Here’s why you should be alarmed by the changing climate

What will it take to convince you that climate change is happening and is a problem that must be addressed? That was one of the questions posed at a recent Maine Climate Table meeting, a group chaired by Cathy Lee.

Perhaps Lyme disease and deer ticks? The terrible loss of commercial fisheries along the Maine coast, as the ocean water warms? The huge number of moose dying from ticks? Erratic weather including a frightening increase in fires, floods, and hurricanes?

Perhaps you just learned, as I did, that the number of Maine cases of Anaplasmosis, a very dangerous illness that you get from deer ticks, has increased dramatically. If you missed that story, you can read it here.

You better get on this soon, because your help is desperately needed to save our planet and maybe your own life. At the Climate Table event, I suggested that we put the photos of young children on every climate change column and handout, because we must solve this problem for our children and grandchildren. If we fail to do this, they are the ones who will suffer, and eventually blame us for failing to act.

One of the things you must do is express your concerns to our Congressional delegation. If our country is going to tackle this, we need Congress to step up on several key issues, including stopping the President’s proposed cuts in the EPA’s budget, repeal of rules protecting our streams, rivers, lakes and ponds, and revival of the coal industry.

The latter seems to me to be particularly awful, especially for Maine, where prevailing winds blow that pollution to us from states to the west. That’s why we’re known as the tailpipe of the nation.

Lisa Pohlman, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said it well in a recent press release: “In Scott Pruitt’s ideal world, polluters have total control of America’s energy and environmental policy. That is a disaster for Maine, which is not only downwind from many of those polluters, but is also blessed with abundant clean, local, renewable energy supplies, rather than dirty coal and oil.”

“Rolling back the Clean Power Plan will allow unlimited levels of carbon pollution — the major contributor to climate change — to be dumped into our air from power plants across the country,” noted Lisa. “Letting these polluters off the hook exposes Mainers to more ‘bad air’ days, asthma attacks, and damage to our economy from a warming climate.”

And I hope you know that Carbon dioxide and methane are two of the primary greenhouse gases that scientific studies have cited as causes of climate change.

Eliot Stanley of Portland, formerly chair of the Maine Regulatory Fairness Board and a record-holding Sebago Lake angler who serves on the board of the Sebago Lake Anglers Association, expressed my concerns as an angler in a recent letter in the Press Herald.

“Summer is here,” wrote Eliot. “It’s the time of year when I enjoy spending as much time as possible fishing in Sebago Lake. One of my favorite things about Maine is its abundance of lakes, streams, ponds and coves where I can cast a line. A few years ago I landed the largest northern pike ever caught in Sebago, still a record at 41 inches.

“Sebago Lake has such outstanding water quality that it is one of only six municipal reservoirs in America not required to have its water filtered or treated, although that is done by the Portland Water District for extra public safety.”          “Unfortunately, the current administration in Washington is poised to deliver a one-two punch that stands to cripple efforts to protect and restore clean waters, including favorite fishing spots across Maine such as Sebago Lake.”     Disappointing, to put it mildly.

One thing you need to advocate for is Congressional support for the Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation. Here’s how the Citizen’s Climate Table explains it: “This is a key element in reducing the risks of climate change. It will significantly reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, grow the economy, save lives, and protect households from higher energy prices.       “Carbon Fee and Dividend will place a fee on fossil fuels at the source (at the well, mine, or port of entry), beginning with a $15/metric ton CO2 equivalent emissions, and steadily increase annually at $10/metric ton. 100% of the net fees are returned to American households on a per-capita basis as a monthly dividend.”

Two thirds of American families will break even or receive more in dividends than they would pay for in higher living expenses. It will also move businesses toward clean energy.

I liked this conclusion from Lisa Polhman: “We can have a cleaner energy future and a stronger economy. But it is one based on renewable power and energy efficiency technology, not their dirty fuels from the last century.”

I can only add this: we won’t have that cleaner energy future and stronger economy unless you join us in this fight. Please do this now.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.