Thursday, 19 November 2009

My Climate Change "Action Plan"

Since it is becoming increasingly obvious that there will be no binding agreement in Copenhagen next month about how to achieve necessary greenhouse gas emission reductions, I thought I would propose my own binding climate change mitigation strategy. Why not, eh? Members of the so-called "developed" world seem to need a little direction in the matter, a little gentle urging perhaps. So here goes. By the way, I haven't decided if I'm joking or not.

Benign Dictator Theresa's "My Way or the Fry-way" Climate Change Action Plan
  • All international and national sporting competitions will cease immediately. That includes the Olympics. All that travel is totally unnecessary and wasteful. Everyone bike/walk to your local sporting venue instead and support your local kids competing out of a sense of fun, rather than a sense of 'when-will-I-get-that-Nike-endorsement' greed.
  • Politicians, business people, you are heretofore directed to use conference calls and webcams. All your jet-fueled travel is canceled. Your 'leadership' isn't helping anyway.
  • Tropical and other 'must-have' vacations, same goes: canceled. There's lots do see and do within walking/biking distance of where you live. And if you need that much distraction in your life you have bigger problems anyway.
  • The Las Vegas strip is closed until further notice. Same goes for all other similar locations worldwide. Way too much electricity used for no good reason. Not to mention setting a really, really bad example on so many levels. (November 27 addendum: Thanks Dubai, for getting right on that.)
  • Sorry race fans, NASCAR, Formula 1, etc., canceled. Those fossil fuels are needed for other things. Get a pedal bike or a canoe and race that.
  • Everyone will be vegetarian and like it, so there.
  • Every household will be required to have and tend a food-bearing vegetable garden. If you have no yard, a community garden plot within walking/biking distance will be found and/or reclaimed for you (i.e., uncovering the soil under now-unneeded parking lots, etc). Seeds and gardening implements will be provided. Gardening/Cooking/Preserving classes will be taught to young and old, in your local community by cool people like Sharon Astyk and her many minions.
  • Work weeks will heretofore be limited to 4 days out of 7.
  • Two days a week will be mandatory car-free days. You need to work in your garden, or volunteer, or take a Preserving class, or take a nap, or have some local fun on those days anyway.
  • Cheap plastic crap will no longer be manufactured or sold. If we're expending resources to manufacture things, those things will be useful and built to last.
  • Get ready for it: Oil sands operations will be reduced by 50% immediately. We will use natural gas as a primary fuel, rather than using it as part of the tarsands extraction process. No new coal-fired electricity plants and 50% of existing ones will be shut down. All nuclear plants will be shut down, effective immediately. The precautionary principle will be the guiding principle from now on, period. All subsidies to fossil fuel industries will be entirely re-directed to renewables, effective immediately. All buildings will be retrofitted with these cool solar panel shingles.
  • Carbon/Greenhouse gas emissions will be capped on a per capita basis, to ensure that the 350 ppm goal is reached in the next 10 years, or maybe 5 years, I haven't decided. The cap will be the same for everybody, regardless of geographical location, income, celebrity status, or political office. If this means you have to reduce your consumption down to 10% of what it is now, get used to it. Fair is fair. Compliance will be enforced by whatever nefarious means I deem suitable.
  • Oh, and no one has any more kids until all the kids around the world in orphanages or on the streets have been adopted. "Something" has been "put in the water" already.
Really, compared to that, would it be so difficult to get something together at Copenhagen? I am being generally facetious and sarcastic with (some) of these points, but come on! It doesn't take that much planning and it is not a hardship to cut down electricity consumption by half, and in our household we've managed to cut back to 35% of the North American average. I realize that is just a drop in the bucket, but instead of working to increase the number of drops in the bucket, my Canadian government is just throwing out excuses and downplaying expectations before the Copenhagen meeting. It's sickening. What passes for leadership these days is absolutely sickening.

Ok, time to make some ginger tea to reduce my nausea.

Does anyone have any 'dream clauses' you would like to add to this 'action plan'?

November 20th: Friendly Amendments. The following amendments have been suggested by commenters, and are hereby incorporated into the Action Plan . I am a benign dictator after all....
  • Hadv's amendment: The status quo is not good enough anymore. The time for change has come. Get used to it.
  • Sensible Vermonter's amendment: Renewable power retrofits will be fully subsidized up front. Power generated by these renewable sources will be sold back to the "grid" up until the subsidy is paid back, after which it will become a source of income for the homeowner.
  • Amber's amendment: Household composting is mandatory. A suitably sized composter will be provided to each household free of charge. Compost can be used by the homeowner or sold back to local compost exchange stations. Barter among neighbors is encouraged. Courses on regular and humanure composting will be offered alongside the Gardening/Cooking/Preserving courses noted above.
  • Theresa's afterthought amendment: In the spirit of re-localizing sporting and business events, all national and international travel for concerts, book tours, etc., will also be cancelled. Wherever you are, there are lots of talented local artists, authors, musicians and crafters who deserve your patronage.
Additional amendments and clauses remain welcome!

