Warm Winter Weather Weirds Out Massachusetts Wildlife (and me)!

Kayaking in NH by Carol Oldham
Kayaking in the fall of 2009, Lake Wentworth NH
Is anyone else creeped out by this weird weather? Today, I walked around Boston in a t-shirt, just the latest oddity in a series of strange weather days this year. I heard peepers and frogswhile I was hiking last weekend, and the daffodils bloomed a week ago. And while in some ways I love some of it (the no-jacket part), I also get that it is a real problem.

Many Northeastern game species are threatened by mild winters (also see NWF’s “Game Changers” report), not to mention that sportsmen and hikers are coming home with ticks on them or on their dog. A recent radio piece talked to the president of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, and he said they had to cancel all their ice fishing derbies this year.

Right here in Massachusetts, we are seeing impacts that are more severe, too: the Springfield tornadoes, the Halloween snowstorm and power outages, and increased flooding from extreme storms (100 year storms every few years) throughout the region.

There are economic impacts not only from cleaning up from those natural disasters, but also from things like a shorter and less sweet maple sugaring season from New York to Vermont, cancelled ice fishing derbies, and a bad ski year on the East Coast all add up to a drop in revenue for businesses not to mention a drop in fun.

For gardeners, the whole map has moved! Who knows when the last frost free date is in their area any more? I put corn and peas in at least a month too late last year, because I went by the zones on the packages. This year I am going in a month ahead, but who knows if some late freak storm will kill all my plants.

This kind of oddball winter weather is exactly what climate scientists say we can expect in a warming world. This is why it is more important than ever to stand up for clean air now. The more we cut down on mercury and industrial carbon pollution coming out of smokestacks, the better chance we have of being able to enjoy our fine New England winters as well as our beautiful New England summers, each in their own time.

Find out how you can help us fight for clean air and reduced emissions at www.nwf.org/cleanair.