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A Note From Our Chapter Chair

Susan Eastwood

June 2023

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Photo: Humpback whale

Photo credit: Dixie Lawrence


“Remember people, this is an experiment we haven’t run before, and the test tube we’re using is the whole planet.” – Bill McKibben

As summer arrives, we often head to the waterside to cool off, so it seems appropriate to talk about our oceans.  World Ocean Day is coming up on June 8th. There will be events worldwide in support of protecting 30 percent of our land, water, and oceans by 2030. These protections are needed now more than ever. 

Record air temperatures have been reported around the world in recent years, and the coming El Nino is predicted to make matters much worse. It looks like a hot summer ahead, with more unpredictable weather. But not as much attention is paid to the heating of the oceans. Unfortunately, there is increasing alarm among scientists about the rapid rise in averaged ocean surface temperature. The BBC reported that in March, sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America were as much as 13.8°C higher than the 1981-2011 average.

The impacts of these huge jumps in sea surface temperature are unknown, but may include disruptions to the ocean currents, possibly even destabilizing the Gulf Stream. It is well-known that an increase in ocean temperature results in a reduction of oxygen in the water, which will have major consequences on sea life and aquatic ecosystems. For just one example, Shawn LaTourette, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner (NJDEP) blamed climate change linked heating of the ocean for a recent rise in whale beaching.  Rising ocean temperatures and acidification have caused menhaden fish to move closer to shore. Whales that depend on these fish for their diets follow and are increasingly injured by boats or beached as a result.

On this World Ocean Day, I challenge you to learn more about the impacts of our warming world on our oceans.

As I write this in mid-May, most of Sierra Club’s priority bills are gathering dust waiting for action by the Connecticut General Assembly (CGA), or have already fallen by the wayside. This is discouraging when we know there is strong support for wildlife protections, climate action, and zero waste practices. The Connecticut Legislative session ends on June 7 at midnight, so we have only five more days to push to get our priority bills over the line. YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO! Be sure to read The Final Countdown on the 2023 Legislative Session in this issue for the most recent news.

Have you ever been Forest bathing? Here’s your chance! Our Shoreline Group continues its series of events on reconnecting with the natural environment on June 10 with Awakening the Forest Within. Register here

Although news on the impacts of climate change is scary, we cannot give up! Getting out in nature is one of the best ways to destress and replenish ourselves to continue to fight for our environment. 

I hope to see you outside soon!


Susan Eastwood is Chapter Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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