SALISBURY – U.S.
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) today delivered the 5th Annual Paul S. Sarbanes Lecture at Salisbury University warning that "global warming is a clear and present danger that makes it imperative that the United States develop a comprehensive energy policy that will reduce pollution and lessen our nation's dependence on foreign oil."
The Senator, who is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has testified about the threat that global warming poses to Maryland. Significant parts of Maryland are in low-lying areas that would be inundated if global temperatures keep rising. Specifically, the effect of global warming on Maryland includes:
- Global warming pollution in Maryland has increased 55% since 1960;
- Last week, the Chesapeake Bay Program reported that underwater grasses – a key measure of Bay health – suffered a 25% decrease from 2005 to 2006, the biggest single year drop;
- More than 12% of Maryland is designated as a Special Flood Hazard Area by the National Flood Insurance Program;
- An estimated 68,000 Maryland homes and buildings are located within a flood plain; and,
- Tidal records for the last century show that the rate of sea level rise in Maryland is nearly twice the global average.
"We are already seeing the effects. About a third of Blackwater Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore has been lost in the past 70 years. Smith Island, situated in the Chesapeake Bay, has lost 30% of its land to rising sea levels since 1850," he said.
The Senator stressed that energy independence and global warming are tied together. Both depend on the United States conserving energy and finding alternative, less-polluting energy sources. Such a shift in energy policy would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a major cause of global warming.
"We can become energy independent if we make a national commitment to reduce our energy consumption. From increasing CAFÉ fuel efficiency standards for vehicles to promoting energy efficiency in our tax codes, we need to reward conservation," he said. "We also must make renewable energy commercially viable. Congress can take a lead by encouraging investment in renewable energy infrastructure and technologies so they become commercially viable."