Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gardeners fighting global warming

Buckwheat greens

Yesterday Ewa posted a couple of really cool (check them!) - and dramatic - pictures from Korea and their "We are drowning" appeal to fight global warming and invited all gardeners to share ideas what they do to protect the environment.
OK, I am game - to the point. I compost, eat mostly organic greens, vegetables and fruit (which helps - in a small way - to advance pesticide free organic farming, which in turn helps the environment, though I am not sure what effect - if any - it might have on global warming). I do eat meat, poultry and seafood,( also preferably organic, hormone and pesticide free) though in moderation, trying to keep my diet plant based in preferably 85%, but no less than 50% of the diet as living- and raw food.
I do mostly grow -organically - my own sprouts and baby greens (like the buckwheat greens pictured above), using very few resources: growing sprouts requires only organic seeds and water (+ reusable sprouting bags or recycled and recyclable jars), while to grow greens I use shallow trays (reusable), own organic compost and seeds. And I eat them as sallads mostly, but some blended in green shakes. Greens, sprouts, flaxseed, plantains, papaya are staples in my breakfast shakes, then I add other fruit and sometimes avocado - a lot healthier than cereals and use less energy than cooked breakfast.
Both sprouts and greens in my climatic zone require less than 5 days to be ready to eat - some of them as few as days, but they take about 7 days in colder climates.
I admit, the sprouting bags hanging in the kitchen do not look esthetically pleasing, so I need to find a better place - or a better way (automatic sprouter?) to sprout. At the moment it is a sacrifice of esthetics.
I also grow my own - organic - herbs and vegetables either in a garden (if I have a piece of land disponible) or in containers on a balcony or a patio, using many of them in addition to - or instead of - merely ornamentals.
But even ornamentals - if they do not require too much resources - can help fight global warming, because green areas clean up the air.
I don't have a dehydrator like a true living- or raw foodist should, and I would never use an oven to dehydrate food, because it takes about 18 hours! at a low temperatures. I haven't found info on how much energy it uses comparatively to a short few minutes of baking seed and veggie crackers, for example, but it seems to me it takes more energy than baking, so I bake my crackers. Perhaps a tad less healthy (= less enzymes), but I compromise for the sake of the planet ... and taste: baked crackers taste a lot better to me than dehydrated ones. OK, so I am not a saint. ;-)
I admit I love well lit, mood lit gardens, so it pains me having to cut down on lighting for the sake of saving energy. I try to compromise and light the garden only when there is someone outside to actually enjoy it - either me or passersby on the street - usually between 7-10 pm.
I use airplanes, because I can't imagine life without mobility, without far distance explorations. However, I would be willing to accept a longer flight if it would mean lower fuel consumption.
I use a car for local mobility as well, but it is a fuel economy model. Although, I have to admit I drive quite a lot (about a 1000 miles per month) just for the pleasure of entertaining myself and visiting interesting places: beaches, mountains, gardens, waterfalls, cities, towns, musea, art galleries, libraries and bookstores. I try to limit my footprint by cutting off air conditioning when not driving on a highway, but keeping windows open instead.
On the other hand I consistently save resources on housing - living in a McMansion of any kind has never been my dream, so it is not a big sacrifice for me. And I am into minimalist furnishing and equipment, minimalist purchasing of clothes, shoes, etc., being careful with using energy (lights, air conditioning), recycling everything recyclable whenever possible - it all saves resources and limits global warming. And it is practically painless for me.
I also often work for a sustainability oriented environmental protection - social profit (= nonprofit) - organizations, helping to promote research and experimentation into sustainability.
But what I think we all should MOSTLY consider doing, because it would have the most dramatic impact on environment and global warming in even one generation's lifetime, would be to LIMIT PROCREATING OURSELVES.
Hipothetically, If every living couple on earth would have only one child, we would lower the world's population from 6.6 billion to 3.3 in one generation to 1.65 billion in the next one and less than 1 billion in the third one. Imagine the impact on global warming, on environment within 25-50-75 years!
I know that it is an utopia to think everybody would be able to limit their joy of procreation (no matter how much burden on the earth the additional babies are going to have, and how much they would have to sacrifice to even be able to survive on the tremendously overpopulated planet), but it can be done, I hope, even if in a somewhat slower tempo, and despite of all religion or habit based appeals and reasons to procreate.
I have read the statistic of significant population decline in predominantly catholic countries like Italy and Spain, as the countries became more affluent.
I have seen it in my own, mostly Catholic, family: my granfather had five siblings, my grandmother none, so they were 7 total in that generation. The two of them had 3 children, and they ( the 3 children + their 3 spouses=6) had a total of 4. That's my generation. The four of us + our 4 spouses (a total of 8) have 5 kids (one of us, the poorest and least educated, happens to have 2, all the others have only one each) and the trend of having only one child - or no children at all - continues - so far - in my daughter's generation.
In my late spouse's family, a few generation ago Lesthadian (=tons of babies), now mostly protestant, the effect of cutting down on babies in has even greater impact: His father had 10 siblings, his mother had 11. The two of them had 5 children, and those 5 children + their 5 spouses produced together 6 children. Of those 6 children and their 6 spouses none, so far has more than one child, while half of them have none, despite being in their 30s. So there is hope that a population explosion in Thirld World countries also can be tamed with increased affluence and higher educational achievements for both boys and girls.
So, gardeners or not, please let's give it a serious thought! Don't let your procreation urges make your children - and the planet - suffer.

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