Thoreau as Climate Scientist

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that revered naturalist Henry David Thoreau is actually playing a role in ongoing climate science. Researchers at Boston University and Harvard University are using the Walden author's notes about his surroundings in Concord, Mass.--specifically about seasonal changes in the landscape, such as when flowers bloomed--to determine how the fauna in that area has changed in the last 150 years. Because Thoreau made his observations just before the Industrial Revolution, the team could make some star assessments of the effects of man-made climate change. Here's a couple: flowers are blooming up to a week earlier, and more than half of the plant species Thoreau documented are either gone or near the brink of disappearance.