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Hello All,

I live in Maine the very northeast of the US bordering on New Brunswick and Quebec in Canada and the Atlantic Ocean.

At least 12 generations of my ancestors have lived here mostly supported through farming and fishing until recent generations.

From that heritage I have a great knowledge of our local environment.  I know nearly everything that grows or lives above the ground and much that lives under the earth and sea as well.

The harmful change to the natural world is obvious and moving quickly.

It is hard to separate the effects of climate change from the overall patterns of over-consumption that are all causing massive destruction.  Like everything in the natural world they are related.

I will try to stick to the climate change part of that damage.

And I will try to make it a list without much explanation so that it is not too long.

The part of the ocean that we border is called the Gulf of Maine.  It is now one of the fastest warming parts of the ocean in the world.

Some effects: 

1. Species of fish are moving north into the Gulf of Maine while other fish are being overfished..  Puffins a colorful small seabird were attempting to feed their young the invasive Butterfish instead of herring and sea lance but they are too large for the young to eat so there was increased mortality among the chicks.

2. The invasive green crab (brought in the 1600’s from Europe) is breeding out of control and threatening the native soft shell crabs an important part of the local economy.

3.  Warming waters to our south have killed off lobsters, another very large part of our economy.  That could happen here with the current trends.

4.  The sea ice no longer forms between our continent of North America and Greenland. This has changed weather patterns.  Weather systems have tended to slow and anchor north of our area rather than moving eastward, which has led to more prolonged and heavier rains.

5.  Big changes in the jet stream have brought wider and more sudden extremes of weather.  Fruit trees may flower a month ahead of schedule and then get culled by a sudden frost before they get pollinated, reducing crops by as much as 80%.  My success in grafting has dropped some years from nearly 90% to 10 to 30%.

6.  Warmer temperatures allow invasive plants to move in.  The multiflora rose forms a beautiful large hedge but is very invasive on agricultural areas.  It dies at -20F, which for a long time kept it out of Maine.  But now it thrives since much of the state no longer sees those cold temperatures.  It is spread by migrating birds who eat the berries and excrete them as they move north.

A huge area of concern that is not talked about is not specifically related to climate change but to the patterns of consumption that cause it:

World trade brings new insects, weeds, shrubs and trees that become invasive having no natural predators. These have the power to make a very large short-range impact on the environment.  One insect brought from Asia in wooden pallets that goods were packed on could kill all of the leafy trees on the North American Continent.  Another similar insect is quite possibly going to kill off all of the Ash trees.

The American Chestnut once made up about 40% of the forest of Eastern North America and it is now almost extinct.  It is believed that that also contributed to the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.

There needs to be a global policy on trade, not from an economic point of view, but from an ecological point of view.  Right now global trade is spreading organisms, including human pathogens, all over the world to places where there are no indigenous ways to stop their spread.

The North Atlantic Right Whale is on the path to extinction.  Preventable risks are collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing line.  The “ensonification” of the ocean that comes from increased shipping is creating a noisy ocean, particularly low frequency sounds which whales use to communicate.  It is believed to interfere in their ability to find each other and to reproduce.  Births are plummeting.

There is a misguided move by environmentalist to put floating windmills in the Guif of Maine.  This is in the path of millions of migrating birds.  They also create low frequency noise.  

Climate change is allowing some of these organisms into move into areas where they never have been before.

Late Blight on tomatoes (which is the same blight that caused the Irish Potato Famine) has now spread north into Maine and makes it nearly impossible to have a crop without covering it with a roof or using harmful chemical sprays.

There is much more.  What economists and politicians celebrate as “economic growth” is a curse.  I encourage everyone to make every effort to reduce your consumption as fast and as much as you can.  I know it is not simple.  We are addicted.

The good news is that we can stop the pace of environmental destruction.


Dan Nickerson

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00