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Global Warming, Gardening, and Your Civic/Patriotic Duty

by Fern on April 23, 2009

in General

I hope what I am about to say doesn’t get me kicked out of the gardening blogosphere, but I don’t know whether “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” or whatever it is being called is true. And quite frankly, I don’t care if it is true or not. Before you leave a nasty comment or send me hate mail (fern@lifeonthebalcony.com), allow me to explain.

Some days, I see news articles that claim our polar ice caps are shrinking, while other days they are supposedly expanding. Our bad behavior is supposed to be causing the planet to warm up, yet we’ve been having winter records for cold temperatures and snow. In the 70s, we thought that human behavior was causing the planet to cool off. So it sometimes appears to me that global warming is just the latest fad for the sky-is-falling-we’re-all-going-to-die-apocalypse-is-tomorrow crew. Plus, Al Gore makes my skin crawl.

That being said, whether the planet is warming up, cooling down, whether ocean levels are rising or falling, and whether any of this is caused by humans or is just part of the normal cycle of our planet, it doesn’t change our civic and patriotic duty to use our resources wisely and to protect and improve the planet. We’re all in this together. We have a responsibility to our neighbors, countrymen, and to the rest of the people living on this rock to use what we have wisely. When we waste resources and pollute the planet, we all suffer.

In California, we’re facing a severe drought, and yet homeowners and companies still want miles of green grass and water-greedy landscaping surrounding their homes and offices. People still hose off their property rather than sweeping it, still wash their cars in their driveway, still take excessively long showers, and on and on and on. Southern Californians are living in a desert. We pipe in our water from hundreds of miles away. Is it going to take turning on the faucet and having nothing come out to get us to change our behavior?

The economic downturn has forced a lot of people to look at the excesses in their lives, how wasteful they were, how lazy they had become, how metaphorically fat we all were during economic good times. People are now planting victory gardens like crazy in an effort to get back to a time when we were resourceful and entrepreneurial, hardworking and frugal. But let’s take this opportunity to expand those values that we’re trying to get back. They shouldn’t stop at our wallet (although there are plenty of economic reasons to conserve). Let’s be resourceful and entrepreneurial, hardworking and frugal when it comes to the environment as well.

For example, it doesn’t cost you a dime to put a bucket under the faucet while your shower is warming up. You could use that water to water your plants. When planning your container garden, try and find plants that will need very little supplemental watering. And use bigger pots that dry out less quickly. I am sure that if you aren’t secretly forming a voo doo doll that looks surprisingly like me and stabbing me repeatedly for suggesting that the jury is still out on global warming, you could come up with some ways to be resourceful too.

Conserving resources is like saving money at the grocery store. You save by making a lot of small changes, not a few big ones. If everytime you use water, gas, coal, wood, etc, you are thinking of how you can use just the amount you need and not waste any of it, then you’re net behavior will make a difference.

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