By Jim Poling Sr.
Mother Nature is no longer simply disappointed in us; she is blazing angry.
Her anger is evident throughout the world this month. Killer mudslides in Japan. Parts of Germany devasted by unprecedented flooding. Ditto India.
People in China were photographed up to their necks in a flooded subway. Tornadoes ripped through the U.S. and parts of Ontario.
And, of course, many of us have been inhaling smoke from massive wildfires out west. Smoke that has stretched from British Columbia to Halifax, with some research suggesting that breathing it can reduce immunity and increase the chances of contracting Covid-19.
Those of you who still believe that global warming and destructive climate change are fake news can stop reading here and go back to your social media gossip and computer games.
Politicians and their governments are getting worried and talking longer and louder about stopping climate change.
But it is too late. It is already here.
Nature takes its time and it will take decades or maybe centuries to reverse damage already started. Those millions of tons of Arctic ice that have melted are not coming back soon. All that can be done now is to stop the damage from worsening.
Stopping it from getting worse is too important and too big a job to leave to the politicians, most of whom nowadays are talkers, not thinkers and doers. We individuals have to think through how we can change our lives in practical ways to alleviate climate change.
That will require us to give up some things we are not willing, or simply unable, to give up. Fighting the advance of climate change is a daunting task that demands sacrifices from us all. It’s questionable whether enough of us are willing to make those sacrifices.
I think about this as I look out at the patch of lawn at my lake place. It was designed and planted mainly as a covering for the septic field. It looks pretty when trimmed but I have been questioning why I should maintain and groom it.
This year I decided not to cut it; simply let it grow naturally. One reason was to let it build itself up for the annual summer influx of very active granddogs.
As it grew taller and more unkempt, I began to see its natural beauty. The green clover produced small, white blossoms that attracted bumblebees, a declining species once considered one of our world’s most important pollinators.
Patches of chickweed, an antioxidant-rich plant used as herbal medicine, sprouted beautifully delicate tiny white flowers. A couple of clumps of wild daisies with white heads and golden faces also appeared, adding an aura of innocence to my out-of-control landscape.
Passersby looked at my jungle-like yard with dismay and concern about my mental health.
Lawns are seen as an important indicator of socio-economic character. A well-groomed lawn tells others that you are a good fit for the neighbourhood. Someone with the time, money and good sense to support an eye-pleasing attraction. An ungroomed yard says you are not.
But seeing manicured lawns as natural and important pieces of our environment is a myth. They are not natural. Their only purpose is to be decorative.
Lawns were invented by the wealthy English and French aristocracy for their self-conceit. Settlers brought the idea of manicured spaces to America, where lawns became an obsessive sign of prosperity.
Canadians also have the lawn obsession. The country has seven million plus detached homes, most with manicured lawns, plus tens of thousands of row housing and apartment buildings with patches of lawn.
Maintaining lawns consumes huge amounts of gas, oil, electricity or compounds needed to make batteries. Lawn maintenance also wastes millions of gallons of water that could be used for other things.
After three months I succumbed to the smirks and whispers of the passersby and cut my jungle lawn. The majority likes manicured lawns and many other nice things that must be given up to stop damaging climate change.
I’m sorry now that I succumbed to the majority. Beating back global warming is going to mean sacrificing things that we like. We have to start accepting that because Mother Nature is demanding it.