“Follow the research and not the rhetoric,” Governor Janet T. Mills, the first women Governor of Maine, told the standing room only crowd at the Gulf of Maine 2050 International Symposium, Portland today in her comments that opened the week-long conference in downtown Portland.
“We know that climate change is no longer a question. It’s a fact,” the Governor said. “The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than any other body. There were 40% fewer lobsters landed this year. Our boom could end within five years. Ocean species are changing.” The Governor received standing ovations because of her commitment to addressing climate change.
Over three hundred (300) people registered to attend this Symposium at the Westin Hotel. While there have been other Symposiums, this was the first ever to focus exclusively on climate change in Portland according to the facilitator Andrew J. Pershing, Ph.D. The focus will be sea levels on Tuesday, Ocean Acidification on Wednesday and on Thursday ocean temperatures.
Following the Governor’s opening remarks there were two keynote presentations. One by Ko Barrett, vice chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the other by Dr. Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists.
Dr. Cleetus said: “Climate change is here. We do have choices about how much worse it can get. Maine coastal towns will be exposed to extreme flooding. Scientists need to be out there telling the truth.” She commended Governor Mills for investing in renewable energies.
“The subject should be a high priority for the president and the Congress. Climate change should not be a partisan issue. At the Thanksgiving table, talk about climate change,” Dr. Cleetus recommended.
The afternoon programs concluded with extraordinary underwater photographs by Keith Ellenbogen taken in the Gulf of Maine.
Earlier in the day, Governor Mills issued a statement in response to the formal notice of withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement by the Trump Administration.
“The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, a landmark international accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is an unparalleled abduction of US leadership. With this shortsighted decision, the US becomes one of the few countries in the world to refuse to meet its responsibility to combat the climate crisis – a shameful distinction.
“Maine will not follow the lead of the federal government. Instead, Maine will work with states across the country through the bipartisan US Climate Alliance to stem the tide on climate change. We may be small, but we are a mighty force – and we will not shirk our responsibility to protect our natural resources and defend the survival of future generations, nor will we forsake the opportunity that create energy jobs and expand our economy by enhancing the green technology of the future.”