We are Maine physicians who greatly enjoy the outdoors. One of us (Nick) was part of the Yale team that, in 1976, described a new arthritic disease, then limited to residents of Lyme, Connecticut, and surrounding towns, later revealed to be caused by infection with a corkscrew-shaped microbe.

Some 40 years later, hundreds of miles north of Lyme, each of us was recently infected by ticks carrying that Lyme disease bacterium. Over the last 15 to 20 years, Lyme disease has advanced north throughout much of Maine. The deer tick, I. scapularis, now haunts our forests, fields and lawns. And they are questing for our blood far longer throughout the year. One of us (Ed) was infected on a hike last year, in mid-November.

Maine remains a scenic wonderland to be treasured. But as our climate continues to warm, the risks increase for those enjoying our state. It is clear that our changing climate plays a role.

Beyond facilitating heightened exposure to infectious disease, climate change poses such additional threats as Gulf of Maine acidification, accelerated invasion of the destructive Southern pine beetle into the our Pine Tree State, progressive coastal inundation and ever-shorter ski seasons.

As Maine physicians, outdoor enthusiasts, parents and grandparents, we call on Mainers to stabilize our climate and protect the natural bounties that our state offers. And we entreat our elected leaders in Congress and the State House to endorse and support a bipartisan, revenue-neutral strategy (carbon fee and dividend – visit citizensclimatelobby.org for more details) that protects our well-being. We have too much to lose through delay or inaction.

Edward Pontius, M.D.


Nicholas Bartenhagen, M.D.


Comments are no longer available on this story