Maryland MIT alumni: The state can help prevent climate disaster

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The MIT Alumni for Climate Solutions in Maryland is a non-partisan group of concerned alumni of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — scientists, academics, doctors, business people and engineers. We are alarmed by the threat climate change poses to our beloved state and, indeed, the entire planet. Our objective is to provide state leadership with an understanding of the actions we must take to avoid future catastrophe.

Maryland's state motto is fatti maschii, parole femine. We applaud Maryland's efforts to date, and its parole femine — gentle words. But we also must honor fatti maschii — strong deeds. We call on every state and local elected official and every candidate to commit to make Maryland carbon-neutral within a generation. Now is the time to act to limit the damage from climate change.


Maryland Faces a Dire Threat

A warming Earth poses dangerous changes to Maryland. Our 3,100 scenic miles of coastline, our marshes, our river floodplains, and some of our largest cities are all at risk from a changing climate. The fossil fuel we burn to generate electricity, power our cars and heat our homes is increasing the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, trapping heat and changing weather patterns. If we continue to use fossil fuel at the current rate, predictions are that by the end of the century we would see:

  • Temperature increase of 3 to 12° F (2 to 7° C) with more severe and much wetter storms, like the recent Ellicott City floods
  • Sea level increase of nearly 2 feet, and possibly as much as 8 feet, with flooding of coastal Baltimore, Ocean City and our capital, Annapolis
  • Economic damage in the billions of dollars, loss of an estimated 5 percent of our state's GDP, and flooding of tens of thousands of homes along the Maryland shore

Clearly, the cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of action!


But There's Hope — Maryland can be Carbon-Neutral in a Generation

By quickly developing our renewable wind and solar energy capability and eliminating fossil fuel use for power generation, heating and transportation, the state of Maryland can drastically reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions within a generation.

California is expected to generate 50 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewables by 2020. Texas and Iowa get much of their electricity from wind. California and Hawaii are modernizing their grids to accommodate distributed, renewable energy. If Maryland acts with these and other states as well as the signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement, warming by the end of the 21st century can be limited to less than 3.6° F (2° C).

Investing in a clean energy economy creates jobs and economic growth. We are already installing more and more solar power systems, and Maryland is starting to develop its plentiful offshore wind resources. We need to accelerate these efforts through your actions.

We urge all elected officials to enact policies that will accomplish the following:

  • Commit to a carbon-neutral economy in Maryland by 2045
  • Replace our fossil-fuel power generation with renewable wind and solar power
  • Develop the infrastructure — including electric vehicle chargers — to support all-electric transportation systems
  • Reinvest in our cities, including expanded mass transit, to make them attractive places to live and work
  • Expand carbon-capture programs such as re-forestation and soil sequestration
  • Put a price on carbon emissions and incentivize our citizens and business to reduce their carbon footprints

Take these actions now to make Maryland carbon-neutral within a generation. This investment in a clean energy powered future will create local employment opportunities and economic growth in the state.

A generation from now, what will we tell our grandchildren when they ask about climate change? Will we tell them we didn't know what would happen? That fixing it would have cost too much? It was too inconvenient? Let's be able to tell them we rose to the challenge and built a better future for Maryland and the world.

Submitted respectfully to all elected officials and candidates for office in the State of Maryland,

Signers of this letter include: Adam Riess, Michael L. Agronin, Shiladitya DasSarma, Eric Greene, Troy Bundy, Stanley Martin Jr., Sarah Simon, William L. Ridgway, Theodore R. Gull, Eugenia Kalnay, H.Frederick Dylla, Ashley E.C. Fulton-Howard, David M. Marcovitz, John Compton, Lucy A Cardwell, David H Freeman, Henry Gabelnick, Sheila Konecke, Margaret Shork Chatterton, David W. Cooke, Sara K. Cooke, Geraldo Gonzalez, Suzanne Epstein, Scott I. Berkenblit, Kathleen Menne Livas, Wilder John Leavitt, Paul LaPorte, Robert J. Randall, Per Lindell, Heidi Baumgartner Komkov, James Norman, Steven Freedman, Jerry L. Prince, Mohammad Modarres, Vin Grabill, Larry L. Orr, Barry Margulies, Nancy Riess, Danielle Chou, Susan Leibenhaut, Susanna M. Thon, David H. Greenberg, Louis Bernstein, Bruce Morgenstern, Robert C. Utz, Howard E. Katz, Marilynn K. Duker, Kemp Wills, James B. Conklin Jr., Joshua Goldberg, Lawrence P. Sanford, Charles L. Bennett, Nicole Schultheis, Richard A Anderson, Judi Arbuckle, Marc Postman, Jared Markowitz, Gina M. Angiola, Gary M. Heiligman, Steven Rappaport, Brooke Jarrett, Dyung Le, Edward Richard Johnson, Aaron M. Ucko, David H. Freeman, Ron Smith, Boris Zinshteyn, Brandon Levy, Irwin Lebow, David H. Greenberg, Frederic I. Davis, Henry C. Lucas Jr., Jean Tilly, Jack Kinstlinger, Stephen E. Bickel, Mark Powers, Henry Gabelnick, Sheila Konecke, Michelle Bryden, Kyle Hurst, Richard Mushotzky, Neha Bhooshan, Michael F. Melgar, William D. Phillips, Talbott Huey, Jay S Fridkis, Tamara Litwin, Ryan Friedrich, Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, Robert E. Terry, Lynn Fitzpatrick, Patricia M. Takahara, Ryan Shofnos, Flora Amwayi, Gilberto Chona, William C. Sandberg, William H. Ryder, Frederick D. Baker, James P. Lavine, Jim Schmicker, Richard S. Livingston, Britton Ward, Ryan Shofnos, Allison Kunz, Jeffrey Marqusee, Donald Chu, Thomas Schneider, Robert E. Terry, William Buckner, Candice Buckner and Carlos Renjifo

Several Maryland leaders have provided responses to this call to action. Read them here.

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