Immortalised for its beauty by Henry David Thoreau, the Massachusetts pond is under threat from increased human activity and climate change according to a new study

The water of Walden Pond, which Henry David Thoreau described in 1854 as “so transparent that the bottom can easily be discerned at the depth of 25 or 30 feet”, is no longer quite so clear according to a new study.

The Massachusetts pond was made famous in Walden, the transcendentalist writer’s account of the years he spent next to it in order to “live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life”. The pond has been greatly affected by human activity. Everything from forest fires in the 19th century, to wood-cutting operations, the use of pesticides in the 1960s and increasing tourism have affected the water quality, according to the paper. Over half of the phosphorus in the lake in the summer “may now be attributable to urine released by swimmers”, while a footpath to Thoreau’s cabin “caused large amounts of soil to wash into the lake”.

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