Maryland Climate Change

By | August 7, 2008

Maryland Climate Change


For the Full Report in PDF Form, please click here.

[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]

In April 2007, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley created the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and tasked it with preparing a Climate Action Plan specifically focusing on the following items:

• to address the drivers and causes of climate change
• to prepare for the likely consequences and impacts of climate change to Maryland
• to establish benchmarks and timetables for implementing the Climate Plan

Interestingly, the two most important analyses were left off this list, the first being a review of Maryland’s climate history with an eye towards understanding the roles of natural variability and human-caused “global warming” in shaping its past and current climate and, the second being a quantification of the effect that reducing greenhouse gas in Maryland will have on Maryland’s future climate. Without a complete understanding of the former, it is impossible to relate “global changes” to local impacts, and without understanding the latter, it is impossible to justify any emissions restriction actions under the guise of “climate change.”

In this document, we provide these overlooked, but nevertheless vital analyses. In doing so, we find that there is scant evidence that “global warming” is or has impacted Maryland’s climate to any large degree, instead we find while Maryland’s temperatures have been slowly rising fom more than a century, that natural year-to-year and decade- to-decade scale variations dominate the state’s precipitation and drought history. We find that tropical cyclones more often provide Maryland’s farmers and water managers with a respite from the late summer dryness that stresses their crop and water systems than they produce catastrophic damages from a direct landfall. We find that Maryland’s coastal regions have been rapidly growing in population despite a long-term sea level rise and that Marylanders have become less sensitive to summertime heat waves.

Most significantly, Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions have virtually no effect on global climate. In fact, if Maryland were to immediately cease all carbon dioxide emissions, now and forever, the rate of year-over-year growth in global carbon dioxide emissions (primarily fueled by massive emissions increases in China) would completely subsume Maryland’s total contribution in just one months’ time. Thus, Governor O’Malley’s call for a reduction, rather than a complete cessation, of Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions will have absolutely no effect on global or local climate. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the economic consequences of greenhouse gas emissions’ reduction—they are estimated to be large, and negative. This is the perfect recipe for an all pain and no gain scenario for Maryland’s citizenry.