Fall colors and climate change:

Excerpted from Associated Press reports; the boldface is mine.

“University of Vermont plant biologist Tom Vogelmann, a Vermont native says autumn has become too warm to elicit New England’s richest colors.”

“According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in Burlington have run above the 30-year averages in every September and October for the past four years…”

How warmer climate affects trees:

Colors emerge on leaves in the fall, when the green chlorophyll of summer breaks down.

In order to hasten the decline of chlorophyll, (to get the bright colors we all want to see) cold nights are needed.

Otherwise: “The leaves fall off without ever becoming orange or yellow or red. They just go from green to brown,” said Barry Rock, a forestry professor at the University of New Hampshire.”

Most of the locals we met in New England complained of poor color the past two years. Some blamed the lack of rain this summer, and yet others said last summer was rainy and it was still poor color. Both years had well above average temperatures. I would be interested to know if springs are also warmer. Would that lead to the decline of maple syrup production, which needs freezing nights to drive the sugar-laden sap up the tree in quantities necessary.

I once lived in a beautiful part of West Virginia, the Potomac Highlands. It is far south of what is ordinarily thought of as maple syrup country, yet many years had good sap production and lots of farmers added to their income producing syrup. There would often be several years of low production, and then a couple of great years. Perhaps that is the future of the New England maple syrup industry. Oh well, we have maple flavored corn syrup.

The science of global warming has been confused and co opted for short term political advantage, and thus serious action delayed. The moral and common sense decline of American politics grows ever more acute. New England fall colors and maple syrup production are not all that important in the overall scheme of things, but do miners notice when just one canary keels over dead, or does it have to be ten or a hundred…

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