Beyond 350: Confronting Climate Change

Accelerating warming, intense precipitation, rising sea levels — these are just a few of the signs of climate change that are happening in Maine and around the globe. What are citizens, businesses, state agencies and communities doing to cope with it and to try to reduce its future effects? That's the focus of new year-long series on MPBN. "Beyond 350: Confronting Climate Change" will explore what steps are underway, both large and small, and what challenges lie ahead.

This series is made possible by the Limulus Fund.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

For those who dream of living “off the grid,” the motivation might be to leave smaller carbon footprint or to avoid the prohibitive cost of running utility lines hundreds of feet to a home off-the-beaten path.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

Electric vehicles, or EVs, make up a tiny fraction of the cars sold in New England. But new state policies — and a big cash infusion from the settlement of Volkswagen’s pollution scandal — could speed the building of electric vehicle charging stations and help push the regional market for EVs to new levels.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Nearly 200 world leaders are in Bonn, Germany, for a United Nations conference this week to discuss ways to speed up goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Mark Vogelzang / Maine Public

It used to be known as Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, but from this week on, the 600-acre coastal farm will be known as Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment. Underscoring the center’s new name is the advancement of what’s known as “regenerative farming.”

Fred Bever / Maine Public

For more than half a century, a massive, oil-fired plant has been churning out electricity from an island in the heart of Maine’s Casco Bay, where sailors use its towering smokestack for navigation.

The old generator is expensive to run and dirtier than new technologies, so these days it comes on only a few times a year. Nonetheless, since December, the wires on the island have been humming pretty much nonstop.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

The beaches of southern Maine are bouncing back — ten years after a St. Patrick’s Day storm took a bite out of coastal communities and after other storms and a prolonged rise in sea levels in 2010 that caused even more erosion.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

It’s back — the unwelcome bright green slime that showed up around Casco Bay in several locations during the drought last summer has returned with a vengeance, and this year it has arrived even earlier.

The environmental group Friends of Casco Bay is actively monitoring the situation, and is worried about what algal blooms like these say about the health of the bay.

This story is the latest installment in our occasional series “Beyond 350: Confronting Climate Change.”

Bubblecuffer / Wikimedia Commons

For the first time in decades, the length of the U.S. ski season is shrinking. And as climate change curtails winter’s length, an industry transformation is under way: one expert says most ski mountains in southern New England could be out of business in 25 years unless they diversify their offerings. But ski areas in northern New England could benefit.

Caroline Losneck / Maine Public

Climate change poses a threat to property and infrastructure up and down the East Coast, and in Portland, residents and planners are starting to devise a response.

It’s been six months since the residents of Mount Desert Island launched a grassroots initiative to become energy independent in 15 years.

The effort was highlighted in January as part of our ongoing series Beyond 350: Confronting Climate Change. This Sunday residents are getting together again for an update on the project, and they’ve already gotten a clearer picture of how to reach their goal.

Rick Gray / BRI

For years, researchers have been studying the pressures on one of Maine’s most-loved birds, the common loon. They’ve looked at shoreline development, mercury and fishing fear. And now a potential new threat has emerged: malaria.

The tropical parasite started showing up in healthy loons about a decade ago. But it had never been known to kill a bird, until recently.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

This is an important week for defenders of the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s strategy to combat climate change. Tuesday is the deadline for states, utilities and environmental groups who support it to file briefs.

Hana Bracale

It’s official — the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization has confirmed what other agencies including NASA have said earlier: 2015 was the hottest year on record.

The global surface temperature is 1 degree Celsius above the preindustrial era, which the agency says makes voluntary commitments reached in the Paris climate change talks still possible, but very difficult.

And that’s why some cities and towns are taking action on their own. On Mount Desert Island, the goal is to become fossil fuel free in 15 years.

Susan Sharon

PORTLAND, Maine — Students at King Middle School here have a message for world leaders meeting in Paris to discuss climate change: "Don't just talk about it. Do something."

Susan Sharon / MPBN

Mainers representing several environmental groups are headed to Paris beginning next week for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The goal is to forge a historic international agreement involving nearly 200 countries to reduce global warming pollution and to transition away from fossil fuels to an economy powered by renewable energy.

As part of our ongoing series "Beyond 350: Confronting Climate Change," Susan Sharon reports that several of those making the trip are optimistic that the goal can be achieved.