Uncategorized

[WATER RUNNING] [MACHINERY SOUND] [WATER RUNNING] “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac 1746 Hi, I’m Ranger Chuck Arning with the National Park Service here in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor And there’s a voice that runs through many cultures While it isn’t always a loud voice, it is a persistent voice It is a voice of warning It prods us to remember to take care of where we live The resources that make up our existence can be squandered And many people believe that we are, in fact, squandering the essential resources to our existence, the air, the water, the earth itself And that we’re leaving a decimated planet for our children to inherit Others say, well, yes the climate is weird, and the environment is suffering, but we can create a new technology that will right the wrongs of the past and create the earth whole again Well, maybe that’s true, maybe But we do have to confront the fact that the climate is changing And we have to begin to understand why it’s changing, how it’s changing, and what we can do about it And this is really not just a problem here in the United States It’s a global problem And what makes it even more challenging is different parts of the world will experience climate change differently Even parts of the US, different parts of the country will experience it quite differently than others Those species that can figure out a way to adapt are those species that will survive So why don’t you join us as we take a look at climate change from a very local perspective? [MUSIC PLAYING] I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, learn what it had to teach Learn what it had to teach Of all the communities across this great land that can tell America’s story, particularly its early story, there is no one place better than Concord, Massachusetts So it’s quite fitting we come to Concord to talk about climate change As we stand here by the beautiful Concord River just below North Bridge, the historic North Bridge, we want to talk about climate change And you say, well, why Concord? Well, they had an interesting individual who lived here, Henry David Thoreau And we think of Henry David Thoreau more as a philosopher and a writer Civil disobedience comes to mind However, he was a true citizen scientist And he would walk through his beloved Concord and would write down what he saw, when the marsh marigold bloomed, when the apple trees bloomed, when ice was off Walden Pond, take all these notes in great quantity and in great detail And so we have this excellent picture of what Concord looked like in the late 1840s and the early 1850s Now that data is very useful to us here today in the 21st century because we have an excellent picture of way the landscape was To understand why it’s so important and how it can be used, we’re going to catch up with Dr. Richard Primack of Boston University, a professor of biology there who’s written a new book called Walden Warming Climate Change Comes To Thoreau’s Woods Dr. Primack, we all know Henry David Thoreau as a writer and a philosopher But in following his footsteps through Concord, did you learn anything about the man that surprised you? I think what surprised me was how often he was outside, the fact that he actually went for a walk around Concord every day for four hours a day and then kept his notes about what he saw So I think that he was really quite remarkable in terms of his level of detail of observations and his observation ability, really they were really quite extraordinary I mean I knew that he wrote a lot, that he kept journals, that he wrote over two million words, that he wrote many books But I just didn’t appreciate his just incredible ability to make day-to-day observations in such a consistent way That was really quite extraordinary This exploration of Thoreau’s work turned into a personal journey for you How did you stumble across Thoreau’s work as a scientist? Well, starting in 2003 we began looking

for any old records of when plants were flowering in the Massachusetts area, when birds were arriving in the spring, when insects were flying So we really were on a quest to just find any evidence of when things happened in the past and then to be able to compare them with when things happened in the present And after several months of searching, a friend of mine, Phil Cafaro from Colorado State University asked me why didn’t we check on Thoreau’s records And we had never heard of Thoreau’s records of flowering time These records are very well known to Thoreau scholars, but they’re not well known to modern ecologists, people who are working in the present time And so when we got a copy of these records from an independent Thoreau scholar named Brad Dean, we were just amazed by the level of detail of these tables that Thoreau had made up toward the end of his life What he’d done was he’d gone through his journals and extracted all the dates on when he first saw plants in flower from 1851 to 1858 And just the level of detail was so astonishing There were hundreds of plant species for which for those eight years he’d recorded the first flowering dates And as soon as we saw these, we knew that these were just going to be fabulous, that these were just going to be the key to understanding the effects of climate change in the Eastern United States We actually subsequently found out that he had also made up tables for leafing out times of woody plants and also for bird arrival times in the spring So this just became an unbelievable set of data to work with We’ve actually found a lot of other records from eastern Massachusetts from places like Mount Auburn cemetery and the Manomet Center for Conservation Science But of all the records we found that these records of Thoreau’s that we found in 2003 and subsequent years were really extraordinary And as far as we know that these records kept by Thoreau are the most detailed, oldest records of anywhere in the United States or even North America Climate change has certainly been ratcheted up in the news this year What does Thoreau’s work reveal to you about our changing climate? I think that what Thoreau’s records teach us most fundamentally is that climate change isn’t something which is happening in the future So climate change isn’t something which is going to be affecting our children or our grandchildren It’s actually happening now So the warming temperatures are already affecting the flowering times of the trees, of the wildflowers, the leafing out times of the trees It’s affecting, to a lesser extent, the arrival time of the birds It’s affecting the flight time of insects And it’s also affecting the distribution of species So it’s affecting certainly the distribution of birds and butterflies And it’s also affecting the abundance of plant species So it’s already creating winners and losers So species which can adapt to these warming conditions are increasing in abundance And species which are not adapting to these warming conditions are declining in abundance So it’s already happening now It’s happening here in Concord, and it’s happening elsewhere in the Eastern United States There seems to be serious repercussions when flowers bloom early and nature seems to be totally out of sync But just what are those repercussions? Well, what we think might be happening is that species react in different ways to these warming conditions So one is just the physiological response So as conditions get warmer, it’s just too hot for a lot of species, and they really can’t respond rapidly They can’t evolve enough They also can’t disperse fast enough to keep track with this changing climate So a lot of species, particularly rare species, species of very limited distribution, and species which don’t have good dispersal ability, so they don’t have seeds that can really go a long distance or if there’s say some spider living in the ground or a salamander, they can’t really migrate fast enough to really track the changing climate And they’re just going to die So it’s one example of some species being unable to change with the environment But we also expect is that ecological relationships are going to change with this warming climate, that particularly plants will be able to flower and leaf out earlier with a warming climate But birds don’t seem to be as responsive to temperature So what might be happening is that a lot of the bird species, which are not going to respond to climate change, particularly bird species which are coming from South America or Central America, like a lot of the warbler species, for example, what’s going to happen with them is that they’re going to arrive a little bit too late to catch the big pulse of insects, which are emerging in the spring and that are feeding on the plants And a lot of these birds might starve to death or might not have enough food to feed their nestlings And therefore these birds might be declining in abundance And similarly in the autumn, when these birds start migrating, a lot of these birds are migrating earlier than they did in the past, because the conditions get warmer, and they might not have enough fruit to eat A lot of the fruits might be maturing at the same time,

