Maine is vulnerable to increasing temperatures, ocean acidification and the spread of Lyme disease
Maine’s climate has already warmed by about three degrees Fahrenheit in the last century. Increasing temperatures are causing spring to arrive earlier, bringing more precipitation and more frequent storms. Ocean acidification threatens the future of the fishing industry.
- Increasing temperatures: Extreme heat will increase in the Northeast region. Currently a temperate region in the summer, the region can expect to see an increase of “extremely hot” days. On average, there are only 2.6 days a year over 95 degrees Fahrenheit now, but that number could increase to by 5-16 additional days by midcentury and jump to 15-57 additional days by the end of the century. Increasingly hot summers will have negative impacts on health, mortality, and labor productivity.
- Floods and droughts: Annual precipitation in the Northeast has increased about 10 percent from 1895 to 2011, and precipitation from extremely heavy storms has increased 70 percent since 1958. Increasing variability in precipitation will likely cause more flooding in the winter and spring, and more drought in the summer and fall.
- Rising sea level: Since the 1800s about one-third of wetlands and other coastal ecosystems in New England have been destroyed by human activity, reducing an effective and important line of defense against coastal flooding.
- Fishing: Maine’s fishing sector may suffer as the climate changes. Warmer ocean waters are pushing fish out to deeper waters and increasingly acidic environments threaten the shells of lobsters and other shellfish.
- Adaptation: While Maine developed a Climate Action Plan in 2004, the plan does not specifically address adaptation. However, a state program exists to provide businesses, consultants, homeowners and public officials information about the process of adapting to climate change in Maine.
Maine residents support clean energy and climate regulations
- According to the Yale Map Project on Climate Change Communication 69% of Maine residents recognize that global warming is happening. The study finds that 76% of residents support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 83% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
Maine: biomass, hydro and wind power the state
- Maine ranks 21 in wind capacity with 901 MW installed, enough to power 149,000 homes. There are 5 companies in Maine related to wind manufacturing.
- Maine ranks 34 in solar, with installed capacity enough to power 3,500 homes. The solar industry employs 330 people across 54 companies across the solar value chain in Maine.
- Since nearly 90% of Maine is forested, wood and other biomass fuels are an important part of the state’s rural economy.
- Maine had the lowest average electricity retail prices in New England at the end of 2015.
- In 2015, two-thirds of Maine’s net electricity generation came from renewable energy sources: 30% hydroelectricity, 26% biomass (mostly wood products) and 10% wind.
- Maine set a renewable energy standard of 40% renewable generation from electric utilities by 2017.