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Climate Change Is Real

Climate change refers to changes in weather patterns on a global, continental, regional, or local scale. On a global scale, temperatures and sea levels are rising, rainfallpatterns are shifting, and wildlife habitats are changing. Climate change is increasing the number and severity of hurricanes, winter storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events. The eff ects of climate change in Maryland are already apparent in rising seas, summer heat waves, and more frequent and violent thunderstorms. All of these changes affect Maryland’s citizens, their livelihoods, and the State’s economy.

Maryland is vulnerable

Maryland is among the states most vulnerable to climate change. Rising sea levels, along with increased storm intensity, will have devastating and far-reaching environmental and economic impacts on the Chesapeake Bay and on the quality of life Marylanders enjoy. Maryland’s sizable farming community could suffer costly losses during extreme droughts and heat waves. Marylanders everywhere will face increased risk of flooding and significant property damage as a result of heavier precipitation and other extreme weather events. Children, the elderly, and other sensitive populations are vulnerable to the effects of heat waves and increased airpollution. For these reasons, addressing climate change must be among the State’s highest priorities.

Maryland temperatures are rising

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that we cannot deny that the earth is warming, and that most of the observed increases in temperatures are related to increases in greenhouse gas emissions over the last 50 years. Long-term temperature data show that average temperatures in Maryland have risen in the last century and will continue to rise in the future. Marylanders around the State are already noticing warmer winter days, more intense heat and humidity in the summer, and more damage due to storms.

Coastal sea levels are rising in Maryland

Historic tide gauge records demonstrate that sea levels are rising along Maryland’s coast. Due to a combination of global sea level rise and land subsidence, sea levels have risen approximately one foot within Maryland’s waters over the last 100 years. As our climate changes, sea levels are expected to continue to rise— potentially twice as fast as during the 20th century. Maryland is at risk of experiencing another one-foot rise in sea level by 2050 and as much as a three-foot rise by 2100, contributing to higher storm wave heights, greater fl ooding in low-lying coastal areas, exacerbated shoreline erosion, and damage to property and infrastructure. The sea level rise map depicts the counties in Maryland that are the most vulnerable to sea level rise.

Extreme events are more frequent

Maryland is experiencing more frequent extreme rain and storm events, and more flooding as a result of sea level rise and coastal storms. August and September of 2011 were the State’s wettest in 117 years. Increasing temperatures, which allow air to trap more moisture, will make these storm events more common. July of 2011 and 2012 were the second and third hottest on record. Extreme events affect human health both directly and indirectly. Warmer temperatures and poor air quality increase respiratory illness and other health problems in our vulnerable populations. Extreme events can directly damage infrastructure such as water treatment and supply, transportation, and electricity systems.


New data and better information confirm that past predictions of the severity and cost of global climate change impacts were conservative: greenhouse gas emissions have increased more rapidly than predicted; Arctic sea ice has retreated faster than models projected; and sea level has risen at a faster rate than expected. A growing economy and population means that even more assets are at risk. Interdependencies among social, economic, and environmental changes can ripple through the economy to magnify climate impacts. The economic, environmental, and social costs of inaction are simply not acceptable.

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