Tag Archives: Climate change

About Sustainability

Listening Frog
photo by Faye

The June 3rd front page headline, Trump Risking the Planet for Own Gain, Kerry Fears, resonated with my own sense of the effect of Trump’s ill thought out decision to withdraw from the historic Paris climate agreement. The article leads with how Kerry, just one year ago, his 2-year-old granddaughter Isabelle, in his lap, signed the historic climate accord. And now, only 13 months later, at first pretending to have listened to all sides of the evidence, Trump has discounted and misrepresented the scientific evidence, which mandates the necessity of attention to climate change.

All during May, from dawn to dusk, and sometimes during the night, these erratic-in-weather spring days seem to match President Trump’s fitful tweets and irrepressible amoral edicts.

As a gardener, I live close to the earth and its seasons. Every day, I am wedded to checking the weather and scanning the garden to see how my plants, trees or shrubs are faring. Rain causes wilt, rot, and satisfying plant growth, excluding the intrusive weeds. The absence of sun is frustrating and challenges my planting and weeding schedule.

Yet, each day, I am grateful to arrive at a space of quiet, soft moist smells and beauty. During this past two weeks, the purple arrivals— iris, lilacs, and columbine have given way to mounds of white rhododendron blossoms trailing above the pond. The effect is inviting and calming.

Just yesterday, as I began my daily soul tracking near the small pond, a lean and muscled green and brown frog leapt from the water and jumped to the far side where it sat at the edge, as if in listening mode.

“Good morning, Mr. or Ms.” I said. “Nice day.”

The frog did not flinch, unafraid.

“Lovely day, I’m glad for your presence,” I continued.

That statement, said aloud, bore the truth. This rainy spring, in particular, whenever I have approached the pond area, I’ve been greeted by a shrill “eep” sound followed by a flash and a splash.

But this silent, still listener was different, seemingly curious. I felt comforted by his calming presence, a sign from the universe, I was certain, that taking note of the small things in our environment best feeds and forms our sense of connection and meaning.

I am grateful for mayors and governors who are stepping up to counter the effects of shifting environmental challenges on their citizenry every day. I appreciate organizations such as 350.org, The Sierra Club, Green Peace and Union of Concerned Scientists.

I am especially grateful to Governor Jerry Brown for his passionate engagement and willingness to explore sustainability options with China, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s willingness to pledge $15 million to support the United Nations agency that helps implement the Climate Accord agreement.

There is something to be said for the groundswell of concern, worry and love for Mother Earth. Perhaps, the full effect of Trump’s egregious decision to abandon responsibility for Earth’s well-being will fuel and feed our considerable will and creative energy to find more useful and usable solutions to sustainability. One can only hope.

 

 

Not So Foolish Worry

 

Post Storm Daffodil Bouquet

Post Storm Daffodil Bouquet

The third day of April, 2016, looks like, feels like, a January day. A winter storm blew in during the night— not the light and fluffy flakes of my recent Foolish-Worry post— but a wind driven, watery, stick-to-the pavement snow cover.

My effort at gratitude is fleeting. I worry for the baby tulips and flowering primrose shivering under the flower-pots I put down yesterday. I worry for the lily plants with nubile leaves and of course, the daffodils in full bloom matted down with ice. What will become of them?

By noon, the sun radiant, the lily leaves emerged, unharmed. The daffodils were barely visible, their necks bent, their blooms buried in snow. With gratitude, I watched a well-fed robin, fresh from a snow shower, pivot the plantings.

Mid-afternoon, I dressed for wind, wearing my purple fleece and snug-over-the ear cap. Pruners in hand, I clipped daffodil stems. I was gloveless and surprised at how cold the stems felt in my palm. Many of the blossoms, though frosted, were intact. Grateful, I gathered a bouquet of two-dozen to bring inside. Given that high winds and more snow were in the forecast for the next day, I savored them all the more.

The Alberta Express came through at night, bringing near freeze. At dawn, I checked the front garden from the second floor picture window. The picture was bleak. My garden was shrouded in snow.

It snowed all day long. April 4th might just have well been January 4th except for the yellow flashes of forsythia floating above snow puffs and the bud shapes outlined along tree branches. Yes, we have had similar storms in April. At my former residence, years ago, a magnolia in full bloom was severed by the wind. It recovered, thanks to good pruning. Twenty years ago, that storm seemed like an anomaly. My garden is teaching me otherwise. The warm winter, the frigid spring, the rapid temperature changes. This spring of 2016, so unusual and unpredictable, requires a different mind-set.

This was a week beginning with bare toes and flip-flops, which progressed to winter boots and snow gear. Bottom line, I get it. A little over a month ago, on February 22nd, the headline of The New York Times Science section read—“Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last Twenty Centuries.”

The article was casual in tone, but alarmingly specific in content. The Times wrote, “The finding are yet another indication that the stable climate in which human civilization has flourished for thousands of years, with a predictable ocean permitting the growth of great coastal cities, is coming to an end.”

I am grateful for the scientists who persist and are transparent in their findings. Denial is becoming less and less possible. As a gardener, I bear witness first hand. Yes, the daffodils survived as did most of the plants; but for how long? We can no longer avoid the presence of climate change or the need to do what we can to deter or remediate it.

 

 

Enough is Enough: Sustainability For our Planet

Winter Solstice Dandelion

 

The day before the winter Solstice, I stopped in my tracks at the sight of a dandelion in bloom under an evergreen shrub. On December 20th, a dandelion in bloom in a Boston suburb is of note. I pulled out my IPhone and bent low, to snap a few pictures. I wanted to show the contrast between the faded shrub branch and the flagrant yellow dandelion bloom.

It’s clear that mindfulness has sensitized me. A week ago, a lone mosquito did a slow solo across my dinner plate. My swat was automatic. I was surprised by its presence— grateful it was so sleepy and with no interest in attacking me. But still, it was unnerving to realize that a mosquito was still hanging around in December and to be reminded that of course, warming temperatures affect the life cycle of plants and insects.

A December bloom and a sleepy mosquito are clear signs of digression from the norm and raised my concern about the effects of climate change. But the effects of warming are minimal in my life compared to the experience of the fishing village of Vunidogoloa, on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island whose residents had to abandon their idyllic home to relocate to higher and drier land because of sea level rise, erosion and flooding.

My heart soared when I read of how the Fiji Islanders fierce concern about climate change and its effects were reported at the recent United Nations Paris Conference. The Fiji villagers contributed very little to climate change, yet their homes and everything they owned have been bathed again and again in rising and unruly tidal waters. Clear and certain of the need for change and adaptation both at home and at the global level, their Third Pacific Islands Development Forum issued a Suva Climate Declaration this past September. I am grateful for the clarity and wisdom of their words and want to share the first three points.

1.We are gravely distressed that climate change poses irreversible loss and damage to our people, societies, livelihoods, and natural environments; creating existential threats to our very survival and other violations of human rights to entire Pacific Small Island Developing States;
2. We express profound concern that the scientific evidence unequivocally proves that the climate system is warming and that human influence on the climate system is clear, but appropriate responses are lacking.
3. Our disappointment and frustration at the world’s failure to act runs
through this entire document. We in the Pacific tend to speak softly. It is in our
nature. But on this issue, we needed to cry out with one voice, enough is
enough. And we have. And it is all the more powerful for that.

You can download the entire text at here.
The Suvu Leaders of the Pacific did cry out and garnered support for a significant reduction of carbon emissions at the recent Paris climate change conference. I am grateful for the result:
a world-wide climate agreement involving 196 nations. I am grateful to begin 2016 with hope for our planet.