Climate change and changing to suit the climate

Climate change.

Controvertial, no?

Is it real or is it just a hoax?

If it IS a hoax, what is the reason behind the hoax and who does it benefit?

If it is real, how do we sort the truth from the lies? How serious is it? Is it too late?

I only wish I knew the answers but I believe climate change, brought about by man, is real. If it is a hoax it benefits no-one that I can think of bar a few comparatively small companies producing environmentally friendly goods. If we believe it is a hoax however, I can think of a few industries that will reap the rewards (think of mining and drilling).

When I think back to what started my green journey I find it really hard to pin point any particular thing. I remember hassling my mum once about buying bleach and she ended up buying vinegar instead. I remember in grade 6 I think it was, doing an in class assignment where you answered multiple choice questions and it predicted a future scenario for you. Even then I preferred a large house in a small country town with an eco lifestyle. Ok, so I no longer want a large house (cleaning the house never entered my 12 yo mind 😉 ) but the rest of the scenario has pretty much played out to be true. I’ve also had that dream of living on a small acreage in the country for as long as I can remember, interspersed with eco dreams too. For as long as I can remember there has always been some level of environmental sustainability or homesteading about my dreams.

So what kicked it all into high gear then? I’ve already mentioned some of my journey of how it’s not easy to be green but it was probably the film The Day after Tomorrow that really prompted me to start making changes. Now, do I think that there will be 3 big storms to plunge the world into a new ice age? No. Do I think that the film is very over-dramatised? Yes. Do I think that the film makes a good point though? Yes. It got me thinking long and hard about climate change and our precious planet. It got me thinking about the impact that my choices and decisions have upon the planet and although it doesn’t touch on even half of the issues out there (deforestation of our jungles, over fishing, landfill, fossil fuel usage and so on) but at least for me it got me thinking. It got me processing. It made me realise that there is a LOT more to the world than just my little piece of it.

Now as I sit here today it’s a predicted high of 38C degrees (about 29 inside at the moment). It’s still November! The average maximum temperatures for Melbourne in November is 22C although the highest on record is 40.9 on November 27 1894 (info found here). It’s a total fire ban in both the Mallee and Wimera regions of Victoria too – the far north and west of the state where it’s already at severe fire danger (info found here). This is unusual for November in Victoria in my memory at least and I suspect that the odd rumours I’ve heard of a long hot summer may well turn out to be true. And after what Ballan locals have said was a long cold winter… Well it just seems to me, in my very unscientific opinion, that things are changing.

I believe things are reaching some pretty critical levels as far as climate change goes. I mean, from a cursory glance at my dear friend Dr Google, it seems the average temperature of the earth has risen less than a degree C which sounds negligible… But is it? I know the last few years here in Melbourne we’ve had some stinking hot days. I remember the new years we waved farewell to 2007 and hello to 2008 it was still a balmy 35C or 95F at midnight. Just over 13 months later on February 7th 2009 and we saw our hottest day on record, now known as Black Saturday because of the horrific bushfires that raged across our state. It changed our hottest ever recorded Victorian temperature to a whopping 48.8C (that’s 120F) recorded at Hopetown (stats taken from here). Melbourne reached 46.4C  or 115.5F (stats taken from here). Even without counting the fires in, it was a pretty rotten day here. Including the devastating fires, it was horrendous.

What melting polar ice?

The point is, the climate is changing and we are going to have to change along with it. I read a wonderful comment this morning on Narf77’s blog The Road to Serendipity about adaption. “I LOVE the positivity of permaculture…no sitting around whinging about how we won’t have citrus trees soon and isn’t it terrible…just straight away looking at the possibilities and adapting. That’s what I prize…adaptation and the ability to look on the bright side. That’s what is noble about the human race…” and it struck a chord. Even if we stopped burning each and every fossil fuel today and set everything right in one fell swoop I don’t believe the climate trend will change overnight. Things have gone too far for that. Arctic ice melting is a prime example. From what I’ve read it works like this. When there is a large amount of arctic ice it reflects back the heat of the sun a lot more, being white it’s reflective, not absorptive. However, when it gets hotter the polar ice melts and then there is less white reflective ice and more absorptive dark coloured ocean to contain the heat from the sun. This in turn melts more of the ice, which in its turn provides more dark ocean to absorb more heat and so on. I’m not sure how that is supposed to stop to be honest because it’s self perpetuating. The melting of the polar ice brings with it warmer temperatures, more water (the melting water surely has to go somewhere although I can’t seem to find anything but arguments about rising sea levels on Dr Google).

