By MEGAN HARTLEY, Capital News Service
BALTIMORE - On an overcast day in Fells Point, environmentalists gathered to highlight what they say is the role Maryland plays in climate change.
Maryland's fossil fuel emissions increased by 16 percent from 1990 to 2004, according to a report released by Environment Maryland Thursday entitled "The Carbon Boom." The group gathered the data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
"The data is really recent," said Jennifer Bronder, field organizer for Environment Maryland. "We have been keen on global warming for the past five years and took the opportunity to look at it as soon as we could."
The EIA has been calculating emissions statistics on a national level since 1992, but just started compiling state-by-state data for the past few years because of public interest, according to Jonathan Cogan, energy information specialist at the EIA.
Although state-by-state emission data has yet to be released for 2004, state-by-state energy consumption data has. Environment Maryland estimated the emissions through each state's energy consumption.
But this eclectic group of architects, legislators and scientists flanked by photos of flooded towns and drowning polar bears had one goal in common - making public policy makers take serious action.
"There is a disconnect between the science community and policy makers," said Ben Zaitchik, a research associate at the University of Maryland. "Scientists need to step up and take a role in educating them."
Bronder encouraged citizens to ask Maryland Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, both Democrats, to support the Safe Climate Act sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., that outlines a plan to reduce emissions to levels 80 percent lower than 1990 by 2050.
One Maryland legislator, Delegate Dana M. Stein, D-Baltimore County, joined the group in Fells Point to explain that the state legislature is taking action through laws such as the Clean Cars Act.
But he says there is still much more work to do in the form of a statewide emissions cap that does not just focus on cars or industrial plants.
"We must do something or else we will be swimming with ducks," said Stein as he motioned towards two mallards in the water below him. "The state has an abundant source of clean energy."
The group also wanted to stress that Maryland stands to bear some hefty consequences if scientists' predictions of mass floods and sky-high temperatures hold true. Maryland has 3,190 miles of shoreline according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Paul Burman from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network stressed the importance of Chesapeake Bay and our ancestors saying that they "never asked for burial at sea." "What should we call our baseball team when the orioles leave Maryland," said Burman.