In the gardening world, there is plenty of conversation about the negative effects of climate change on plants, wildlife and the environment. Much of the talk centers around the lack of rainfall and the extinction of a preponderance of native plant species and wildlife which are dependent on these native plants for survival. Another hot topic is the importance of greening our urban areas by planting and maintaining trees, creating a plethora of green roofs, developing gardening communities and parks, the dire need for homeowners and businesses to learn to use a minimal amount of water and gas powered tools as well as absolutely NO use of chemicals in maintaining yards and landscapes.
There are a few instances though, where the warming of the earth can potentially be a good thing. A temperature increase could prove benefical to colder winters where crops that could not grow with the frozen ground would be able to do so as the temperature of the earth becomes warmer. In parts of the world, crops could grow for longer periods of time producing fruits that were once able to succeed only in warmer climates. Some gardeners are discovering that certain plants which were not hardy in their USDA Zone can now be treated as perennials. And believe me, this is a delight for keen gardeners!
On the other hand, the negatives of climate change continue to stack up. High temperatures produce heat stress on crops which means they grow and produce less. And because there is more fluctuation in temperatures, plants are going to need to adapt to these changes.
Although droughts are plentiful with the results being obvious, when there is excessive rainfall, flooding takes place which damages plants. If a geographical area experiences later frosts, early flowering spring trees will be damaged. And the list goes on and on. With climate change, the patterns of pollination will change which in turn will effect plant growth and diversity.
The bottom line is, climate change is going to continue to cause havoc with our ecosystem. Minimally, we need to stay alert and as individuals of this earth do all that we can to help mitigate the harmful effects. When you ask what you as one person can do to make a difference, the answer is quite simple. Plant a tree, minimize the lawn in your landscape, design a garden with drought resistant plants (if you live in an area that is lacking in water) and stop using all chemicals in your landscape. Addressing even one of these issues will have a positive effect on the environment.