Between 1750 and 2014, human carbon dioxide emissions totaled over 2,000 gigatons. If you take all that CO2, convert it into coal and put it in railroad cars, the resulting train will wrap around Earth over 4,600 times.
Greenhouse gases are making our climate warmer, and in the Northeast it’s getting wetter – we’ve had a 74 percent increase in heavy precipitation events over the last century.
Every time we get a big rainstorm, in order to protect public health, the state closes growing areas to shellfish harvesting. The increase in flood closures has a financial impact on the nearly 1,850 harvesters and growers as well as the truckers, wholesalers and distributors who deliver Maine shellfish to consumers throughout the U.S.
Climate change is also affecting shellfish harvesters through acidification of coastal waters. We have identified two driving factors behind this at my oyster farm.
• The first is carbon dioxide dissolving from the atmosphere into the world’s oceans and forming carbonic acid.
• The second is the increasing freshwater runoff reaching our coastal waters, which can have acidity levels that are 100 to 1,000 times greater than seawater.
This acidity is making it more and more difficult for shellfish to grow their shells, and the trend is very concerning for wild shellfish populations and for those whose livelihoods rely on them.
It is my hope that we are not overwhelmed by the enormity of greenhouse gas emissions, but that we work together to avoid being run over by the train and to create new economic opportunities.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan would be the first-ever limit on carbon pollution in the U.S. It is an important step toward slowing down the CO2 train, and I urge Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to support it.
Mook Sea Farm