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FEATURE

An Early Spring





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Forty-six years ago, Rachel Carson's seminal work, SILENT SPRING, alerted the world of damage to the environment by the pesticide DDT. It is a book that is widely considered to be the genesis of modern environmental movement and that may be true, as it raised public awareness as to the dangers of pollution to the eco-system.

Now, a new kind of silent spring is upon us; an early spring that is so confusing to vulnerable plant and wildlife that many may not survive its untimely arrival.

"The alarm clock that all the plants and animals are listening to is running too fast," Stanford University biologist Terry Root said.

Blame global warming.

The fingerprints of man-made climate change are evident in seasonal timing changes for thousands of species on Earth, according to dozens of studies and last year's authoritative report by the Nobel Prize-winning international climate scientists. More than 30 scientists told The Associated Press how global warming is affecting plants and animals at springtime across the country, in nearly every state.

The science of biological timing, known as phenology, has been impacted to the point where the "federal government and some university scientists are so alarmed by the changes that they created a National Phenology Network at the U.S. Geological Survey."

"Phenology is the study of the times of recurring natural phenomena. The word is derived from the Greek phainomai (φαινομαι)- to appear, come into view, and indicates that phenology has been principally concerned with the dates of first occurrence of natural events in their annual cycle.

Because many such phenomena are very sensitive to small variations in climate, especially to temperature, phenological records can be a useful proxy for temperature in historical climatology, especially in the study of global warming..."

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