Climate change: whether you accept it or not, it's happening. The world is changing, and we are living the change. There are more refugees due to climate change than there are refugees from war-torn countries. Entire islands are going underwater. Fish and marine wildlife are suffering and dying or moving. Industry such as lobster fishing is running dry in places like Connecticut. There are truly serious issues happening here. When I was growing up back in the 80s and 90s we had very predictable weather patterns. During winters we would have a few great snow falls, a little sleet and rain throughout the course of the winter. We had predictable cold spells and then things would warm up at the end of February and beginning of March. The snow would melt, temps would hit 45, 50, then 65 into April. The rains would come in March and April, bringing morning fog, budding trees and greening grass. By April 15 we were planting corn and a week later the corn is sprouting. The days were warmer, the nights would drop back into the 40s. By May, the temperatures were in the 70s, June we have low to mid 80s, July would always hit the 90s maybe once a year we have 100° day. August we had muggy, hot days and thunderstorms a few afternoons a week. Over the course of these few months we would have rain once a week at least sometimes twice a week and then a nice warm spell afterwards. Plants grew uniformly, they grew well. We had low disease because the plants could dry out after rain because it would warm up. The farm season wound down in September and that was that. These days, we run into cooler spring temps which slow plant growth and development. It increases disease early on in the season which increases our losses, decreases our revenues and increases consumer costs. The weather patterns have changed our diseases patterns significantly. We have had early blight in late blight during unseasonable times as well as other issues. We have had flooding like never before which has devastated entire seasons and spread disease into our soils as water sweeps across contaminated farmland into what was pure and clean soil.
Springtime is cooler and more damp which makes planting difficult. We had snow on the ground in the April one year, which made planting impossible until May. Soil temperatures have to reach a certain point in order to be able to put a seed in the ground and to have it thrive. New England varieties of seeds (specific to our temp. Zone) are hardy at a certain soil temperature but not below that. Having snow on the ground
for such an extended period of time doesn't enable the soil to warm to the temperature which the seeds can grow and thrive.
Our summers are hotter and dryer which has stunted the growth of a lot of our plants it's changed the texture of fruits and vegetables and decreased yield in many cases. Hot, dry weather is ideal for hot peppers because it increases the flavor and berries as well - however, it slows the growth and development of most other plants and decreases yield overall. Many of us farmers do not have adequate irrigation methods and we rely upon the rainfall. In some cases we rely upon the water level of the river to keep the root zone cool, however given the mechanical manipulation of the water levels of the river and in the lack of rainfall throughout the summer, water levels are dramatically decreased and not helping us very much.
With all of these changes in weather, our seasons start later and and end later. However, the consumer hasn't picked up on that yet. So, with early losses due to cooler weather, slower growing time, more disease and lack of consumer recognition for an extended growing season, farmers in New England are getting hit hard by climate change.
I will have tomatoes into October. I will have squash, eggplant, peppers, winter squash, pumpkins, corn all into October but the customer base doesn't yet recognize that and their seasonal pattern is still focused around the shook year and not reality.
Regarding invasive species and their impact on habitat devastation and environmental impact, the purple loose strife causes quite a problem in wetlands and having worked with the DEEP in Connecticut eradicating a lot of these non-native invasive plant species, (which I felt was quite fruitless in the manner in which were doing it) I came to notice how damaging some of these plants truly are. However, I also noticed that many insect species have begun to thrive on the purple loosestrife and knotweed. I'm good friends with a well-known beekeeper in New England and his bees love the purple loosestrife. It produces a very wonderful fragrant, strong honey. The Japanese knotweed I've noticed encroaching upon all of our fields and it is hard to eradicate, however, I noticed the Monarch butterflies and other butterflies flocking to it and and again the bees really do this thrive on the pollen of this plant as well. Sadly, we live in a time where so many people have killed off native plant species like Goldenrod, Buttercups, dandelion, wild aster, clover, wild strawberries, wild roses and other wonderful plants. Plant which these insects and wildlife depended upon. These are beautiful and native plants which insects and wildlife thrive upon. Unfortunately, people think they need lush lawns and to have a manicured landscape. That takes pesticides, herbicide and whatever else your lawn care specialist decides you need. All of that is a factor in water quality, air quality, insect and wildlife proliferation. Don't blame big ag. and industrialization for everything- our own back yards are just as damaging to habitats and global climate.
Human beings travel more than we used to. We are shipping things in and out of the out of country daily. People flying in and out of the country and crossing state borders daily. They bring back insects, they bring back seeds, and many times, accidentally. This all contributes to the decline of our natural habitat and environment which is part of the snowball effect of climate change. When our environment changes, everything changes with it.