and the birds might not have enough fruit to eat, and therefore be very hungry or starve to death on their migration cell This is just something that we’re really learning a lot about, these ecological questions are something that we speculate a lot about, but we really don’t have strong evidence for these types of ecological problems, which ecologists sometimes call mismatches One thing which Thoreau teaches us and then many other naturalists that we have in Massachusetts are teaching us is that keeping diaries is extremely important for tracking the effects of climate change And that these types of diaries are extremely useful So I would urge high school students or people in any educational situation or people who are just interested in nature, so just homeowners or people who are interested in looking at the effects of a changing climate, to just start keeping a diary of when you see things happening during the year So for example, if you live near a pond, record when the ice melts on the pond or when it freezes in the autumn If you are interested in birds, record when you first start seeing certain species of birds on your bird feeder or in your yard Or if you’re interested if you have a garden, record when the apple trees flower, when the peach trees start flowering, the blueberry bushes started flowering So if people start recording this kind of information and do it consistently from year to year, then you can really build up a wonderful set of observations, which will not only enrich your life, which may not only give you a lot of pleasure, but will also be very useful for scientists potentially at some point in the future One of the things in your book that caught my attention was your discussion about invasive species and their ability to adapt to a changing climate Why is that? There’s a lot of reasons why invasive species are successful So one of them is that they’re often better able to take advantage of disturbed conditions So these are species which are often from Europe or Asia And in those places where there’s been a long history of human impact at a very high level, these species have really been selected for their ability to tolerate high levels of disturbance So these species are often very successful at living in very disturbed conditions also in the United States Many of these species are also adapted to living in places where there’s high levels of nitrogen in the soil And again that’s characteristic of a lot of these wetlands where purple loosestrife, for example, is growing Also, one thing, which is called the predator release hypothesis, is that these species are controlled by specialized insects and fungi and bacteria and by grazing animals, like birds and mammals in their native habitat And in the United States, they don’t have these same types of specialized animals or fungi or bacteria or insects, which are attacking them in the United States And therefore they’re able to just grow very luxuriously because nothing is eating them or nothing is growing on their leaves So it’s one theory But what we’ve also seen in our research in Concord is that these invasive species are extremely flexible in terms of their leafing out time in the spring and also their flowering time So these species are very responsive to climatic variation and particularly when we had these extraordinarily warm years associated with climate change these species were able to start flowering really early, leafing out really early And this gives them a competitive advantage on a lot of the native species, which tend to be a little bit more conservative and don’t really respond as rapidly to this climatic variation It’s not hard to understand why our early colonists who came here in the early 1800s and brought the purple loosestrife with them, why they brought it It is indeed a very pretty flowering plant that adds great color to here in mid-August to this landscape, this very watery landscape We’re here in Rice City Pond, part of the Blackstone River Canal Heritage State Park And we’ve come out here to take a look at the purple loosestrife, follow-up on Dr. Primack’s observations and experiences with this invasive species It’s one of those plants that is not native to the United States or Canada, to North America It came here as part of a plantings by colonists who wanted to reproduce the beauty of their homeland It also came here in a ballast of sailing vessels used as soil, and rocks were used as ballasts And when they had enough cargo where they dump out the excess ballast and viola, accidentally we had invasive species And that’s where a lot of species come from, from ships holes And as we come up here to this beautiful stand here, we get a chance to look at it and get a sense to appreciate its beauty, but also get the chance to understand it is

