Addressing a Changing Climate: Challenges & Examples

The climate crisis is changing the world. Warming waters, sea level rise, and the reduction of carbon emissions are important to communities of all sizes. From modifying waterfront infrastructure to investing in renewable energy, communities are already working at a local scale to tackle a global challenge.

Designating Ocean Spaces

When decision makers are going through the regulatory process (e.g. the designation of ocean spaces for a particular use), it can be difficult to ensure that all stakeholders are being recognized. That means that waterfront communities and their needs are not always being addressed, and this can prove to be a problem—especially when the decision-making process is focused on regulating ocean spaces. New documents and data goldmines like the Northeast Ocean Plan and Northeast Ocean Data Portal are providing invaluable tools for waterfront communities to use to make sure their voices are heard when it matters most.

Solution Examples

Fighting Ticks and Vector-borne Diseases

Although it may be evident that island life often comes with challenges that aren’t experienced on the mainland, one might assume that the danger of ticks and Lyme disease would be universally experienced along the coast of Maine. In actuality, the threat portrays itself with great disparity on Maine’s islands when compared to the mainland. Some islands experience a far more concentrated infestation of infected deer ticks. You are statistically two-and-a-half times as likely to contract Lyme disease on some Maine islands than you are on the mainland of the Midcoast (the mainland region with the highest rates of Lyme). On other islands, however, the threat of Lyme is miniscule or even nonexistent. The geography, ecology, and history of each island creates a different situation for all of the unbridged communities. By that same logic, each island community has grappled with the challenge with varying methods. What has worked for one community may not always work for another, but sharing solutions can often be the quickest route to effective problem solving. Read more to learn about the challenges Lyme disease presents for island communities and the community members on the front lines of the tick conflict.

Solution Examples

Lowering Energy Costs

Buy heating fuel in an island community, and you might pay a dollar more per gallon than mainland customers. Electricity prices are similarly high; islands connected to the grid with submarine cables pay high prices due to periodic cable replacements and on-island distribution and maintenance costs. Islands without a cable are often powered by diesel generators, expensive both to fuel and maintain. These same challenges are faced by rural communities in many remote places around North America and beyond. Islanders and others serviced by a small electric co-op face another concern. With only a few hundred (or fewer) customers, set costs like energy generation or transmission, distribution, and maintenance are shared by a small number of consumers. If a large building were suddenly to drop off the grid (which could happen if people pursue individual solutions, like roof-top solar, without community-wide coordination), other users would see an increase in their bills.

Solution Examples

Preparing for Aquaculture

Maine’s seafood economy, steeped in heritage, provides the lifeblood for our rural coastal communities and lives and dies at the complex intersection of environment, policy, community, and economy. To prosper in an increasingly warm and unpredictable world, the sector must innovate. This innovation can come in the form of economic diversification of the marine sector. However, generating successful innovators is most effective when those innovators are properly trained and prepared for the challenges that arise with marine entrepreneurship.

Solution Examples

Preparing for Rising Seas

Late in 2017, the U.S. government released a report on climate change that estimates more extreme and damaging weather disaster events and a rise in global sea levels amounting to several inches in the next 15 years and one to four feet – with the possibility of rising even by as much as eight feet – by 2100. Looking to the future, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) identifies the coast of Maine as being particularly vulnerable to storm events and sea level rise. In fact, the coast and islands are already grappling with historic storm damage and coastal flooding.

Solution Examples