Date: January 10, 2022
From: Concerned Maryland Climate Scientists
The Honorable Adrienne Jones The Honorable William Ferguson
Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates President of the Senate, Maryland
Dear Speaker Jones and President Ferguson,
We are Maryland-based scientists reaching out to you with grave concerns regarding the current climate crisis and the need for state action to mitigate its worst impacts. The science is clear: warming is underway, humans have caused it, and the magnitude and speed of that warming are dependent on what policies we can adopt to cut emissions in the near term.
As you likely know, last August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the world’s leading scientific authority on climate science – released the Sixth Assessment Report on the physical science basis of climate change, which included a consensus that it is “unequivocal” that humans have warmed the planet, causing “widespread and rapid” changes to Earth’s oceans, ice, and land surface. It also outlined several climate “tipping points” and concluded that “abrupt change in the climate system” could come with crossing those thresholds. The UN Secretary General said the report issued is a “Code Red for Humanity.”
The urgent call for action builds off of earlier IPCC reports. In 2018, the IPCC cited the devastating impacts of global warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius and the emissions reduction pathway needed to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. (1) Importantly, the IPCC noted that wealthy nations like the United States must reduce climate-disrupting pollution by 60% below 2006 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.
While our state’s current regulatory commitments fall short of these emissions targets, we have already seen ample evidence of the catastrophic impacts of climate change. Just last year, Maryland experienced five separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, including hurricanes and tropical storms. (2) Maryland’s 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline are vulnerable to sea level rise and retreating shores, threatening habitat, agriculture, and communities. Tidal waters are flooding the streets of Annapolis, just blocks from the State House, more and more frequently.
We need to do more and we need to do it now. Maryland is uniquely situated as a state that is both particularly vulnerable to climate change and well-positioned to mitigate it. There is still time to reduce emissions rapidly enough to slow warming and stabilize our climate system.
As one of the most affluent and best-educated states in the most powerful nation on Earth, Maryland has an obligation to lead. As a leader in Maryland, please take bold action by electrifying new and existing buildings, expanding zero-emission vehicle use, and committing to a 60% reduction of emissions by 2030.
Donald Boesch, Professor and President Emeritus, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Eric A. Davidson, Professor, Appalachian Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
David Vanko, Dean, Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics, Towson University
Belay Demoz, Member, Scientific and Technical Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change; Director, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technologies, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Darryn Waugh, Professor, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University
Thomas Haine, Professor, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University
The views expressed are the personal views of the signatories and do not represent the views of their respective employers or affiliated institutions.
(1) IPCC, 2018: Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M. I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, T. Waterfield (eds.)]. ipcc.ch/sr15/.
(2) NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2021). https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/, DOI: 10.25921/stkw-7w73