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Ellicott City - Soak It Up – Part 4 – By, Lori Lilly

posted Sep 22, 2019, 10:06 AM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Sep 22, 2019, 11:32 AM ]

Did you miss Part 1?  Find it HERE.

Did you miss Part 2 too?  Find it HERE.

Oh my goodness, you missed Part 3 as well?  Find it HERE.


Well, it took an EXTRA long time to get to this blog and I apologize! 

The focus is on resiliency - resiliency in Ellicott City, resiliency across Howard County, resiliency for all of us everywhere.  This topic has been so much on my mind for years now – what does resiliency mean on a real practical level to us as individuals, to us as a community, to those of us running programs and offering support services to those in need, to those in government, to those in business, to those growing our food, and on and on? 

 Thank you to all those across the world that came out for the climate strike on 9/20/2019.  The images of the masses of people at the strikes were incredible.  Climate change is not a WHEN anymore, it is NOW.   We need to change so much, and we also need to prepare, like in a real way.

We are hearing about mass declines in amphibians: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_in_amphibian_populations

Mass declines in insects: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature

Mass declines in birds: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2019/09/18/science.aaw1313

The UN reports that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/ 

The NY Times reports, “Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply.”

Extremes are going to have a disproportionate affect on those that are already in distressed situations. NPR reports on the increasing frequency and intensity of high heat indices: “Across Baltimore, the hottest areas tend to be the poorest and that pattern is not unusual.  Those exposed to that extra heat are often a city's most vulnerable: the poorest and, our data show, disproportionately people of color. And living day after day in an environment that's literally hotter isn't just uncomfortable, it can have dire and sometimes deadly health consequences — a fact we found reflected in Baltimore's soaring rates of emergency calls when the heat index spiked to dangerous levels.”

The high heat indices affected our crews tremendously this past summer.  We saw more heat-related illness than in the prior 8 years of running the summer READY program.  We are implementing new, stricter standards and procedures related to the heat index as a result. 

So why aren’t we all running around as if all this is an actual emergency?  Why aren’t we doing more to prepare?  I have been panicked and anxious and depressed.   I learned that there is an actual name for climate anxiety, solastagia: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18027145

Better, I found that there is a very useful 69-page guide to help manage this anxiety on an individual and community level.  If you suffer from this anxiety, I suggest you check it out: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/mental-health-climate.pdf

·       The climate crisis is going to affect us in so many ways.  I think some of these impacts we can plan and mitigate for and others we cannot even predict.  These are some of the things that I would like to see happening:

·       More community-level planning and coordination – more private, government, and non-profit entities talking and planning for expected food shortages, impacts to the disadvantaged, high intensity storms, etc.  I’m sure this is occurring at some level, but we need more and more intentional focus to plan for climate change impacts specifically.

·       Invest in Green Jobs – invest in people to restore this earth; build an economy around a sustainable future. 

·       Protect and restore the Green Infrastructure Network (GIN) – in Howard County, the GIN represents our most sensitive and special ecological areas and it has become increasingly fragmented.  We know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  We need the ecosystem level services provided by the GIN to support us through the climate crisis.

·       Lose the grass and grow food and forests – preferably both, it’s called agroforestry.  Grass provides us with so little benefit yet it is the fastest growing land cover in the Chesapeake Bay.  Let’s convert lawns to trees, gardens and food-producing systems.

·       Find ways to make the above bullet cheaper and easier for every landowner to do (I have some ideas).

·       Focus on natural climate solutions – yes, reduce fossil fuels and, at the same time, recognize the ability of our natural infrastructure to mitigate this problem.  If you’ve read this far, then you probably already know that I am a big proponent of the opportunity for soil carbon sequestration with biochar (see the blog prior to this one) but there are many ways that we can work with nature to mitigate climate change.  Remember NOT working with nature is what has gotten us into this mess to begin with.

·       Empower the next generation – this is the best hope that I have for our future.  Let’s encourage their innovation, listen to their ideas and support their advocacy.

None of us can manage this alone, let’s please work together in a meaningful way to prepare for the future.

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