Saturday, January 13, 2024

Under a spreading chestnut tree

A man plants a chestnut tree

Starting today [January 11], Climate Matters will reach your inbox on Thursdays instead of Fridays. Happy reading!

This week I have a story on forest restoration using genetically-modified trees. The American chestnut tree, found in many pieces of art and literature, used to be abundant in Eastern forests. A fungus introduced in the 1900s, now known as chestnut blight, wiped out much of the population.

Although the Adirondacks were never home to a high population of the tree, climate change may have altered its range as the park’s environment has become warmer, a researcher told me.

At this link: A high-stakes restoration process that could take generations to accomplish, with some bumps along the way.

On mines and carbon sequestration:

I spoke with researcher William Peck, a professor of geology at Colgate University, this week about his work looking at passive carbon sequestration in Adirondack mines.

While the amount of carbon stored in the Lewis and Fox Knoll wollastonite mines is a small drop in a very large bucket, the findings could inform future mitigation efforts.

Peck said he began visiting the Fox Knoll mine in the 1990s and has taken students on field trips to study the materials for years.

Read the study here.


Here are some climate stories I’m following:

There were several climate proposals in the newly-released State of the State document. Among them:

  • A call to plant 1.7 million acres of new forest by 2040.
  • Expanding communities’ work with The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to advance infrastructure.
  • The launch of a new Alternative Waste Management and Enhanced Precision Feed Program that could help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
  • An Extreme Heat Adaptation Plan aimed to protect workers who perform in high temperatures.

Read the Explorer’s coverage of Gov. Hochul’s address here.


Canary Media: Clean electricity is driving down US emissions

“A record-shattering number of solar power projects and utility-scale battery installations contributed to the drop in U.S. power-sector emissions, which fell by 8 percent in 2023 compared to the previous year, analysts said in a preliminary report released on Wednesday.”

NYT: Climate Change Is Driving a Sharp Drop in Snow Levels, Study Finds

“A new study confirms that human-caused climate change has affected snow patterns across the Northern Hemisphere, including clear declines of snowpack in at least 31 individual river basins.”

LA Times: Researchers discover thousands of nanoplastic bits in bottles of drinking water

“Using sophisticated imaging technology, scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty laboratory examined water samples from three popular brands (they won’t say which ones) and found hundreds of thousands of bits of plastic per liter of water.”

Yale Climate Connections: U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters set an all-time record in 2023, with 28

“The total cost of 2023’s billion-dollar weather disasters, $92.9 billion, was the ninth-highest on record.”


Photo at top: Andrew Newhouse plants a transgenic American chestnut tree. Photo provided.

This first appeared in Chloe’s weekly “Climate Matters” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Chloe Bennett is a climate change reporter based in Lake Placid, NY. Originally from North Texas, Chloe has always been drawn to the natural world. In 2022, she graduated from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY where she focused on environmental reporting and audio production. She grew a deep appreciation for the Adirondack Park while interning for the Explorer in the summer of 2022.

3 Responses

  1. I have tried growing these types of genetically modified chestnut trees on my property here beyond the Adirondack Park’s western border outside Watertown with little success. Of 20 3-foot trees planted six years ago. 5 still “survive”, but they are all still just 3 foot tall and have shown no distinct signs of growth yet. We have done the same thing on my best friend’s land further south, down near Horseheads/Emira. We are having much greater success there, with 9 of 10 3 ft trees alive after 3 years, having shown signs of healthy growth to about 5 ft. One cautionary note-We caged them all initially. Early this fall, we took the cages off the Horseheads trees, as the cages were impeding lateral limb growth. The minute we did that, a buck damaged one by rubbing his antlers on it.

  2. nathan says:

    N eed Black walnuts and Butternuts for the adirondacks that are blight resistant, along with Beech trees now. These trees used to be so common and feed so many animals. There has to be a Ban on importing living plants, soil, maybe even unprocessed food products to protect “our enviroment”. we are loosing so many key trees to our forests, and increasingly more invasing plants, fungus, insects and fish, especially snake heads, millfoil.
    Only through agressive caring can we save our lands, forests and lakes, reduce pumping poisonous chemicals into our enviroment as we see with the repeated poisoning of lakes just for millfoil.

  3. geogymn says:

    Tree seedling order forms are now available from your county (and state) . Plant trees, if you can squeeze a tree in an available space it may become a legacy. Hope springs eternal.

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