Saturday, January 28, 2012

USDA Revamps Hardiness Zones

Check out this US Department of Agriculture map and the article which accompanies it from the Washington Post (1/15/12).  Weather patterns are changing, which many of us (especially gardeners) know and have known for a long time.

According to the maps showing comparisons between the current map and the last one in 1990, we have changed from 5a to 5b Hardiness Zone here in northeast Missouri.  On the surface, it does not look like much and some may naively applaud the shift to "warmer".  However, some unwanted and conceivably detrimental baggage comes on board.

Please note this little entry is not intended to be a treatise on climate change.  Whole books are written on that.  I note only a few issues that come up for me as I clatter away at these keys.

Many plants (including trees) and other living beings are going to be increasingly out of place.  That means they will be stressed, which means they will be subject to opportunistic bugs and diseases just waiting for the time to be right.  Those of us on the outside will note that another "bug" got them. We may even head to the chemical factory to buy their latest fix.  Friends:  This is not an economic development opportunity.  The underlying problem is that the climate changed and these precious beings lost their place.  This summer I was in an area where the forest was dying.  This was not a pretty sight. 

On a broader scale, as climate warms, weather patterns change.  That's means we have more storms and weather dramas.  Anybody notice that where they live?  We have had plenty of storms here these last few years and they are not fun. Plus, flooding, drought and water shortages take on epic proportions depending on where you are.  The supposedly simple act of growing food becomes even more complicated.  In case you hadn't noticed, we Humans need food to survive.  It just isn't very smart to mess with this system.  Up there in the Arctic, the ice melts bringing on more climate change and threatening the lives of many species (including Polar Bears).  All this is going on in our life times.

And, Dear Neighbors on this vast Globe, we have a very big problem that we each need to take very seriously.  I wonder if we affluent ones on a global scale who are at the epicenter of the problem are willing to change our life styles to protect living creatures, including ourselves.  We are here at the Farm.  Are we perfect?  No.  Can we do better?  Yes.  Every day is an exercise toward that end.  I can only hope that we make some small difference, and that someone some day will know that we tried.

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