about this blog



This blog tracks the ongoing changes of my garden, and the wildlife I try to attract to it. It's a nature blog. It contains my thoughts and musings about anything and everything to do with nature - gardening, book reviews, philosophy, travel, science, history, art, design, politics.
Catmint is my signature plant because it has all the qualities I value in a plant: resilience, beauty and the capacity to spread prolifically . Unfortunately it's not indigenous. If I was starting again I'd probably choose an indigenous plant.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

climate change - the elephant in the garden


Tomorrow will be the National Day of Climate Action. In all Australian cities, people will protest at the Abbott government's inadequate response to climate change.

Listening to talk about climate change in the media is weird, like living in two parallel worlds, with two contradictory narratives. In one world there is the truly scary, hard to imagine scientific position. If we continue to emit carbon dioxide at the current rate, we will reach the point of dangerously overheating the planet within 15 to 25 years! 

In the other world are those who either ignore climate change, or deny that humans are causing it. The Abbott government is in this world, as are many big businesses and the popular media. Since Tony Abbott was elected, he has made it clear that his goal is to build the economy, no matter what the cost to the environment.

In the two months since winning government, Abbott abolished the Climate Commission and reduced funding for scientific research. The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, this month, is attended by Ministers of governments all over the world. Except in the case of Australia. Our Minister of Climate Change is too busy trying to rescind the Carbon Tax legislation, introduced by the former government, to attend this meeting.

Now the government wants to make it easier to have mines in national parks, by removing the need to consider the effect of such projects on endangered flora and fauna.
The Economy, by Svitalsky Bros, Czeech Republic, 2013

The Cambridge Dictionary Online defines elephant in the room as an obvious problem or difficult situation that people do not want to talk about.  I don't talk (or write) about climate change all the time, but it is always there - the elephant in the garden.

When the wildflowers bloom in spring, I wonder if they will make it next year. Because they're not tough. If the weather's too hot, they'll just shrivel up and die. And they won't even set seed for next year.


Making room for indigenous plants

It feels urgent to plant more indigenous plants, to provide food and shelter for insects and birds. Already they're finding life harder in the suburbs, with less plant life and more concrete. I must remember to replace the water in the bird baths every day.

For 30 years I've been trying to grow a garden that is naturalized and self supporting. But it won't survive much higher temperatures and less rainfall. So I am steeling myself. Do I start now to xeriscape more, or wait till plants die? They may not die.  They may adapt. I may not be around when things really hot up.

Feed your mind, your body and your appetite for shopping.
Advertisement for Korean Air

What does climate change mean in relation to an ad like this?

Korean Air apparently believes that people will respond favourably to an ad portraying nature as a commodity, just like eating or shopping. I suppose this is one result of profound alienation from nature in our consumer society.  Looking at a beautiful scene, sanitized by distance, is on a par with shopping for a new handbag, or eating exotic, expensive, aesthetically plated food. When nature is so unreal and idealized, how can climate change mean anything?



20 comments:

  1. I am undecided about climate change. Mostly, I guess, because I've seen tv programs where they drill through rock or ice and they can tell what climate changes occurred and it always sounds to me as if those changes were natural occurrences.

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    1. Hi Linda, that's what I mean about different worlds. I've seen tv programs like that too, but it's weird because I know that scientists are agreed that these changes are due to what we humans are doing.

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    2. I do what I can to be responsible -- I recycle, compost, use leaves as mulch and I drive less than 5000 miles per year. Maybe if we each do a little...

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  2. I don't think anyone can deny that we are all experiencing extremes of weather, or that industry is pumping out poisonous gasses into the atmosphere. Thank goodness things have changed here in the UK, industry is closely monitored and green forms of energy are being pursued. I think that as long as the polar ice caps are shrinking, then we can't deny that global warming is taking place and we have to do something about it.

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    1. Hi Pauline, thanks for the reply. Australia is the second highest carbon emitter in the world after the US, yet the govt. has not made real changes to limit carbon emissions as in Europe.

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  3. A very interesting and thoughtful post!

