Category Archives: Climate

The Early Bird Sings a Tale of Climate Change

As buds bloom and seedlings sprout, you can hear the familiar chorus of American Robins in your backyard, signaling the arrival of spring. Over the last few years, however, you may have heard our robins start singing earlier than usual.

What We Know

A recent study found that migrating American Robins now start their journeys about 12 days earlier than they did in 1994 because of climate change’s impacts on temperature and weather.

Robins can be seen near year-round in the US, and since the 1900s have been sighted in Massachusetts during the winter. However, most American Robins migrate from wintering habitats to breeding habitats in response to food availability. These migrations can span as far as from Central America in the winter to throughout the US and even into Canada in spring and summer.

To track the south to north migratory patterns of these hallmark birds from Alberta, Canada to throughout Alaska between 1994-2018, scientists outfitted a group of migrating American Robins with small GPS harnesses. They found that environmental cues affected robin migration. Namely, snow and temperature were among the strongest influences: during drier and warmer winters, robins would migrate earlier than normal.

Study results suggest robins have been migrating five days earlier every decade since 1994 (for a total of about 12 days), indicating a response to warming temperatures.

What this tells us About Climate Change

One of climate change’s impacts is higher average temperatures and shorter, milder winters. American robin’s early arrival, even in New England, is just one way we can see climate change impacting our wildlife, here and now with increasing intensity.

According to Mass Audubon’s 2017 State of the Birds report, warmer winters shift the way critical food webs work and warmer overall temperatures influence the timing of ecological events – like when leaves and insects pop out for spring.

Such changes can lead to climate change induced food shortages and missed foraging or predation opportunities. Climate change’s impacts cascade through the environment, reflecting on species like the American Robin down to the availability of the food they eat, such as earthworms. But we can help!

Making a Difference Together

American Robins sing an important tale about climate change’s impacts – it’s up to us to listen and learn.

To support our wildlife, we must fight climate change at its source by reducing and eliminating excess greenhouse gas emissions. Join our collective climate fight by signing up for our newsletter, Climate Connection, to stay up to date on how to act on climate as a community .

You can also take our climate pledge to commit to reducing your greenhouse gas emissions both individually and as a community or make a gift to Mass Audubon to support our climate action initiatives.

When we act together, we can fight climate change to protect the world around us and the wildlife we love.

If you want to learn more about American Robins during your climate action journey, check out Mass Audubon’s “Bird of the Day” with Joan Walsh, Gerard A. Bertrand Chair of Natural History and Field Ornithology

Happy Earth Day!

For 50 years the world has gathered on one day to celebrate our environment. Even in these challenging times, when the ways in which we gather have been altered, Earth Day reminds us that we have the power to protect our planet and effect change.

This year, Earth Day’s theme is climate action, urging us to once again use our voices and tackle the current climate crisis. Social distancing has shown us that collective engagement to safeguard our communities is still possible and more important than ever.

Join Mass Audubon on Earth Day and beyond for climate action, inspiration, and community by:

  • Making the switch to green power to add more renewable energy into your electricity supply.
  • Driving less and carpooling, biking, walking, or taking public transportation whenever you can.
  • Asking your legislators to fight for strong environmental policies on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill.
  • Making a gift to Mass Audubon to support our collective climate fight and protect people and wildlife across the state.

In honor of the Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, a generous donor has stepped up with a dollar-for-dollar match that will double the impact of your gift if you donate today.

Thank you for all you do to protect the Earth and the nature of Massachusetts. Visit our website to learn more about Mass Audubon’s climate action work and how we can fight climate change together!

Your Mass Audubon Earth Week Calendar

April 18 marks the beginning of Earth Week 2020. This year, activities have gone completely virtual so we can still safely convene around a common goal: Climate Action. If you don’t know where or how to start celebrating, we’ve compiled a Climate Action Calendar to guide your festivities. Download an interactive copy of the calendar.

