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Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Europeans now feel that climate change is the world’s biggest security threat, reports the Christian Science Monitor this week.

Correspondent Nicole Itano writes from Italy that the EU sees it as a “threat multiplier” that “intensifies existing trends, tensions, and instability.”

The report — written by Javier Solana, EU foreign-policy chief, and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations — warns of ‘environmental migrants’ flooding the EU and of instability and collapse in both energy-producing and weakly-established states.

It’s a striking contrast with the American national perspective.  In the USA, where so much money is spent and so many lives expended in the name of national security, climate change appears to make only the faintest blip on the Federal government’s national security radar.

Not all Americans agree with that, of course.  Even many high-ranking former US officials have publicly stated that they think this is a mistake.  Another recent Monitor story references John Podesta and Peter Ogden’s article on the threats posed by climate change in the Winter 2007-’08 issue of The Wilson Quarterly.

And last year a group of retired US military officers warned of the security dangers that can attend rapid climate change.  The impact of such efforts on US national security policy seem to be meager so, far, however.

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Today is the first official day of Spring.

It finds Verlyn Klinkenborg, the New York Times ‘Rural Life’ columnist, in rhapsodies. He writes:

“What cheers me, though, is the thought that spring isn’t a human season, not like the seasons we create for ourselves.”

Elsewhere, however, writers fear that even if it’s not of our own creation, Spring is being radically altered by humans.

“Spring, which officially starts today, is starting to dissolve as a distinct season as climate change takes hold,” worries the UK Independent.

This isn’t ‘quaint or charming,’ the paper’s Environmental Editor, Michael McCarthy, insists. It’s another sign that climate change is with us; a confirmation, he writes, that “a profound alteration in the environment, the consequences of which are likely to prove catastrophic, is already under way.”

Over at the AP, Seth Borenstein, remarks on similar changes in the USA. Like McCarthy, he notes the renewed importance of that Victorian passion par excellence, phenology — the human recording of the timing of seasonal biological events.

Borenstein is helpfully specific about why these phenological changes are significant.

“The changes could push some species to extinction,” he says. “That’s because certain plants and animals are dependent on each other for food and shelter. If the plants bloom or bear fruit before animals return or surface from hibernation, the critters could starve. Also, plants that bud too early can still be whacked by a late freeze.”

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There’s nothing like a passion for gardening to sharpen your awareness of environmental change.

Gardeners need to know when the last frosts end; the number of ‘cooling days’ available to fix their apples; when the soil will be warm enough to plant the summer vegetables – and plenty more – if they’re to garden in any kind of traditional sense.

Here at EarthQuaker we admit to such a passion, although not without a little discomfort. To garden, after all, is to deliberately alter nature.

Gardeners help save plant species and heirloom varieties and offer wildlife sanctuary, to be sure, but they’re also a major conduit for invasive plants, bugs and pathogens. And the desire to grow varieties that your local climate wouldn’t support without added water and fertilizer is all-too hard for the serious gardener to resist.

That’s one reason why we admire radical ungardeners, who appreciate nature but do very little to alter it.

It’s also a reason why some gardeners seem to be looking forward to global warming with what could only be described as relish.

Take the January issue of the Royal Horticultural Society’s magazine, the Garden. Its theme is ‘Gardening in a Changing Climate.’ While the issue devotes much space to the negative impact of climate change on native British plants and animals, its editors are also clearly interested in exploring the ‘upside’ of Global Warming. Along with ‘possible losers of a changing climate,’ the magazine lists possible winners that it knows its readers are itching to grow — beautiful bougainvillea, striking agave, tasty figs.

So here’s another reminder that while climate change is destabilizing, it will also benefit some people in some concrete ways.

And with that comes the realization that any efforts to seriously slow that change must convince those ‘winners’ of the need for change as much as those of us it devastates.

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