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Blog Action Day: The Environment…

Posted by on 14 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: allergy, blog action, caring, celebrations, climate, editorial, education, environment, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, health, hope, illness, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, map, musings, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, rain, social justice, Uncategorized, weather

So many things a person could write about, I spent all weekend thinking and working on this post. Here is my meagre contribution to this month’s Blog Action Day.

Of course, we all know by now that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize was given out to people who have been working on Environmental Issues (Global Warming) for many years. One commentator I heard (on National Public Radio) related that they did so because it is already apparent that many of the violent conflicts in the world are the direct result of shifting resources as formerly lush landscapes become deserts, and as storms wash away other areas.

This particular year has seemed to drive the point home for many people in my country (USA) and on my continent: North America. On the west coast, it was a cooler than normal, grayer/rainier summer after a rather nice spring. On the east coast, the spring was very wet, the summer overly hot (and as of this last week many places were still in the 80sF/25C!) and autumn appears to be late arriving. The middle of the continent sweltered through the summer… some people died from the heat.

Environment: climate, pollution, allocation of resources, activities for work and play.

Changes in the climate affect the environment in many ways. I am an expert on only one small part of the environment, so that is my focus today.

For me, the changes in the climate affect my garden as well as outdoor activities. My garden is a little micro-world, with its own hot and cold areas, variations in ecology just within our one acre. I notice how the plants react through the year to the sun, the rain, the wind, the shadows… I evaluated my space (light and shadows, orientation of the house) carefully before cutting any of the existing trees when we got ready to move here; and carefully considered existing vegetation (what grew naturally, where) before planting new. Eight years ago, we began our gardening odyssey…

I recognize that there are normal fluctuations of temperatures, and I remember when I was a child “the year without a summer” when we had the fireplace lit on the Fourth of July… I remember the year that we had a week of temperatures in the 80s in September (I was in high school, it was great). I know that most years the last two weeks of March are sunny and warm — shorts and T-shirt weather; surrounded by gray, windy, rainy months. What I don’t know is whether the extreme fluctuations from the “norm” in the last five years (extreme rains in winter, but drought twosummers in a row followed by the very wet and cool summer this year) are becoming the new pattern, or if weather will change back to the usual 9 months of rain/3 months of sun. Will the average temperatures continue to increase?

What should I be planting now? It takes years for trees and shrubs to mature enough to produce a crop that is useful. I can nurse young trees along no matter what they are, keep them alive for five or even ten years. But for them to thrive and bear as they ought, the climate as well as the soil they are in need to be right. My figs did not ripen, though the trees held record numbers, because there was too little sun this summer. My apples bore, but not well, because of the rains during the flowering stage.

I did not plant a vegetable garden this year, but if I had, my usual crops of lettuces would have lasted longer and the squash would never have fully developed. Corn would never have reached the tassel stage. Beans would have been slow, though peas would have liked the cool days. Potatoes and tomatoes would have been cranky. Coles and brassicas would have been ecstatic at the cool weather. Melons, which are iffy in the best years, would have not even set.

My flowers were, by and large, late, small and highly unmotivated. The birds didn’t delight in visiting the yard as they do most years. The frogs were quieter than normal. No crickets were heard… I didn’t see as many snakes. We had bees, but not as many or as constantly as I am used to. There were more “bear splats” in the yard than normal — are they looking for food further afield than in a usual year? We certainly had more “deer plops” as well, as they nibbled my fruit trees and rose bushes. But who can blame them? Much of their usual forage was late and minimal also!

Friends and acquaintances in other areas were stymied by overly sunny and hot weather. Many plants shriveled and died despite repeated waterings and good mulch.

What will all this mean to me? To my family? To the world? Well, around here we still have abundant water — more necessary than sunlight for life. But if the climate here continues to sustain trees and life, if our home becomes very attractive to people from places on the continent where extremes of climate are out of control, more people will want to move here. I don’t blame them… but how will our resources hold up if they need to be shared by too many people? Will the government decide to restrict our use of the aquifer our well pulls from? As harvests are more variable and less reliable, will food supplies become more valuable than gold? Will we be able to feed our families? Will we be able to afford the taxes on our home if the value increases because so many people like it here?

If the weather warms, and becomes sunnier, other crops may become possible: oranges, bananas, avocados? But if that happens apples, pears and even the type of grains that are grown here will not be successful. If the weather becomes more erratic, crops like cherries and peaches will be less reliable. Corn would be easier to grow in a warmer, dryer climate… but after only a few years of drought our forests become scary places, and the lovely trees start to suffer. And if rivers dry up, the fish will have more difficulty and the dams that generate much of our power will produce less electricity.

Environment: it affects EVERY aspect of our lives. From whether we go for a picnic in the summer, to how expensive it is to keep the house comfortable in the winter. It affects how much we have to eat, and whether we have anything left over to share. People in this area are quite generous, but can that last?

I don’t have answers today, just questions; some fears, a few hopes, and many dreams. I know that I will continue to look for ways to minimize our family’s impact on the environment, from being careful what we put in the septic system and use on our plants (we are an organic family for most things) to trying to minimize the electricity we use, to cutting down on trips in the cars and keeping them tuned up for better mileage. Recycling, reusing, sometimes doing without… all of these are ways we attempt to be a positive influence on the environment. Will it be enough?

Only time will tell. Our family will continue to “reduce the things we purchase new, reuse what we can, and recycle as much as possible.” I am optimistic because I think we are adaptable: not just my family, but our species. I think we will find ways to grow enough food, to stay cool enough in the summer and warm enough in the winter, to enjoy a few of the nicer things we have come to expect. I really hope the internet will continue to be available! Mostly though, I believe that our world will find ways to be beautiful and healthy. I hope my descendants will be able to look back at us someday and say with pride, “Stidmama and her family were good citizens of the planet.”

Here are a few websites I know about that can encourage you to make changes — small or large — to keep having a quality lifestyle and still reduce your impact on the environment.

  • Ideal Bite
    I get a daily email from these people.
  • Mother Earth News We have had a subscription to their magazine for most of our married life.
  • Consumer Reports I believe that buying good products is the least wasteful and more environmentally sound practice. We have read this magazine and used their website for years to help make decisions about large purchases.
  • A new site to me, I like the links and articles they have.

There are many more resources available, too. Check the local phone book, or the libraries. Google climate, environment or conservation. A new resource I found is a World Catalog for books in libraries and other public repositories. It not only can locate a book based on keywords (title, subject, author) but I will tell you how far away the closest copies are! Many communities have recycling programs, used building material stores and thrift stores can have wonderful finds.I encourage you to find ways to make it better — turn off one extra light, wear long underwear and keep the house cooler, walk a block or two instead of moving the car that distance, eat local foods, in season or prepared at home, plant a tree or a flower.

Together, we can help our world heal.


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My frappr map…

Posted by on 02 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: map, Uncategorized