By Green Mother
You see it everywhere: People say if we have climate change, we can just go back to the land, have a garden. Why, if things go really bad, we can live off the fat of the land.
You know that was true 100 year ago, but not any more. Not with our new extreme weather patterns.
But Climate Change Deniers haven’t made the connection yet.
Successful gardening is more difficult than some realize even under the best of circumstances. Growing enough to feed just one family isn’t easy.
First you need clean water and soil. These days both are getting harder and harder to find. This is why farmers and livestock holders are so pissed when their wells are poisoned.
Not only can the water NOT sustain their families, but it poisons their livestock and their crops. And when that happens, it ruins the value of their property too. Who wants to buy a superfund site?
Many places have contaminated soil. You would be surprised at the number of properties that have heavy metal contamination in their soil. Toxins that are taken up directly into the plants you grow there. Plants are great at re-mediating poisoned soil, but I don’t recommend eating them. I know you thought you could only get mercury and lead poisoning from cheap Chinese toys and jewelry-but no–you can also get it from your garden soil.
This is why some people HAVE to use raised beds and container gardening.
Now there is a problem with herbicides getting into commercial compost material. People have lost entire gardens this way. Herbicides and Pesticides used on plants that are later composted will persist in the finished product. They can even persist in the feces of grazing animals who eat the treated greens, even after the feces are composted.
The next thing you need is the appropriate sunlight and rain and temperature to create a growing season. This is the kicker for Global Climate Change and it’s affects on regional weather.
Take Oklahoma for instance:
We are used to long drought cycles. We are used to days that get up past 110 during our heat waves. We are used to Tornadoes and large hail and high winds and torrential down pours that sometimes accompany severe storms. But these last few seasons have been off–even by our standards.
I note that Tornado Season has changed. More, and more deadly, tornadoes are occurring further East. Those deadly December and February Tornadoes aren’t as rare as they used to be.
Ever wonder why they had to create the “Enhanced” Fujita Scale? I do. Like the old Fujita scale was no longer enough to categorize the destructive power of tornadoes after May 3rd 1999.
We get more hail and it is highly destructive hail, driven by more violent winds that also make more violent tornadoes. The tornado doesn’t even have to land on your property to destroy your crops or garden. The high winds and the hail can make it look like everything was ran through a paper shredder and then water logged. And while this is always a potential hazard in Tornado alley, it seems more prevalent and damaging lately.
Leafy greens can come back from that. But don’t expect much from tomatoes or tomatillos or peppers. Especially if these plants are buried in hail like it’s sleet. They just cannot take that chill.
The hail also does a number on Fruit trees as well. All my apples for 2 years in a row, looked like someone shot each one several times with a pellet gun. They rotted before they could ripen because of the bruising and tearing.
Now then if the temp gets above the high 90s, expect your pollen in your plant blooms to be sterilized. That is why there is often a gap in tomato production in the dog days of summer in some places. Even if you have insects pollinating for you, the heat will ensure that their work isn’t going to have much effect on production. If it gets into the high 100s–like it did last year, 112 to 115 in some places [hot even by our standards] a lot of stuff will just not progress at all. If you ever wonder why flowers often bloom at night in deserts–this is probably why. So the pollen will stay viable for fertilization purposes.
But the real killer of crops and gardens wasn’t just the high day time heat. What made this heatwave unusual is that the temperature at night didn’t fall below 99 degrees. Even when it is in the mid 80s, nights like that feel hot. But in the high 90s–it was positively stifling for us, deadly for plants and animals. There was no time to recover. Even a desert gets cooler at night.
Stories abound showing climatologists predicting that global climate change will bring more extreme weather patterns. I live in a place that already has those extreme patterns. And so now it has progressed from extreme to just crazy.
Meanwhile the deniers think they are going to “live off the land”. It cracks me up. Of course, this is the difference between people who pretend to be country folksy–and those who actually have to contend with running a farm of some sort or who are otherwise connected to the source of their food. It seems to me that a lot of deniers have all the regalia of living in the country, but most reside in the shelter of suburbia. Their farm is the grocery store.
Last year our soil was so dry and it warmed up so quickly and more than usual, that our corn [and others] it got 2 or 3 feet tall, produced a tassel and then fell over dead [and that was with watering]. Entire species of certain wildflowers failed to bloom. The ones that did manage to make an appearance were stunted and did not produce adequate amounts of pollen or nectar for bees or anything else.
It was spooky.
