Observations on climate change in East Wareham

Jan 22, 2019

To the Editor:

For the past 20 years we have lived on a freshwater pond that is part of a fairly healthy river system, by current standards. It sustains the massive cranberry bogs both up and downriver. It is a favorite place for bass fisherman, swimmers and kayakers. We’ve especially enjoyed watching the seasonal visits by various types of wildlife. It is a nature-lover’s paradise.

Increasingly, though, we have seen alarming changes when we look out our window. First, in the spring  we would see the waters at the shore roiling with activity when the herring and alewife returned to the river for their annual spawning. It was entertaining and affirming to rely on this spectacle each year. But now we notice that the waters just simmer a little when churned by the diminished numbers of spawning fish. Although multiple herring runs help them circumvent the series of dams along the way, their reduced population is evidence of climate change. Bird watching was our second source of pleasure. Scores of birds take refuge in the trees and shrubs, feast on nectar and seeds in the gardens, and peck at the seed and suet we put out. We get excited when we can identify ones that are new to us, like Carolina wrens, red bellied woodpeckers and loons. It’s delightful to see them, but disturbing to know that their presence reminds us of their vulnerabilities to climate change. Habitats are changing. The loons, for example, are expected to lose 56 percent of their current summer range by 2080. And, finally, a third example of our dismay was the change in the mayfly population. These fragile creatures would live for a day, take to the air and we’d see a dozen or more clinging to our window screens twenty years ago. They are a food source for the bass and other fish that live in the pond. During the whole of this past summer we saw exactly one mayfly.

So, the point of my ramblings is to share with other nature-lovers and stewards of the earth this critical  message that these “canaries in the coal mine” are giving us: we need to do something before it’s too late! Be a part of the change by joining others who want to encourage our lawmakers to take rapid, effective, sensible steps in a bipartisan way to address environmental changes. There are bills being introduced both on both federal and state levels. Lend your voice!

Milly Burrows

East Wareham