In New England, lobster frequently features prominently in 4th of July celebrations. In fact, we’re invited every year to an all-you-can-eat lobster fest at a friend’s house. I love lobster, and as long as you don’t eat it every day (think heavy metals), there is no reason not to enjoy it! However, climate change is taking aim at lobsters!
According to a new educational campaign put out by a diverse group of Maine businesses and educators, climate change is posing an immediate threat to the lobster population. Lobstermen are already noticing that lobsters are migrating north, to cooler waters. The Gulf of Maine is becoming warmer and more acidic, both of which are problems for the Maine lobsters. When the waters are warmer, if the lobsters don’t migrate fast enough, predators from warmer waters find them easy picking. The warmer water also causes business problems for the lobstermen. Last year the warm waters resulted in much earlier soft shell lobsters being available (and I’ve started to see them in the stores here already this year) and it caused the prices to drop so far the lobstermen couldn’t break even.
Acidic waters are a problem because the lobsters can’t form adequate shells. Scientists explain that the ocean waters absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), which some people think may reduce global warming, and this CO2 makes the water more acidic. Acidic water causes problems for wildlife like lobster and coral.
I know that I’ve thought from time to time, “Well, if one or two species die off, how horrible would that be? It’s not like cats or dogs will die off.” However, what if that one species was say, lobster? or shrimp? Or tuna? Then what would you think? And it’s not one species, lots of species are starting to disappear because of changes to their habitats.
You might say “What can I do about it? I’m just one person!” There are lots of graphics out there that will show you how lots of “1 persons” add up to some big changes. The lobster campaign is particularly supportive of President Obama’s effort to reduce pollution from dirty power plants. President Obama is directing the EPA to enact stricter pollution standards on new and existing power plants. We can support that effort.
We can also stop using power from power plants – by making our own. It used to be that a statement like that was radical, something that anti-government people would say. However, these days installing solar on your home is mainstream. You can read all about our journey to solar, from the spark of an idea all the way through having no charges on our electric bill. Our friends took it a step further. They not only installed a nice size solar array, then they bought an electric car, that they charge off the electricity they generate. This reduces their gasoline consumption as well!
In Massachusetts, the state is running a program to help lower the cost of residential solar, called Solarize Mass. Take a look and see if your community is participating in this program, because it helps reduce the cost of installing solar to a point where just about any homeowner with an appropriate roof can afford solar. We’re examples of not having an appropriate roof and still installing solar, but our installation isn’t quite as cost effective as most. The state has found that in communities that run this program the price of solar from all installers drops, and remains lower. This is one of the many reasons why Massachusetts has installed more than 281MW of solar as of July 2013.
One person can do a lot of things, and if you, and your friends, install solar, maybe we can help save the Maine lobsters.