The effects of a warming climate on the plants and animals of Thoreau’s Concord

Henry David Thoreau, environmental philosopher and author of the book Walden, was a climate change scientist. For the past 17 years, Professor Richard Primack and his team have been using Thoreau’s records from the 1850s and other Massachusetts data sources to document the earlier flowering and leafing out times of plants, the earlier flight times of butterflies, and the more variable response of migratory birds. Most noteworthy, plants in Concord are also changing in abundance due to a warming climate. What would Thoreau tell us to do about global warming if he were alive today?

Richard Primack is a Professor at Boston University (USA) with a specialisation in plant ecology and conservation. He has written four widely used conservation biology textbooks; local co-authors helped to produce 38 translations with local examples. He was Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biological Conservation and served as President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. During the past six months, he has been investigating the ecological and conservation impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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