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Signs of an Unusually Early Spring in Southeastern Pennsylvania Should Not Be a Cause for Celebration

Uh-Oh! Violets in late February?

But plants aren't the only things at risk. Birds that start nesting early can end up losing their eggs if a looping segment of the Jet Stream drops down after their nests are built and the eggs are laid. I'm sure there are risks too for reptiles and amphibians if they come out of their hibernation and then get caught outside and above ground by a hard frost. In fact, while I was taking my photographic evidence of this early Spring, I heard some spring peeper frogs chirping in our little vernal pond. What will happen to them, I wonder, if a cold snap hits? The peepers are already reportedly under stress from multiple factors, from overuse of herbicides on lawns to a fungus that is killing amphibians around the globe, to increased ultraviolet light that can damage their eggs reducing the number of tadpoles produced. Where years ago there used to be so many peepers in the evening that it was hard to separate their calls, now one only hears a few peeps per minute at best.

The other thing is that many plants -- and especially trees -- have much slower evolutionary cycles because of their long life-spans, than do the short-lived insect pests that attack them. A combination of globalized trade and travel, which keeps introducing new pests from other continents and ecosystems that can destroy North American flora and that have no natural predators here to keep their numbers down, and climate change, which stresses the plants while leaving the fast evolving insect pests largely unscathed, explains why we're experiencing devastating losses of various tree species all over the country -- ash trees, oak trees, various types of pines, horse chestnuts, maples and others are all dying at stunning rates, which will only accelerate as the climate continues to heat up.

So here I am sitting at my desk writing this piece while the temperature at 10:30 am is already a toasty 65 degrees. I'd much rather be outside, but at the same time, I want to sound the alarm that this is NOT a good thing. Especially when we now have a government in Washington that doesn't even care that it's happening, and that is doing everything it can to make it happen faster.

story | by Dr. Radut