Day 1, April 18:

Earth Day 2020 Boston Facebook Live Rally, 10 am–1 pm

Kick off Earth Week by joining Boston Earth Day’s Facebook live event. Throughout the day, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from various experts (such as City Councilor Michelle Wu and Mass Audubon’s very own Climate Change Program Director, Alexandra Vecchio), engage with others in the Massachusetts climate action community, and listen to some great music.

Day 2, April 19:

Take the Pledge to Vote, All Day

A consistent voter wields the power of voice. Mass Audubon and the Environmental Voter Project are working together to remind you to vote in each election. These simple reminders can dramatically increase someone’s likelihood of voting.

Day 3, April 20:

Mass Audubon Virtual Climate Café, 7–8:30 pm

Join Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to discuss and engage in climate solutions. While we’re socially distancing, login and learn about the origins of Earth Day, find out more about greenwashing, and discover how you can be involved and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Registration is required. A link to the virtual cafe will be sent out approximately four hours in advance of the start time.

Day 4, April 21:

Electric Cars Are Greener Than You Think 12–1 pm

Join the Green Energy Consumer Alliance in discussing electric vehicles and climate change. Learn how clean electricity mixes, especially those implemented locally in towns and cities across Massachusetts, are guiding us towards a zero-carbon future.

ACE’s 6th Annual Earth Week Climate Teach-In, 1–2 pm

This is a great event for educators and their students that includes climate change trivia, Q&A with special guests, and climate curriculum in celebration of Earth Day.

Ask me Anything (AMA): Climate Change and Wetland Restoration – Submit Your Questions at 2 pm

Ever wonder about the mysterious, climate fighting power our local wetlands wield? Hop on over to @MassAudubon’s Instagram Story to submit your questions to Lauren Kras, Mass Audubon’s Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary Director. Lauren will answer the questions on April 23. *You must have an Instagram account to submit a question*

Day 5, April 22 (Earth Day):

Earth Day Youth Climate Strike: Day One, All Day

  • Day one of the three-day virtual youth climate strike begins with collective power, unity, and environmental justice through storytelling and community building. Strike with Us’ National Live Stream: Storytelling highlights the voices of people on the frontline of climate change, Indigenous, and POC (people of color) leaders. Register >

Eyewitness: Earth Day Storytelling Slam, 12–1:30 pm

Climate Generation’s live, national event aims to share personal experiences about climate change including stories, poems, and musical performances. 

Day 6, April 23:

Earth Day Youth Climate Strike Day Two, All Day

  • Today’s focus is fossil fuel divestment. At Strike with Us’ National Live Stream: Divest, participants can find out how corporations are investing in the climate crisis by investing in fossil fuels, and why stopping this is one of the most important ways we can address the climate emergency. Register >

Food and Agriculture Seminar, 9 am–12 pm

In partnership with Earth Day Network, We Don’t Have Time’s 2020 Climate Conference includes this international seminar on food and agriculture’s impact on climate change globally. Tune in to learn from speakers from the UN, Project Drawdown, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

AMA: Climate Change and Wetland Restoration, 2 pm

Lauren Kras, Mass Audubon’s Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary Director, is taking over our Instagram account to answer all YOUR questions about Climate Change and Wetland Restoration! Hop on over to @MassAudubon’s Instagram story to see these questions answered live. *You must have an Instagram account to view our story*

Day 7, April 24:

Earth Day Youth Climate Strike Day Three, All Day

  • The final day of striking focuses on the urgency of effecting political change through inspiring youth across the nation to register to vote. Participate in a digital, voter registration challenge to see which region of the country can register the most voters and call on elected officials to support advocacy. Register >
  • You can also join the Worcester Strike: Political Action, 12–1 pm and 7–8:30 pm

Birds, Bark, and Brews (21+), 4–5 pm

Raise a glass to mother nature while learning about the basics of birding and tree identification! Zoe Davis, Project Coordinator at Climate Ready Boston, will host Tree ID 101 and bring her extensive background in urban climate resilience planning, climate municipality preparedness, and land stewardship to the lesson.

