30 October 2008

Thoreau still helping research today

It turns out that Henry David Thoreau is helping researchers today as they try to track specific changes associated with climate change. The NYTimes reports on how researchers are using his detailed accounts of when local plants bloomed to establish that the seasons have changed by as much as about 7 days, due to warming. But the species present in his woods at Walden Ponds have changed as well:
Of the 21 species of orchids Thoreau observed in Concord, “we could only find 7,” Dr. Primack said.
The researchers are also looking at thorough listings by other area residents. They sound like they really appreciate a former shopkeeper from the area, not just for his knowledge of plants, but his pennmenship makes his notes far more readable than Thoreau's. Maybe his refusal to write neatly was part of his larger plan for Civil Disobedience.

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