A volunteer works to douse a forest fire in the republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, in Russia’s Far East on Saturday, July 17, 2021. Wildfires that burn millions of hectares of forest are becoming increasingly frequent in Russia, partly due to climate change. Credit: Ivan Nikiforov

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Here in Maine, we live  near the boreal forest. It stretches north up to the treeline in the Arctic. It is the second largest biome on earth behind only the ocean. While sequestering carbon dioxide, this ecosystem produces oxygen. Trees cycle  about half the oxygen in the atmosphere, algae in the oceans maintain the other half.

By overharvesting our boreal forest, the tropical one near the equator, and polluting the oceans, we are threatening our ability to keep the planet from suffering too much from global warming. As the atmosphere warms, it allows the treeline to progress northward. If this warming continues unabated, there is a possibility that the boreal forest  could be drastically reduced in size by 2050. While this is occurring,  frozen peat is melting resulting in the release of large amounts of carbon.  

This northward progression of the boreal forest is a signal that global warming is affecting more than the floods, droughts, heat waves, and melting ice sheets reported almost daily in the news. There needs to be substantial action by all the nations to offset these changes.

The United States is a large part of this problem and had an opportunity to help with this by the institution of a carbon fee and divided. Sixty-four countries already have taken action on this including Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and China. Of the developed nations, only Australia and the U.S. don’t have some sort of nationwide carbon pricing in place.  

By instituting a carbon fee on fossil fuels at the wellhead and mine, and then paying this money back to all citizens, we can assist our country to slow the increasing amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King are in positions to make this happen. As a citizen of Maine, I ask them to help hasten the transition away from carbon-based fuels to renewable energy to achieve this.  

Al Larson

Orono