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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Warmer, wetter climate in Maine impacts human health, infrastructure

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Monday, May 20, 2024   

Scientists said Maine's climate is getting warmer and wetter, with significant implications for human health and infrastructure.

Data show the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1998, with 2023 ranking as the second warmest.

Sean Birkel, assistant professor of earth and climate sciences at the University of Maine and Maine's state climatologist, said it has already led to an increase in extreme weather, with some recent storms in the state topping five inches of rain.

"I think all of us have now experienced heavy precipitation events that cause localized flooding, road damage, and also contributes to other infrastructure damage," Birkel pointed out.

Birkel noted projected increases in annual precipitation rates range between 5% and 14% by the end of the century, based on the rate of global greenhouse gas emissions. State officials aim to cut emissions by 45% over the next several years, as storms in January alone cost the state roughly $70 million in damages.

Scientists said Mainers accustomed to a more moderate climate will need to adapt to extended warming seasons and prepare for potential health effects.

Rebecca Lincoln, environmental epidemiologist at the Maine Center for Disease Control, said it includes mental health. She pointed out exposure to extreme weather events can exacerbate conditions such as depression, PTSD and anxiety, particularly in young people.

"These findings suggest to us that efforts to expand and improve Maine's mental health services need to account for the potential mental health impacts of a changing climate," Lincoln contended.

Lincoln emphasized emergency preparedness efforts should account for an increased need for mental health services following climate emergencies. She added a warmer, wetter Maine also means an increase in mosquito and tick populations, which are expanding in northern regions. Nearly 3,000 cases of Lyme disease were diagnosed in 2023, which set a record.


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