Friday, July 13, 2007

Warming could hurt Maine industries

Maine Today
John Richardson
July 12, 2007

AUGUSTA — Native birds and fish could disappear from Maine's
mountains and coastal waters.

Farmers could have longer growing seasons, and more

Storms like the Patriot's Day nor'easter could become more

And the western Maine mountains could be the last place in the
Northeastern United States to support a viable downhill ski

Those are some of the impacts that global warming could have
in Maine, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Union
of Concerned Scientists.

While the changes may dramatically affect the ecology and
economy of the states, according to the report, the most severe
and costly impacts also can be avoided if global emissions of
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can be reduced.

"The future is in our hands," said Thomas Tietenberg, an
economics professor at Colby College and one of more than 60
scientists nationwide to contribute to the report. "The
economically prudent decision is to take action now."

The Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group based in
Cambridge, Mass., issued the 125-page report on climate
change in the Northeast as a follow-up to more general findings
issued last fall. It includes the most specific projections yet
about how climate change could affect Maine.

Teams of scientists used computer models to project changes
and applied the changes to sectors such as forests, oceans and
recreation. The projections are limited by unpredictable events
and by uncertainty about how complex natural systems such as
the ocean will react to climate changes.

But scientists involved in the work said the research clearly
shows dramatic changes lie ahead if emissions are not reduced.

"Our emissions choices are essentially shaping the climate
future," said Erika Spanger, project manager for the Union of
Concerned Scientists.

Maine's commissioner of the Department of Environmental
Protection, David Littell, said the findings are consistent with the
state's own research into how global warming may affect the
state. "We see a real, dramatic threat to our forests, our coasts
and our fisheries," Littell said.

Maine is expected to see a shift away from its valuable spruce
and fir forests, according to Tietenberg.

And the state's coastal waters are expected to shift in ways not
yet entirely understood, said Lewis Incze, a University of
Southern Maine marine scientist and another co-author of the

Climate can affect the ocean's salinity, chemistry and currents.
But even the simple warming of the ocean is expected to have
important effects.

Cod, which is at the southern end of its range, could be driven
away from Georges Bank and out of the Gulf of Maine, the report

Lobsters, on the other hand, could increase in number in some
parts of the Gulf. Those lobsters, however, could also become
more vulnerable to shell disease and other threats.

Scientists are beginning to study and understand the effects of
climate change on the ocean and on regional resources, Incze

"A report like this sets a benchmark for future research," he said.
"Up until this point, people haven't had a platform to stand on."

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or

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