We must do better

One of my favorite national parks

While it’s common—and understandable—to believe that certain subjects are somehow beyond politics, one of the reasons I’ve stuck with Garden Rant all these years is that I believe—with my fellow Ranters—that gardening is more than  just a pretty hobby, where we can stroll through our flower beds and bury our noses in a stand of phlox or lilies as the world goes to hell around us.

Gardening is inextricably bound with environmental concerns, that range from the chemicals we deploy to the habitat we provide for wildlife to the natural resources we use (or deplete). It could not be more obvious that concern for the natural environment has become a partisan issue. Over the past four years, in the hands of an administration that values business interests (valid or not) over combating climate change, preserving habitat, or husbanding natural resources, we have seen environmental priorities ignored and actively undermined.

Here’s some of it:

—offshore oil and gas drilling has been expanded, risking ecosystems for dubious gains

—logging, mining, and drilling have been increased and/or acreage turned over to private industry in or near the following national parks/preserves:  Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the Okefenokee Swamp, public land surrounding the Grand Canyon, Bears Ears, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and Chaco Culture National Historic Park, just to name a few

—clean air and water standards have been weakened or eliminated

—pesticides such as chlorpyrifos have been kept on the market, despite protests and previous efforts to restrict them

—the Paris climate accord has been abandoned

Gardeners have been seeing the effects brought on by climate change for some years now. While private gardens may not be at the top of the list of what we need for survival in decades to come, they’re not at the bottom either.

Many scientists feel that it’s not too late. Barely. It would be nice to think that politics would have little to do with whether or not we heed scientific advice. I think we know now that’s wishful thinking.  

It’s up to us to do better.

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Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Yes. I believe wholeheartedly in your points. However, I also understand that getting through to people on these issues involves addressing economics both in short and long terms (the economic value of small, biodiverse farms, for ex.). I’d love to see someone take up the example of the Ocean Health Index, which addresses ocean health in terms of the economic and environmental impact on countries whose economics depend on tourism, fishing, etc. This is a broad topic, but I think that addressing it holistically makes sense.

  2. The problem is that with the growth of the population and the growth of consumption, mankind over time (the only question is when) simply will not have the resources even to simply maintain the current civilization, let alone develop it. Consequently, the collapse of world civilization is inevitable sooner or later. It can be completely prevented if people agree to moderate their appetites. But are they capable of this?


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