Report details impact of climate change to Maine

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AUGUSTA (AP) – A study released Wednesday said that without significant action to deal with global warming, Maine faces damaging changes to its character and economy, with snowmobiling, timber harvesting and lobster fishing among the potential losers.

The 125-page report on climate change in the Northeast was issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists and a team of more than 50 scientists and economists as a follow-up to a study it issued last year. The new report said that if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, summers in Maine could eventually resemble those of today in Maryland. But if emissions are reduced, summers could be similar to those in the New York City region.

Researchers projected that Maine’s pulp and paper industry could be hurt as warm winters interfere with timber harvesting practices that require frozen soil to minimize damage from heavy equipment.

Climate change would shorten the snowmobile season and could hurt the state’s lucrative lobster industry if warmer waters become more hospitable to the lobster-shell disease that has made inroads in fishing grounds to the south.

The study said the extent and severity of climate change in Maine is linked to near-term choices about energy, transportation and land use.

“Global warming represents an enormous challenge, but we can meet it if we act swiftly,” said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at UCS and chairman of the climate change aassessment team. “Our response to global warming in the next few years will shape the climate our children and grandchildren inherit.”

In response to the report, Commissioner David Littell of the state Department of Environmental Protection said global warming is the largest threat now facing the environment.

“The Union of Concerned Scientists’ assessment illustrates the seriousness of the problem and the need to take cooperative national and international action to protect our planet,” he said.

AP-ES-07-11-07 1655EDT

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