Day 8, April 25:

Climate Hackathon, 9 am–12 pm

This isn’t a broadcast, it’s a hackathon! Working in small groups, hackathon-ers will explore communication, design, technology, and sustainability to work towards solving the climate crisis. You don’t have to be a computer programmer to participate.

Looking for other ways to engage this month?

Tune into our last AMA of April. Submit your questions about Climate Change and Urban Food Systems on April 28 at 2 pm on our Instagram for Nia Keith, Mass Audubon’s Statewide Climate Change Education Manager, to answer them on Thursday, April 30!

Celebrate Earth Month with Mass Audubon

For 50 years, the entire world has gathered on one day to celebrate our environment. Since 1970, Earth Day reminds us that we have the power to protect our planet and effect change. This year, Earth Day’s theme, climate action, urges us to once again use our voices and tackle the current climate crisis.

During the entire month of April, Mass Audubon is celebrating climate action in commemoration of Earth Day, April 22. Here are some tips on how you can join us:

Read a Book About Climate Change

If you’re suddenly finding yourself with much more time on your hands, sit back, relax, and read a good book about your world and climate change. Here are 12 books about climate solutions as inspiration for action and a source of hope.   

Reading can help us build connections to the world around us and understand how climate change impacts that world. Once you learn about the climate crisis through a good book, you might feel better equipped, maybe with new climate language, to communicate to your friends, family, and community why they should care about it.

Channel Learning Through Art

Artistic expression can combat feelings of anxiety or stress that come with dealing with the novel coronavirus. Take some time to get creative with your household: paint, draw, or color your favorite part of the environment or a special place that you love to visit.

After you’re done, do some research with your household and talk about how climate change affects the subject of your art. Then, draft a plan for what you can do to protect that subject together and start taking action.

Need ideas? Mass Audubon offers nature coloring pages that depict Massachusetts’ wildlife! Share your masterpieces and climate action plans with us by tagging @MassAudubon on social media. You can also email us.

Explore your Neighborhood (Safely!)

With spring’s warmer temperatures comes the desire to go outdoors. If you can do so while maintaining appropriate social distance and compliance with any public health advisories, take a walk or bike around your neighborhood. Getting into the habit of biking can inspire more eco-friendly methods of commuting to work once we return to the daily grind, providing a muscle-powered alternative to cars.

Additionally, Project Drawdown explains that going on walks around our neighborhood can provide us with insight about its infrastructure—namely, how “walkable” it is. In other words, your walk can help you determine if your neighborhood prioritizes safe, walking-based travel, or if you would need to depend on greenhouse gas emitting cars to get around. You can take these insights to your local, elected official to advocate for a more walkable community.

Join a Digital Group to Talk About Climate Change

It’s easy to start feeling isolated and disconnected while socially distancing, and it can be hard to find ways to talk about these feelings. Similarly, people may feel isolated when it comes to talking about climate change. A recent study indicated that over half of all Americans say they rarely or never talk about climate change with their friends and family.

Many have taken to the web to stay engaged with their friend groups and communities during COVID-19 through video calls or online forums. These very tools can also help address any anxiety or isolation you may feel talking about climate change.

For example, Mass Audubon has a Climate Action Facebook Group, where people can create friendships and community over a shared dedication to climate action. You can also join Mass Audubon’s Drawdown Ecochallenge team to fight climate change as a digital community. Community learning and discussion help make social distancing a little easier, while providing us with hubs for climate action.

Donate to Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Program

Mass Audubon’s Climate Action Program can only succeed with your help. Your support makes a difference in our collective fight for a livable planet. Our members, donors, and volunteers provide critical support to keep our climate action initiatives impactful and active.

From building a corps of climate action leaders at all ages, advocating for impacting climate policies, to protecting and stewarding the most important land, your support will help us realize our vision of a carbon neutral Massachusetts.

