Year 4, Month 7, Day 6: Well, You Needn’t

The Times-Colonist (B.C., Canada) talks about “adaptation”:

Lemons are growing in North Saanich, and they are just a taste of some of the new crops that are popping up in B.C. as the temperature gets warmer. As average temperatures go up, farmers and gardeners are trying species that are usually found in subtropical or Mediterranean countries.

At Fruit Trees and More Nursery in North Saanich, Bob Duncan gets hundreds of lemons from his tree. Over on the Lower Mainland, Art Knapp nurseries have seen a 20 per cent increase in sales of species like olives and figs.

Global warming is often debated in the big picture, but the details of gradual changes around us bring the debate down to earth. The devastating march of the pine beetle is one effect of warmer temperatures that is clearly visible across vast areas of B.C.’s forests. New crops close to home are another sign of the change.

The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium expects that by the 2020s, the mean temperature in the capital region will rise by .9 degrees Celsius. That will increase the median number of frost-free days by eight. More than a week of extra frost-free days is a big difference.

Across the province, the mean temperature is predicted to rise by a full degree and frost-free days to rise by 10.

Over the longer term, by the 2080s, temperatures in the capital region are predicted to rise by 2.5 degrees and frost-free days by 20.

A climate like that opens new possibilities for crops that were once inconceivable here.

Pollyannas. June 20:

“Adaptation” to climate change sounds pretty inviting. After all, who wouldn’t like a longer gardening season? But from a larger perspective, the consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect are hardly benign. Countless species are finding their habitats changing far faster than evolutionary processes — which almost invariably means extinction. And when one life-form vanishes, the others which depend on it will find their survival compromised as well.

Our current economic system is predicated on the commodification of every available resource: fuel, food, water, and even air (the wealthy breathe freely, while the poor live downwind of coal plants, refineries, and factories). While this allows us to enjoy strawberries in midwinter, it hides the crucial fact that any tear in the intricately woven fabric of earthly life ultimately affects the fate of us all. “Adaptation” all too often is a euphemism for something far simpler, quicker, and more final: dying.

Warren Senders

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