NSF Science & Engineering Messengers

Archive for April 2013

Making the Invisible Visible: Using Science to Show the Value of New Hampshire’s Natural Resources

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800px-New_hampshire_in_autumn_

Autumn in New Hampshire. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This is a sample blog post composed at the NSF “Science Becoming the Messenger” workshop in Durham, New Hampshire, April 10-11, 2013.

When you think of New Hampshire, it’s hard not to think of the scenes of natural beauty—from the Seacoast to the White Mountains. Indeed, 80 percent of the state’s geographical area is covered by trees. Then there are its 1,000 lakes, and its 100,000 miles of rivers and streams, which supply the drinking water of 200,000 households. Nature is the reason people—tourists—come here. And nature is the reason that many of them–residents–stay.

But New Hampshire is currently beset by two forces that threaten our quality of life, and the state’s own image of itself: Climate change on the one hand, and growing urbanization on the other. Climate change is taking a whack at one of the chief outdoor recreational industries here: skiing. A warmer climate threatens to turn more than half of New Hampshire ski resorts into money losers, according to a recent study. And then there’s urbanization. As recent reports by New Hampshire’s own Carsey Institute make clear, our population is increasing, especially in the state’s southern counties. That’s because people are migrating here, driven by the quality of life and recreational splendor that we’re so known for. And with that population  comes increasing urbanization—housing developments built amid forests, strip malls constructed to service it all.

All of which raises the question: “How much is too much?” Or as Cameron Wake, a climate researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of New Hampshire puts it: “How much can we develop, and still keep clean water, and clean air, and areas to recreate, and wood for timber, and areas for agriculture?” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by nsfmessengers

April 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized