College of the Atlantic Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station on Mount Desert Rock is used b...College of the Atlantic Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station on Mount Desert Rock is used by COA researchers as a launching point to research climate change and other ecological issues in the Gulf of Maine.

When I went to college, I couldn’t decide between studying sociology and social work, or the environment. So, I majored in both to see where it took me.

I was drawn to the field of aging and never looked back. The environment remains a second love – an ongoing source of solace and amazement.

What I didn’t know was the two fields would collide, and unfortunately, not in a good way.

Climate change is impacting the older population and future generations. The intensity of concern is driven by two issues: the speed of change and the vulnerability of the older population.

Visiting Alaska, the increased speed of glacier melt is evident, even startling. The frequent calving of ice into bays and dated trail markers showing inland shrinkage of glaciers confirms unprecedented speed of warming, melting and ice flow.

Trees grow on 30 to 40 degree slants because the permafrost they grow on is melting and shifting their root systems “en masse” – a change never seen before.

These changes often feel distant, comparable in geologic time and not relevant, a false notion. The speed of change sunk home recently while planning a vacation to the Gulf of Maine: that northern strip of New England coast from Cape Anne, just north of Boston, to the northern tip of Maine and southern tip of Nova Scotia.

College of the Atlantic professor John Anderson points out the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than any similar body of water in the world. Its “… temperature had been rising by 1 degree Celsius every 40 years; it’s now warming up 1 degree every 4 years.”

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