Water Closet for January 8, 2016
[pullquote]”Alas our wastes including excess heat, increasing carbon dioxide, micro balls of plastic, growth hormones, pesticides, and a thousand other artificial substances are making Earths Ocean and its creatures sick.”[/pullquote]Cape Ann butts its rocky head out into the North Atlantic. Actually, since the last continental glacier has been melting, the ocean has risen around it. From its eastern shore local landlubbers can get their earliest view of sunrises peeping above the ocean’s horizon. One old Closeteer and his late wife visited the coast almost every New Years Day for half a century to greet the new year. His wife’s father who had viewed the year’s first sunrise from a mountain top in Japan inspired their custom here. The Closeteer and some family members continued the tradition last Friday.
A half century ago the old man’s wife and infant daughter had come here with him from Japan flying easterly across the Pacific. While waiting for the sun on Cape Ann on New Years Day morning 2016 another arrival four centuries earlier came to mind. That one came from the east, as the sun appears to come. The English vessel Arabella and accompanying ships led by newly elected Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay Colony brought Puritans to Salem, formerly Naumkeag. The fleet’s first stop since sailing from England was in June 1630 at what became “Gloucester” Harbor. The ill fed passengers were allowed ashore where they dined for the first time in weeks, while not rolling and yawing aboard their dirty ships, on fresh strawberries in green fields. From those fields, kept open by Indians’ annual fires they sailed a few miles further west and joined Roger Conant’s and John Endicott’s struggling new town settled four years before without local authority. Its name because of internal strife and suffering was changed from Naumkeag to Salem meaning peace. Almost all the Naumkeags had died in the previous decade from Old World diseases. Oceans have shores where much of the world’s human history has taken place.
The shores of much of Japan are high and rocky like those of Cape Ann and most of this continent’s edges from Nahant on north past Newfoundland. The water that washes these shores makes its way without land barriers and is essentially one body of water. If we call this continuous ocean simply Earths Ocean then all coastal lands are truly united. Indeed, one ocean might be a more useful way to look at our planet of which three quarters are covered with salt water subject to changes in temperature, pH, pollutions, and exploitation. We who live on land nearby might well start each day looking out at Earths Ocean’s waters and worrying. They are becoming warmer, and the pH lower, more acid, due to increases in carbon dioxide. Even slight differences in temperature and pH can have large effects on organisms. Animals with limestone shells are affected. In many places corals, mollusks, and, maybe even arthropods, such as, shrimps, crabs, and lobsters, are showing signs of unhealthy shell formation. How this will affect life on land is not yet determined but there is considerable cause for worry. Some marine biologists estimate that 40% of the world’s corals are dead or very sick. El Nino, a huge warm blooded male child, born of the central and eastern Pacific, who visits on average every five years, is now affecting weather and water conditions worldwide. Like most rambunctious children, El Nino and La Nina, the latter a cooling climate oscillation, are not fully understood. Fortunately for us all climatologists and other scientists look to the oceans and do more than worry. They carry on research and plead for wiser stewardship. We are not paying enough attention to what they are finding and reporting. Here in our present important presidential campaigns the environment has been all but ignored.
Most people, other than sailors and fisher folks, live on land. Many predictions say that soon there will be less land, less ice, and more ocean with fewer coral reefs and mangroves to protect coastal lands in the tropics. Here our all important barrier beaches and salt marshes may be gone by the end of the century.
We started with a somewhat sentimental visit to the ocean hugging Cape Ann. The health of her waters is in question, and her years as we’ve known our ocean may be numbered. Let us all visit now and then to smell, feel, and listen to this much loved patient. If we go back far enough “Earths Ocean” is where we animals got our start, no wonder humans are drawn there. Alas our wastes including excess heat, increasing carbon dioxide, micro balls of plastic, growth hormones, pesticides, and a thousand other artificial substances are making Earths Ocean and its creatures sick. There may come a time when we no longer want to visit our ancestral home even to watch the Sun rise.
_______________________________________________________________________________WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION
FOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD
|Precipitation Data* for Month of:||Oct||Nov||Dec||Jan|
|30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches||4.40||4.55||4.12||3.40|
|2015/2016 Central Watershed Actual||3.11||2.49||5.5**||1.6** as of Jan 4|
Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For Jan 4, 2016 Normal . . . 60 CFS Current Rate . . . 27 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru Nov..
**Middleton Stream Team is source of actual precipitation data for Dec and Jan.
Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.
THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: www.middletonstreamteam.org or <MSTMiddletonMA@gmail.com> or (978) 777-4584