After the torrential rain from Hurricane Ida finally stopped Wednesday night, I went outside with a flashlight to check the rain gauge. I knew it had rained a lot, but I was still stunned. The original estimates were for 5-6 inches in this area, but even without taking a measurement, I could tell the gauge held 8 inches, maybe more. I was out early Thursday morning to get the exact total: 8.34 inches.
The storm gives me a little extra boost to write more about environmental issues, something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Yes, it’s more fun to talk about growing flowers and vegetables, planting gardens for butterflies and other pollinators, and delving into various botanical topics. And yes, the environment can seem too challenging. We want to find more good news than bad when we sit down with the newspaper, don’t we? But whether we like it or not, environmental changes such as hotter summers, almost permanent heat waves, excessive rainfall and more violent storms can no longer be ignored.
This is and will continue to be primarily a gardening column, but where better to talk about environmental issues? We gardeners feel and observe more than many the effects of climate change; for starters we see stress on plants and an increased susceptibility to disease and pests. And while there are many serious issues to complain or rant about, I want to focus on what progress is being made and what deeper role we could have as individuals.
So, for this column, I’d like to share the positive: In the United States, electricity from renewable resources accounted for more than 10 percent of total energy production in 2020 (8.4 percent from wind and 2.3 percent from sun, for a total of 10.7 percent .). %). That might not sound like much, but I think back to the time when people said that organic food would never be viable in grocery stores and would never be more than a niche market housed in health food stores were.
Now grocery stores everywhere have aisles dedicated to organic produce and packaged organic food. There is more focus on “local food”. There are more farmers markets. Restaurants look for fresh, local food. Originally just one store in Kimberton, Kimberton Whole Foods now has three stores in Chester County and has expanded into Berks, Bucks and Montgomery Counties. The Whole Foods Market chain is constantly expanding.
I think producing 10% renewable energy signals real, sustained progress. We just need more of it, and quickly. That brings me to a question: Why can it not be standard in areas where it is feasible, ie where there is little to no tree cover, that all new buildings are operated with solar collectors? Is it time Sure, cost is a factor, but I think we just need to signal a demand and be willing to implement it. We have only recently been expecting central air conditioning in all new buildings.
If you have any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions on how we can work together to make a difference in areas like this, I’d love to hear from you. Much more is happening than I realize or can keep track of, so your help is very welcome. For example, I recently learned about hot water on demand.
Here’s an action you can take today, sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). It only takes a few clicks on your computer or other device to submit a pre-written letter urging the Biden government to “meet growing demands for climate protection by strengthening standards for clean cars and fuel emissions”. You can modify / personalize the letter with your own thoughts. Go to https://on.nrdc.org/3BDTDbN
Pam Baxter is an avid organic vegetable gardener and lives in Kimberton. Email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or email to PO Box 80, Kimberton, PA 19442. Share your gardening stories on Facebook under Chester County Roots. Pam’s book for children and families, Big Life Lessons from Nature’s Little Secrets, is available on Amazon at Amazon.com/author/pamelabaxter.