LTE: Climate change makes an Independence Day appearance

Photo by Sam Deeb

To the editor:


For the past 40 years, my husband and I have viewed the Fourth of July fireworks from two vantage points: Fort Sewall in the days when the fireworks were set off on the Causeway, and Fountain Park when the fireworks switched locations to a barge at the mouth of the Marblehead Harbor. 

Tuesday, in the evening hours approaching the start-time of 9:15 p.m., the town was filled with the joy of people moving toward their viewing destinations. The whole town was alive with locals and visitors in the know. The 100 or so people of all ages gathered at Fountain Park were in a festive mood — families together, kids laughing and playing with sparklers, excitement building for the fantastic fireworks display. 

No one was in a hurry. No one cared that the display began 15 minutes late. We all were just enjoying the local scenery. But finally, “Boom, boom, boom” — the opening fireworks sounded and all eyes turned toward the sky. A moment of disbelief and shock — nothing! “Boom, boom, boom” again. And again, nothing. 

Everyone broke out in laughter. There was sound, but no light. The fog wafted up from the water below. It was so thick, you could barely make out anything — not the boats in the harbor, nor the rosy afterglow of the ring of lights around it. 

“Boom, boom, boom.” More nothing. More laughter and disbelief. 

After many minutes had passed, you could see the faintest glimpse of sparkling light. One or two fireworks got up high enough, or were set off at a moment of parting fog. 

The grand finale was particularly hilarious. “Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom boom…” on and on. One could see a pale reflection of what we used to know to be true. So dim, you weren’t sure it was real. 

Did people realize that this was the first, or if not the first, the most obvious of July Fourths that our town was affected by climate change?; the fires in Canada, the air quality, the low-to-no visibility of what is immediately in front of you. 

Recall that twice in June and once so far in July, the air-quality index has increased to dangerous levels. With it, visibility has decreased and what are normally sunny, blue-skies summer days and clear nights are now overcast skies, or, in the case of the Marblehead fireworks, invisible light displays.

A rule of thumb regarding climate change: for every drought, a downpour; dry places get dryer; wet places get wetter.  

Last night we saw only the barest glimpses of fireworks, but it rained down the truth of climate change. Privileged as we are, we all lived the spirit of July Fourth as if there were no tomorrow.



Susan Murcott