Tagasaste or tree lucerne

We MUST take more responsibility for the environment and try to stop the global warming trend but in correlation with this we need to adapt. I for one am glad we will be raising our elevation from about 17m above sea level to much closer to 500m… Just in case. I also plan to try to grow some plants that are not considered suitable for the Ballan climate – Tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis) or tree lucerne is one such tree. It’s a dry climate plant initially from the Canary islands and doesn’t like waterlogged soil but I am hoping by growing it in a raised bed in the chook pen that it will thrive and help provide food for the chickens. I am also going to try growing sweet potatoes next year. They’re not good in cold climates and not so great in temperate climates either (I tried to grow them a few years back) but I reckon it’s worth giving them a crack inside the greenhouse. I’ll probably also try ginger and turmeric too. The Tropical Hippy, a friend in both the blogosphere and real world who lives in tropical climes is giving sweet potatoes a go now if you’re keen to try them.

For me that adaption is to try and grow things locally so that I can reduce our food carbon miles. If I can’t grow it locally (bananas, mangoes, pineapples and other tropical fruits for starters) I need to weigh up the value of having access to these foods (bananas would be a big loss to my kids) versus their mileage. With many of our tropical fruits coming from Queensland they’re not as bad as they could be, but dates (which we use in cooking and as snacks – a huge loss to me) may well come from Iran or other local countries so their mileage is huge. I guess for me if I can localise as much as possible then buying some things with carbon miles isn’t so bad. I hope that the miles our tomatoes will travel will be about 20 metres from the veggie garden to the kitchen via shanks pony. 🙂 They will then be bottled which will use some gas or electricity in the processing but it’s much less than buying a can of imported tomatoes.

Anyway, this is becoming a bit of an incoherent ramble which I’m going to blame on the heat frying my brain (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉 ) so it’s time to sign off. We’re having a tv day here in the interests of keeping the kids calm whilst being locked inside away from the sun (not my favourite kind of day but needs must).

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9 thoughts on “Climate change and changing to suit the climate

  1. If it were a hoax, it would benefit more than just a few companies. The argument goes that it keeps the scientists–many new branches have been born from climate change–in funding. But you’re very right, if people were convinced that it were a hoax, many will benefit–well, until the proverbial hits the fan but hey, capitalism is all about short-term gains.

    Day After Tomorrow was an entertaining film and it certainly did have a point. Though, I think 2012 did a better job of demonstrating the pandaemonium such an event could bring.

    I try and not give into the temptation of commenting on the debate using day-to-day observations. Yep, the weather is changing and getting quite crazy. However, I feel that it’s using one of the denialists favourite tricks using it as evidence for climate change. It’s an amateur move that they make all the time. Andrew Bolt loves it when it rains, considering Tim Flannery–in a completely different context–once said that we will be seeing lower rainfalls. “How can there be climate change. It’s raining outside.”

    I love those wise words of Naf77 about the positivity of permaculture. I sympathise with the farmers somewhat–only because they’ve found themselves in predicaments that are man-made; that shouldn’t be–but wish they would be more forward-thinking and adaptive. Farmers selling up in the Lower Lakes region of the Murray River because the water has become salty and unusable. These things happen–naturally or caused by man. Innovative farmers that are adamant to grow crops in the region are resorting to desalination set-ups. This will probably lead to more bad than good but it’s at least a sign of technological adaption. Really, these farmers should be growing what suits to conditions or moving on. One must look passed that perceived sense of failure in trying new things and look at it in a more positive light; as adaption rather than failure. The animals that have failed to adapt to their environments in the past became extinct; they did fail.

    • Being an amateur to the whole green change, climate change, Eco awareness and the rest and not having any form of degree, my thoughts and feelings about all of this are amateur. I’m not out to prove the point, one way or the other, just to share my rambling thoughts and maybe get people thinking. And if the crazy weather is not showing us that something is going on then what is and what will? I’m well aware of cycles in the weather including El Niño and La Nina but even so, things seem to be getting bigger and hotter/colder, stronger or longer/shorter. It’s these changes that will make the average Joe Bloggs stop and think. The hurricanes over the last few years in the USA will surely make some people stop and think, as would have Yasi here.
      As for more than just a few being affected, yes you’re right. Eco businesses (in all their many forms), as well as the researchers are getting to be big business. Would they compete when compared to drilling and mining and the traditional industries? I don’t know. Maybe my view of mining and drilling has been skewed by the perception of them being these huge all-powerful companies. Either way, there is a LOT at stake for them should the masses believe they are the four horseman of the climate change apocalypse.

      • Oops. Sorry, I didn’t mean much by saying “amateur”. It was more the phrase that held some relevance. It was meant to mean that using that particular argument is problematic; the denialists use it too, for positive effect.

