Admittedly, I sat down with McKibben’s book merely to find a few nuggets that might explain how our dirt at home had an impact on the world. A local gardening expert had passionately urged that the best thing anyone in our city could do was buy organic from local farmers… and as, a left-brained person, I wanted to understand this… “Why should I?”
The True Impact of Climate Change
“I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen.” The rapid melt of the Sierra snowpack means “we’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” — Nobel laureate Steven Chu, 2009, former U.S. Secretary of Energy
We have heard “climate change” and “global warming” so often in recent years — especially now that it’s no longer dismissed as pseudo-science — that it can lose its meaning for those not actually involved in the discussions. What climate change is truly happening that affects us?
- Across the planet, flood damage is increasing by 5 percent a year. Data show dramatic increases — 20 percent or more — in the most extreme weather events.
In 2007, atmospheric levels of methane began to spike. A Russian research ship found areas of sea foaming with methane gas, in concentrations 100 times normal.
A research team predicts that it will routinely get so hot that wheat and corn crops will suffer. Wheat yields alone are expected to drop 20 to 40%. In 2003, when heat impacted France, 30,000 people died, corn production fell by a third, fruit harvests by a quarter, and wheat by a fifth.
The great Amazon rain forest is drying
- The great boreal forest of North America is dying in a matter of years
- The oceans — three-fourths of the earth’s surface — are distinctly more acidic and their level is rising
- Vast inland glaciers in Andes, Himalayas and American West are melting very fast, and within decades the supply of water to billions of people living downstream might dwindle
The Global Answer Is Local
Even busy people can make change happen by simply thinking and shopping smaller.
He writes about solutions that forward-thinking people have already been putting into place. We are aware of them… this perhaps quaint “hippy” culture. And “they” are aware that it’s time for us to join them at the table.
- In Vermont, a rural composter collects food waste from schools, farms, and restaurants; makes rich fertilizer from it; then trucks it a mile down the road to a large organic seed company, where “metal shelves are filled with the beginnings of a million meals,” from quinoa to onions.
- A local farmer figured out how to create a moveable solar greenhouse in order to offer a year-round Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA).
- In Honduras, farmers figured out how to transform ground cover from played-out desert to springy black loam in ten years.
In Bellingham, Washington, 500 merchants are part of a Living Local alliance, and “60 percent of the city’s 80,000 residents tell pollsters they’ve changed their buying habits dramatically.”