The cold air on our backs may make it hard for Mainers to believe that 2014 is on pace to be the hottest year on record for the planet, according to a recent U.N. analysis.

And while our temperatures may not be unusually high here in Maine, scientists say we are already experiencing the impacts of global warming, such as the shrimp fishery closures and diseased lobsters caused by warming seas.

None of us wants to leave the next generation a world where extreme weather, rising seas and collapsed fisheries are the new normal. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, scientists are clearer and more emphatic than ever before that we must cut our dependence on dirty fossil fuels in favor of clean, renewable energy. “More Wind, Less Warming,” a new report from the Environment Maine Research & Policy Center, shows that wind power can be a key player in that clean energy future.

WIND POWER GROWING RAPIDLY

Wind power is already growing rapidly here in Maine and around the country, and generates enough electricity to power over 15 million homes. In 2013, wind power in Maine displaced 1 million metric tons of carbon pollution, the equivalent of taking more than 110,000 cars off the road.

A major contributor to this growth has been two important federal tax credits for wind power that despite bipartisan support were allowed to expire last year. We need Congress to show leadership on this issue and extend the tax credits through 2015, rather than approving a mere three-week extension, as the House did earlier this month. If recent growth keeps up its rapid clip, wind power could provide 30 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030.

Wind energy off Maine’s coast and elsewhere across the country is also poised to make a major contribution to America’s energy portfolio, providing enough electricity to power 17 million homes nationwide under a 30 percent wind scenario, including enough offshore wind here in Maine to power 1 million homes. That’s more than is now created by all wind power projects in operation today.

Our research shows that speeding wind power development in this way will slow global warming. The pollution reductions achieved would offset emissions in Maine by an amount equal to shutting down three coal-fired plants here and 254 nationwide.

We would go above and beyond the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which requires a 30 percent cut in carbon pollution from power plants. We’d be well on our way to fulfilling the commitment the United States made in its landmark climate agreement with China.

More wind doesn’t just mean less global warming. It also means less of the air pollution that makes people sick, more of our increasingly precious water resources that can be saved and more jobs for Mainers.

ACTION NEEDED ON TAX CREDITS

To reach a vision of 30 percent wind energy by 2030, however, we need our leaders to act. We need our senators to ensure that the federal tax credits for wind energy are extended through 2015.

We also need support for the Clean Power Plan – particularly from Sen. Susan Collins, given the new Republican leadership in the Senate – rather than the obstruction we’re seeing from congressional leaders.

The new emissions rules, proposed by the EPA last June, would be the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Power plants are the largest contributor to U.S. emissions, and in fact emit more carbon than any entire country’s entire economy except for China. These rules aren’t a cure-all for climate change, but they are the largest step ever proposed in the U.S. to cut global warming pollution, and essential to ensuring a clean and healthy future.

Together with solar and tidal power, wind power can replace the dirty energy sources of the past, moving us to a future in which we’re setting records for pollution-free energy, not worldwide temperatures.

That’s the United Nations report we want to be reading 15 years from now.