If you are reading these words, you are probably safe (at least at the moment) from the potentially dire effects of summer heat. But you might still want to immerse yourself in a cooling topic. Here is one good choice: beavers.
A venture into the mazes of the internet may capture you with tales of ancient beavers. Muskrat-sized Paleocastor lived some 30 million years ago and dug vertical, human-sized, corkscrew-shaped burrows. Casteroides lived up to some 12,000 years ago and were the size of black bears. Neither seems to have built dams.
Or you can cool down with these articles about modern beavers and how, with help from humans, they are becoming climate activist heroes.
The story told well by scientists:
- “Beavers offer lessons about managing water in a changing climate, whether the challenge is drought or floods,” Christine E. Hatch, The Conversation. It has a good embedded video from PBS, too.
- The media coverage section of geographer, hydrologist, and beaver-landscape-specialist Emily Fairfax’s website. Many good videos.
The story told well by journalists:
- “It was war. Then, a rancher’s truce with some pesky beavers paid off.” Catrin Einhorn, New York Times. Focus on letting beavers do their thing.
- “How BC will restore wetlands with beavers.” Liz McDonald and Curtis Seufert, The Tyee. Focus on how humans are helping.
- “From pest to protector: how beavers are helping fight climate change.” Watch the video (6+ minutes) with reporter Jonathan Vigliotti, CBS Mornings, Earth 365.
Some controversy about methods:
- “The secret movement bringing Europe’s wildlife back from the brink.” Isobel Cockerell, Coda. Who should be in charge of rewilding beavers and other species? Just scientists and governments? Or also citizen “beaver bombers”? This entertaining article may well make you want to choose sides.
Some problems with some places:
- “Satellite images reveal beavers are transforming the Arctic ‘like wildfire’.” Morgan McFall-Johnsen, Science Alert (originally in Business Insider).
- “Beavers expanding north bring damming consequences for Inuit and wildlife.” Rachel Watts, CBC News.
- “Why two countries want to kill 100,000 beavers.” Ben Goldfarb, Washington Post. (Introduced beavers are destroying native forests in Tierra del Fuego.)