By Susan Sharon & Nora Flaherty
MPBN news story
BRUNSWICK, Maine – More than 30 Maine organizations, including energy companies, environmental groups, and five of the state’s largest chambers of commerce, turned out on the Bowdoin College campus today for an unusual town meeting to discuss Maine’s economy and climate change, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
“It’s just one of the few opportunities I’ve seen to have a calm and rational conversation about climate that isn’t all locked up in partisan politics,” says moderator Alan Caron, of Envision Maine.
Caron says he thinks people in Maine are moving ahead of state and federal government. And rather that wait for policy changes that aren’t coming anytime soon, Caron says businesses and individuals are taking matters into their own hands. That means preparing for shorter winters, more intense storms, rain, insects and sea level rise.
But he says people are also identifying opportunities that accompany a longer growing season and a changing climate. “Especially with the droughts happening in the Southwest, which are in many ways the food baskets of America, places like Maine which are going to have more water, not less, are going to have enormous opportunities, open up that we hadn’t even thought about.”
Tom Doak of the Small Woodlot Owners Association of Maine, says a longer growing season could also provide economic benefits for those who grow and sell wood. “We have very slow growth rates in Maine and if I can grow my trees faster, that’s a great thing,” he says. “If I’ve got a longer growing season, that’s a good thing. Some of the most valuable trees, we’re on the northern edge of. If I can grow trees like black cherry I, as a woodlot owner, can do very well.”
Among other changes, scientists say Maine can expect temperatures to rise between 1 and 4 degrees by 2050, sea level to rise between 1 and 2 feet and severe rain events to double or triple in number.