Yesterday I learned of a dire climate change report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Today I spread organic lawn fertilizer on parts of our rural yard where the grass is almost always greened up after fall rains.
Not this year. And that's really weird.
I'm a creature of habit when it comes to fertilizing our yard. Twice a year, spring and fall, I spread organic fertilizer that I buy at Lowe's on both our shrubs/trees and our lawn.
Some of the grass around our house is watered with a sprinkler system. Some isn't. We've lived on our ten acres in rural South Salem for 28 years. I can't recall a year when the non-watered grass was as barren and brown at this time in October as it was today.
This is an area outside our front door that has always, so far as I can remember, been green this time of year. But not now, not in 2018. I held off until today on spreading the lawn fertilizer, which I usually do in September, because there's been almost no rain, and the fertilizer needs to be watered in to do any good, obviously.
Almost all of Oregon (86%) is in either severe or extreme drought as of October 2. And there's been little rain in the last week. Now, I realize that most people who live in cities aren't as directly aware of this as those of us who live in the country, and have wells.
But as I was spreading lawn fertilizer on parts of our yard that were super-dry (another usually grassy area by our driveway is shown above), I couldn't help thinking about the IPCC report that I'd read about in the New York Times.
A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”
The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.
Well, I'm alive right now, and I can say that Oregon's climate has changed a lot during the 47 years I've lived in my much-beloved state. The summers are drier and hotter. The winters are milder and warmer. I recall it raining for weeks on end in the fall and winter. That's rare now.
What irks me is that even if everybody accepted the science of climate change, it still would be tough to prevent the disastrous effects on human civilization that global warming is producing. But climate change deniers are everywhere, even here in green, liberal Oregon.
There are several climate change deniers on a "Stakeholder Advisory Committee" charged with helping guide an update to Salem's Comprehensive Plan which describes how our city will develop -- notably Sam Brentano, a Marion County commissioner.
I hope that if Brentano or other climate change deniers start to raise doubts about the need for Salem to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, most members of the committee will say, "Stop! Just stop! You're wrong, and we're not going to put up with scientific ignorance, especially if it is willful ignorance."
Our yard is a microcosm of the global warming macrocosm. The bottom of this photo shows a part of our lawn that doesn't get irrigated by a sprinkler. It's dry as a bone, though as noted before, usually by this time of year the grass is green. Another part of our lawn gets watered, so it looks fine -- no problem.
But that "no problem" masks the reality of Oregon's drought. When I raised my iPhone's camera to another viewpoint, our yard looks wonderfully normal -- green and beautiful.
That's what so worrisome about global warming deniers. Because climate change is a slow-moving train wreck, not an instant dramatic disaster, it is possible to avert our eyes from the danger signs of a steadily warming world.
Today I couldn't do that, as I spread lawn fertilizer on parts of our yard that were much drier than usual. I just hope many more people have their eyes opened to the reality of climate change before it is too late.