Start Celebrating

Earth Day’s 50th anniversary gives us the opportunity to engage in climate action close to home, while also building our collective power with others from both in our community and around the world. Social distancing has shown us that collective engagement is still possible and more important than ever. This month, join Mass Audubon for climate action, inspiration, and community!

Stay tuned: Earth Month is the perfect way for all of us to come together and celebrate community climate action. If you found these tips useful, stay tuned for an Earth Week Climate Action Calendar, full of even more actions, webinars, and events you can partake in!

Climate Action in Times of Social Distancing

We all know what it’s like to be stuck at home, socially distancing during COVID-19. There are only so many times you can binge your favorite show on Netflix or read your favorite book before you might start to feel a bit disconnected from the world.

If you’re feeling like this, we have good news. One of the ways Mass Audubon is celebrating Earth Day, April 22, COVID-19 edition, is by participating as a team in the month-long 2020 Drawdown Ecochallenge. The Drawdown Ecochallenge is a global competition that consists of a set of actions aimed at tackling our collective climate footprint to fight climate change.

With a dash of friendly competition, this Ecochallenge allows you to select certain actions, ranging in difficulty and frequency, that will help reduce the amount of carbon you emit. Each action you take contributes points towards the Mass Audubon team and allows you to gauge your impact real-time throughout the challenge.

The Ecochallenge allows us to still come together digitally as a community and stay connected with what’s happening to the environment around us. With plenty of actions we can complete while socially distancing, the Ecochallenge is just one of the ways we can celebrate Earth Week while keeping our communities safe and healthy.

Whether it’s taking a much needed, daily walk to check out the infrastructure of your neighborhood or doing some research on what makes seafood sustainable, the Drawdown Ecochallenge can bring us together to celebrate Earth Day’s 2020 theme, Climate Action, as a digital community and keep engaging with our environment in safe ways.

The challenge begins on April 1 and lasts until the end of the month, April 30. Join Mass Audubon’s team and get ready to tackle climate change together! Tag @MassAudubon in your #Ecochallenge photos for a chance to be shared on our social media platforms.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon

2020: A Call for Climate Advocates

A new year marks a time for reflection and goal setting. What have we accomplished? What does the future hold? When it comes to the climate crisis, those questions invite some concerning responses.  

We know the last decade alone included eight of the 10 warmest years since measurements began. Hurricanes, wildfires, and extreme flooding have contributed to extraordinary economic loss, not to mention a devastating loss of human and ecological life.  

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told us that we have a limited amount of time to right the ship. All of this while the current Federal administration has completed rollbacks of almost 60 environmental regulations, with dozens more under attack.  

But, we also saw some real progress on climate change in the past decade.  

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon

The Paris Agreement was drafted and signed by almost every country on Earth. Solar energy production increased by about 900 percent between 2010 and 2018 and wind energy is estimated to have tripled. We also witnessed an unprecedented number of youth-led climate strikes, calling on our global leaders to treat the climate crisis as just that — a crisis.  

We ended the decade with higher public acknowledgement of the fact that the planet is warming. Now, it is time for us to turn that knowledge into action. One way to do that is by reducing our transportation emissions – a significant contributor to our warming planet. 

The Transportation Climate Initiative  

The transportation sector is currently responsible for more than 40% of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts and the soot and smog from cars and trucks are major contributors to lung disease and other health problems across the region.  

In order to reduce transportation emissions Massachusetts is joining 12 states and Washington D.C., proposing something called The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI). This ambitious regional initiative can combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions and investing in sustainable transportation infrastructure.  

 TCI could drastically change the face of transportation throughout the region by: 

  • developing the clean energy economy 
  • reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector
  • increasing sustainable transportation options 

TCI takes a “cap-and-invest” approach to addressing climate change. It requires local fuel suppliers to purchase allowances for every ton of carbon their fuel would emit when burned. This emissions cap would be brought down over time. The sale of allowances could generate up to $500 million a year for Massachusetts, which would be used to develop cleaner and more efficient transportation options.  

