Take Heed of Looming Climate-Chaos Signs

It was a peculiar summer to say the least.

A harbinger? Who knows? Time will tell.

On a recent daybreak walk over the bridge spanning Hinsdale Brook behind my home, finally an audible flow. Ah! Sweet music. Hadn’t heard it for some time.

About a quarter mile up Green River Road, I stopped to listen for Punch Brook where it flows under Green River Road. Not so much as a muted trickle or muffled gurgle, not a slim glint of flow through dense green cover. Heavy overnight rain had produced no discernable effect.

Hmmm? Troubling. Many strong springs feed it.

The dawn silence and walking motion set my wheels astir. I started pondering what a summer drought like the one we just endured means to our threatened Eastern brook trout populations. At least, to what’s left of them. How many die under such stressful conditions? They need cold water. If their brooks are not connected to a large, deep impoundment for summer refuge, what are their options?

My shaded backyard brook is fed by prolific upland springs from the western hills of East Shelburne and East Colrain. It’s hard to imagine many trout surviving in that stream this summer. Where could they go? To the warm, shallow Green River? The larger, deeper Deerfield? The Connecticut? Well, maybe some could find a gushing spring-hole or deep, dark pool cold enough to ensure survival. But any way you cut it, their choices were few, mortality high.

Honestly, it’s been decades since I last explored the old brook-trout streams I knew as a boy – the ones where I learned to bait a hook and present the offering in a natural dead-drift to feeding trout. Those shaded, buggy mountain streams held reproductive populations of sparkling, speckled, steel-blue, five- to seven-inch native trout we called squaretails.

We’d fish early and return home with creelsful of fingerling trout, packed with streamside moss and ferns, for tasty breakfasts. Battered in a scrambled-egg/flour/breadcrumb mix, we’d fry the trout in sizzling bacon fat in a Griswold skillet. Homefries and eggs or pancakes were prepared on an adjacent cast-iron griddle. Now that’s an old New England breakfast for you – one I haven’t prepared since my boys were young.

Now the question is, how many of those dear mountain streams still hold brookies? Then, even more important, how many? Last I heard they were endangered by acid rain. That was at least 40 years ago. Now the planet is warming, the icecaps melting. Surely the peril hasn’t abated.

It was hard not to notice the brown lawns we all passed this summer in our fertile valley. They were the rule, not the exception. All I can say is that I have mowed lawns here for nearly 60 years and have never experienced anything like it. My mowing routine for more than a month was limited to a few passes along the edges and under shade trees. The rest of my lawn, cut high at just under four inches, was brown and noticeably crunchy underfoot, the soil underneath parched hard and displaying cracks on sunbaked openings. It was surreal. Right out of Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl.

One must wonder how long it’ll be before we’re living in terror of wildfires, without the security of fire insurance denied to homeowners in high-risk areas. Do you really think it can’t happen here? Don’t be so sure. Insurance companies don’t flourish by rolling the dice. Ask Californians, now victims of circumstance and unwilling canaries in the coal mine. We’re cooking the planet and practicing cash-crop forestry that robs the forests of large, old-growth carbon sequesters. To make matters worse, loggers leave behind messy tops that in dry conditions create tinderboxes on the forest floor. It’s a recipe for disaster – one that’s on display in flame and fury out west.

Don’t think it can’t happen here. The stage is set.

Yes, it’s true that Eastern forest dynamics are different than those out west. But how long can we count on that temporary reality as our climate gets hotter and drier and our snowfall diminishes? It’s not too early to start thinking about this stuff. In fact, many doomsayers with impressive academic credentials believe it’s already too late.

Equally frightening is a looming worldwide drinking-water crisis. Experts have for decades been warning us that water is going to become a scarce, valuable commodity worth fighting for. Those who doubt it and believe that, like climate change, it’s nothing but sensational hooey propagated by tree-hugging alarmists and Antifa ecoterrorists, should change their outlook. The day of reckoning is approaching and, for those willing to believe what they see, accelerating toward climate Armageddon.

Here in the Happy Valley, we take good drinking water for granted. Don’t be deceived by that comfort zone. Have you seen the massive Western reservoirs now reduced to puddles, exposing stolen cars and the skeletal remains of murder victims? How long before we’re facing annual summer water restrictions as our own reservoirs shrink and our population grows?

What’ll we do when there’s not enough water to go around? Drink “purified” water from the industrial and wastewater dump known as the Connecticut River? Yuck! Can you imagine? Reduced to that, we’d all die of horrible cancers.

If you want to know where we’re headed, take heed of the mournful blues being sung by our Eastern brook trout. The message is clear: there’s trouble on the horizon.

 

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