Climate warnings

To the Editor:

Even as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose command the news headlines and the people in their paths occupy our thoughts, it’s critical to understand that these storms represent a wake-up call for our nation. Scientists report that elevated temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, a result of fossil fuel consumption, feed the destructive energy of hurricanes and intensify the devastation experienced by those in their path. Harvey and Irma, the drought-fueled fires currently blazing in the Pacific Northwest and Maine’s endangered fisheries give warning of what’s to come if we continue to ignore the reality of climate change. It is the greatest threat we face – environmentally, economically and, ultimately, existentially.

Fortunately, there are clear steps that Mainers can take to address the crisis of climate change and mitigate our impact on the environment, all while creating new “green job” opportunities that will drive our future economy.

First, “a penny saved is a penny earned” applies to energy. We can increase our investment in energy efficiency, the most cost-effective way to lower emissions.

Second, we need to grow our own. The rooftop solar, municipal solar and industrial solar farms that will be the foundation of the new energy system will also create a lot of living wage jobs throughout Maine.

Maine must fully embrace a forward-thinking solar policy that will remove barriers to adoption of solar technology for both individual and community energy generation.

Third, as the most forested state in the nation, Maine must play a leadership role in the mitigation of climate change through carbon capture and sequestration. Currently, experts estimate that Maine’s forests store more than 1.48 billion metric tons of carbon. The forest products industry can preserve and leverage Maine’s forests as renewable energy resources.

Maine can grow more food. Maine is a part of the world that is going to be less severely affected than most areas, so our capacity to meet the projected increase in demand for food production is both an opportunity and a responsibility.

These recommendations provide the additional advantage of creating new jobs in Maine that will stay in Maine. For struggling rural communities, these well-paying jobs will be a lifeline, helping our families to prosper and future generations to look forward to renewed economic opportunity.

Likewise, these efforts to curb climate change are a lifeline for a nation battered by hurricanes and set ablaze by wildfires … a lifeline thrown through the committed and collective efforts of the American people. We are all in this together, regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality, political affiliation or wealth. We are all Houston; we are all in the path of the next hurricane.

Jonathan Fulford


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