Last month, the Portland Press Herald reported that Maine saw a skyrocketing of the tick population in 2016 and subsequently saw a record rate of Lyme disease. It is predicted that 2017 will also have record-breaking tick populations and Lyme disease transmission rates. However, it is not surprising that we are seeing these increased rates of ticks, as increases in tick populations are directly correlated with higher temperatures.

As the Press Herald reported, ticks will be killed only when we have cold temperatures for weeks at time without snow on the ground. The extreme fluctuations in temperature that we had this past winter and the early onset of spring created perfect conditions for tick populations to thrive and spread. Earlier springs and warmer falls have allowed ticks to come out earlier and last longer throughout the fall. This expansion of the tick season is directly related to the effects of a changing climate and global warming.

For three consecutive years, we have seen the hottest years on record, and already these warmer temperatures are having adverse effects on our environment and on our health. The longer tick season and increased rates of Lyme disease are direct examples of why we need to take action on combating climate change.

Right now the Trump administration, in addition to trying to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent, is also proposing cuts to fundamental environmental programs such as the Clean Power Plan, which regulate the harmful carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

If we do not continue to regulate harmful emissions and greenhouse gases, we will continue to see longer tick seasons and even higher rates of Lyme disease. This is why we need Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Angus King to oppose any cuts to environmental programs in order to mitigate climate change and protect our public health.

Emma Rotner