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  4. This was a really interesting post and the last word is not said about......

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    1. Hi Janneke, not the last word, that's for sure. In this morning's paper there was a cute cartoon about how rich people who deny climate change now are soon going to be wanting to buy an escape pod.

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  5. Most politicians are focused on economic growth. They seem to forget that economic growth is supposed to be for the benefit of the people and the planet. In stead they sacrifice the environment, endangering the people and the planet for the sake of the economy. Will they ever learn?

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  6. I think a more important point you make is our distance from nature. Nature is not "out there" - it is right in the cracks of the sidewalks we walk upon. A good read is Crow Planet. I notice the weather is more severe/extreme. I think we need to do more than just reduce our carbon monoxide emissions. If we all planted a garden like yours it would be a wonderful start.

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  7. I have just found your excellent blog and was interested to see the diverse views on climate change. Although I am sure that human activity is partly responsible for it, in the past similar pollution has occurred from such natural events as volcanic action. Given that technology is advancing so swiftly I would hope that a solution is found within an appropriate time scale, all things being relative in the life of this resilient planet of ours. In the UK we are now subjected to punitive additions to our ever escalating fuel bills in the name of "green taxes" which is making the current Government exceedingly unpopular, as they try to achieve the unattainable targets signed up to by the last lot.

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  8. this resilient planet will survive. But the threatened and endangered plants and animals? Our Western Cape fynbos cannot head further south to escape heat and drought - that's ocean. The planet will survive, but not the 99% of the people who can't afford an escape pod.

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  9. It is sad really...and I thought it was bad here with our arrogance, and dirty ways of adding to the pollution and denying it all. All in the name of greed.

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  10. This is an interesting post, and I also enjoyed reading the comments. The Violet Fern expressed my sentiments. I think as people become removed from nature, they know less and care less about it. When we care for a garden, we become concerned about our surrounding environment and those things that affect it.

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  11. I do write on climate change and also make sure to read recent studies. Every land owner can help a small bit in the grand scheme of things, but it is not too hard to imagine we have hit the critical threshold. No amount of talking to the masses will change their habits. No dire predictions either. There is too much in the common mentality to say, "it is not my problem during my time here, so let others deal with it." People don't see themselves as contributing to the problem, when in fact it is just that there are too many people realistically for the carry capacity of many places on this earth. Science and technology will have a very difficult time pulling us out of this fire. It is not about planting this or that because each year has brought conditions where all plants are stressed. We get rains non stop, then months of no rain. Roots rot back then dry out. Native plants here are just as stressed as on expects in drought conditions. The meadows here did not produce sufficient seed, so it is not much to think what that means. Plants die, so does the wildlife dependent on them. Those that matter in politics, farming and industry are the ones needing to change ways. Just not going to happen worldwide in any measurable way. Too much greed.

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  12. Not only climate change but the increase in digestive and respiratory ills, autism, and others make it clear that we've already seriously damaged that which sustains us. Is it irreparable? Thank you for this post.

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  13. I'm agreeing with you and the comments of friends here. It's so sad and difficult and complicated ... and it's a worldwide problem. I keep coming back to the point where I'm trying to be a part of the solution as much as possible. I know my consumption habits aren't perfect either, but I'm trying to do my best and learning and hoping my little voice and actions can make a difference. Thanks for this excellent post.

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  14. Catmint, I wish we human beings would stop seeing economics and profit as our reason to live. If that's our only reason, then of course we and the rest of the world haven't long to go.
    Remember that every time a bird uses your bird-bath you have given love and have thus delayed the might of all the blind greed that sees no need for bird-baths.

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  15. Thanks, dear cyberfriends, for adding your thoughts about this complicated and heart wrenching topic. In the end, I guess we continue to live our lives, trying to do our bit as much as we can, and learning to cope with the anxiety of an unknown future.

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I love to get feedback and comments, and getting to know other bloggers. I also appreciate corrections if you detect an error, because I'm not an expert, but a self taught enthusiastic amateur on a steep learning curve.

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