Friday, November 20, 2009

Walking Fern: Poster Child for Climate Change?

Climate Change. Global Warming... yeah, yeah, you have heard it all by now. It is here, it is real and we need to get very serious about dealing with it.

One of the most hopeful programs I have seen for a while, Birds and Climate Change: On the Move was presented by National Audubon Society’s Director of Bird Conservation, Gregory S. Butcher, PhD. It was a pleasure to attend last night, as it was held at the beautiful new Grange Audubon Center in Columbus.

Greg Butcher spoke on bird populations and climate change.

Greg had all the facts, climate and bird wise, but he didn't stop there. He also had an understanding of the plants and ecosystems in the big picture. The grand-champion of northward movement is the House Finch- logging 433 miles of north-expanding territory in the last 40 years. But it is the American Robin's statistics that are a real eye-opener. These rufous-breasted ground thrushes are wintering in places like Minnesota and Nebraska, and creating the need for the constant update in field guide's range maps.

But what about the the botany?

Walking Fern, Asplenium rhizophyllum.. moving slower than climate change.

Even if our trees developed the ability to move like a walking fern, creeping ahead by planting sprouts wherever the tips of the parent plant’s leaves touch the ground, it would be too slow to keep up with the current climate change. Greg suggested man may have to do some interventive planting, since trees can't change ranges as rapidly as the birds and butterflies that need them. Man's past meddlings with nature leads me to skepticism on this point, but the Paw-paw trees planted in my yard suggests he may already have me on-board.

Greg believes we can make a difference. Just as we banned DDT, cleaned up polluted waters and addressed air-pollution, science has offered some success stories. It is our job to make good environmental decisions. Today our buildings are "greener" and more economical to operate than ever. Our cars are getting better gas mileage, and we have started to turn the political tide.

The Grange Audubon Center, photo by Tom Arbour - The Ohio Nature Blog

Visit the Grange Audubon Center in Columbus to learn more (watch for the upcoming OOS event to be held there in Spring 2010) and support efforts to stop Climate Change at

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