After a pretty cold winter, it has been nice these last few days to welcome some warm Spring days. It is intriguing that one of the many strands of evidence for climate change is Nature’s response. Over the last few decades, Spring has been arriving earlier and earlier - as indicated by the unexpected appearance of migrating animals and flowering plants. The counts for these natural signs are collected by citizen scientists who scour the landscape for the first appearance of a cuckoo, or a butterfly.
This is happening here in the US as well as Europe. For example, swallows arrive to breed in the British Isles a full two weeks earlier than they did 50 years ago. The English Oak pushes out its leaves a month earlier now than in 1950. And here in America the average length of the growing season in the lower 48 states has increased by about two weeks since the beginning of the 20th century; a particularly large and steady increase has occurred over the last 30 years.
Unfortunately, although it is great to see Spring shuffle onto the calendar that little bit earlier, there are consequences for some animals’ breeding success. Chickadees used to arrive so that a peak ‘crop’ of caterpillars would be available when baby birds were begging for food from their parents. Now, many types of caterpillar are emerging earlier from their eggs and munching on wild and garden plants, then pupating, before the birds have got their act together and left for their summer residence.
This month, we launched our website EcoPhilly.org, whose aim is to work with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to launch ‘creation care groups’ at the local/parish level, to make their local environment a more wildlife-friendly/less polluted one. The groups will vary in size, depending on the size of the parish and the enthusiasm of the group. We will help all we can directly, but also connect you with groups such as the Catholic Climate Conference and Global Catholic Climate Movement. Volunteers will be informally trained to find what environmental problems they have in their neighborhood, and how to improve the situation.
Please explore this site, reach out to us, and stay tuned for future posts!