(Roughly) Daily

“Leaves of Three, Leave Them Be”*…

Pesky Pete Barron pulls out the poison Ivy plants and roots

Gabrielle Emanuel on the one of climate change’s winners– the hiker’s scourge, poison ivy…

Over a decade ago, when Peter Barron started removing poison ivy for a living, he decided to document his work.

“Every year I always take pictures of the poison ivy as it’s blooming,” said Barron, who is better known as Pesky Pete, of Pesky Pete’s Poison Ivy Removal.

He still remembers the photos he took of the very first tiny, red, shiny poison ivy leaves popping out in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.“

When I first started, it was May 10 or May 11,” he remembered. “I was so excited. I was like, ‘Wow, the season is here’.”

Now, if he lines up all his photos from 14 years, the first sighting comes almost a month earlier. In 2023, his first glimpse was on April 18.

Barron may have unwittingly documented an effect of climate change.

Poison ivy is poised to be one of the big winners in this global, human-caused phenomenon. Scientists expect the dreaded three-leafed vine will take full advantage of warmer temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to grow faster and bigger — and become even more toxic.

Experts who have studied this plant for decades warn there are likely to be implications for human health. They say hikers, gardeners, landscapers and others may want to take extra precautions — and get better at identifying this plant — to avoid an itchy, blistering rash…

Ugh: “Bigger, earlier and itchier: Why poison ivy loves climate change,” from @gabrieman and @WBUR.

* Adage


As we cache cortisone cream, we might send carefully-calibrated birthday greetings to Guillaume Amontons; he was born on this date in 1663. A physicist and scientific instrument inventor, he developed the air thermometer – which relies on increase in volume of a gas (rather than a liquid) to measure temperature – and used it (in 1702) to measure change in temperature in terms of a proportional change in pressure. This observation led to the concept of absolute zero in the19th century. 

Deaf from childhood, Amontons worked on inventions for the hearing impaired, among them the first telegraph, which relied on a telescope, light, and several stations to transmit information over large distances. And Amontons’ laws of friction, relied upon by engineers for 300 years, state that the frictional force on a body sliding over a surface is proportional to the load that presses them together and is independent of the areas of the surfaces.


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