We are asking the Brunswick Town Council on June 4 to lead on mitigating climate change and pass a resolution that asks our members of Congress to implement revenue-neutral, national carbon fee and dividend legislation: a steadily increasing fee levied at the extraction point of fossil fuels or port of entry into the US, with all monies returned to households on a per capita basis as a dividend. The fee and dividend would leverage market forces to encourage investments in increased energy efficiency and alternate sources of energy by both industry and consumers. The dividend would protect lower and middle-income households from the price increases caused by the fee.

“Grim warning for lobster, clam fisheries “ screamed a headline in The Times Record on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans and it is impacting fish populations and threatening the future of Maine’s shellfish industry. The European green crab population, which has been in Maine waters for a century, is exploding in the warming waters and annihilating clam beds.

That warming is caused by emissions from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). Since the Industrial Revolution (1750) the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has increased 43% and is higher than it has ever been in the past 900,000 years. There is a direct, irrefutable correlation between the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the average temperature of the earth.

Climate change is happening now in Midcoast Maine. Carbon pollution increases the rates of asthma and the number of premature deaths in our region. It has contributed to the acidification of our coastal waters, which negatively impacts our marine ecosystems. Sea level rise, a consequence of warming temperatures, poses serious risks to coastal wetlands, Brunswick’s homes and other infrastructure along the coastline. As sea levels rise, storm surge from weaker storms will wreak havoc on our beaches and homes. The health of much of our state’s economy, including agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism depends on a stable climate. Ticks that have thrived in warmer weather are carrying diseases that threaten our health, the health of our pets and the health of our wildlife.

The Climate Change Institute at University of Maine agrees with the consensus of climate scientists that Maine’s climate is changing rapidly and that the changes are associated with increased concentrations in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollutants derived principally from burning fossil fuels. In order to stay below a 2 degree Celsius global temperature rise, that is the generally acknowledged threshold, we all need to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Economists agree that putting a price on carbon is the most effective method for accomplishing that goal.

There is no time to lose. The longer Congress takes to tackle greenhouse gas emissions the more costly it will be to adapt and mitigate in the future and the less Maine will look like the Maine we love. Call your Town Councilors, and your Members of Congress: Chellie Pingree or Bruce Poliquin, Angus King and Susan Collins and tell them it is past time to pass national carbon fee and dividend legislation.

Dodie Jones and Jill Standish are co-leaders of Citizens Climate Lobby Bath-Brunswick.

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