        You’re right, what we see around us is important in convincing us to take the science seriously. Problem is, that works both ways. People are convinced by people like Andrew Bolt when they say silly things like “It was cold today. Therefore, global warming doesn’t exist”. The stuff that we observe at an individual level may or may not be directly related to climate change, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t climate change. The evidence is clear that there is and that is is caused by humans. People ought to be convinced by the science–it is so good, and so clear. But when you have people like Bolt chiming in, it becomes more of a battle.

        I read a great article last night about the degrees of environmentalism. There is light green, dark green and bright green. Each “group” approaches environmentalism in a different way. Light greens are about personal responsibility and tend to think that we can consume our way out of the problems–hence, these big new eco-corporations. Dark greens support radical changes at an economic and political level; they usually put to blame capitalism and the growth-fetish as a chief cause of climate change and environmental degradation; they are post-materialists. And bright greens believe that technology and social innovation are the keys to sustainability. Philosophically I am a dark green; behaviourally, I am a light–which I want to change.

        • Hmmm, like the different green analogy. I would also put myself in the dark green bracket but with a dose of bright green too. I do believe that technology has a role to play in sustainability (LED lights are a great example of how we can keep a modern convenience of lighting yet not gouge the environment to do so) but I too have many aspects of light green too which, like you I am working on changing. It’s not easy is it? 😦

  2. narf77 says:

    The highest temperature for Melbourne is 40.9C?! That was a normal spring day in W.A.! I remember one Christmas it got so hot that my grandma’s budgie shuffled off and cooking Christmas dinner was a thesis in determination and sweat. In saying that, it is warming up here in Tasmania as well. We have had an unseasonable spring where it is currently dry and it is usually wet. Goodness only knows what summer is going to bring aside from the temperature most probably rising above 25C and a large percentage of the native Tasmanian’s having to go to hospital with heat exposure. I helped your post with my humble optimistic outburst?! I am beaming…It’s 5.41am and I am beaming…I got up at 3.30am so that I could read my rss feed reader before we had to walk the dogs because today is the dreaded “penultimate final lecture” for the end of our hort studies and I wanted to wade through at least a few of them and I see myself up in lights… it might just be the fact that it is still dark and that I have had precious little sleep and my synapses are snapping some sort of unnatural alien little ditty where they should be telling me to “go back to bed you moron!” but you just made my day :). We DO need to change our ways BUT we also need to look on the bright side once we do…
    1. change our ways
    2. stop being too scared to do anything because “hey…we are stuffed anyway!”
    3. just “do”…its all we can choose
    4. be happy with our lot 🙂

    I am not so sure about the sweet potato thing…if they are so hard to grow in colder climates how come New Zealand has kumaras? I rest my case and my job here is done! Off to grovel and beg and generally debase myself in the name of making our lecturer feel superior (those who can “do” and those who can’t “teach” 😉 ) and secretly look at our phone whenever he goes out of the room so that we can get back to Serendipity Farm and stake those tomatoes…make supports for those beans…toss in some slug pellets…drag those branches down to the fire pit and burn them before they start the fire ban period…shoo the chooks out of my gardens…do everything…DO EVERYTHING…sigh…”Hurry up Nick! ;)” (wish us luck…)

    • 40.9 is just the hottest November day. Don’t forget I currently live in Mercurial Melbourne with its theme songs as Vivaldi’s 4 seasons. The weather here, most particularly in spring and summer can start off with fog, head into a scorcher, see a cool change come through which sends you off hunting for your snow gear then finish off with a light early spring rain. We really can get 4 seasons in a day. Makes it very hard to choose your outfit I tell you.
      I even remember a white Christmas only a few years back. Snow on the Dandenongs and sleet and hail throughout the rest of Melbourne, enough to bury the lawn.
      3:30 girl? I think you might kind of need your head read! I think you need to call blog readers anonymous and seek help. I mean I know I’m addicted but waking up several hours before the crack of dawn to read them? In saying that I was awake at 3:30 too with Orik who just would not sleep. Exhausting hot and stuffy night.
      Good luck with Nick today too.

  3. narf77 says:

    (Paul the kind little blogger loves my words…I AM A STAR! 😉 )

    • Too right I do. You are the STAR.

      Adaption is one of the most basic and important things we can learn from biological evolution. But hey, we humans think we are beyond something so fundamental; you know with our big brains and all that. Arrogance, that is. People that support imperialisation of “lesser cultures” suffer from this kind of arrogance. They judge a people not on their adaptiveness, but their technological advancement. The Australian Aborigines are a brilliant case in point. They managed to live at the mercy of this hostile land for a phenomenal amount of time. How do imperialists look at that? They look at it based on their level of advancement. Actually, they look at it as a matter of comparison only. “Oh, well they didn’t come far in that time.”

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