Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

How Your Garden and Yard Can Weather Our Changing Climate

The following is an excerpt from Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. It appeared originally on the web at Alternet.org.

My house has been much hotter in the summer in the last decade than it used to be. Global warming? Probably not. The two huge Douglas fir trees south of the house died and had to be cut down. The effect of that loss on the temperature of the house in summer was immediate and dramatic. Local often trumps global. When it comes to our home and yard, two big trees may matter more than global warming.

Global warming is happening, however. It’s been happening since the glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago, so it is nothing new. How fast it is happening and how much is caused by people isn’t the subject of this article. Nor will I address the global aspect of global climate change. I will instead consider the small and personal. What effect will climate change have on your yard and garden next year and in the next few years and decades? Here’s my synthesis, based upon information from many sources. (See chapter 3 end notes and references in The Resilient Gardener.) That the overall trend for the planet for the last 20,000 years has been one of warming is incontrovertible. However, climatic trends are full of irregularities and hiccups. Any period of a thousand years in which the overall trend is in one direction has periods of years, decades, and sometimes even centuries in which the climatic trend reverses temporarily. The Little Ice Age, from about A.D. 1300 to 1850, is named for the seriously colder weather in North Atlantic Europe and America. It was a period of several hundred years that was part of the overall global warming trend that has been occurring since the last ice age. Even if the globe is warmer on average in years to come, that doesn’t mean your yard will be any warmer, even on average. Climate change causes changes and irregularities in the patterns of ocean currents and winds. The local effects of those changes are huge compared with the few degrees cited as likely increases in average global climate in the next few decades. A change in wind patterns that brings Arctic inland air masses to you instead of mild ocean air will matter much more than a few degrees higher average global temperature. Even major trends are region specific, not globally uniform. And water may matter more than temperature. The Medieval Warm Period was lovely for Europe. Famines and diseases were rare. Populations swelled. Civilization and cities expanded and flourished. The same period was devastating for Mexico and the American Southwest, which experienced horrific droughts–droughts that probably contributed to the collapse of civilizations and the vanishing of entire populations. In the Sahara, the Medieval “Warm” Period was cooler, not warmer, and marked by more prolonged droughts. In many other parts of the world, the main impact of the global warming of the Medieval Warm Period also seemed to be droughts. Says Brian Fagan in The Great Warming, “with respect to California, it’s sobering to remember that the past seven hundred years were the wettest since the Ice Age.” Pointing to prolonged droughts that lasted decades and even generations, Fagan says that, viewing the overall global situation, not just that of Europe, “it is tempting to rename the Medieval Warm Period the Medieval Drought Period.” The American Northwest, California, the Southwest, the inter-mountain West, and the lower Hudson River Valley are all vulnerable to increased aridity and droughts. Finally, for agriculture, the regularity of weather patterns may matter much more than averages or overall climate change trends. In spring of 1350, it started raining in northern Europe and rained for the next several months. That spring marked the beginning of five years of colder, wetter, stormier, more erratic weather that was the obvious beginning of the Little Ice Age, which lasted another 550 years. Most of the famines in northern Europe during the Little ice Age were as much or more associated with erratic, rainier, stormier weather than with temperatures. In the Year without a Summer in New England (1816), the freezes were unremarkable, as New England freezes go. What mattered was that they happened right through the entire summer. Read the complete excerpt at Alternet. Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener is available now in our bookstore.


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More..

Draft Power: The Life-Affirming Alternative to “Big Ag”

Farmers young and old are seeking new ways to shrink their carbon footprint and promote more ecologically friendly ways of getting chores done. So, what’s a modern farmer to do? For some, the centuries old approach of using draft animals—especially horses—is offering a very 21st century solution. Read More..

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More..

A Book for the Fruit Nerd on Your Holiday Gift List

Have a fruit enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year? Then give the gift that Booklist calls, “a thorough investigation of one wonderful fruit”—The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan.Sure cherries, plums, peaches, and other fruits have their unique qualities, but nothing quite compares to the pear’s luscious texture, richness of taste, and fragrance reminiscent […] Read More..

Unlock the Secret to the Perfect Salad with Soil Sprouts

As the weather gets colder and seasonal produce only means root vegetables, we begin to dream about fresh greens and colorful salads. Without a greenhouse or expensive equipment, it’s hard to imagine a reality in which you can have fresh and local greens every day. Luckily, Peter Burke has a method: in his book Year-Round Indoor […] Read More..
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com