Popular Science

Cemeteries are the perfect spot to track our planet’s demise

In a changing climate, cemeteries make great laboratories.
Mount Auburn Cemetery Cambridge Massachusetts landscape

In big cities, cemeteries are often much-needed nature preserves.

Courtesy Mount Auburn Cemetery

Paul Kwiatkowski’s office window offers an unusual view. Where other panoramas provide glimpses of busy city streets or slumbering office parks, Kwiatkowski’s Cambridge, Massachusetts workspace is surrounded by 174 acres of urban greenspace. There are trees of near-infinite variety, structures dating back to 1831, and about 100,000 graves.

Kwiatkowski is the wildlife conservation and sustainability manager for Mount Auburn Cemetery. Situated just west of Boston, the historic graveyard and arboretum neighbors Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. Permanent residents include the behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, geodesic dome inventor Buckminster Fuller, and legendary botanist . And newly deceased members join the ranks each day.

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