Friday, January 27, 2012

In your face Climate Change for the Rochester, NY region: Gardening changes.


There a many, many Likely Changes coming to the Rochester, NY region because of Climate Change. But because of the relatively slow nature of Climate Change it’s often easy to deceive yourself that it is not really happening. (I say ‘relatively slow nature of Climate Change’ because only from our human daily awareness outlook is Climate Change proceeding slowly; from a geological standpoint Climate Change is hurling itself upon us with frightening rapidity.) You look around Rochester, NY now and you feel a very warm, wet winter that certainly haunts the skiing, skating, ice fishing, and snowmobile businesses—and those who grew up with colder winters with more snow. Is all this the new normal for January?

Yet, even with the insects buzzing around in January there is no proof that this warm winter is a direct effect of Climate Change. It’s complicated, but only for those who haven’t been paying attention to the most important issue of this century.

There are far too many folks who don’t ‘get it’ on Climate Change because their political party doesn’t want them to ‘get it’ or a zillion other loony reasons. There may be some who actually like this warm weather where they don’t have to shovel and where for decades they’ve been holing themselves up in their homes until spring arrives. Secretly, they must be thinking to themselves that this warming might be a good thing—for them.

However, there is one phenomenon that cannot be ignored by even the staunchest Climate Change deniers, some who have helped the fossil fuel industry confuse what the world knows about the laws of physics and heat and sun light and greenhouse gases. That phenomenon is the change in growing seasons. If you depend on growing stuff in our area and continue to believe that your region’s climate is not warming up, you’re going to have problems. You’re going to be planting the wrong stuff at the wrong time:

Gardening Map Of Warming U.S. Has Plant Zones Moving North : The Salt : NPR It's official: Gardeners and farmers can count on warmer weather. If that's you, it might be a good time to rethink those flower and vegetable beds for this year's growing season. That's the word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which released a new version of its "Plant Hardiness Zone Map" this week, the first update since 1990. The color-coded zones on this map of the United States are widely used as a guide for what perennial flowers will survive in a particular area, or when to plant your vegetables.  (January 26, 2012) Environment : NPR

When you see stories like this, where a major US department is changing the growing season maps, it’s got to put shivers down your spine. Not because you now have to take the trouble to actually check the maps before you plant seeds, but because of the larger implications that Climate Change is happening. This is what the Climate Change denier really fear: Climate Change is package deal—like evolution. It’s a re-framing of the way you understand reality. When you ‘get it’ on Climate Change, you have to understand the whole deal, because everything will be changing, not just planting schedules. It’s like when you sign up to join the military, you didn’t just get a really neat uniform—you’ve made a major commitment that you cannot walk away from.

That’s the way it is with Climate Change and the media. You cannot keep something as big as Climate Change quiet and expect that the deniers will be able to spin every story their way. At some point, because of the myriad effects of Climate Change, there will be at least one description of the changes going on due to our atmosphere warming up where you find a news item and go: “Holly Mackerel!, it’s true!”

I think this growing season map by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to be that moment for some people. Gardening is the most popular outdoor activity in the United States. Who wants to look like an idiot planting things at the wrong time? How do you explain to yourself that when it comes to planning seeds in your garden Climate Change is true, but when you shop, plan for your children’s future, vote for the next president, and buy a house that may soon be a flood plain that it’s all hogwash?

Climate Change is happening and it is the lens from which we must view all human activity in the future—how we plan our cities, plan our transportation and telecommunications infrastructures, protect our fresh water, and much, much more.

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