a bad actor in the environment It crowds out other native species It colonizes quickly, thick root ball Annually each of these plants can produce two million seeds So it reproduces quite rapidly and quite well The challenge is that it’s got no value, nutrient to any of the species that live around here in this pond It has a real impact on choking out the native species on our very biologically diverse wetlands It’s really a bad actor, and it’s hard to control It doesn’t have any natural predators As you look at it here, you get a good sense to see just how infestated it is here The challenge here and the frustrating aspect is that this type of species appears to be the one that can withstand a changing climate It has already demonstrated it has adapted well to different climates over thousands of miles It has already demonstrated it has adapted different habitats from wet, moist areas like we have here, to open spaces to disturb places and cities You’ll see some purple loosestrife around vacant city lots So it seems to do quite well at reproducing itself very quickly And that is the real challenge for species here dealing with a changing climate Not everyone can adapt quickly And it’s that speed that is necessary because the scientists are amazed just how quickly the polar ice caps are melting and how quickly the temperatures are heating up A degree, two or three at most and you will see drastic changes in our landscape here So the climate of New England has been very variable The climate of North America has been extremely variable Actually, during Thoreau’s time in the 1840s and 1850s, it was actually an extraordinarily cold time, which is what people call the Little Ice Age And we were coming out of the Little Ice Age at the end of Thoreau’s life So the climate tends to be extremely variable in general, but particularly in New England So in New England, we have both great climatic variation caused by where we are in terms of weather systems, but also great climatic variation because of our topography in New England where we have coasts and islands and mountains all in a very small area But the climate change, which we are experiencing now is due really to human impact So in urban areas like Boston it’s in part due to urbanization, what scientists call the urban heat island effect But it’s also due to this global phenomenon caused by the production of greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal, natural gas, and also through the cutting down of tropical rain forests And this human-created climate change, which we are presently in right now is happening so fast that the plants and animals really are probably not going to be able to respond to it either but through evolutionary changes or through changes in their distribution And so this change which is occurring is just extraordinarily rapid at the moment And it’s something which plants and animals really haven’t experienced before But of all the places the United States, I mean Concord is probably the best suited to deal with climate change because it’s a place which already has a lot of water And the people here are relatively well off, so they have a lot of personal resources to be able to deal with the effects of climate change in Concord But a lot of areas of the United States are really not so suited to deal with the effects of climate change So I think a lot of areas of the Western United States, particularly Southern California or Arizona and New Mexico, so those areas are already experiencing very high temperatures They’re already under severe limitations because of lack of water And if the conditions get just a little bit warmer those places are going to have less water resources to draw on from the Rockies, but also those environments are going to evaporate more water because of the higher temperatures And so those areas of the American Southwest are going to be potentially devastated by climate change and the severe droughts that it’s going to create A lot of farmers in the American Midwest, particularly in the southern Midwest, those areas are already at the limits of agriculture already And if conditions get just a couple of degrees warmer, we might have agriculture failing in a lot of areas of the United States In cities like Boston or in places like Massachusetts or the Eastern United States, the places which are really most vulnerable to the effects of climate change are really low-lying coastal areas And we experienced that when New York City was hit by Hurricane Sandy, not only had devastation in the coastal areas of New Jersey, but large areas of Manhattan were flooded And the subway system was devastated and cost billions of dollars to repair And these kinds of large storms hitting low-lying areas

