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My Turn: Awaiting the flood

  • A woman uses a kayak to access her flooded home on Feb. 7 in Felton, Calif. AP



For the Monitor
Saturday, February 25, 2017

In 1968, Paul Erlich wrote The Population Bomb, in which he says population control is where we begin, and he advocated for one child per family. Yeah, good luck with that. We continue to breed like rabbits.

And now there’s global warming: Carbon emissions are polluting the air we breathe, causing fish and other marine organisms to die off.

Witness: The polar ice caps are melting, icebergs are calving quicker, stranding polar bears on ice floes. The Amazon rain forest, source of new medicines, is losing species. A decade ago, in a walk in our woods, there were so many red newts you had to be careful not to step on them. Now they are rare, and when we see one on our walks up the road, we help it get off the road so it doesn’t get squashed.

We have a little 6-by-8 screen house just into the woods behind our house. I used to sleep out there, summers, in the early ’90s. I fell asleep to the sound of peepers and bullfrogs and woke to all manner of birdsong.

My favorite was the white-throated sparrow: “Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody.”

From that screen house, I watched otters in the brook that feeds the swamp, ducks in pools, deer racing chest-high through the swamp, even a bear cub at the bottom of the slope. And every single morning there was a blue heron fishing in the farthest pool across the swamp.

Now, hardly any birdsong, never any deer running across the swamp, certainly no otters, ducks or even a blue heron. In fact, even in early spring there isn’t a single pool out there.

The swamp house looks out on Blue Job Mountain, one of the mountains in the Blue Hills range. There used to be untouched stone walls up there, but now avid “hikers” who have discovered “our” little mountain have built cairns atop it, using stones from the walls.

The woods used to be full of fresh moose scat. No more.

New Hampshire is in drought. California is getting torrential rains, forcing 200,000 people from their homes as a huge dam is in trouble. Tornadoes are more frequent.

Seas are rising, and Boston, like Venice, is now planning to build a sea wall to protect Boston Harbor. Parts of Manhattan will be flooded, as will the Cape Cod Islands, and any other country with coastlines, including the coastlines of Maine and of our beloved New Hampshire.

And now Scott Pruitt is head of the EPA. The trouble is, he has ties to the polluting petroleum industry – yeah, that stuff that runs our cars and heats our homes.

We have a Subaru that gets a respectable 30 miles a gallon, and we do very little running around, using the thing to get to the supermarket and doctors appointments.

But us, where we live? Hah! Not to worry.

We are up 860 feet above sea level.

We have our own well and septic system. That means we’ll have enough water for us and the neighbors.

And with 70 acres, we’ll have enough firewood for the kitchen wood stove and for all the other wood stoves along the road.

Oh, and on the rest of the 70 acres, we’ll have plenty of room to grow the praties and other vegetables for us, the neighbors, and any and all takers, for free, at the end of the driveway.

And as the rising water reaches us, if we need to make a little coin, we can always open a kayak-rental business.

(Jane Wingate lives in Strafford County. Her website is janewingate.com.)