The Woodhouse Toads and the Bullfrogs hibernated through the drought. They dug back into the mud because there was nothing to eat, and the water that was available was brackish and nasty and it shrunk daily. The absence of their calls was disturbing. When you did see amphibians, you saw froglets from the first generation. But no larger frogs and no new tadpoles later in the season. There were no adults to lay eggs.
You couldn’t even swim to cool off–the local ponds and lakes and rivers were microbial petri-dishes full of freshly heated poo water.
You could drive down the streets at night, and no bugs would hit your windshield. There were no insects trying to get at your porch light. The bats and swallows had moved closer to the shrinking ponds and lakes to get what they could.
I have lived through droughts before. And the lack of insects was bizarre. No mosquitoes. Probably the only big pay off, which meant no West Nile Virus season to speak of last year—which brings me to another aspect of Global Climate Change: Emerging Diseases!
Back to the drought:
I fed my bees like it was in the dead of winter, just to keep them alive. And although we watered our garden and our trees and shrubs–they were listless, stunted, and vulnerable. Shrubs that are famous for their drought tolerance–Vitex? We had to put a drip hose in just to keep them alive. We lost our cherry tree, and I am not too hopeful about some of our young apple trees. We might have lost more.
When it did finally rain here, the dead sod and grasses [dead all the way to their roots it seemed] made this smell like you were inside a barn with wet hay and straw. It was everywhere. It stank to high heaven. It took several rains before that smell was no longer prevalent.
How are you going to live off of that? How do these people think that they are going to grow their gardens or anything else in places that suffer drought and floods in the same season? Where the soil gets so hot, that it sterilizes the seeds for next season and kills the roots of established plants.
And as we put more strain on our water sources. We use billions of gallons for fracking that we can never get back because it’s poisoned. And yet states are fighting each other and indigenous tribes over water rights.
For what? To water golf lawns?
It scares me to think that the only thing that might force some people to open their eyes is a direct threat to their personal food and water security. And by then, will it be too late?
How are you going to live off of wild-crafting plants or hunting even? Most land is private now. And we are over populated. You think there won’t be thousands of other people out there hunting too [at all ages, experience and *lack of skill]? Watch out for that 2 pointer buck! It moos and makes milk!
So I love listening to the apocalyptic people talking smack about survival. That’s funny. They have no clue how completely a collapse would upend their fantasies about being the “kings and Queens” of the Thunder Dome.
They want to start over and make society into their own image, even though they also say it’s the End Times and talk about being Raptured. What makes me laugh beyond these contradictions, is that they really think they will be strong enough to survive that entire process or powerful enough to have some say in the implementation of governance after the fact.
What they are really asking for:
And it is all unnecessary. These people would just end up rioting and killing each other for basics–Besides, if you are going to be raptured up, why do you need to turn your storm shelter into a Weapons Depot?
The same things that could curb Global Climate Change have such beneficial outcomes in other areas, that you could sell these changes on those other benefits alone.
Okay, so deniers don’t think that man can affect the entire global climate–whatever.
1. But by controlling emissions, we cut way back on air, soil and water pollution, this would lower cancer rates and other chronic health problems like asthma and even heart disease.
2. By conserving water, we take the strain off of our water tables and our wet ecological niches.
3. By recycling, and using renewables, we cut back on the land needed for landfills which further can reduce persistent pollutants int he air, soil and water. This could also cut back on endocrine disrupters which effect fertility health in humans and animals. But if you like intersex babies and 6 legged frogs, keep at it!
4. By cutting back on Pesticide and Herbicide usage, we stop creating super-bugs and super weeds that are also damaging our natural ecology [like killing our pollinators and their host plants]. This will also cut back on endrocrine disrupters and even Parkinsons, and ADHD and Type II Diabetes. How crazy is that?
5. By preserving swaths of wild spaces we ensure the management and upkeep of genetic diversity. Genetic diversity is a good safety net. Because it means we always have a pool of genes available to counter diseases and pests that affect monocrops of plants and animals. This is why heirloom seeds and breeds are so important. But also why we need to protect our wild animals too! Not to mention we are preserving our food web when we do this.
6. Urban Planning. Get rid of urban sprawl. Put sidewalks in and make a community liveable by foot or bike. It would do much to stem obesity and lower emissions, and it would create friendlier places to live where people actually see each other and not just see their neighbors speeding by in their car. It would also lower dependence on oil and gas.
The fact that the rest of the country might some day get to go back to a more normal tornado season–What would that be like?