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Posted by on Jul 21, 2011 in Canary in the Coal Mine, Environment | 0 comments

The Grass Isn’t Greener Anywhere Else

This is my grass.

And I don’t care.

What I do care about is that this is our 4th or 5th week without rain.  Today is expected to be the hottest day ever officially recorded in the Toronto region.

I care about that because when the thermometer reads over 90F (over 105F with the humidex) for the 2nd week in a row and the nights are almost as hot as the days and I stand barefoot on my dry brittle grass and feel the scorching heat rising off the ground – well, suddenly climate change seems damnably and frighteningly real.

It’s always been academically real to me. I read the scientific papers, watch the news, despair at the glacial government responses, and hope for a miraculous grassroots movement to take hold. I also spread the word, correct the misinformed, and try to do my part.  But that’s all frontal cortex response.

For the most part, up here north of the 43rd parallel, a couple miles from the dark cool depths of Lake Ontario, sitting in our air conditioned suburban homes, we haven’t been bothered much by climate change.

But today I can feel a future where this could be the “new normal.” And all of a sudden there are things to think about that normally don’t cross my mind. What’s going to happen when the electric company can’t keep up with the air conditioner demand? Sounds like a petty concern of the privileged, yes, but what about for my elderly mother-in-law? How will long-term power outages affect people like her?

What about water shortages? Right now my neighbors are industriously watering their grass. It’s the middle of the afternoon and half that water is evaporating before it does any good while the other half is running down their driveway into the road. When is that wastage going to be unacceptable or illegal? Yes, it feels like Lake Ontario will quench our thirst forever, but if we’ve learned anything, we’ve learned that nothing is forever.

Forest fire conditions are expected to remain extreme, with an expected 20 new fires tomorrow

And there are the forest fires. Northern Ontario is experiencing one of the largest breakouts of fires in history. They don’t affect our area – at least not yet. But now I think about forest fires when my husband and I talk about our plans for building our next house in rural Ontario.

“..we are simply asking the international community to plan for the biggest environmental and humanitarian challenge of our time.”
— Marcus Stephen, President of Nauru

Credit: NASA

What’s going on here is just our little piece of what’s happening on all over the world. Floods and droughts are affecting crops and feed animals world-wide.  Food prices are rising. The UN just declared famine in Somalia – 3.7 million people in crisis.  Marcus Stephen, President of the tiny island country Nauru, wrote an impassioned op-ed in the NY Times this week, describing what climate change is doing to his nation and pleaded for urgent action world-wide.   He speaks for an entire planet when he says:

 “..it is our home and we cannot leave it for another one.”

 

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