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Report: Summer's Signs of Things to Come

PHOTO: Doug Inkley Image by National Wildlife Federation
PHOTO: Doug Inkley Image by National Wildlife Federation
September 4, 2012

AUGUSTA, Maine - With the long weekend marking summer's unofficial end, Maine's weather is telling us a lot about climate change and where we're headed, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation. NWF senior scientist Doug Inkley says the heat waves we've been experiencing, such as our second-hottest June ever, are just the tip of the rapidly-melting iceberg.

"We now have a record-low amount of ice in the Arctic. We have a record amount of ice melt in Greenland. You put all three of these together and global warming is extremely apparent."

Inkley says the same conditions are contributing to devastating wildfires, crop damage and an influx of destructive pests and the diseases some carry, such as West Nile virus. N.W.F. points out that the past twelve months are the hottest ever recorded in the U.S.

Inkley says some developments we're seeing this summer, such as large fish kills, also lend insight into what wildlife face in the months to come.

"You have thousands of fish dying because the water is simply too warm for them. I think wildlife throughout this coming winter will be stressed because the productivity of the natural foods they eat is way down because of the drought, and they could easily starve to death."

Inkley says the issue of climate change is collective in nature; we all face the consequences and each of us can participate in the solution.

"It hurts us in our pocketbook, it hurts us in our food sources, and we need to do something about it. And we can, but we need to have the guts, as a nation, to step forward."

In terms of financial impact, the report notes that the cost of battling wildfires, now about $3 billion a year, has tripled since the 1990s. The NWF report recommends Congress pass legislation that limits greenhouse gas emissions while promoting clean energy such as wind and solar power.

See the full report at www.nwf.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME