I believe in climate change. How rapidly climate change is occurring and precisely how it will affect us is a matter of hot debate and beyond my knowledge.
But climate change is happening. It’s always happening. I’m absolutely convinced of that because I believe in what I can observe and understand.
I observe evidence of climate change just about every day within a short walk of my doorstep as live just a few blocks south of a marshy patch of Lake Erie shoreline. This and the other four Great Lakes are largely a result of climate change. The physical evidence is indisputable.
If I needed further evidence to remind myself of Lake Erie’s genesis, I can drive about five miles east to a campground in nearby state park and stand over a 20-yard-long section of exposed grey limestone. The smooth, cool surface of the stone, exposed when a shallow layer soil was scraped away decades ago, is scarred by a series of deep parallel grooves. A more impressive display of glacial groves are observable just five miles north of the park on tiny Kelleys Island in Lake Erie.
A glacier, with ice more than a mile deep, caused the grooves. When the glacier advanced south from what is now Canada more than 10,000 years ago, it carried along boulders that scoured the softer limestone beneath it. As the Earth’s climate warmed again the glacier retreated and began melting, leaving behind enough water to form the Great Lakes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the Great Lakes assumed their present form more than 4,000 years ago.
Think about that for a second. Four thousand years is a nanotick in geologic time.
I think it’s safe to say we humans do not think of time on a geological scale, especially in regards to our personal lives or careers. This is especially so if we are business owners where we measure our activities in terms of minutes and hours and our financial results in months, quarters and fiscal years.
Those of us in the landscape industry are obviously more concerned with the weather (fickle, fickle weather) and its impact on our lives and businesses than the much longer-term consequences of rapid climate change. We have to be. The weather affects what we do each day.
Even so, we should keep ourselves informed about the subtle but consequential changes within our climate, their causes and their possible challenges. Let’s view the evidence objectively, relying on the rapidly growing body of legitimate science on the subject to be our guide.
Whether the climate is changing rapidly, as some scientists suggest, or at a glacial pace, the climate is changing; it’s always changing.