Sunday, December 8, 2013
Here in Maine, we sometimes laugh about global warming, wishing for an easier winter or a few more sunny spring afternoons. But extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, or the Patriots’ Day Storm of 2007, remind us that we are all vulnerable to the quickly spreading effects of climate change.
I received a call yesterday from my colleague, Tom Abello, who brought important news: the climate change adaptation bill (SD 825) will be considered thus week, directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to resume its study on climate change. If the pending legisltion is approved, a working group will be established to evaluate and prioritize actions that can help Maine communities and businesses adapt to climate change.
This bill is one large step forward toward responding effectively to climate change. A 2010 report included many proposals for how we can adapt to Maine’s changing climate, reducing harm to nature, our economy and human health.
Healthy ecosystems provide clean drinking water, flood protection, economic commodities and places to play. But weather is growing more extreme, damaging Maine’s towns and fragile ecosystems. A sudden change in climate puts our physical well-being, wealth, and food and water access at risk. We all feel the effects, both directly and indirectly.
Sometimes we forget that a slight change in climate can dramatically affect the environment. These changes may be so small that we barely notice them, but they add up over time until we can finally “see” the outcome. We must understand our interconnectedness with nature and with one another to address the problem.
I believe the working group will make Maine climate change ready. A diverse set of stakeholders must come together to create innovative solutions. People representing all sectors, the north and south, the coastal and inland areas, the urban and rural, must work together. History demonstrates that the bestsolutions are created through great collaboration. We all need a voice in this discussion because we all have a unique perspective to bring to the table. If we better understand the problem of climate change, we can better respond to it.
We should all care about this, because after all, climate change affects us all.
Mike Tetreault leads The Nature Conservancy in Maine, where he works with partners in conservation, government and community development to identify solutions which ensure that Maine's natural resources are available for people and for nature.
He holds a degree in environmental studies from Brown and a MS from the field naturalist program at the University of Vermont, and has studied resource management in Kenya, Mexico and throughout New England.
Tetreault started his career teaching wilderness leadership and environmental education, and has worked for The Nature Conservancy since 1998. He lives in Bath with his wife, their daughter and a menagerie of pets.