We hear about climate change on the news nearly every day, but most of us don’t know what will happen in our neighborhood or how to prepare for it. These tips will help to assure your family’s security in the years ahead.
1. Climate Change and the Weather
When most people think of climate, they think of the weather, but the two do not necessarily correlate. Weather is the day to day change, while climate is a trend over a long period of time. Although climate change experts say that the planet is heating up, that might not signal continually warming temperatures in your area. You will likely experience, instead, a wider flux between high and low temperatures. More storms and violent events are likely to occur. By anticipating such events, you can stock the supplies you need to either ride out the storms or evacuate safely, as advised. Check out Ready, a Department of Homeland Security website that helps citizens prepare for disasters. Remember, in the aftermath of a catastrophe, everyone else will head to the stores to gather supplies. Don’t wait to join them and risk empty shelves or closed businesses.
2. Climate Change and the Food Supply
Our changing climate will precipitate changes in our food supply. According to the U.S. Census, there are nearly 200,000 more people on earth today than there were yesterday. In the U.S. alone, there is a net gain of one person every 13 seconds. All of these extra mouths to feed will impact our food system, particularly since the acreage of arable land is dwindling, due to human demand that exhausts the nutrients in the soil. In a report on global change from the University of Michigan, researchers have found that the number of acres of arable land in the world declined by between 20 and 30 percent between 1961-1991. This is very bad news for humanity, since the pressure on these lands will only increase, and the amount of arable land on earth is finite.
With such pressures on our resources, food prices are expected to rise dramatically. According to Oxfam International, a consortium of seventeen international organizations working to end poverty, climate change may prompt agricultural yields to decline by two percent per decade, while population growth increases demand by fourteen percent per decade during the same time frame. With such contrasting statistics, it’s no wonder that food prices will skyrocket. The best way to prepare for such changes is to stock up on long-storage staples whenever they are on sale. Store them properly, to avoid food waste. I use spaghetti sauce jars to store my rice, being careful to add an oxygen absorber to each jar and to tape the lid shut, to seal out any air. Using this method, rice may be safely stored for years. You may also purchase five gallon buckets, which Lowe’s sells in lots of five for additional savings. Be certain that any buckets you choose have the “food grade” label for safe storage. You may also find these available used from commercial food processors.
Another way to adapt to the dwindling food supply is to garden. If you don’t have the time for a full sized garden now, consider growing key vegetables in five gallon buckets (again, food grade, to avoid leaching chemicals.) Use “heirloom” varieties, so that you may save the seed from these plants. (Hybrids will not grow true. Look for “heirloom” or “open pollinated” on the seed package.) By saving the seed you grow yourself and storing it in an air tight container, you will have it on hand for future years. Such seeds have an advantage over mail order seed, since you grew the parent plant yourself and the seeds acquired some adaptation to your particular environment. Later, when food grows too costly, you may be grateful that you saved the seed for future use.*
3. Climate Change and Water
Climate change will alter rainfall patterns and some water sources will dry up. Around the world, desertification is causing whole rivers and lakebeds to turn into dustbowls. By conserving water now, we can prevent further loss of this precious resource. Turn off taps while brushing teeth and use drip irrigation systems, rather than sprayers, in your garden. Find out if your local city allows you to collect rainwater in barrels. Some cities don’t, astonishingly, so check the laws in your locale. Fifty-five gallon drums work well for storing rainwater. In many cities, there are suppliers of second-hand, food grade drums that were used to store restaurant supplies, such as soy sauce or gravy. These drums are thoroughly washed and offered to the public at a hefty discount, in comparison to new barrels. Check your local businesses to see if you can get drums this way.
4. Climate Change and Transportation
The effect of climate change on transportation, as well as the effect of transportation on climate change, offers a glimpse at the symbiotic nature of human creation and destruction. Climate change is, in large part, due to the burning of fossil fuel, and much of that comes from polluting vehicles. As climate change worsens, governments will be forced to curb the most damaging effects. Gas prices will rise and manufacturers will be forced to increase fuel efficiency, resulting in higher prices, initially, for cars. This may, however, reduce the cost of the vehicles over the long run. In the White House Climate Action Plan, the Obama administration has called for a fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 for passenger vehicles.
However, we should not wait until 2025 before we act to reduce our carbon footprint. By limiting the number of hours we spend behind the wheel or car pooling, we will do our part to stave off detrimental changes. Biking and walking not only save fuel, but the health benefits of such activities may also reduce the strain on medical facilities in an overpopulated world, and result in greater enjoyment of life.
5. Prevention and Mitigation
While adaptation to the coming changes is important, we must also do everything we can to limit those changes and even prevent some of them from occurring. Everything we do today to limit greenhouse gases will result in a better life for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even simple things, like shutting off lights, can result in long-term benefits. The “butterfly effect” hypothesizes that a small occurrence, such as the flapping of wings of a butterfly in Brazil, may trigger a huge disaster, like a tornado in Texas. While shutting off a light or replacing a washer in a faucet may not seem like a large thing, if we all do it, we will spark profound changes in our future world. Canada’s Action on Climate Change has a list of ten small things that you can do now to alleviate future difficulties. By working together, we will build a better future for all of us.
*For sustainability, a minimum number of heirloom plants should be planted after the first harvest of seeds. Check the Sunshine Farm list for more information.