Climate Change

Working together, we can reduce our contribution to climate change and help natural communities to adapt.

Climate change will affect the Neponset watershed land, water, people and wildlife — and create a new “normal” for all of us. Wildlife and plants will either adapt to these changes, migrate elsewhere, or deal with the consequences.

We can and should reduce our contribution to climate change and help natural communities to adapt.

Signs of Climate Change

  • Spring comes earlier
  • Average temperatures across the Northeast have risen, especially during winter
  • Average air and water temperatures will continue to rise
  • Air pollution in cities will increase (especially during summer)
  • Forest make-up will change. Some plants will tolerate the new weather (and possibly even thrive), while others won’t
  • More precipitation will fall in winter, and more snow will be replaced with rain
  • Intense rainstorms will increase
  • One- to three-month droughts will become more frequent
  • Summer streamflows will drop
  • Sea-level will rise and flood and/or permanently inundate low-lying coastal areas like barrier beaches, salt marshes, and sea-side developments
  • Some wildlife species (both aquatic and terrestrial) will migrate away or die out because their habitat has changed

Read about the impact of sea level rise in the Neponset Watershed.


Take Action Now

  • Use less fossil fuels to reduce the amount of heat-trapping emissions that we add to the atmosphere
  • Help wildlife and ecosystems to adapt to climate change by reducing the amount of natural resources we use (i.e., conserving water, and following the re-use / reduce / recycle philosophy)
  • Enhance the landscape for native wildlife (i.e., plant native plants throughout, and around any streams or ponds, on your property)
  • Protect streams from pollution (i.e., use fewer harsh chemicals at home)
  • Plant a rain garden
  • Plant a variety of native plants along the edge of any stream or pond on your property
  • Reduce your household’s heat-trapping emissions with 10 steps*
    1. Get carbon-conscious. Individuals and families can start by using one of several publicly available carbon-footprint calculators that will help you understand which choices make the biggest difference.
    2. Drive change. For most people,  choosing a vehicle (and how much they should drive it) is the single biggest opportunity to slash personal carbon emissions. Each gallon of gas used is responsible for 25 pounds of heat-trapping emissions.
    3. Look for the Energy Star label. When it comes time to replace household appliances, look for the Energy Star label on new models (refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters use the most energy).
    4. Choose clean power. Consumers in Massachusetts can purchase electricity generated from renewable resources that produce no carbon emissions from your local utility. If your local utility does not offer a “green” option, consider purchasing renewable energy certificates.
    5. Unplug an underutilized freezer or refrigerator. One of the quickest ways to reduce your global warming impact is to unplug a rarely used refrigerator or freezer. This can lower the typical family’s carbon dioxide emissions nearly 10 percent.
    6. Get a home energy audit. Take advantage of the free home energy audits offered by many utilities. Even simple measures (such as installing a programmable thermostat) can each reduce a typical family’s carbon dioxide emissions about 5 percent).
    7. Lightbulbs matter. If every US household replaced one incandescent lightbulb with an energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL), we could reduce global warming pollution by more than 90 billion pounds over the life of the bulbs.
    8. Buy good wood. When buying wood products, check for labels that indicate the source of the timber. Forests managed in a sustainable way are more likely to store carbon effectively – thus helping to slow global warming.
    9. Spread the word, and help others. A growing movement across the country seeks to reduce individual, family, business, and community emissions while inspiring and assisting others to do the same.
    10. Let policy makers know you are concerned about global warming. Elected officials and candidates for public office at every level need to hear from citizens. Urge them to support policies and funding choices that will accelerate the shift to a low-emissions future.

* Excerpted from the Union of Concerned Scientists fact sheet “Massachusetts: Confronting Climate Change in the US Northeast.”

 


Additional Problems & Solutions

Problem:  Rising air temperatures will cause streams and ponds to warm up. Unfortunately, warmer water can’t provide as much oxygen for fish or the small animals that live along the stream-bottom. Thus, fewer animal species live in such an environment, as compared to in a cooler stream.

Solution:

  • Plant a variety of native plants around any stream or pond in your backyard, and let these plants grow tall enough to shade the water (never mow down to the water’s edge). Tall plants, shrubs and trees will help to keep the water cool enough to provide oxygen for aquatic wildlife.
  • Conserve water. The less water you take from the ground, the more water there will be for streams, ponds and wetlands. The more water there is in these waterbodies, the cooler they can be (and the more oxygen they can hold), since more water takes longer to be warmed by the sun.

Problem: Climate change causes more intense and frequent storms, increasing flooding and erosion along streams and rivers.

Solution:

  • Plant a wide strip of diverse native plants around any stream or pond in your backyard. Let these plants grow up (never mow down to the edge of the water). The grown plants will slow down the water that flows over your yard and into the stream. The slower this water moves, the less dirt and contaminants it will carry into the stream. Also, the slower water will not cause as much erosion of the streambank. Slower flow also will allow more water to absorb into the ground to be filtered of pollutants and to recharge the groundwater.
  • You also can protect your stream by building “rain gardens” in your yard to absorb the water that flows from your driveway, the street, and downspouts during rainstorms.
  • Replace your driveway with permeable pavement or pavers, to allow more water to absorb into the earth instead of running straight into a stream.

Problem: Increased droughts that will cause streams and ponds to get very low at times – and even disappear. This can also affect the groundwater that we rely on for drinking water.

Solution:

  • Conserve water, every day.
  • Reduce the water you use at home, school and work, and help your friends and family to do the same. By using less water, you help more water to stay in underground aquifers, to supply water to streams, wetlands, ponds and the river.
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, wash dishes by hand, or shave.
  • When your family needs a new appliance (like a dishwasher, toilet, showerhead or washing machine), choose a water-efficient model.
  • If your family waters the lawn, water in the morning to reduce water waste through evaporation.
  • Plant native, drought-tolerant plants in your yard

Problem: Rising temperatures will cause wildlife to look for cooler areas to live.

Solution:

  • Restored stream and river corridors, where a variety of native plants have been planted along the riverbanks, offer cooler shelters and travel corridors.
  • Volunteer with local projects that ecologically restore stream and river corridors.

Please email Ian Cooke at cooke@neponset.org or call us at 781-575-0354 x305 if you have any questions, suggestions, or otherwise would like to get involved.