A postscript to “Letter from Maine”

More Info
By Saturday, Oct 8 Environment  1 Comment
The Maine coast overlooking the Gulf of Maine.

On August 23, two days after The Berkshire Edge published my “Letter from Maine,” which told of the rapid warming of the Gulf of Maine and its effects on marine life, the Portland Herald ran an article headlined “Puffin chicks in Gulf of Maine’s largest colony starve to death at record rate.” (The piece was written by Herald staff reporter Colin Woodard, author of a six-part 2015 series that appeared under the heading “Mayday: Gulf of Maine in Distress.”)

PUffins perched on a rocky island off the coast of Maine.

PUffins perched on a rocky island off the coast of Maine.

On August 28, the Herald published an article by AP reporter Patrick Whittle headlined “Mussels Disappearing From New England Waters.” The piece summed up the findings of a study by marine ecologists at the University of California at Irvine: they found that, whereas wild blue mussels formerly covered up to two thirds of the Gulf’s intertidal zone, they now cover less than 15 percent.

Meanwhile, from friends in Iceland I received reports on that country’s threatened puffin population. A Google search brought up an article headlined “Iceland’s Seabird Colonies Are Vanishing, With ‘Massive’ Chick Deaths,” written by Cheryl Katz of Environmental Health News, as published by National Geographic. The subhead read: “Climate and ocean changes blamed for huge losses of puffins, kittiwakes, and terns.”

Such news is enough to bring a bird lover to tears — or to drive one to demand answers or action from one’s representatives. One might start by checking out whether your senator or representative supported funding under the Omnibus Appropriations Act designed to keep the federal government running until September 30, 2016. The culpable bill which was part of that package — HR 2578 — awarded NASA’s planetary science division $1.63 billion, but gave NOAA, which deals with earthly matters, a mere $58 million for climate research and only $10 million for ocean acidification research – a third of the requested amount.

The appropriations bill was sponsored by Texas Republican John Culberson, who has voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, has voted no on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution, and has said he believes that a higher power has put life on other worlds and he wants to find it on his watch. One of Culberson’s staunchest supporters is fellow Houstonite Brian Babin, whose website describes him as “the proud Representative of Johnson Space Center,” which is located in his district.

The disparity in amounts allotted to the two agencies makes one wonder if our elected representatives have given up on planet Earth. Or is this, perhaps, a case of American exceptionalism at its most extreme: we will pursue our extravagant space dreams while the rest of the world can go hang. Captain Ahab would applaud.

Return Home

Read More from

One Comment   Add Comment

  1. Morgan Bulkeley says:

    Hi Jon, Thanks very much for this voice from the wilderness, our planet. So many facts bear out the declining health of our air, water and earth, while many politicians refuse to hear facts, calling instead for getting rid of regulations. What a horrible gift they are offering the next generations– most depressing, in fact, insane.

What's your opinion?

We welcome your comments and appreciate your respect for others. We kindly ask you to keep your comments as civil and focused as possible. If this is your first time leaving a comment on our website we will send you an email confirmation to validate your identity.

Joan H. Brown, 82, of Monterey

Sunday, May 21 - She had the opportunity to be the First Congregational Church Secretary and held that position until her retirement.  

A. Lydia Barenski, 89, of Lee

Saturday, May 20 - Besides being known as a wonderful baker, Lydia enjoyed crocheting, was a proud member of the Prospect Street Club Girls, the Red Hat Society and an active member of St. Mary’s Parish.

Redevelopment resumes at elevated Methodist church

Friday, May 19 - Great Barrington — The “flying church,” as the former United Methodist Church building on Main Street across from Rite Aid has come to be known, is coming back to earth. Construction on the Main Street historic structure is underway again. “I’ve been waiting all winter for this,” declared Paul Joffe of GB Historic Preservation LLC, […]

Charles Larson, Sr., 83, of Lee

Wednesday, May 17 - Chuck was known for his sense of humor, the ability to fix anything, his love of history, railroads and motorcycles.

Birth announcements

Wednesday, May 17 - Within the past week, two births at Fairview Hospital's Family Birthplace: A boy, Mason Stoddard, and girl, Madison Alaina Morey.