are going to become more severe in coming decades both because the storms are going to become more severe and also because of warming temperatures The polar ice caps are melting, glaciers are melting And this is causing sea level to rise And so this combination of stronger storms with higher sea levels is potentially catastrophic for large numbers of cities in the Eastern United States And the people in Boston feel somehow secure We feel that we’re relatively protected But actually Boston is so vulnerable to the effects of rising sea levels and storms If Hurricane Sandy had just veered slightly north and it hit Boston that much of the metropolitan Boston area would have been underwater So large areas of Boston, Cambridge, and Medford would have been underwater and would have cost the same tens of billions of dollars that New York experienced, we would have experienced in Boston So we just lucked out because we came within inches of having our major dams overtopped by storm surges Now take a good look This is what a vernal pool looks like when it’s all dried up, completely dry Now mid-April, May this was probably about 4 and one half, five feet deep of water here And this is where a lot of critters came to reproduce Our salamanders and wood frogs and a whole number of folks like that who use the vernal pools as a key way of keeping their species alive Now the thing about climate change is it’s very unpredictable And that unpredictability really impacts animals, amphibians, and birds much more than does us, at least at the present time unless you live in places like California, which is going through tremendous drought at this time frame And so what we’re worried about is these fragile environments, which is so critical to the reproduction of these important species So we’re going to catch up with naturalists and interpreter for the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation, Kathryn Parent, who’s going to talk about this fragile environment, little critters who make this a part of their lifespan and learn a little bit more about how climate change impacts these very significant habitats OK, let’s take a look at this wet area Last time I was here we saw a pair of wood ducks, which means there’s plenty for them to eat If you look along at the area here, there’s plenty of sticks that have fallen, lots of mossy areas for salamanders and frogs to hide And as I’m looking in, we’re looking for salamander eggs, so we want to look for sticks that have submerged where the salamander attaches the egg mass to the stick And I’m seeing some right over here And all along this submerged stick I’m seeing cloudy, white masses of what I believe is spotted salamander eggs But what happens here in the spring is a lot of breeding is going on The salamanders and wood frogs will spend the rest of their lives in the woods As you can see all through here there’s plenty of leaf litter, plenty of rocks and logs for them to hide in during the summer months But in the spring they have an important job to do They need to find a wet place to lay their eggs So this pool that fills from the winter snows melting or spring rains fills up here and provides a perfect habitat for wood frogs and salamanders We don’t have an inlet for this water or an outlet It just evaporates and gets soaked up through the roots of the plants here over time So there’s no chance for fish to come in through here, has no fish which are the biggest predators of egg masses that we’re looking for today So it’s a nice safe place, a nursery for salamanders and frogs Well, the spring pool is already a very delicate sensitive area It depends on a lot of variables for the salamanders and frogs to survive We have to think about how much snow was here in the winter, the temperature of the days in the spring, how quickly the water is going to evaporate And all of this is intensified with climate change, or extreme temperatures or heavy rain falls or even longer dry periods So all the delicateness, all the sensitivities in the vernal pool are just worsened, and the threat is greater with climate change

It’s a race to finish their metamorphosis before they go back to the forest It is a very delicate balance, and that has been the way for ages with vernal pools, but we just are concerned that things are going to be more intense and make it more difficult for the salamanders and frogs to survive Well I think the Thoreau’s message is very clear If you read Walden I mean it was very clear what he thought was important for people to do So he, first of all, emphasized that you really need to change yourself So his message in Walden was to live simply And one of the things that we really need to do to deal with the effects of climate change is starting with ourselves, we need to produce less greenhouse gases We need to use less material resources And we can do that by having smaller cars, living in smaller houses, turning down our thermostats in the wintertime, using less air conditioning, driving our cars less, using more public transportation, eating more simply But Thoreau also, even though he was naturally a cantankerous individual and was not that social, he recognized that to really change the world you need to be involved, you to be engaged in society So in his case, the great issues of his time were stopping wars, stopping unjust wars, and also abolishing slavery And this is what he was engaged in He wrote speeches He gave public lectures He wrote letters He talked to everyone around him He tried to change people both in Concord, in Massachusetts, and even across the United States And the same thing today, if you want to deal with climate change you have to start with yourself But eventually you really have to engage with society And one of the things that struck me a great deal about the interview with Dr. Primack was very simply how much time Henry David Thoreau spent outside, and what he noticed, what he observed, and how we took that information and that knowledge and we are using it today as we understand our changing climate Well, this has been ranger Chuck Arning of the National Park Service here in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor You know scientists rarely agree on anything And yet 95% of all the scientists in the world agree that climate change is happening, and it is real There’s an interesting guy with a book called, Cooling The Planet And he asks the very simple question he says, “Are humans smarter than a frog?” And he paints this picture We put a frog in a pot of water nice and cool He’s enjoying himself And we very slowly turn up the heat And he’s enjoying himself We turn up the heat a little more and slowly, slowly he never sees it coming He’s cooked Are we smarter than a frog? We see climate change is coming Are we going to be cooked? And you probably say, well what can I do? I’m just– I can’t control government policy Well, you know what? There’s a lot you can do As a family, as individuals go out into your backyard, go out into the woods, go out into the world and write down what you see Be a citizen scientist Read, write stuff down, get a rain gauge How much rain is in your backyard? We all can conserve water, that’s an easy thing But by sharing information that you find in your own little world with other people who are doing this exact same thing, you can really begin to make a difference Thoreau certainly did And did he know that his data in late 1840s, early 1850s would be so useful to us today as we try to understand the changing world we live in? Of course he didn’t But he had a vision He said, this is important I need to know what my world is like So become a citizen scientist and hopefully I’ll see you along the Blackstone [MUSIC PLAYING]

You Want To Have Your Favorite Car?

We have a big list of modern & classic cars in both used and new categories.