The dwindling summer ice of the Arctic, which global warming deniers until recently claimed wasn't melting more extensively than in the past, could be a good thing for Maine, according to Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who spoke
at a transportation conference Thursday:
“Everybody looks at the negative effects of global warming, but with the ice melting, the Northern Passage has opened up,” he said. “So maybe, instead of being at the end of the pipeline, we’re now at the beginning of a new pipeline.”
The Northeast Passage, also known as the northern sea route, is a maritime route through the Arctic Circle that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, providing a shortcut from the U.S. East Coast to Asia—and all the markets therein—that shaves 40 percent off the distance of the traditional route through the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal.
He also touted the pact between Maine and a shipping company headquartered in Iceland, whose president also has spoken glowingly of the opening of the Northwest Passage.
Credit where credit is due, I suppose. At least he admits the summer ice is melting more than previously. Back in 2010, LePage said he doesn't think global warming is a myth, but like many politicians trying to weasel-word their public statements on the crisis, he added: “I just don't know how severe it is and I'm not sure how much we as human beings contribute to it,” saying that “scientists are divided on it.”
And, just to prove how seriously he actually takes the issue, in June this year he vetoed a study designed to prepare residents and businesses in Maine for the risks they will face from climate-change. That study was meant to be follow-up to a study in 2010 under the previous administration: People and Nature Adapting to a Change in Climate: Changing Maine's Course. Gov. LePage shelved that study when he came into office.
In the wake of the governor's Thursday comments, Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running against LePage in 2014, released a statement pointing out that global warming is part of the reason for the collapse of Maine's shrimp industry. Warmer water has also led to an invasive species, green crabs, arriving to wipe out shellfish populations on the coast.
“Climate change is real, its effects are dangerous and threaten our economy," said Michaud. "We need to aggressively address climate change through investment in clean renewable energy, conservation and efficiency, and reduced dependence on fossil fuels."
Some people get it. Stupid ones don't.