Thursday 16 February 2017
Early Spring by Amy Seidl
This book is part memoir, part science and part plea for the world to pay more attention to climate change.
Seidl is an ecologist and writes of her experience of a mother bringing up children in rural Vermont and as an ecologist studying how the seasons are changing year on year. She refers both to her own observations on how some species are flowering earlier than they used to and other scientists work on for example the science of how river flow is affected by a changing climate and how changes for one species have a knock on effect on other species that rely on the first (eg for food).
She breaks down her observations into chapters that focus on: Weather; Gardens; Forests; Water; Birds, Butterflies; Meadows and Fields.
She looks at how Vermont has changed - losing some of its historical forest to farmland but then more recently losing some of the farmland back to forest. This has impacted on species such as the bobolink, a bird of open spaces that moved into Vermont from the west but now is decreasing in Vermont (due to loss of farmland) just as urbanisation and agricultural intensification are reducing its favoured habitats in the west. This is just one of many species being affected by a complicated network of human induced changes.
She also outlines how some people in Vermont are trying to live more in balance with nature, whether by growing their own crops on a small scale or by using more environmentally friendly methods in large scale farming (though that is counterbalanced by the farmers who are moving into more intensive farming).
It's a fascinating book that makes climate change real in a very specific place and time, in a way that is understandable and observable. It isn't just happening in Vermont of course, all round the world nature is changing with the climate and we don't know what the ultimate consequences will be.
Early Spring by Amy Seidl published by Beacon Press (2009)