Fried landscape picture courtesy EcoWanderer

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Garden 2009: Summary of What Worked and What Didn't

One of the purposes of this blog is for me to keep track of the things I'm doing and learning about sustainability and food security and the like, through my own gardening efforts. I didn't post much about my garden (or anything else for that matter) this summer, but I thought I should at least make note of how some of the things I tried turned out.

I'll start with what went well:

1) Potatoes: Potatoes are plain-packaged miracles in my opinion. I was astounded again this year at how many potatoes will grow from just a quarter-potato planted in the Spring. I planted a section of Yukon Gold potatoes this year - the section was about 5 feet square. I probably planted the potatoes too close together, and I didn't hill them up as much I had intended, yet I got over 40 lbs of potatoes out of that little patch. Some of them were hands down gorgeous! Smooth, creamy, perfectly formed spuds. I have since made a whole lotta potato-leek soup and mashed spuds, which are now in my freezer for Winter. Not to mention the bounty of new potatoes and butter we had over the Summer itself.

2) Carrots: These grew and grew whether I thinned them or not, and tolerated quite the variation in temperature and moisture - I was so enthralled with them I wrote a little post all about it a couple weeks ago...

3) Perennial Herbs: I was so happy that my lavender plant made it through last Winter, despite the many nights of bitter cold we had (and by bitter cold I mean -45C at times, and often many nights in a row of -30C). Not only did it survive, but it thrived and produced lovely flowers that were loved by a lot of bees and bugs. By virtue of a late September trip to a lavender farm just outside of Victoria, BC, I found out that my particular variety of lavender was edible! So I harvested my lavender flowers (probably past their peak, but oh well) and made some delicious lavender scones, like you see in the picture above. I also made some lavender and sage tea with honey, which is also quite tasty. Which brings me to the sage - another plant that just grew like crazy this Summer. I have harvested a huge jar-full, enough to last me over the Winter, for certain. My thyme and rosemary also did well, and I fully expect to see them survive over this Winter, providing there is enough snow to insulate everything nicely, like there was last year.

4) Perennial Salad Greens: I grew three varieties of greens from seed: Salad Burnet, Burnet Saxifraga and French Sorrel. All of these sprouted well and grew quite profusely. Both Gord and I and our guinea pigs enjoyed these greens over the summer and into the late Fall (i.e., now). I am keeping my fingers crossed that they live through the winter - the odds are fairly good since they are quite well established now.

There were several things that didn't go well, some of which I've complained about already, and some which I haven't mentioned yet:

1) Cucumbers: I have absolutely no luck with these. Last year they were killed by frost and this year the seedlings were fried by a hot spell after a cool, dry spell. I had been trying to conserve water becasue of the dryness early in the Spring, and apparently I was a bit too stingy with the H2O.

2) Beans: These things were fried more than once, and were very slow to get going in the adverse conditions of cool dryness followed by hot dryness. Later in the summer they had a burst of growth that happened so fast the beans were past the fresh eating stage before I even noticed there were beans at all. They were even past the pickling stage, they were that big. Fortunately they were a dual purpose bean, in that the seeds themselves could be dried and used for soups. So I have a whole cupboard full of bean pods drying.

3) Tomatoes: Dead. Killed in a late frost (in June). I didn't have the motivation to try again.

4) Pumpkins: Dead. Seedlings eaten by some sort of garden pest, perhaps of the deer or pocket gopher variety.

5) Chard and Kale: started out good, but the above noted pocket gopher decided to invade that corner of the garden after our 'mole repellent' thingies chased them out of the yard. All that underground burrowing killed a good half of the chard and kale after that.

6) Aspen tree "cloning:" Our property is full of trembling aspen trees, but there is one large gap in the treeline from what I assume was some over-zealous grading when the house was built. I want to fill in that gap with the same kind of trees, and when I saw this rooter pot device at Lee Valley tools, I thought it was the answer. I had visions of free trees in my head, and I enthusiastically made my way out into our woodlot to choose some prime cloning fodder. I followed the directions closely and soon had ten aspen saplings fitted out with attached rootpots. I don't know if it was a problem with the rooting hormone washing off of the exposed "wound" inside the rootpots, or my not keeping the soil evenly moist. (Watering these things was a tad more complex than the little instruction book led me to believe.) So instead of planting ten new trees, I killed ten trees instead. Not good.

Despite the disappointments I did learn a lot, and there were some things that did go well even in the tough conditions. I guess that's the most important lesson of all: when the going gets tough, I just need to channel my inner potato. And then maybe have some lavender scones with tea. :)