists.
Well, the president of Iceland does not appear to be an extremist, and neither do the clam diggers on Maine’s coast. Neither does the Windham Rotary Club, which organizes the Sebago Lake Ice Fishing Derbies, and is considering calling off the March event for good after canceling it this spring – the fourth time in 12 years that the competition has been canceled because of thin ice.
Mainers should be doing their part to lessen greenhouse gas emissions and slow the tide of climate change, but the state should also be actively planning for the changes that will inevitably come.
Some changes may be positive, like new shipping routes to the Far East. Some are likely to be less welcome, especially if they reduce the harvest of lobsters or clams, or make the state’s commercial forest less valuable.
Cities and towns along the coast should be preparing for higher seas and a changing environment. The state should be leading that effort. It may be an “unfortunate” reality, but climate change is reality and we should be getting ready for it.