Wednesday, December 4, 2013
By DAVID F. ROBINSON Morning Sentinel
FARMINGTON - Maine is going to look a lot different in 100 years if climate changes continue on the same trajectory.
Moose may all but disappear from the forests, replaced by migrations of white-tail deer.
The forests probably will be taken over by trees found today as far south as Maryland, rather than the red spruce that make Maine's woods unique.
Even black-capped chickadees, the state bird, may start to head farther north for cooler climes.
Those are just a few of the potential changes in store for Maine, biology professor Andrew Barton said Friday, an assessment based on the conclusions of scientists who have been studying what will happen in various parts of the world over the next century if global warming continues at current rates.
Barton delivered the news at the University of Maine at Farmington, where about 25 people marked International Climate Change Awareness Day, an event organized by 350.org.
But while data show climate change will inevitably redefine the ecology and weather in Maine and beyond, there are bound to be some surprises depending on how warm Earth actually gets, according to Barton, who has taught about climate change at UMF for 16 years.
The drastic differences in global warming's effects will ultimately hinge on human choices to reduce their impact on the otherwise natural climate change cycles, Barton told the audience.
The gathering was among hundreds held worldwide Friday to support 350.org, a global advocacy group promoting climate change awareness, according to Greg Kimber, who organized the event in Farmington.
Barton's hour-long presentation was followed by a flash-mob gathering on campus.
Kimber, 40, lives in Temple and teaches English as a second language via websites and international exchange programs. He said raising awareness about the dangers of climate change has been a lifelong passion, leading him to get others involved by promoting the 350.org mission.
Kimber knew of at least nine other 350.org events planned for Friday across Maine. The presentation by Barton, however, made the event in Farmington unique because many only featured public demonstrations, he said.
Bob and Diane Guethlen drove three hours Friday morning from northern Somerset County to hear Barton speak. The couple said they woke up at 5:30 a.m. to leave their Tomhegan Township home because they didn't want to miss a chance to participate in such an important discussion.
Bob Guethlen said Barton did a good job describing how climate change is threatening the Maine economy, ranging from tourist industries that rely on snow to businesses that harvest and process specific timber.
Barton explained how greenhouse gases produced by humans since the Industrial Revolution have affected climate change cycles that otherwise are controlled by naturally occurring atmospheric greenhouse gases, rather than by-products from burning fossil fuels.
Although there are some questions about climate change that scientists have yet to answer, Barton said there is no arguing that rises in greenhouse gases, cause the Earth's atmosphere to trap more heat from the sun.
Morning Sentnel Staff Writer David F. Robinson can be contacted at 861-9287 or at: