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Climate Action: Volunteer Your Eyes for Phenology

I understand that the headline of this article could be interpreted in a rather gruesome way, but it’s not what you think. Last night I wrote of the strong protest against a dirty coal-burning power plant in Washington D.C. yesterday, and urged you to renew your commitment to climate activism.

This morning, I read of an opportunity for you to become practically involved in some activism that can help to measure climate change and provide our society with the detailed information it will need to adapt to the change going on. The opportunity comes through the National Phenology Network, an association or schools, governments, and organizations that work with the science of phenology, the study of natural cycles.

The National Phenology Network is asking people to volunteer to participate in its citizen science program, making observations about events in the life cycle of plants growing around the communities where they live. That’s an approach to collaborative science pioneered long ago by the Audubon Society, with its Christmas Bird Count.

Gathering information about what plants live where, and when they go through life stages such as budbreak, will over the long term provide a richer vision of climate change than the simple concept of changing temperatures that most people think of. This is a grassroots effort that trusts in the ability of our collective observations to inform the government policies that shape the way we live. It’s not as dramatic as yesterday’s protest, but in the long term, it will have a great deal more impact.

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