After my last post, a reader sent a link to this incredible pollen analysis viewer. Basically, it allows you to see the change in range maps of dozens upon dozens of plant species over the past 20,000 years based on pollen analysis from surface sediments. Another great distraction (*ahem cough* research & educational tool) for the plant-focused among us. And animated maps of ice sheets receding are included!
But there’s a very important take-home point, which is that what we currently consider “normal” in terms of species distribution is actually just one brief moment in time. Landscapes, climate, ecosystems, etc. have always been changing and will always continue to do so. That isn’t to say, “don’t worry,” about anthropogenic climate change – it’s just to understand that it’s not the change per se that’s a problem for us. Instead it’s the rate, unpredictability, and feedback loops of climate change that create the really scary scenarios.
In a related vein, read this beautiful post on the history of people and oak trees by my long-time friend and kindred spirit Ben Kessler over at Laughing Crow Permaculture.