January 11, 2007


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Concord Publisher's Note: Let it snow, please
By†Dan Szczesny

Recently, I spent a weekend hiking over some of Concordís public trails. Incredibly, the city has more than 20 trails in its system, of various sizes, shapes and lengths.

One of my favorites is the series of trails up and around Oak Hill, in the northeast corner of the city off Shaker Road. Oak Hill Trails has about seven miles of trails to offer.

Oak Hill itself, with its fire tower at the summit is actually in Loudon, but no matter. Itís not the White Mountains, but with several hundred feet of elevation gain and wide, well -maintained trails, Oak Hill is a pleasant getaway for hikers or cross-country skiers.

On this particular Saturday, I stopped briefly at a lookout called Swope Slope Vista and ate lunch while surveying the views the lookout offered into the valley below and on to Canterbury.

It couldnít have been a more pleasant...December day? Wait a minute. Whatís going on here?

Last Saturday, Concord clocked its warmest day in 130 years, 69 degrees. On the summit of Mount Washington, the temperature hit 43. It doesnít get that hot on the northeastís highest peak on most summer days.

I know Iíll just be accused of being an alarmist, but folks, this isnít supposed to happen. Itís easy to enjoy a 70-degree day in January. Iím guilty of it myself, making jokes about the benefits of global warming. But we are in the middle of a growing ecological disaster that needs to be taken seriously.

And before you start pointing to the heavy snow in Denver, keep in mind that part of the country is not supposed to get that much snow at this time of year either. Heavy, unseasonably warm moisture in the air around the plains states has caused those storms.

There are the obvious short-term effects as a warmer winter impacts businesses like towing shops and hardware stores. But the National Weather Service has tracked more than a four-degree warming of weather in the last three decades. That might not seem like a lot, but the difference between freezing and not freezing has dramatic effects on crops, vegetation and wildlife.

So, what can we do?

Well, nationally, the Bush administration is pushing nuclear energy and is backing legislation to streamline the regulatory process on building plants. While itís a well known fact that coal- and oil-fired electric plants are overheating the planet, nuclear energy is not the answer.

Statewide, wind power farms appear to have some momentum. Two wind power farms will be built up north around the Gorham-Berlin area. Legislators in this city need to begin studying other alternatives like hydro power and thermal energy.

On a local level, even small gestures can help. Youíd heard it all before ó recycle, conserve power, walk more, buy hybrids.

Because at this point, as we walk around Oak Hill in shorts and t-shirts in December, I donít know how anyone can afford to not take global warming seriously.