Search What's New Site Map Home Links The Paper Let's Talk Our Library About Us

Gulf of Maine Times

Vol. 5, No. 2


About the Gulf of Maine Times

Back Issues

Spring 2001
Winter 2000
Summer 2000
Spring 2000  
Winter 1999

Fall 1999
Summer 1999
Spring 1999
Winter 1998
Fall 1998
Summer 1998
Spring 1998
Winter 1997
Fall 1997
Summer 1997
Spring 1997


The quest for clean air and a cool planet
Q&A with Adam Markham

By Maureen Kelly

In May 2000, Clean Air–Cool Planet, a regional non-profit group that aims to find solutions to glob-al warming, opened its offices in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Clean Air–Cool Planet encourages communities and businesses to voluntarily reduce the amount greenhouse gases they emit into the atmosphere. Adam Markham, the executive director, spoke to the Gulf of Maine Times about the threat of global warming and what can be done to curb it. The following is an excerpt from that conversation.

What does global warm-ing mean for New England?

Global warming could be a major problem for New England. We know already that parts of New England are getting warmer faster than other parts of the northern hemisphere. We’re already starting to see some changes–a little more storminess in the weather, spring coming earlier, maybe by a week to ten days–and that in turn is having some effects on ecosystems. People in Vermont are tapping for maple sugar earlier in the season. The string of mild winters that we’ve just had, until this winter, led to the steady movement north of some bird species like the Carolina wren, which is tending to over-winter farther north into southern New England. So, we’re start-ing to see little signals of change–the canaries in the coalmine if you like.

In the future, the changes are likely to be pretty extensive. Sea level rise is going to be a big problem for low lying coastal marshes, particularly where you have a lot of human development and no ability for ecosystems to retreat landward in a natural way. Warmer waters are going to be a problem, particularly in southern New England. It’s already warming up quite significantly in Narragansett Bay. They’re starting to see some changes in winter flounder populations there, which may be associated with the warm-ing water. Some marine diseases like Dermo in oysters may again be able to move north as the waters warm.

How can we reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

The main thing that citizens can do is try to think a little bit about the pollution that they cause in their everyday life and then take some actions to try to reduce that. One of the easiest things you can do is turn down your thermostat a little bit in the winter. In the summer maybe use your air conditioning a little less. If you buy new appliances, make sure you buy ones that have the Energy Star certification. It means you’re getting the most energy efficient appliances on the market. For example, you can now get front-loading washing machines, which are two or three times as energy efficient as top-loaders and also save a lot of water. Make sure you don’t leave lights on in rooms where you don’t need them. And try to get out of your car occasionally and walk or bike to work or to the shops if it’s possible. The more you use your car, the more you’re polluting the atmosphere for future generations.

How are you working with businesses?

We’re working with businesses that recognize that there’s not just an environmental benefit to reducing pollution, but also a bottom line benefit to the company. Most companies could save a lot of money by reducing the amount of pollution they put into the atmosphere. Energy efficiency is a great way for a company to increase its margins. Shaws Supermarkets is one that we’re building a partnership with. They’ve already done a great deal to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We’re hoping that we’ll help them go even further to raise the bar and have other businesses follow.

What other groups are you working with?

The way we’re looking at solutions is to work with all aspects of civil society. We’re trying to find partners in business-es, communities of faith, universities, towns, municipalities and communities. We’re happy to have people contact us if there’s a possibility of working with us in their community.

For a fact sheet and other information on the impact of global warming go to Clean Air–Cool Planet’s Web site at: