Study Shows Maryland Workers Will Be Devastated By Climate Change

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Joe Uehlein, Labor Network for Sustainability - joeuehlein@mac.com, (202) 256-7848
Larissa Johnson, Maryland Climate Coalition - johnsonl@nwf.org, (603) 512-7313

Study Shows Maryland Workers Will Be Devastated By Climate Change

WASHINGTON - A study released today by the Labor Network for Sustainability, a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition, finds that Maryland workers are already facing serious consequences from climate change and will face worse consequences if greenhouse gases are not sharply and rapidly reduced.

While there have been many previous studies of the impact of global warming on Maryland, The Impact of Climate Change on Work and Working People in Maryland: A Guide for Working People, Organized Labor, and Climate Protection Advocates is the first to examine its impact on workers and unions.

Among the consequences the study reports:

Port workers: The fifty thousand jobs created by the Port of Baltimore and the 120,000 maritime jobs linked to the Port will be seriously affected by flooding and coastal erosion, which are likely to silt up navigation channels. Storms will interfere with docking. Access roads near ports will be vulnerable to flooding. Every maritime terminal will experience substantial flooding during Category III hurricanes. Each one per cent decrease in shipping at the Port of Baltimore between now and 2018 will result in a loss of more than 3,600 jobs.

Tourism and recreation workers: Visitors to Maryland, most of them on one-and-two-day trips, support 135,000 full-time-equivalent tourism jobs paying $3.8 billion in wages and salaries. By 2050, days hotter than 90 degrees F will triple to 90 days a year. 25 to 35 days will be hotter than 100 degrees F. Maryland tourism is sensitive to such extreme heat. If visitors canceled half of their trips on days over 100 degrees F, it would lead to loss of one-sixth of tourism revenues, approximately 22,500 jobs.

Recreation facilities that will be inundated by the three-and-a-half foot sea level rise expected by the end of the century include country clubs, golf courses, shopping malls, stadiums, and amusement parks. Hunting, fishing, wildlife-watching, and other environment-based activities result in about 20,000 jobs; a 20 percent reduction would lead to the loss of 4,000 jobs. Hurricane Sandy gave a foretaste of what is to come: Flooding in Ocean City, Maryland’s largest resort town, left many residents in shelters and caused sand displacement, debris, and damage to boardwalks and fishing piers.

Public sector workers: The effects of climate change in Maryland, from coastal flooding to heat waves, will increase pressures on budgets at every level of government. So will every reduced source of tax revenue, from closed beaches to reduced maritime activity. The impact of these budget pressures on working people in the public sector is likely to include extensive layoffs, permanent downsizings, further pressure on wages and benefits, speed-up, and deteriorating working conditions. Federal facilities that will be inundated by the 3.5 foot sea level rise expected by the end of this century include Patuxent Naval Air Station, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Naval Electronics Systems Center, Naval Academy Complex, the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, and the Naval Academy.

The study details additional impacts on healthcare workers, agricultural workers, and others, as well as the overall impacts of climate change on jobs and work for all working people in Maryland. Raising the state’s renewable energy standard to 40% will lead to substantial reduction in carbon emissions while creating thousands of new jobs in construction, manufacturing, and related industries. Expansion of wind energy and increasing the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings will create new green jobs.

The House Economic Matters Committee has a hearing tomorrow, February 27th where HB 1149: Public Utilities Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards will be discussed. This bill will double our current commitment to renewable energy to 40% renewable and will create thousands of jobs in Maryland. Based on the evidence, more than 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree that human-caused climate change is real. We’re already feeling its effects, which are impacting practically every facet of Maryland’s economy and society.

Joe Uehlein, Executive Director of the Labor Network for Sustainability, says, “This study shows that Maryland working people have an overwhelming interest in climate protection. It threatens their wellbeing, both at work and as part of the broader community. And climate protection offers the best potential way of meeting our pressing need for jobs.”

In addition to describing the current and future impact of climate change on working people in Maryland, it also reviews the state’s potential for climate-protecting jobs and ways to protect the jobs and wellbeing of workers and communities affected by climate protection policies.

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Labor Network for Sustainability is dedicated to engaging trade unions, workers and our allies to support economic, social, and environmental sustainability. LNS provides a community for those in the labor and sustainability movements and their allies who care about economic justice, ecology, and equality. Our members are helping labor become a force for advancing worker interests – while advancing the broader social good.

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