Speak Up for Climate Action  

If we have learned anything from the past decade, it is that we must advocate for climate action with courage, honesty, and urgency like we have never done before. TCI is one of several milestone decisions coming in front of our state and federal legislators in the coming year, and we need you to use your voice and share your support.   

TCI leaders released a draft agreement known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and it is open for public comment. Let decision makers know you are excited to see a high-impact, regional approach to tackling carbon emissions moving forward. Submit comments by February 27, 2020.  

Make no mistake, history books will look back on the 2010s as the decade when the climate crisis became real, tangible, and undoubtedly urgent. How will they describe the 2020s? It’s on us to decide.  

Veggies

Climate Change: It’s In What You Eat

The food we eat, where it comes from, and what we do with it when we are finished can have a significant impact on an individual’s carbon footprint. According to the USDA, 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from agriculture, but this statistic does not tell the whole story of how our food chain impacts climate change.

Mixed veggies

As our food travels from farms to our tables, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are released every step of the way. You can take some simple steps to help fight climate change simply by the food decisions you make.

Eat Less Meat and Dairy

According to a recent study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, transitioning to a plant-based diet is significantly beneficial for the climate. Dietary changes could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by eight billion tons per year and free up millions of square kilometers of land.

Animal products, such as meat and dairy, contribute to over 80% of total GHG emissions from food consumption, compared to less than 5% from vegetables, fruits or grains. Eating one vegetarian meal per week could save the equivalent of driving over 1,000 miles.  

Look For Food with Fewer Food Miles Attached

Because our modern food chain is globalized, you may find apples from New Zealand and avocados from Mexico in your local supermarket. It is important to consider the carbon footprint of transportation because transportation accounts for 29% of total GHG emissions in the U.S, which is the highest out of any sector. The transportation of food is responsible for 14% of the energy used by the U.S. food system.

To reduce the miles your food travels, try shopping for locally grown and seasonal foods. Visit farmers markets and co-ops, or check labels at the grocery store and opt for domestically grown produce. Our own Drumlin Farm and Moose Hill CSA’s are a great place to start your local food journey.

Buy Less and Buy Strategically

At the end of the food system is food waste, which consumers and food distributors play a major role in. According to the EPA, 31% of the food in the United States is wasted every year, equaling 133 billion pounds of food waste. This contributes to climate change because organic waste in landfill generates methane emissions. The EPA is calling for a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030 due to the impact that food waste emissions have on climate change.

Consumers can shop more responsibly to reduce food waste. Try planning your meals ahead of time to avoid buying too much food, and keep an eye on expiration dates. You can keep your food scraps out of landfills by starting a backyard compost pile or bringing your food waste to a community compost site. See our Compost for the Climate blog post for more information.

Pledge To Be a Sustainable Food Consumer

Ready to take action for your health and the health of our planet? Pledge to become a sustainable food consumer and encourage others in your life to do the same. If you’re already vegan or a vegetarian, help create change in your school or workplace by instituting meatless Mondays and encouraging your community to institute sustainable food options at work or community events.

“I pledge to be a sustainable food consumer by reducing the amount of meat and dairy in my diet and encouraging others to do the same. Whenever possible, I will shop locally for my food and will support local farmers and producers.”

Sign the pledge >

Greta Thunberg

Leading By Greta’s Example

If you’ve been following the news about the youth-led climate strikes, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about, and been inspired by, Greta Thunberg. This 16-year-old from Sweden has galvanized millions worldwide to speak out about the climate crisis and demanded that world leaders take meaningful action on this urgent issue.

Greta Thunberg in NatureNow
Greta Thunberg in NatureNow.

At her most recent speech at the UN Climate Action Summit, she said so poignantly : “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be at school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you come to us young people for hope. How dare you.”

