The extremes in Maine weather in recent weeks are signs of climate change due to global warming, according to Lisa Pohlmann, deputy director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Pohlmann was one of several people calling for action to thwart global warming during a news conference Jan. 28 at the State House.

“This week we had 50-mile-an-hour winds, 50-degree temperatures, heavy rains and now ice jams on the Kennebec,” said Pohlmann. “These weather events all seem peculiar … But according to a new national report, this kind of unpredictable winter weather will become increasingly common if climate change continues unabated.”

The report to which Pohlmann referred is “Odd-ball Winter Weather: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Northern United States,” released Jan. 28 by National Wildlife Federation scientists.

“We have known for a long time that more erratic winter weather will be our future in Maine under climate change,” said Pohlmann, who cited more ice storms, shorter ski seasons, thin ice, shorter periods of frozen ground for loggers, more winter flooding and changes in the state’s ecosystems as possible problems for Maine.

Those types of changes, said Pohlmann, could result in intrusive pests, crop damage and migration of some species farther north. They could also create more costs for the state in the form of infrastructure repairs following floods and ice storms, loss of agricultural revenue due to crop damage, and loss of recreation dollars because of reduced skiing and snowmobiling opportunities.

Maine’s summer tourist industry could also be impacted.

Tim Peabody, associate professor of conservation law at Unity College and former chief of the Maine Warden Service, reminded everyone of New Year’s Day 2010 in Maine.

“It marks the statewide opening of the annual ice fishing season for many outdoor enthusiasts,” he said. “This year, opening day headlines of the great season ahead were overshadowed by thin-ice warnings by the Maine Warden Service and a number of tragic events associated with unsafe conditions on our lakes and ponds.”

“This is just a snapshot of some of the potential effects from changing global weather patterns,” he said.

To slow global warming, Pohlmann called for reducing the burning of coal, oil and gas to 80 percent below today’s levels by 2050.

“What we need now is the political will in Washington to pass comprehensive climate change legislation that will mandate these reductions in global warming emissions and create investments in clean energy, energy efficiency and strategies to adapt,” she said.

“Supporting initiatives for clean alternative energy and comprehensive legislation at the state and federal level is a necessity,” said Peabody.

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