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“Polar Bear Plunge” Makes a Splash on Walden Pond

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 By Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - MA, Contact
December 5, 2008

Concord, MA – An extra-chilly swim is in the weekend plans for about 100 Bay Staters, who will be taking a "polar bear plunge" in Walden Pond. It's one of hundreds of such events around the world to draw attention to climate change.

While the water temperature will be in the mid-30s, Roger Shamel, president of the Global Warming Education Network, says that's quite a bit warmer than the Walden Pond Henry David Thoreau knew.

"When Thoreau was there, it would have been frozen by now. And there are studies that talk about how the flora and fauna have changed quite a bit since he was there because of the temperature change."

Shamel calls the plunge a "call to action" on reducing the types of pollution scientifically linked to climate change.

"Climate change is not just a feel good topic to talk about; it's a serious and urgent matter that we need to act on quickly."

Some scientists dispute the human-produced pollution connection to climate change, and say it's the result of natural, cyclical processes and solar activity.

Shamel notes 2008 has been a year of extreme weather, from massive wildfires in California and the West, to record heat waves and historic flooding. Those are types of weather events forecast for a changing climate, according to Shamel.

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