February 16, 2013
Before I go any further, I’d like to thank the forty-eight people arrested on Wednesday for their act of civil disobedience in front of the White House during protests against the Keystone XL pipeline and wish good speed to those who will attend the protest rally at the Washington Mall tomorrow. Thank you. I wish I could be there with you.
Last December, I started a couple of tomato plants, two pepper plants and some lettuce in my ongoing pursuit of an indoor winter garden. Unlike the previous two winters, when all but the lettuce died off quickly, this year’s crop has grown into healthy looking plants that I hope will begin blooming in the next week or so. I’ve been eating some of the lettuce on and off for the last few weeks and more is coming up in the pot. Whether the tomatoes and peppers bloom and whether they fruit, of course, remains to be seen.
I probably should have started them back in late October or early November, since spring will come in the next month or two around here and it will be time to start the garden outside. Next year I’ll try that. Still, it would be nice if I had some early tomatoes to tide me over until time to plant and, perhaps, harvest tomatoes in the outside garden. That has been my goal for the last two or three years. I’ll keep you posted as to my success or failure in future posts.
And sometime this week, I want to plant the seeds to start those early vegetables that I won’t sow directly into the garden. Then, the first nice, warm day in March, I’ll get out to the garden with my hand mower and, again, go over the leaves I left on the beds last fall before I cover them with a layer of cured manure. That is what I’ll plant in, this year. We haven’t had nearly enough rain or snow to make up for the seventeen inches we were behind last fall, so unless we have a lot more of either over the next month or two, this year will probably be dry, also. So I’m hoping the bed of leaves and manure will keep what moisture we do get in the soil without things getting soggy around the roots if it does rain. I’m not sure how sound my reasoning is, but it makes sense to me. (I’ll keep you posted as to my success or failure with that, over the coming spring and summer, too.)
I bring all this up for several reasons: I’m bored stiff with looking at seed catalogs and long to get outside and to do whatever else I can to prepare for the outdoor gardening season. I’ve read enough new information about climate change over the winter to convince me we’re going to have to intensify our personal efforts to reduce our carbon footprints and gardening seems a good way to help myself do that. Gardening –especially with hand tools – is great exercise and good for my own mental and physical health as we approach what will be grim days for the human race. And working out new ways to keep our gardens healthy as climate change brings changes to our local weather patterns may at least let us keep one small step ahead of those changes.
In our blind determination to maintain business as usual for as long as possible, climate change seems to be winning the race with peak oil – which we’ve only slightly postponed, if at all, by producing and burning the costliest, dirtiest dregs left – to see which will destroy BAU permanently. Either way, our own economy and eventually, the world economy, cannot continue to take the economic hits both are causing.
The big things the federal government could have done to stop or mitigate these things should have been started years ago. Because they didn’t, we are increasingly left with small attempts that may or may not make some difference.
This past week, the CBO sent a report to Congress on the increasing costs of climate change related disasters. The only reaction I read about from Congress was Darrell Issa’s statement, the other day, that the costs of these disasters should be borne by the states and cities that are affected and that they should not expect help from the federal government. Not a good sign regarding BAU, as far as I can see.
As the failing federal government increasingly passes the costs on to already strapped states and cities, more of the costs will fall directly on us. This will be true around the world. BAU will come to an end. It’s inevitable.
And while I appreciate the efforts of the forty-eight people who were arrested last Wednesday and those who will protest tomorrow, it is not enough. The changes that have already begun cannot be stopped. They can only be mitigated, and that with lessening effect the longer we wait, by each of us powering down in our use of energy – our living habits, our buying habits, our ways of transporting ourselves, our demands on the oil dependent systems that permeate our culture, our work and play habits.
Sometimes we doomers make it sound like such a grim task – use it up, wear it out, make do or do without. It really isn’t. We’ve been so propagandized to believe that progress is having more, newer (though not necessarily better), bigger everything. I like growing as much of my own food as I can, find it exhilarating to ferret out new ways to save energy, learn (or relearn) a skill that will serve me in a less “affluent” world, or make something useful out of what I might have thrown in the trash previously. It’s like working on a big puzzle. For me, it reduces stress rather than increases it. It will have to become a more intimate world where we depend not only on ourselves, but each other in ways we’ve sometimes forgotten how to do. A world where we depend on and so, have to listen more closely to nature. A world where we use what we need, not take what we want. I find those good things.
A very different world is coming – either by choice or by nature’s forcing. We might as well enjoy the challenge. Repair something you might have thrown away. Put on an extra sweater and cut back the heat. (It was a good idea when Jimmy Carter first proposed it; it’s a better idea today.) Walk when possible. Ride a bike. Preserve and conserve. Buy local. Start some seeds in anticipation of spring. Plant a spring garden. Grow tomatoes inside next winter. Challenge yourself every day. We can’t save our BAU lives, but we might save enough of the world to leave something for the future. I find that the most exhilarating challenge of all.
National Snow and Ice Data Center
download report draft here