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The Warming of Walden Pond

When Henry David Thoreau was meticulously cataloging the variety of species he observed during his famous Walden Pond retreat, he never would have...


When Henry David Thoreau was meticulously cataloging the variety of species he observed during his famous Walden Pond retreat, he never would have known how this "Concord data set" would be used 150 years later to study climate change and biodiversity loss. John Platt has a fascinating, if melancholy, piece up on his SciAm Extinction Countdown blog about how researchers are today contrasting HDT's records with the current conditions at Walden Pond.Their findings, published in the journal PLoS ONE, are none too encouraging. They found that
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  • The average temperature in Concord, Mass., has increased 2.4 degrees Celsius over the past 150 years;
  • Some nonnative plants have adapted by flowering as much as three weeks earlier than they used to;
  • 27-percent of the plant species that Thoreau recorded are now locally extinct, and another 36-percent "are so sparse that extinction may be imminent," due to warmer average temperatures and increased competition from invasive species.
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Photo (cc) by Flickr user Merelymel13This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of GOOD's collaboration with the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea today.
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