I ain't here to convince you one way or the other about climate change, but I will say that, as a People, we have allowed one of the pressing issues of our day to become needlessly politicized. We've rallied around party lines while an important scientific discussion turned into a battle of belief systems. Sheesh.
Global Weirding is here, has been for some time, and most likely will only get weirder in our lifetime. I say that with no authority other than my own senses and experience on this planet, though I've heard similar sentiments from old-timers in the garden from all sides of the political spectrum. I think denying that is succumbing to a nefarious sort of cultural amnesia, but that facing it is hard to do without a certain level of comfort with uncertainty.
Our agricultural practices have been culturally codified based on a century or so of fairly stable climatic conditions (e.g., "Always plant potatoes on St. Patrick's Day!") that simply no longer apply. Last frost dates seem arbitrary & inconsistent. USDA Hardiness Zones seem as confused as the birds and the bees.
Here's where comfort with uncertainty comes into play. In order to adapt to shifting conditions we can't become paralyzed by the immensity of the task or the unpredictable nature of the future, we must focus our energies on keypoints where our leverage is optimized. To paraphrase Rafter Sass once again, "We're faced with an immensely difficult task that would be totally impossible if there weren't a lot of us here." So we each do what we can, where we can. Deal?
Personally, I'm pretty into food. I love eating it & I love growing it, and basically every other thing that I love doing is dependent on my having eaten some relatively recently. It's kind of a big deal. Figuring out adaptive ways to produce food is always on my mind: it's what got me into gardening and permaculture.
Knowledge lends a certain level of clarity and comfort to my daily life, so I've been mulling over the most recent report on climate change (check it out: globalchange.gov) and it's implications for agriculture in the northeast. The report validates many things that are already apparent to those of us who spend much of our days out in the field: earlier emergence and more severe infestations of pests and pathogens; increasingly frequent heat waves and associated seasonal drought conditions; and more precipitation in general, but in the form of less frequent heavy downpours. Sounds daunting, and clearly there's no silver bullet, but, despite the apparent doom'n'gloom of the situation, the path before us is positive. These shifting conditions and our need to shift with them seem to favor the practices of small-scale, diverse farms over the massive monocultures of Industrial Ag.
The answer, I believe, lies in the good growing practices of any sustainable organic-style farm (the best often aren't certified, in my experience): growing a diversity of crops and multiple varieties of those crops, succession planting, crop rotation and banking on the benefits of cycling fertility on-site.
So when something happens, like, I dunno, it drops into the 30s in late May, we're not totally boned, because we didn't plant all the warm weather vegetables right after Mother's Day...
And while flea beetles might get the first round of eggplant seedlings, the braconid wasps and tachinid flies might help us protect the second and third rounds of planting....
And if an April freeze knocks out a mess of peach blossoms, perhaps it'll teach us to love currants.....
And if the sun goes dark due to volcanic eruptions or angry deities, well, i guess we can live on pork, sheep and chicken for a while......
You get the idea.......
We're all in this thing together. Deal?