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Using Plants to Help Combat Climate Change

MPG Narratives (Maria) writes about books, writing, food and the occasional random topic. Qualified web content manager and author.

Do we have a brighter future when it comes to climate change?

Do we have a brighter future when it comes to climate change?

The Causes of Climate Change

Politicians attending the COP26 Climate Change Summit have agreed on net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, but we can do so much more before then.

Climate change is something that has been talked about for many years now. The politicians have debated about reducing emissions for too long now, but there is some progress. This is what is happening at the top level, but we can do things to help change the course of climate change ruining our environment.

The causes are many and we hear about these often - higher average temperatures, shifting rain patterns, plants blooming earlier than usual, and creating unpredictable growing seasons. All these contribute to the future of native plants and some animal species not being able to survive.

These are all major signs that we need to curb carbon emissions. There may be some benefits to higher temperatures making growing seasons longer, but the problems will outweigh these benefits. Increased water restrictions, damaging storms, more prolific weeds, and invasive pests are just a few of the issues that may occur.

One of the climate change scenarios is the connections between pollinators, breeding birds, insects, and wildlife plus the plants they depend on. Pollinators like bees and various birds may arrive too late or too early to feed on flowers they usually count on. Or worse, the invasive plants and animals take over the weaker ecosystems and the pollinators find no flowers to feed on.

These and other disturbances in our environment such as fire, drought and insect swarms all contribute to changing ecosystems. Many older ecosystems are being replaced by newer ones that may or may not suit the environment.

Images of ice washed up on a beach in Canada. Ocean levels are rising.

Images of ice washed up on a beach in Canada. Ocean levels are rising.

Plants send out their seeds and spores to keep their species alive but if their environment changes or heats up too much, these species will not survive. This causes major shifts in the habitats of animals and humans, even though it may not be too apparent yet. The changes are subtle but will become worse if nothing is done about carbon emissions.

There are botanists who are working with plants to make them more adaptable to the changes happening right now. They work with plants and their root system to make them absorb more carbon dioxide and this means our atmosphere is all the better for it. These stronger plants will fix the CO2 sending out the oxygen that benefits all of us.

Combating climate change is not easy and the mess of what is happening is tied up in various areas - electricity and buildings, agriculture, transport, and industry. 70% of emissions come from us using energy to power the things we own. In Australia alone, we need 30% of the power produced to be generated by renewables, and even more so in the future. Using coal and other emission-spurting sources to produce electricity is a thing of the past.

Our best resource for energy is the sun and solar energy is growing with 2.7 million households using solar panels on their roofs. Also, solar farms are increasing in numbers with one known as 'The Sun Cable' in Australia's outback possibly powering Singapore's electricity. Clean, efficient, and cheaper energy coming from our sun is the way of the future.

With 12% of emissions coming from agriculture and cows, in particular, there is a CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) initiative where they use a native plant and feed this to cows. Red algae is fed to cows and research has shown that the methane emitted by these cows is reduced by 99%. This is another way that plants are being used to help combat climate change.


Storms are more frequent and cause more damage.

Storms are more frequent and cause more damage.

The Ozone Layer

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were widely used up until the 1980s. It was found that this chemical caused a hole in the Earth's ozone layer by releasing chlorine atoms into the atmosphere.

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When US chemists, Mario Molina and Sherry Rowland reported this fact, it wasn't until 1982 when Jonathan Shanklin confirmed their findings, that something was done. The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was held in 1985. The Montreal Protocol was signed two years later and CFCs were phased out.

This is one way politicians have helped with the cause, but climate change is something we cannot be complacent about.


What can we do NOW to reduce our own emissions?

  • Become more energy efficient
    Where you can purchase energy-efficient products. Use solar-powered garden lights, reduce water consumption by installing trigger hoses, and plant trees and flowers that don't require too much water. An example of this is succulent and cactus.
  • Use battery-powered lawn & garden equipment
    Many countries have laws in place for companies to sell energy-efficient products such as battery and rechargeable tools. Take advantage of these products, and some of them make gardening easier as well.
  • Plant diverse native species and trees
    Use your garden as an energy-efficient resource by planting natives and species that thrive in your area. For example, if you live in a drought-prone area, don't plant a species that requires a lot of water. Be smart about what you plant.
  • Make your own compost

    Also, mulching as well as watering early morning and late afternoon are good practices to help your soil. Don’t use chemical fertilisers as they use energy when produced. Another thing is to look at drip irrigation. We used old hoses with holes added for our garden beds. You can buy pre-packaged drip irrigation kits too.

Climate change is everyone's problem and we can each do our bit to help our environment. Change is an inevitable part of life and we can accept this as long as it doesn't ruin our planet.


References

Gardening for Climate Change

https://www.nwf.org/Our-Work/Environmental-Threats/Climate-Change/Greenhouse-Gases/Gardening-for-Climate-Change

This Scientist thinks she has the key to curb climate change: Super Plants

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/16/super-plants-climate-change-joanne-chory-carbon-dioxide

As Climate Warms, a Rearrangement of World’s Plant Life Looms

https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-climate-warms-a-rearrangement-of-worlds-plant-life-looms

Climate Change COP26 Untangling the Mess

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-05/climate-change-cop26-untangling-the-mess/100382998

The Montreal Protocol - an Ozone Layer Success Story to Remember amid the Gloom of COP26

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-08/montreal-protocol-climate-talks-cfc-phase-out-filling-ozone-hole/100560702

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Maria Giunta

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