By BRADY HOLT
ANNAPOLIS (March 02, 2010)—If climatologist Joseph Romm is correct, a changing climate will have made Maryland's winters so warm in a few decades that a winter storm won't mean anything more than a lot of rain.
But until 2050 or 2060, Romm said, the state needs to expect more heavy snowfalls like the three that closed roads, schools and airports this winter, and should start gearing up to deal with these and other "extreme weather emergencies."
Romm spoke to reporters Tuesday about a bill that Sen. Jim Rosapepe, D-Prince George's, is preparing to introduce this week that would mandate the Maryland Commission on Climate Change to report on the economic costs of global warming and suggest where the state should invest in preparing for them.
The bill, which Rosapepe said had 14 planned co-sponsors as of midday Tuesday, would further request that the federal government step in to fund any such "investments to minimize the disruption from future snowstorms and other weather emergencies of that sort" - preferably through cap-and-trade emissions legislation.
"This snowstorm was a wakeup call," Rosapepe said. "Whether it's snowstorms, droughts, hurricanes - we know we will be getting more (severe weather) in a more unpredictable way because of climate change."
As the earth warms and ocean temperatures rise, more ocean water evaporates and precipitates on the coasts, Romm said. Warmer oceans also make hurricanes more powerful.
Rosapepe's bill will not specify what preparations will need to be made, he said - those recommendations will come only from the climate change commission report his bill proposes.
Rosapepe described his bill as "common sense" and said he couldn't see why anyone would oppose it once he formally introduces it.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.