Maine is a beautiful place with a wonderful environment. But there is still a lot we need to do to preserve and protect our state.

The Maine Legislature and our governor stepped up to improve our environment in a number of ways this year. I was particularly pleased they banned singled-use plastic bags. Perhaps you’ve seen those horrific photos of people trying to clean plastic bags off the bottom of the ocean. I was astonished by the massive amount of bags, all the way down through the Caribbean.

Not long ago I saw a photo of a dead whale whose stomach was full of plastic bags and all sorts of other things that people had tossed into the ocean. Very sad.

In Florida, Miami Beach has been overwhelmed by smelly, brown seaweed, which is connected to rising ocean temperatures and increased nutrients from fertilizers flowing into the ocean.

Gov. Janet Mills has taken a number of important steps to address climate change, including repealing the gross metering measure that Gov. Paul LePage pushed to harm solar power initiatives, and joining the U.S. Climate Alliance. And we now have our own Climate Council in state government.

I was also very pleased when the Legislature enacted and Gov. Mills signed a significant bill encouraging renewable energy. It updates Maine’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires increased production of electricity from indigenous sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydro. Another bill that was enacted hopes to double the percentage of renewable power sold in the state to 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

Kathleen Meil of the Maine Conservation Voters said, “Mainers have been waiting for this kind of climate action for a long time. Recent polling tells us that the vast majority of Maine people support transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2050, if not before, and these policies put us on the pathway to meet this goal.”

I’ve been concerned about the environment we’re leaving for our grandchildren. Rep. David McCrae of Fairfield expressed this well, saying, “We all need to think twice about what we waste and how that impacts our world. Our future generations deserve nothing less than our best efforts to protect the environment that they will inherit. “

While there is still more we can and should do in Maine, it was particularly appalling when President Donald Trump removed the limitations on the mining and use of coal. Shame on him. I guess he doesn’t care about his grandchildren. Limits on coal was one of President Barack Obama’s key initiatives to limit fossil fuel emissions.

A recent opinion column in this newspaper by Richard Killmer of Yarmouth informed us that two national studies indicated that because of rising sea levels, more devastating drought and more damaging storms, warming will make the world’s climate much worse for us, causing famine, disease, economic tolls, and a refugee crises.

He noted that the federal research indicated that Trump’s decision would lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths by 2030 from an increase in extremely fine particulate matter, which is linked to heart and lung disease, plus up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, including asthma and bronchitis. Yikes!

At the end of June, we had a great family getaway to stunningly beautiful Lubec and Campobello. I was very disappointed to read in this newspaper the day after we returned that baby lobster populations are significantly decreasing. We already know that lobsters are moving north. If Lubec and Campobello lose their lobster industry, that will be devastating.

I really can’t understand how some people refuse to believe that our climate is changing — the evidence is all around us, from the miserable spring we just suffered, to the disaster on our strawberry farms, to people suffering ill health due to our environment.

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection has on its website pages designed to provide relevant information about policies, practices and programs that assist residents, municipalities and businesses to mitigate and adapt to environmental changes while recognizing beneficial opportunities and moderating negative effects are encouraged.

Please check that out, because there is a lot we can do as individuals to address the problems of climate change.

And we can only hope that eventually we’ll get a president and Congress willing to tackle these problems and come up with solutions, just as our governor and Legislature has worked to do in Maine.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.