Like many climate-change deniers, M.D. Harmon latches onto a few reports and statistics that support his views and dismisses the majority of scientific reports that don’t.
In his recent column, he notes while 2012 may have been the warmest year on record in the United States, the Washington Times considers such trends “meaningless” because the U.S. represents 2 percent of the world’s land mass.
Extending that logic further, we shouldn’t worry about greenhouse gases at all, since carbon dioxide makes up less than 0.04 percent of the atmosphere — a meaningless way to look at this statistic.
More meaningful statistics for Maine are the U.S. Geological Survey report, which says that, compared to 150 years ago, ice-out across southern and northern Maine is happening 16 and nine days earlier, respectively.
The pace of change is accelerating. Decades of USGS stream-gauge data for northern New England show flows from snowmelt increasing 76 percent to 185 percent in March and decreasing in May.
These changes have enormous implications for winter recreational and tourist activities, water management for hydropower and irrigation, forest speciation and the incidence of pests.
The Portland tide gauge shows 7 inches of sea-level rise in the last century. That sounds insignificant, given the vastness of the ocean. But with the gentle slope of many coastal beaches, that 7-inch rise means that high tides can reach 50 feet farther inland. This has broad implications for coastal development, public infrastructure and the tourist economy.
We probably will never agree on the degree to which human activities have contributed to climate change, let alone take meaningful action to do anything about it. But we should all agree to work together to adapt to these changes, lest we suffer severe economic and social consequences.
Robert G. Marvinney, Readfield