If you have five minutes, watch her speech. But it was her NatureNow video that so clearly told us what we need to do to stop the climate crisis. And the three main actions she calls out are what Mass Audubon has been doing for decades.

Protect

As the largest private landowner in Massachusetts with more than 38,000 acres protected, we know how critical land conservation and effective land management is in the age of climate change. We actively protect new land that stores carbon, enhances coastal resiliency, and connects wildlife corridors.

Restore

Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary, in Plymouth, demonstrates the importance of restoring land to its natural state. Once a working cranberry farm, this landscape underwent the largest freshwater ecological restoration ever completed in the Northeast. As a result, Tidmarsh is now on a dramatic change curve—a spectacle that will play out for decades to come. 

Fund

With the help of our members and supporters, we jump at opportunities to protect these critical landscapes. Recently, we had just a few weeks to raise $2.6 million to save 110 acres of ecologically important habitat in Wareham–and it was people like you who stepped up to donate the funds to acquire the land.

Greta’s voice brings clarity and urgency to the issue of climate change like few others have been able to do. At Mass Audubon, we also feel that sense of urgency to respond with solutions that protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife.  

Learn more about our Climate Change efforts, join our climate action group on Facebook, and support our work.

Staff at Strike

Take 5: Youth Climate Strike

Friday’s Youth Climate Strike was beyond inspiring. Reports estimate that about 4 million people participated in the strikes worldwide. Staff from Mass Audubon participated in strikes in Boston, Worcester, Northampton, Wellesley, Lexington, Providence, Martha’s Vineyard, and more. Check out five photos from the strike and see more on our Instagram story.

Mass Audubon staff at Boston City Hall Plaza.
Alexandra Vecchio, Mass Audubon's Climate Change Program Manager at the Mass Audubon table.
Alexandra Vecchio, Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Program Manager at the Mass Audubon table.
Broadmoor Staff
Broadmoor’s team at the Wellesley Strike
The future is in your hands sign
Strikers in Worcester
Strike at State House
The March ended at the State House
Mass Audubon Supports Youth Climate Strike

Stand With Youth Climate Strikers

On September 20, Mass Audubon will stand with millions of people of all ages around the world to amplify the voice of youth activists who understand the urgency of climate change.  

We have partnered with Youth Climate Strike Massachusetts to share our support and stand in solidarity with youth and adults who are walking out of their classes, jobs, and homes to demand our leaders take action on defining issue of our time–climate change.  

Mass Audubon supports the Youth Climate Strike

The Science is Clear 

Climate change is harming natural and human communities like never before. From hotter days to stronger storms to rising seas, we see the impacts all around us. This reality has driven youth activists to take to the streets for more than a year, demanding action for the future of their planet. 

Now, youth organizers are not just welcoming but urging adults to participate side-by-side with them. The strike kicks off a week of actions to elevate the need for implementing bold and urgent climate solutions.  

→ September 20-27: Climate Strikes are taking place across the globe including in Boston (9/20), Northampton (9/20), and Worcester (9/27).

→ September 21: Young leaders from around the world are convening to showcase climate solutions and engage with global leaders on climate change. All of this precedes the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City  

→ September 23: Global leaders are meeting as part of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City  to boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  

If Not Us, Then Who? If Not now, Then When?  

We know that we have the solutions needed to create a healthier, safer, and more equitable planet for all species. What we need now is to come together and use our collective power to make those solutions heard and ultimately supported.

  • Find a climate strike near you and join us on September 20. Then, ask three friends or family members to join you as well.  
  • If you’re striking in Boston, look for the Mass Audubon table at City Hall Plaza.
  • Unable to miss work? Check out these suggestions from youth organizers on how you can offer support from your workplace.  
  • Talk about climate change and the strike with family, friends, and coworkers. And remember to be an adult ally in every climate conversation you have. Lead by example for other parents, adults, and even teachers.  

The moment to show up for nature and the future of all young people is now. 

Will you be standing and striking? If so, share where in the comments.