What a week
Love trees. This week started with Earth Day on Monday and now on Friday it’s National Arbor Day. A week that brings awareness of how to serve our planet, and good planets are hard to find. As Robert Redford stated recently, “Collusion, obstruction of justice, impeachment or not, greedy tax breaks, medical care for all or none, refugees seeking compassion at our borders – as a citizen, I care deeply about all these things. But I also fail to see how any of it will matter without a planet to live on.”
I recently saw a photograph of Sen. Gaylord Nelson’s daughter commenting on how her father would now feel about our climate inaction. In 1970, former Wisconsin Sen. Nelson started an environmental teach-in that snowballed into Earth Day awareness. Monday was the 49th anniversary as people in 193 countries celebrated Earth Day. According to Earth Day Network, they have dedicated this year to protecting millions of plant and animal species from going extinct.
April 22, 1970, newsman Walter Cronkite commented about the first Earth Day saying, “The gravity of the message of Earth Day still came through: act or die.” He let us know that cleaning up our planet would require both personal involvement and sacrifice, we cannot ignore the crisis of our planet. A chest surgeon in India said that there are no non-smokers in India with cancer because of the country’s polluted air. A smoggy time in London town is being addressed by a drive introducing the world’s first ultra-low emission zone to fight the city’s toxic levels of air pollution.
The Rio Grande River winds for almost 2,000 miles from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, providing drinking water and irrigation for more than 6 million people in three United States. Climate change is affecting this vital water supply. Last July its flow nearly flat-lined. Since measuring started in 1889, this is the first time they had to dig a ditch in the riverbed to get water to go to their gauge. The Colorado snowpack that melts into the Rio Grande is declining. With that in mind, Albuquerque’s water authority has spent $6 million incentivizing desert-friendly landscaping.
A group of people in Australia are trying to find a solution to rising sea levels and coral bleaching that affect their diverse marine life. In water around the capital city of Sydney, they’ve installed a Seabin. It works around the clock, slowly filtering out debris, in marinas, ports and yacht clubs, collecting plastics, micro-plastics, fuel and oil from the water’s surface. Each Seabin costs $4,500 and runs on either electricity or solar power. One Seabin can catch the equivalent of 90,000 shopping bags or nearly 170,000 plastic utensils every year. There are more than 700 Seabins working harbors and marinas around the world. There are 60 Seabins working the U.S. this week, plus six currently cleaning the waters around California.
A CBS news poll found a growing number of Americans think the environment will be worse for the next generation. A majority think global warming is caused by human activity, and over half think it’s having a serious effect now, 6 in 10 feel humanity can still do something to stop or slow climate change.
Extreme weather is being traced to rapid Arctic changes. Did you see the news report on the iceberg breaking off to float away and melt in the Antarctica? Scientists believe we can trace the origins of some recent extreme weather to rapid changes in the Artic. Normally the polar ice caps keep the Earth’s temperature down by reflecting the sun’s rays back into space. Now the ice is melting fast. As a result, more of the sun’s rays are being absorbed, heating the Arctic twice as fast as the global average, throwing the jet stream “out of whack.” The jet stream is a river of air in the upper atmosphere controlling the routing of storms and distribution of cold and warm air. Recent evidence shows the jet stream is becoming more amplified, making the weather more extreme.
There is a one-of-a-kind scientific drilling vessel, the JOIDES Resolution, in the “Iceberg Alley” with researchers from around the world investigating the climate history of Antarctica. Run by a multinational scientific organization, a collaboration between about 20 nations, so you can think of it as a sort of International Space Station of the oceans. As the Earth’s poles are warming faster than any other place on the planet, they drill into the deep-sea sediments, dropped by icebergs over the last few million years and view all the different layers.
One of the chief scientists on the voyage, Maureen Raymo, said it is important to realize that the ice sheets are melting. “It’s because we know so much about how climate varies naturally that we know what’s happening now isn’t natural, that it is caused by human activity”.
John Kerry, Secretary of State under Obama, in 2016, was instrumental in U.S. signing the International Paris acclimate agreement; this year, Trump’s administration announced its intent to withdraw. Kerry said, “There are countless economic analyses that show it is cheaper to make the investments and do the things we need to do now to prevent the damage than it is to wait for the damage”.
The past five years have been the warmest since record keeping started in the late 1800s. Our earth has experienced 42 straight years, since 1977, with above global temperatures according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra-tion.
Oh my, I have little space left to tell about my favorite “Holiday of Hope”, National Arbor Day. You might say- “didn’t we just celebrate Arbor Day?” You would be right. Each state choses the date most fitting for planting a tree in their state. Florida chose the third Friday in January. National Arbor Day will always be the last Friday in April. So, live it up and plant a tree. You’ll be glad you did. Be sure and thank it for it’s many attributes.
Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.