Heat, fires and Trump rollbacks

Dear Editor:

Here is just a sample of July  climate events that are happening worldwide – Caribou hottest July on record, more intense and destructive wildfires from California to the Swedish Arctic, Algeria hottest ever in Africa, 54 deaths from heat near Montreal and the third longest heat wave in Britain. This year was supposed to be cooler thanks to the natural climate cycle of La Nina –2018 is now the hottest La Nina ever.

Due to the higher temperatures now and into the future in the United States  and many parts of the world, the increase in electricity production for air conditioning is already growing and is projected to skyrocket.  Depending on how the electricity is generated (fossil fuel or renewable), climate change can become even more deadly.  Cooling is probably the biggest energy consumer.

In 1989 my husband and I moved to Downeast Maine and quickly became part of the fight against the proposed coal-fired power plant in Bucksport – an incredibly successful effort involving hundreds of people in Maine and many towns in Hancock and Waldo counties. After the company withdrew its plans in 1992, several of us co-founded the totally volunteer Coalition for Sensible Energy, which I was fortunate to lead until 2000. The CSE boards studied energy and economic policies and the environmental and health effects of energy use. With many other groups, we advocated for cleaner and more efficient use of energy for the economy as well as our health and the environment at the local, state, national and bi-national levels.

During that time many reasonable policies were adopted.  To name just a few:  1990 US Clean Air Act amendments, 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ratified by 197 parties, adoption of the California low emission vehicle standards for Maine in the late 1990s,  the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan adopted August 2001, the first in the nation Maine Climate Change Action Plan legislation of May 2003. The first cap and trade program Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was adopted by states from Maine to Maryland in 2005, the Paris Climate Agreement ratified by 179 parties went into force November 2016. Economic growth and better health outcomes are happening.

Since 2017, the Trump Administration has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, cancelled the Clean Power Plan, proposes to cancel the increased fuel efficiency standards and abolish California’s right to have higher emission standards. Websites and programs have been eliminated. There is no recognition that climate change is occurring and that action to prevent and adapt to extreme climate events is needed now.  Fossil fuel (coal and oil and gas) use is being encouraged.

Please contact your legislators at the state and federal levels and urge them to take action to increase climate change mitigation and adaptation programs, to increase renewable electricity production and rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, the Clean Power Plan and increased fuel efficiency standards.

Pam Person


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