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How the UN’s climate report impacts Maine

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 12:08 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - The Mills Administration responded to the UN’s climate report last week.

“Here in Maine, we feel the effects of the climate crisis every day – from historically high temperatures, to severe droughts, to rising ocean levels, to the haze that pervades our air from faraway fires.”

Gov Janet Mills called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report “dire” and said the need to move away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy is urgent . Ned Rubert Nason, a UMFK professor, says the report focuses on the impact of greenhouse gases

“A lot of the key take-home messages from the updated climate report is that the global air temperatures and water temperatures are increasing rapidly.”

He says as carbon and other gases enters the atmosphere, they trap heat causing a greenhouse effect. Water absorbs heat, areas like the arctic—all water and ice—will heat up drastically, causing rising water levels around the world. But areas away from large bodies of water will heat up quickly and dry up too.

“In northern Maine these impacts still affect us, we saw last year a historic drought,” said Jason Johnston, an UMPI professor. “These increases in temperatures that produce variation in the water cycle and rain fall can produce big downpour in some areas and dry conditions in others.”

Johnston has spoken to farmers about the impact of these sudden downpours and thunderstorms saying they cause soil erosion among other issues.

“When you see it in the press, all the superlatives “catastrophic” etc. they’re real,” said Ivan Fernandez, a professor at Climate Change Institute & School of Forest Resources. “We’ve heard them so many times I think people are numb to them.”

Fernandez says the impacts we’re seeing will likely continue for many years. But if we take action now, we can slow them, and by 2050, see an improvement. Luckily, he says Maine is a leader in climate action

“It’s both mitigations meaning reducing greenhouse gases and doing that aggresively...as well as adaptation. Adaptation is—everything we do with adaptation is what we do today, how we are responding to the negatives and what we are doing to take advantage of the positives.”

Globally, the majority of the greenhouse gases that hold heat in our planet are caused by transportation and power that run off fossil fuels. All three scientists say that Aroostook County’s carbon emission are probably from the same sources, but to a much lesser extent.

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