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Snowless Snowstorms to Heatwaves: the Effects of Climate Change in Rangeley

Eric White | Rural Youth Organizer: Franklin County

Climate change is a terrifying epidemic. Living in a small community in Maine makes it easy to find evidence by stepping outside; the ground that was only a week ago covered with snow is now as green as can be and the ducks have been waddling around town since January. The temperatures in Rangeley, Maine, and even the United States have been increasing drastically over the years. This affects the tourism rates and the economy but also instills fear for the future and the rate of being able to properly grow gardens or farms. That being said, the focus cannot be solely on climate change. The economic impacts and the ecosystem are intertwined with one another, along with other social and political issues. According to Maine Climate Action Now, “The concept of intersectionality describes the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class and other forms of discrimination “intersect” to create unique dynamics and effects.” (Maine Climate Action Now, Climate change, and justice for it, are interconnected with social justice, economic justice, and food security). 

To get a general feel for the Rangeley School system in western Maine, a Google Form was sent out to anyone ranging from 11 to 65. In a surprising discovery, a concerning amount of younger people stated that they knew nothing about climate change and the effects it currently has on the earth as a whole. The majority of kids in the age ranges of 11-13, when asked what they knew about climate change, answered with “I don’t know”s (or rather IDKs). With the lack of information geared toward young people regarding extreme concerns (such as climate change and global warming), the upcoming generations will have no tools to deal with the pollutive effects that the Earth has been left with. 

Alarmingly, the temperature of Maine “has risen over 3°F since 1895 statewide.” (The Maine Climate Council, 2024). The state as a whole has been overtaken by global warming. “Summer and winter temperatures have been above average since the mid-1990,” (Runkle, J., K.E. Kunkel, S.M. Champion, R. Frankson, B.C. Stewart, A.T DeGaetano, and J. Spaccio, 2022). The 2023 summer was the hottest in recorded history in Rangeley, and the winter was not any better. Many days, the temperature did not dip into the negatives. For Maine, this weather is simply unnatural. With the rising in temperatures, it is becoming increasingly difficult to profit from the weather; the winter season is changing for the worse with spaced-out snow storms and, in place of the typical snow, massive rain storms that knock out power and roadways. 

Rangeley’s economy is based on the profits of tourism. With the decrease in snowfall in the winter, as well as the shortened span of winter in itself, many expressed their discontent with the small time frames they had to do winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. The downfall of the snow and with it the ability to participate in typical winter activities, the tourism industry will decrease. Climate change affects everything and, in a rural town such as Rangeley, the troubles become more pronounced (Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, 2023). Continually, the town celebrates Snodeo weekend; this exciting time allows for honoring the winter season. It excites not only the town residents but the tourists too. It consists of Chili-Chowder Cookoffs, a parade, and, up until recently, an extravaganza of a show called RaveX. The RaveX company brought in their expert snowmobilers to put on a wildly popular snowmobiling event with tons of tricks to wow the audience. With the lack of snow and space this year, the annual RaveX was canceled. 

Outside of the snow events, many farmers and gardeners have seen that all their hard work put toward their crops have a disappointing turnout. One respondent to the Google Form, Abby Thompson, said, “At an absolute microcosm, my garden and my ability to successfully grow things has declined over the eight years I've lived and gardened in Rangeley. I'm battling frosts as late as July and as early as August now. But then (there are the) heat waves in May and October.” Those who profit off of their farm life could see a drop in production, and therefore a drop in their economic gain. Putting these farmers at an economic disadvantage will disproportionately put their livelihoods at stake. The enjoyment of looking at a freshly grown garden after months of hard work will become a thing of the past if we (the people who provide for the earth) fail to begin to take care of it. 

Justice for the climate also means that we have to begin to see what is causing the climate crisis, such as the overuse of fossil fuels and the mass manufacturing of goods in large corporation factories, and make a direct contribution to not only raise awareness but figure out how to shift into more sustainable ways. The warming of the climate not only hurts us as a community but as a society. To create a better world, we need to put in the work for it. 

Maine Climate Action Now!, Climate Justice Crash Course

Maine Climate Council, Impacts of Climate Change Across Maine,

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Maine Lake Ice Out Dates,

Runkle, J., K.E. Kunkel, S.M. Champion, R. Frankson, B.C. Stewart, A.T DeGaetano, and J. Spaccio, Maine State Climate Summary 2022,


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