New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
November Crickets sound a warning
Congress should pass global warming bill
By Eric Orf
For the Monitor
November 16. 2007 12:35AM
Not long ago, on the eve of November, I stepped outside my Epsom home into a warm fall night. The crickets called loudly - and they gave me a cold chill. "Why are the crickets calling in November?" I wondered.
I have lived in New Hampshire for 45 years and was a wildlife biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department for more than three decades until I retired in June. It was my job to sense the balance of nature in the Granite State all those years. I have never before heard crickets in November.
Nature is losing its balance in New Hampshire, thanks to global warming. During the 1980s a killing frost that killed off not only the plants in my garden but the crickets too came in September. A decade later, it was generally in early to mid-October that the insects were silenced. But this year, the real killing frost did not come at my house until early November. Global warming is changing the fall I so dearly love.
It is not just the crickets that I have watched change over the past two decades but also the Suncook River, which lays in full view out my kitchen window. I moved into my home overlooking the river in 1979. Back then, the river was used as a snow machine trail much of the winter. By the early 1990s the ice was too thin all winter for such use, but I could still walk on it safely. This is not so anymore. In fact, the past two winters a large section of the river just above my home has stayed open all winter long. I am witnessing first hand the results of global warming.
And there's more. Ducks not migrating. Frogs hopping about last year in November. Bear-in-bird-feeder complaints to the Fish and Game Department all year roun. No ice fishing last winter until January. My watchful list of global warming effects continues to mount each passing year.
I am not alone in my concerns. A recent poll conducted by the National Wildlife Federation of New Hampshire hunters and anglers shows that 66 percent believe global warming is an urgent problem requiring immediate action, and more than half, 57 percent, believe the United States is doing too little to address the issue. These same sportsmen want candidates who will act decisively to address global warming, as do I. New Hampshire sportsmen want quick action at the federal level on global warming.
Fortunately, there is a bill moving through Congress that has real potential. America's Climate Security Act of 2007, co-sponsored by Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican John Warner of Virginia recently made it over its first hurdle by passing a Senate subcommittee. This is a strong bill that deals with the root cause of global warming - greenhouse gas emissions - at the scale needed to deal credibly with the issue and put the United States in a leadership role globally. The bill requires large polluters such as power plants and oil refineries to collectively cut their greenhouse gas emissions every year, starting in 2012, at a pace scientists say is needed to avoid catastrophic climate changes. It sets the pace for reductions at about 2 percent per year, cutting emissions from these sources to 15 percent below current levels by the year 2020, and 70 percent below current levels by 2050.
The bill is moving quickly toward a historic vote on the Senate floor. New Hampshire sportsmen will be looking to Sens. Gregg and Sununu to support this critical piece of legislation. Additionally, we will evaluate the members of Congress running for president by how they vote on this bill.
The urgency of taking action to confront global warming today cannot be overstated, and this bill is an important first step.
If the candidates did not hear the crickets of November, they will surely hear from us come election time.
(Eric Orff is a recently retired wildlife biologist for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.)
A carbon copy of last year?
Winter arrived this week, then left us.