"Based on what I've seen driving around at high tides lately, it's just a matter of time before the seas at high tides rise over the roads in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough," says local resident Susan Payne.
Portland, Maine – Counties housing 68% of Mainers were affected recently by weather-related disasters, including flooding and rising sea levels, according to an interactive, online map (http://environmentamerica.org/page/ame/extreme-weather-map) released by Environment Maine that crunches data from the federal government. Scientists say global warming is already exacerbating some extreme weather events and their impacts. This is especially important coming off the warmest February and winter ever recorded.
“Flooding, heat waves and the warmest winter on record,” said Andrew LaVogue, campaign organizer with Environment Maine. “And without action to stop climate change, scientists say these extremes—and their impact on Mainers—will only get worse.”
Environment Maine researchers, who created the online map, Hitting Close to Home, found that unchecked global warming will increase the severity or the frequency of many extreme weather events. Maine is uniquely susceptible to climate change because of where it is geographically and that it sits within an extremely warm and an extreme cold jet stream.
In addition to statistics for recent weather-related disasters, the map includes case studies and personal stories from Americans impacted by extreme weather events across the country, and tell the stories of local residents of Maine, “We do think the weather in Maine, both winter and summer, is becoming warmer and more unreliable each year over recent decades. Our winter ice-fishing has notably declined over the last 10 years.” says local resident Elliot Stanley.
The map reveals that nationwide, more than 57 million Americans live in counties that were affected by more than five weather disasters over the last five years, while counties housing 97 percent of the population experienced declared disasters at least once.
The analysis comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants that also incentivize the development of wind, solar, and other forms of clean energy.
Since the pre-industrial era, average global temperature has increased by nearly a degree Celsius. In December, nearly 200 nations reached a global accord to limit warming to no more than another degree – a benchmark scientists say is critical to avert even more severe and frequent weather disasters.
Environment Maine is a statewide, citizen funded advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentMaine.org