Almanack Contributor Richard Gast

Richard Gast

Richard Gast is a retired Extension Program Educator and has been contracted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County to continue his informative and thought provoking articles.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Divesting from Fossil Fuels

Global_Carbon_Emissions.svgIt’s official – 2014 was the hottest year on record. And most everyone I talk to is concerned about the threat that global warming and climate change, with their potentially devastating and possibly permanent consequences, pose to the lives and livelihoods of our children and grandchildren.

Scientists tell us that sea levels and water temperatures are rising, imperiling coastal populations, as well as regional environments and economies; that sea ice is being lost and glaciers receding at unprecedented rates or disappearing altogether; that seasons and plant and animal ranges are shifting and habitat vanishing, threatening to drive entire species of animals to extinction; that weather patterns are becoming more erratic and less predictable; and that worldwide, the number, intensity, and resilience of violent tropical storms is increasing. They warn that other potential future effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, more severe heat waves, sustained periods of drought in certain regions, and unprecedented winter weather conditions in others; all of which jeopardize fresh water supplies, wildlife, and in some instances, indigenous people and their ways of life. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cornell Seeks Birch Syrup Research Collaborators

TappingbigbirchMaking pure, rich, delicious maple syrup is a North Country tradition, an important cottage industry, and an increasingly important part of the region’s economy. There’s pride and care in every gallon of maple syrup made.

In our region, maple sap typically flows best from mid-March through mid-April, during periods when days are warm, but nighttime temperatures fall below freezing. That cycle of warming and cooling is essential. Should temperatures linger above or below freezing, sap flow will stop. If overall conditions are too warm or too cool, the season will be a poor sap-production season. And once it warms up to where the buds on the trees begin to swell and break dormancy, the chemical makeup of the sap changes, causing off-flavors to develop, at which time the sap is no longer satisfactory for maple syrup. » Continue Reading.

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