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Report: Climate Change Hits Maine Summers Hard

Warmer temperatures have led to increased tick populations and more Lyme disease. (CDC/Wikimedia Commons)
Warmer temperatures have led to increased tick populations and more Lyme disease. (CDC/Wikimedia Commons)
August 15, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine - Climate change already is raising temperatures, and that's having a big impact in Maine and around the country.

The new "Safeguarding Summer" report from the National Wildlife Federation outlined a variety of negative effects on summer activities everywhere. It said one effect of rising temperatures is a dramatic increase in the tick population.

According to Emmie Theberge, federal project director for the Natural Resources Defense Council of Maine, that's having a big impact on both Mainers and visitors who travel here to enjoy the outdoors.

"I think Maine now has the highest rate of Lyme disease of any other state in the country," she said, "so it's definitely an issue that is growing here in Maine."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2004 and 2016, the incidence of tick-borne diseases nationwide has more than doubled.

Doug Inkley, retired senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation, said serious reductions in carbon emissions, especially from power plants and transportation, could slow climate change and its damaging impacts.

"There is a proposed rule that would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide pollution from power plants," he said. "However, the Trump Administration is putting that on hold. It should not be put on hold; it should be recognized that climate change is real."

The Environmental Protection Agency also recently has proposed freezing the fuel-efficiency standard for cars and light trucks.

As a coastal state, climate change poses a risk to major sectors of Maine's economy. Theberge pointed out that warming seawater threatens Maine's $600 million-a-year commercial fishing industry.

"The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99 percent of the world's oceans," she said, "and those fisheries aren't able to adapt to that changing temperature."

Among the report's recommendations are cutting methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure and enacting a nationwide price on carbon pollution.

The "Safeguarding Summer" report is online at

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - ME