Blog Action Day: The Effect of Climate Change on Plants

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

Ojai, California- resized

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.
                                                                                                                           side view with greenery of hills and remains in Ojai California-resized

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.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

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Fran Sorin
4 comments… add one

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Frances October 14, 2009, 6:40 pm

Frannie, you have said it so well, I am going to link to your words tomorrow if that is okay.

Town Mouse October 15, 2009, 12:26 am

Yes! Absolutely!
(Interesting take on the advantage of climate change, I’ll have to mull that one over before I have an opinion).

Dear Town Mouse-
Please mull over and then let me know your opinion. I would be delighted to hear it! Fran

Yolanda Elizabet October 15, 2009, 5:54 am

Very well expressed Fran.

Over here the weather has changed quite a bit, something that I as a gardener am very aware of. Take this month i.e. when it has been sunny and mild, a thing unheard of a decade or 2 ago. Also September was very very dry which is very unusual as my country is known for its mild but very wet climate. It rains here for most of the year but lately we have been experiencing droughts, short ones (6 to 8 weeks) but nonexistend before.

BTW looking forward to the 3 part of the interview with Piet. I hope Henk Gerritsen gets a mention as he has, sadly, passed away almost a year ago.

I visited the Priona gardens in the late 1980’s and was blown away by them. I also had a good chinwag with Henk back then. Happy memories!

Dear Yolanda,
Your story is not uncommon. Yet on the East Coast of the United States, where for years we have battled terribly dry, hot summers, this past summer was one of the most wet and cool ones on record. Go figure!

How lucky you are that you were able to visit Priona and spend some time talking with Henk! Fran

Michelle D. October 15, 2009, 1:17 pm

Nice article Fran,
Thanks for the proactive article.
The photograph of the old stone chimney caught my attention.
Wood burning smoke is a huge contributor to climate change and the ever more present problem of devastating health conditions in people of all ages.

It’s no wonder that many forward thinking environmental and health conscience communities are banning open brush fires and bon fires as well as burning wood in old un-approved EPA stoves and masonry fireplaces.

I wrote a short article with some good links about this climate change topic on my blog :

The more people are educated about the dire toxic and carcinogenic effects of wood burning smoke, the more they might be inclined to stop doing it for the health of themselves, their families, their community and their planet.

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