Factor in the unknown change that a warming climate could produce in micro-ecosystems — bacteria, fungi, other microbes — and there is potential for new disease. The report points to this possibility as well.
Given that we already see how some smaller organisms adapt to and take advantage of global warming, like some plants (blooming earlier in the spring, growing farther and farther north), some insects (larger populations overwintering, colonizing farther north), and some birds (robins and geese overwintering), it’s not hard to imagine how even smaller, more adaptable micro-organisms might really benefit from warmer weather. Ironically, the same day the climate change report was released, I also heard a report about a new tick-borne disease — heartland virus — being watched closely in Missouri.
Though some adverse effects due to climate change are now unavoidable, the report says that there is still time to head off the worst scenarios. We don’t have to stay in a pot of warming water until it boils. We can hop out and turn the heat down. I get it that changing the way we live and do business and identify ourselves is scary. But we’re brave and compassionate people, capable of facing reality.
The season of Lent is the perfect time for this report to arrive. It’s the time of year when we think about mortality, sacrifice, self-denial and the miracle of renewed life. This is the time to challenge ourselves to do what we must for the sake of the earth-systems which sustain us, for the sake of plants and animals which we care about, for the sake of children whom we love.
Ride your bike or walk to work or to shop. If you can’t do that share a ride or take the bus. If you can’t do one of those, put more efficient light bulbs in your house. If you can’t do that, plant a tree near your house. Tree shade reduces the energy you use to keep your house cool. Trees preserve all important ground moisture, and protect the soil which we live on. Trees soak up carbon dioxide, a primary heat-trapping, green-house, global warming gas.
And if you can’t plant a tree at your house, come join other tree planting volunteers on Good Saturday, April 19, at Mill Street Park. We’ll plant 30 new trees between 9 am and noon. We’ll eat good food, and get to know each other. We’ll give something of ourselves and put hope into practice.
Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley is Goshen’s urban forester. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 537-0986.