Thursday, October 24, 2019

Heat Waves in Brookline

Richard B. Primack and Audrey S. Garon

“Is not all the summer akin to a paradise?”  Henry David Thoreau

This past summer, Brookline experienced a brutal July heat wave with temperatures over 90 degrees four days in a row, reaching a high of 97 degrees.  Heat waves  are increasing worldwide, and are more intense in places like Brookline due to roads, parking lots, and buildings that absorb heat, and fewer trees for shade.

Originally from Texas, Sean Roberts running laps at Amory Park during the July heat wave.

Pete Rittenburg, Director of Athletics at Brookline High School,  says that sports programs adjust by  “avoiding the heat of the day and practicing either in the morning or late afternoon.”

The very hot day does not bother these tennis players, who grew up in Brazil.  

Dr. Swannie Jett, Brookline Health Commissioner, warns that the risk of heart attacks and asthma increases for senior citizens when temperatures go above 85 degrees.

Many people lack air conditioning to deal  with the heat.  Brookline resident, Katie Eng, doesn’t have any air conditioning because “Getting an apartment that comes with winter heating and summer air-conditioning is a luxury that many of us cannot afford.”

Tamara Hurioglu found that during the July heat wave, “Even with four window AC units running all day, it was 89”  in some areas of her top floor apartment.

Caroline and Jake Berchuck, from North Carolina, out walking their dog in the noon sun. 

In coming years, Brookline residents will experience more heat waves because of climate change.  It will be like living in North Carolina or Texas, rather than Massachusetts.

A longer version of this article originally appeared in the Brookline Tab.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Primack Lab in the News

Posted by Richard B. Primack

What have we to do with petty rumbling news? We have our own great affairs. 
Henry David Thoreau. 

Our research on climate change, Thoreau, Walden, sporting events, and plant ecology continues to attract public attention. Here is a sample of articles from the past year:

• Is Climate Change Ruining Fall?
by Marina N. Bolotnikova, Harvard Magazine, 9.26.19
Primack discusses the effects of climate change on fall foliage and New England’s trees.

• Global Warming Clues from Henry David Thoreau
NPR Living on Earth: Week of June 7,  Don Lyman. 2019  
During an interview at Walden Pond, Primack explains how Thoreau’s observations can be used to show the effects of climate change on plants. 

The fire cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) was one of many species for which Henry David Thoreau tracked both the flowering and leafing-out dates more than a century and half ago. (Photo: Dan Mullen, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Caption: NPR)

• Science and Culture: Journal entries, maps, and photos help ecologists reconstruct ecosystems of the past. 
By Carolyn Beans, PNAS December 26, 2018 
In this article, Primack describes the value of historical documents in detecting the effects of climate change. 

• Tracking climate change through Henry David Thoreau's notes. 
Boston 25 TV News
In this interview on the edge of Walden Pond, Primack talks about using Thoreau’s records in climate change research. 

Primack in a still from the Boston 25 news story

• Undergraduate research at BU – Invent the future. 
In this interview on the BU website, Linnea Smith and Richard Primack explain the value of students working with professors in Boston University’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). 

• How Thoreau’s 19th-Century Observations Are Helping Shape Science Today: For one thing, they tell us that plants aren’t blooming when they used to at Walden Pond—or most anywhere else. 
By Evan Nicole Brown, July 9, 2019, Atlas Obscura 
Atlas Obscura is an on-line magazine with unusual stories about iconic places around the work. In this article, Primack reports on the value of Walden Pond as a climate change indicator. 

A statue of Thoreau with wildflowers 

• New England Is Losing Its Native Plants. Researchers Say It’s Time To Stop And Smell The Wildflowers. 
By Lexi Peery, June 06, 2019, WBUR Radio
In an interview on WBUR Radio, Primack provides an overview of the loss of wildflowers from the forests and protected areas of New England. 

• What Will Climate Change Mean for Your Favorite Marathon?
From surging waters in the Southeast to wildfires in the West, here’s how a warming planet affects your racing.
By Cindy Kuzma, August 28, 2018, Runner's World
Primack describes how a warming climate and weather events affect the running times and experiences of marathon runners. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Science Takes to the Streets

By Tara Miller

"All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to and to resist the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable."
- H.D. Thoreau

On September 20th, kids around the world took to the streets, marching out of classrooms and schools to teach us a lesson. We have not done enough, and we must continually push for bolder, more ambitious action on climate change.

Young students organized, led, and showed up for the Climate Strike in Boston

I was one of 10,000 people in Boston, and 4 million around the world, joining students in their call for stronger action on climate change. 

Protesters march from City Hall

We study how climate change is affecting our ecosystems, but when politicians ignore that science, it is our responsibility to make them listen or to replace them.

Make a difference with how you commute, make a difference with what you buy (or don’t buy!), make a difference with what you eat, make a difference with what you tell your representatives, and for goodness' sake, VOTE.

Protesters arrive at the State House

"You must unite behind the science. You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up can never ever be an option." 
– Greta Thunberg