Cone and Koolen Speak About Effects of Global Warming At Phillips Academy in Second Faculty Science Seminar

The Phillips Academy Biology Department held a seminar in Gelb titled, “The Effect of Global Warming on the Ecology of Phillips Academy and the Andover Area”, on Wednesday. Instructor in Biology Thomas Cone gave the presentation with Chair of the Biology Department Marc Koolen to help increase the awareness among students and faculty of the effects of global warming in Andover and around the world. “It is not our intention here tonight to convince you of global warming, but to give you some data and show you where it is heading,” said Mr. Koolen during his opening remarks. This seminar, along with Andover’s participation in the Green Cup Challenge, is one of the steps that Phillips Academy is making to create a more environmentally friendly campus. Mr. Koolen began the presentation by naming carbon dioxide as the most prominent pollutant in the earth’s atmosphere. Most of this carbon dioxide comes from burning fossil fuels and changes in land use, like deforestation. The International Panel for Climate Control, organized by the U.N. in 1990, has put out recent reports that 95% of this pollution is a result of human activity. The most well-known side effect of global warming is the consequent increase in global temperatures. Mr. Koolen said that the average temperature in the northeast has been 44.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the past one hundred years, but the warmest temperatures were recorded in the late 1990’s. Andover is in a zone seven growth zone, which means that its average temperature has increased between 3.1 and four degrees Fahrenheit over the past one hundred years. Mr. Koolen said that it has been projected that by the year 2100 the average temperature in Andover will have increased by six to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, putting New England in a zone seven growth zone. This means that Andover will have a similar climate to that of Richmond, VA or Georgia. Mr. Cone then spoke about range shifts among different species of animals and changes in biological events. He said that woodland dynamics, animals and the longevity of their lives would continue to be affected as the temperatures increase. He used the maple sugar and syrup industry as an example, saying that the increased temperatures have caused the industry to decrease by 30% over the past 20 years. “It has become such a major issue that we must educate as many people as we can,” said Mr. Cone. Biology 540 has a section on global issues, where Mr. Cone said students are starting to see that global warming is everywhere. This is an international issue, and many countries are trying to start their own programs to fight the phenomenon. He also argued that the increase in pollutants has affected many land animals, like beavers and rabbits, with which scientists have found to have many toxic substances within them. This causes many animals to migrate further north to find less polluted environments. In terms of aquatic ecosystems, Mr. Cone explained that winters are becoming shorter every year, so the ice is melting sooner. This causes wildlife home to New England, like Native Brook Trout to move north for colder conditions. Longer summers would bring more insects, like deer ticks, and more rain. Andover has experienced many of these problems, including a shift in the range of tree species and life spans and disrupted aquatic ecosystems, like Rabbit Pond. Andover has also beginning to see issues with pests because of increased breeding potentials due to warmer temperatures. Recent trends have shown that more southern birds are migrating north than northern birds migrating south. This means that wildlife will eventually move along with their climate zone. Trends have also shown that the average growing season is 192 days, but it is likely to increase. Mr. Cone said that lilacs are growing on average 4 days earlier than they did about 50 years ago. Apple trees and grape vines are both growing 8 days earlier than they did 50 years ago. Both Mr. Cone and Mr. Koolen stated that the warmer temperatures that lead to longer growth seasons will increase as pollution levels rise.