Climate Change 101

There is broad agreement in the scientific community that climate* change is real, happening now, and that it poses risk to life as we live it today. But how does it work and what is really happening in our region? The resources below are organized into three categories: climate change basics, expected impacts in Maine, and climate change around the globe. 

This is a living collection of resources. If you know of materials or links you’d like to see on this page, please let us know by contacting us at

*Climate versus weather: Climate and weather both refer to atmospheric conditions, but there is a key difference. “Weather” refers to short term events or conditions. “Climate” refers to the longer term average of atmospheric conditions, practically speaking, the 30 year average of weather.


Climate Change Basics

Watch Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s PBS Global Weirding series

Just how long have we known about climate change anyways?
Learn some surprising things about the history of climate change science.

All the extreme weather we've had lately isn't anything new, right?
Learn the key differences between climate change and weather, and learn more about why scientists are concerned.

I Live in the Eastern US - Does Climate Change Matter to Me?
Climate change will not impact all regions of the globe in the same ways. Learn how climate change is expected to impact the East coast of the U.S.

Read an illustrated overview of the science of climate change

The Climate Change 101: climate science basics document presents a short and clear explanation of the mechanisms of climate change and its impacts, with links for more information. Created by the Public Health Institute’s Center for Climate Change and Health, it emphasizes the ways that climate change impacts human health.

Climate Change in Maine and Our Region

Maine Won’t Wait: A four-year plan for climate action

Maine Won’t Wait: A four-year plan for climate action was written by the Maine Climate Council, a group of scientists, industry leaders, local and state officials, and citizens. The plan presents the urgency and opportunity of climate change in Maine to both protect the character of Maine and create economic activity and lays out steps to take to dramatically reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientific Assessment of Climate Change and Its Effects in Maine

The Scientific Assessment of Climate Change and Its Effects in Maine report was created by the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Maine Climate Council to inform the work of the Council on the climate action plan. This report summarizes how climate change has already impacted our state and how it may continue to do so.

Maine's Climate Future 2020 update

Maine’s Climate Future - 2020 update is the latest in a regular series of reports by University of Maine scientists, which details the impacts of changing climate on habitats and industries in Maine, as well as the rate of change that is being observed. This report and its previous issues informed the Scientific Assessment of Climate Change and Its Effects in Maine referenced above.

Coastal community impacts

The Town of Vinalhaven and the Island Institute are working together to respond to the threat of sea-level change in the island. Learn more about their work in this short video.

Maine-based research organizations like the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Climate Center offer information and programs to help individuals, fishing communities, and municipalities to understand and adapt to climate impacts including sea level rise.

Advanced Resources

Fourth National Climate Assessment

The Fourth National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program present climate information in accessible, accurate, up-to-date terms, not to mention thorough.  We suggest beginning with:

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

The Climate Change: Evidence and Causes report from the National Academies of the United States and The Royal Society of the United Kingdom offers a very approachable summary of our current understanding of climate science.

What We Know Initiative

The What We Know initiative from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)  has done a great job communicating climate science and responses; the initiative has evolved into two related efforts: What We Know and How We Respond. There’s even a short video on this work.

Resources in the Belfast Free Library Collection

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
All We Can Save illuminates the expertise and insights of dozens of diverse women leading on climate in the United States—scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, wonks, and designers, across generations, geographies, and race—and aims to advance a more representative, nuanced, and solution-oriented public conversation on the climate crisis. These women offer a spectrum of ideas and insights for how we can rapidly, radically reshape society.

If you know other great resources of climate change understanding, please let us know! Send a message to