Skip to content

Walden Warming an A+ Book Review

WALDEN WARMING BY RICHARD B. PRIMACK

My friend, K. L Allendoerfer writes brilliant book reviews as I’m sure you will agree after you read her analysis of Walden Warming.

Walden Warming: Climate Change Comes to Thoreau’s Woods by Richard B. Primack My rating: 4 of 5 stars The best part of this book is its founding idea.

The author Richard Primack, a professor of Biology at Boston University, compared the information in Henry David Thoreau’s journals with his own modern-day research to understand and measure how the climate and the plant and animal species of the area around Walden Pond in Concord MA have changed over the past 150 years.

ThoreauGPS
Thoreau is introduced to geocaching

As an intermittent journal keeper, walker, biologist, and sometime admirer of Thoreau, I find that this research represents a kind of interdisciplinary, far-ranging, life of the mind that I have always admired. Primack’s work is an eloquent testimony to the best of Massachusetts where I lived for 17 years: its beauty, its history, its eccentricity, and its crazy weather.

The book itself, however, is a little scholarly, dry and understated. Its cover is a simple print–an artist’s conception of Thoreau’s cottage–and a few scientifically accurate black and white photographs adorn its pages. The writing is more lively and engaging than most scientific papers I’ve read, but it is also so detailed and thorough that it is unlikely the casual reader will persevere through the entire book. Trees, wildflowers, pond ice, weeds, migratory birds, bees, butterflies, fish, mosquitoes, amphibians, salamanders, and marathon runners all get their pages, sometimes entire chapters. I stopped reading myself a couple of times and might not have finished if I hadn’t been planning on writing this review.

By sifting through so much data, Primack and his team are able to conclude that the area around Boston, including Concord, is warming, and that this warming has consequences for the species that live there. The main conclusion is, in fact, that it is good for species to be flexible. The more flexible a species can be, the more likely it is to thrive. Primack is also conscientious enough to point out that the majority (about 2/3) of the warming since the 1850s that he currently observes in the Boston area is due to an “urban heat island effect”—the absorption of sunlight by dark paved surfaces such as roads, parking lots, and buildings—and only 1/3 is due to general global warming. His work, therefore uses Concord area warming as a model for what could happen all over the earth when temperatures rise.

IMG_6904

The book derives a great deal of its interest from Primack’s own story. His personal anecdotes about his wife’s fishing knowledge acquired while growing up in Malaysian Borneo, or with his children helping spotted salamanders across a golf course parking lot to their mating grounds, or running the Boston marathon as a true amateur in 1970, give the book a narrative structure and the lay reader a break from all the technical terminology. Perhaps unwittingly, the narrative also provides a birds-eye view of how a scientific career might be structured in the modern era. Primack devotes significant effort to explaining how and why he chose the research directions he did and the obstacles he had to overcome to acquire data on various species in the first place. The reader is also party to the messiness inherent in drawing firm conclusions from data acquired in the field over many years. read more…

About the Author Richard Primack

Walden Warming

Professor Richard Primack

Born: January 15, 1950 (age 66)
Education: Duke University (1976), Harvard University
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences, US & Canada

About K. L. Allendoerfer

K. L. Allendoerfer is a neuroscientist, educator, geocacher, Unitarian-Universalist, an amateur violinist, and parent. She has always been fascinated by how people’s brains learn, and especially why this process is easier and more fun for some brains than others. This led her to get a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, work in biotech, and then become a science educator and writer.

Source: Book Review: Walden Warming by Richard B. Primack

Never miss another A+ Book Review

SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER AND GET A FREE BOOK, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN BLOG?

Additional Books

Essentials of Conservation Biology, Sixth Edition

Product Details

1 reply »

Translate

Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

Personal Links

Verified Services

View Full Profile →

#StoryChat

Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge

Where to Find Quotes

Where to find quotes

How to Link to a Challenge

8 Benefits of Photo Challenges

8 benefits of Challenges

For the Love of Challenges

Teacher Resources

Click to Get Early Childhood Teaching Resources

Becky B’s Squares April – Bright

Cee’s Black & White Challenge

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge

Featured Blogger Award

2020 Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest

Free Download

Use Canva to Create Social Media

Download Today – Free

Write a Top Review

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 16,457 other followers

Categories

Blogs I Follow

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 139,509 hits
Light Words

Better Living Through Beauty, Wisdom and Whimsey

The Backyard Horse Blog

Living the Dream and the Reality of Keeping Horses at Home

Whippet Wisdom - a Highland Journey

A journey through the seasons with two adopted whippets, a poet and a camera

Mylife-and-Horsestories

My family is everything. My life is full, thankful for my horses they fill my soul!

Tranature

quiet moments in nature

Eat, Play, Live

Doing things that bring me joy

Kanlaon

Just another Wordpress.com weblog

Robert's Snap Spot

Life in Full View: A Photographer's Journey

Six Crooked Highways

Take My Words For It

The Yoga Cowgirl

Live fully and have fun doing so...

One Woman's Quest

Passion for writing ignites my soul's momentum

But I Smile Anyway...

Musings and memories, words and wisdom... of a working family woman

Cath's Camera

life through my lens

The Nature of Things

A blog dedicated to flora, fauna and all the wonderful things in nature.

The Tony Burgess Blog

The Home Of T-Bird From The Dork Web.

An Embarrassment of Riches

Not really embarrassed.

Still Restlessjo

Roaming, at home and abroad

The Day After

Musings, Photography, Writing, and More

Susan T. Braithwaite

Scottish Romantic Suspense Author & Screenwriter

Hugh's Views & News  

WordPress & Blogging tips, flash fiction, photography and lots more!

LightWriteLife

I love light, I love to write, I love life - I create my words and images to capture the light in my life.

Unique Times

Where I share my jewels of wisdom of life

Philosophy Through Photography

"A photograph shouldn't be just a picture,it should be a philosophy" Amitkalantri.

WordsVisual

Mostly photographs with some words by this arty scientist...

One Million Photographs

Follow along with me as I travel the world on a quest to publish one million photos

justbluedutch

Be it always Less, So It can be More.

David M's Photography Blog

Focusing on the Light and Shade

The Hermit Poet's Ramblings

Poetry BLOG By Edge of Humanity Magazine

%d bloggers like this: