Two years after climate change adaptation plans were put on hold, Maine lawmakers are considering reviving the effort to make the state more resilient to anticipated climate impacts.
Andy Whitman, director of Manomet’s Natural Capital Initiative, testified earlier this month to the Maine state legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Whitman, along with representatives of other leading science and conservation groups, urged the lawmakers to restart work on the climate change adaptation plan.
“We know that Maine is unprepared for climate change,” Whitman testified to the committee. “We know that Maine is likely to experience more change than almost any other state in the eastern U.S. Like other northern latitude areas, we can expect greater temperature increases than most southern latitude states. As a coastal state, we will see sea level rise and likely may experience an increase in the landfall of tropical storms.”
Whitman served on the steering group that produced the original climate change report sent to the state legislature – “People and Nature Adapting to a Changing Climate.” According to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, that effort was intended to lead to a final report with detailed recommendations and cost estimates. Work on the final report was suspended in early 2011.
Whitman encouraged the adoption of “no regrets” solutions that “avoid or reduce the cost of doing business today.” He said “no regrets solutions make sense with or without climate change because they address other state and local challenges.”
According to the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2012 had the highest average temperature since records were first kept in 1895. Climate change is also projected to produce more intense storms, similar to Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.
“I have been working with the State of Vermont for the last year on climate change adaptation. After Irene, you better believe they wished they had had a plan in place for adapting to climate change,” Whitman said in his testimony. “Just like Maine, Vermont has very little money for climate change adaptation, but they have experienced the cost of not having a plan.”
– Dave McGlinchey