What a summer! Although this year has been exceptionally warm and dry, the trend toward hotter summers and warmer winters is real. It’s nice to have geraniums and other tender perennials live over from year to year and to have ripe tomatoes earlier in July. Nevertheless, I find global climate change alarming. While we may benefit a bit, other parts of the world are experiencing serious problems with droughts and floods.
Some experts point out that we are still coming out of the last ice age, which from a geologist’s perspective was just yesterday. While that certainly may be a contributing factor, so is the greenhouse effect caused by our energy use. We can’t do anything about the ice age cycle, but we can and must do something about the greenhouse crisis. It seems presumptuous to think that we as individuals can affect global climate change. However, if enough of us do our part, even in small ways, we can have an impact.
The people of the United States (about 2% of the world’s population) account for about 24% of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases. We can’t go back to a pre-industrial-revolution. What we can do is commit ourselves to action, to making small changes, as we are able. Cumulatively, it will make a difference. As gardeners, most of us already think of ourselves as Earth stewards to some extent. It’s not much of a stretch to extend our caring into our lifestyle choices.
We need to look for whatever changes we can make to reduce our energy usage, to slow consumerism, to protect and restore our environment and to get involved politically to care for the Earth. Here are 10 steps you should consider. Don’t feel guilty, if you can’t do them all. Just try to do one more thing than you are presently doing and then one more after that. 1. Insulate your home. Caulk and weatherstrip. Plant deciduous shade trees on the south and west sides of your home to block the sun in summer and allow it to warm your house in winter.
Dress warmly and turn down the heat in winter. 2. Make fuel efficiency a high priority when buying a car. Join a carpool or use the bus. Walk or ride a bicycle when possible. 3. Grow your own food and/or buy locally produced food. Eat organic and fewer processed foods. Go vegetarian at least once a week. Meat makes less efficient use of land, water and energy and cows emit methane. 4. Recycle. Separate wastes. Compost yard and food wastes. Use recycled products, especially paper. 5. Reduce use of vehicles to rech near places.