Making matters worse, regional regulators just canceled the 2014 Gulf of Maine shrimping season for many of the same reasons. “During the last ten years the water temperature in the Gulf of Maine has been running about 2.5 degrees Celsius or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous one hundred year average,” said John Annala, chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “We don’t know what the thermal threshold of this species is, but the Gulf of Maine has always been the southernmost extreme of their range, so we probably don’t have much wiggle room.” But even if the shrimp can take it, its ecosystem can’t. Warming waters mean less zooplankton for them to feed on, and more predators like red hake and dogfish to worry about.
If the governor needs more evidence, it’s there for him. Portland mainlanders learned this year that a good portion of the peninsula will likely be underwater by the end of this century, as former USM Muskie School of Public Service professor Sam Merrill predicts from a report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see “Portland Plans for Action in the Face of Rising Seas and Bigger Storms,” by Jeff Inglis, October 4). Those who need to see it to believe it were able to at a SPACE Gallery exhibit this fall, as local designers and the Portland Society of Architects helped construct projected maps depicting a Portland with rising sea levels and a submerged waterfront.
Black Friday cast in a dark light
Before it became the snarling beast we know today, one imagines the consumer holiday known as Black Friday having innocent, almost liberatory beginnings. It was on your side. Everyone has a limit to how much time they can spend with their parents, in-laws, and old townie friends, and Black Friday is like the knowing friend who phones at the right moment, asking for “help moving into their new apartment” just as Uncle Fred is locking you down to watch MASH re-runs. Having a get-out-of-jail card handy for the existential catatonia that follows Thanksgiving can be an immensely valuable thing.
But no one really considers Black Friday a pal anymore. It’s no longer radical or curmudgeonly to reject the manic, scrambling consumption that occurs every fourth Friday of November. In 2013, we saw this resistance play out on a national scale like never before, as many Americans pushed back not just at the abstract practice of mass consumerism, but at the world’s largest retail employer and its myopic, profit-driven approach toward its stores’ communities and even its own employees.
There were Black Friday protests in about 100 US cities in 2012, but this year is when they went mainstream, as the retail giant weathered more than 1500 strikes and protests nationwide organized by the union-backed workers’ rights group OUR Walmart (three of them were in Maine — in Scarborough, Waterville, and Presque Isle).
The PR hits didn’t stop there. In November, major media outlets picked up a Cleveland Plain Dealer story about a Walmart store in Ohio conducting a by-donation food drive for its employees, an odd endeavor many felt implied management was fully aware that even full-time associates were being paid so little that they couldn’t afford Thanksgiving dinner, and that the burden of assisting workers in need fell to other workers, not their employers.