Our gardens are less ambitious undertakings than when we were younger. We still have some raised beds with sun gold tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and several different herbs. The Brewer farmer’s market now makes up the bulk of our local summer and fall vegetables.
This year the raised beds got put to bed mostly in October; but one Italian flat-leafed parsley resisted uprooting. Every time I thought to get the fork out and move the plant to the compost bin it protested and offered another day of fresh herb for tomorrow’s meals. The plant is still there in December, producing flavors for our table. And it has survived without any night time cover or special mulching. Parsley is a cold-hardy plant, but this is exceptional.
You know where this is going. 2016 is on schedule to be the hottest year on record, as can be seen in these temperature anomaly data reported in the The Economist newspaper:
We can see the effect of these rising global temperatures in my parsley plant. Anyone my age who gardens in Maine can assure you that the parsley should not have survived this long.
The President-elect is rumored to be planning the shutdown of the programs in NASA where climate science is done. The argument is that climate science has become “politicized” and that ending Federal funding for the science is a legitimate political action of a new President.
Of course there is nothing political about rising sea levels, increasing frequency of 100-year weather events, Arctic sea ice declines, melting permafrost in the Arctic, and expanding ranges of the ticks that spread Lyme disease in Maine.
These and numerous other biophysical changes in the processes of our home planet are realities that we are going to need to deal with, whether or not you believe in their human origins. It is not just the climate that is changing. Rather the changes are seen in multiple ways across the planet. Scientists are now talking about the diverse phenomena of global change. Some geologists now think we have slipped into a new epoch, the Anthropocene, reflecting the scientific consensus that humans are responsible for a significant portion of the change we are seeing in global biophysical systems.
We can celebrate cruise ships that bring wealthy tourists to Maine ports after Northwest Passage voyages made possible by global change. And I can relish parsley harvested out my back door in December. But these are not worth the risks of global changes that we are creating.
If we care about the quality of life we are leaving for humans of the next generation, we will make sure that Maine politicians avoid the rhetoric of “politicized science” and continue to support good science and creative public policies to address changes in the planet wrought by humans.