But we’re not just gardeners here, we’re eco-gardeners, so let’s turn to the down side. Native plant advocates won’t like this, from the WaPo article: "Native plants might find their growing seasons shifted, their life cycles out of sync with pollinating insects, if warming trends continue to affect them." The Botanic Garden curator agrees: "It’s alarming, when you look at native plant communities." So with temperatures and CO2 added to the list of things that have changed since the Pilgrims landed, will native plants wind up in plant museums?
And this just in: Anne Raver, in today’s New York Times, lists lots more down sides to climate change:
- Weeds like poison ivy and ragweed are thriving. With higher temps and increased CO2, ragweed produces 10 times the amount of pollen.
- Likewise, robust invasive plants like English ivy and Japanese honeysuckle are thriving under the changed conditions.
- Canada thistle has become more resistant to herbicides, requiring 3 times the dosage in the presence of higher carbon dioxide.
- There’s increased danger of drought and extreme precipitation events (what some are now calling "global weirding").
Sigh. Well, at least Raver suggests a few things gardeners can do, in our own tiny ways, to combat global warming:
- Stop tilling. Exposing microbes to air creates more carbon dioxide.
- Use cover crops to slow the release of carbon.
- Limit the use of chemical fertilizers, which are manufactured using fossil fuels.
- Get rid of those leaf blowers and gas-powered lawnmowers. Here she reminds us that one hour of gas-powered lawn-mowing produces the same pollution as driving 200 miles in a car. (But what kind of car, Ms. Raver? If memory serves, the comparison uses a new car with average fuel efficiency.)
And Raver’s last suggestion: "If a lawn is too big for a people-powered reel mower, it can be shrunk down by planting ground covers and trees, which will take more carbon dioxide out of the air. The same principle applies to roofs and terraces: more plants absorb more carbon dioxide."
Hold it – the last time I checked, lawn is a groundcover and Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are plants, so I’ll assume Raver isn’t contributing to the broad-brush lawn-bashing that’s become fashionable of late. She’s just showing folks how to get rid of their gas mowers. (Having switched to electric last summer, I can report enjoying the quiet but concluding pretty quickly that it’s worth paying more to lose the cord.)
Here’s a related story from Europe, where the plea is "Let it Snow." Apparently it’s not a good time to be in the ski resort biz.