When I was nine or ten years old, I learned that the sun would one day burn out. I dissolved into tear at the mere idea that someday the sun would not rise. I was inconsolable. Sent home from school for my 'bad' behavior, my parents thought I had lost my mind.
Finally, my father said, "Why do you care? You won't be here then."
"But the sun will burn out! The earth will be destroyed!"
"Doesn't have anything to do with you. Now stop crying," he said.
More than thirty years later, I still don't understand what he meant. Over time, in order to fit in, I learned to control my earth loving feelings. I learned to be cynical about people who cared about the earth. That's how 'normal' people live.
I think I heard the words "Global Warming" sometime in the late 1990s. I was working at A-16, a wilderness outfitters. A-16 employed all kinds of crazy rock climbers, back packers, and the like. Climate change was a topic of conversation. Anyone who has spent real time outdoors knows that the climate has changed. Places that once were lush meadows are now dry. Simple trips taken in the 1990s, such as kayaking near the Alaskan glaciers, are no longer possible.
The climate has changed.
But climate change and "Global Warming" were out there some where. My father's 'doesn't have anything to do with you' must have sunk in because I don't think I was truly horrified by climate change until this summer.
This summer, in Denver, Colorado, we had one of the coldest summers on record. Climate change came to my house. Here's just a few things that were effected:
- Honeybee queens : The wet and cold weather killed more than one of my honeybee queens. The bees effort to replace the queen were also thwarted. Now it's easy for me to rationalize that I just suck as a beekeeper, which is entirely possible. But my queen supplier also had the same problem. Queens mysteriously dying and low production. For millennium, honeybee queens have left her hives for a ten day maiden voyage. She returns fertile and ready to lay 1500 eggs a day for the rest of her life. This year, the cold and rain killed these queens.
- Zucchini : For the last two years, I haven't been able to grow zucchini in my yard. Last year, I assumed it was a fluke. The only person I knew who had a good crop lived at 10,000 feet. This year the same thing happened. Zucchini is the easiest and most bountiful vegetable in the garden. But not at my house.
- Okra : I planted Okra three times this year. When the first frost came, I had harvested exactly one okra. I usually get three or four good crops.
- Tomatoes : The cold brought a terrible blight. We were able to contain it to two tomato plants. But the other plants did not bloom. Not one flower. Our neighbors cut theirs back in hopes of getting it to flower. The plants finally flowered in late August but not soon enough for the first frost.
- Early frost : Last week, we experienced one of the earliest frost on record. On October 10th, the temperatures did not rise above 22 degrees. It was a balmy 26 degrees the next day. Every thing green and living died that day. The ski resorts opened earlier than they EVER have.
Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe it's a long term weather cycle that will right itself in the next few years.
But what if it's not? What if honeybees can't requeen themselves? Can you imagine a world without zucchini? tomatoes? okra? and other flowering vegetables? Imagine a world with out nuts and seeds - almonds, pecans, and walnuts are dependent on honeybees for their crop. Just for a second, think about going to the market and not finding what was once common - peanut butter, blueberries, and other flowering fruits and vegetables.
You better start.
'Global warming' is a misnomer. Overall, the world's oceans are warming. That means that areas like Denver, Colorado are colder and are going to get colder. In fact, what I saw in my garden happened to a lot of Midwestern US farmers this year.
The climate has already changed.
What are you going to do about it?