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Slow Climate Change In Your Own Backyard

Climate change is a large opinion filled issue.  It is difficult for most of us to understand the science behind what causes climate change.  Scientific models and the estimates of temperature increases, ocean acidification, and sea level rises vary widely.

What is for certain is that humanity, specifically post-industrial human activity, has hastened global climate change.  "Global mean sea level has been rising at an average rate of 1.7 mm/year (plus or minus 0.5mm) over the past 100 years, which is significantly larger than the rate averaged over the last several thousand years.  Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.74°C (plus or minus 0.18°C) since the late-19th century, and the linear trend for the past 50 years of 0.13°C (plus or minus 0.03°C) per decade is nearly twice that for the past 100 years." (National Climatic Data Center)

With an issue this complex, it is easy to feel defeated and think 'I can't make a difference'.  If we all take small steps to reduce our personal greenhouse gas footprint, our combined efforts CAN slow climate change. The best place to start is right in your own backyard!

First, get rid of your gas lawnmower.  Gas mowers produce up to 5% of America's air pollution, not to mention they cause gas spills and carbon monoxide production (US Environmental Protection Agency).  Replace yours with an electric or human powered mower.

so easy even a child can do it!

If you have a large lawn, consider whether all of it needs to be grass.  Shrubs and trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen at higher levels than grass.  Making the simple switch from grass to native landscaping saves you mowing time, greenhouse gas release during mowing, and gives a net gain of oxygen production.

Eliminate or reduce applications of petroleum based fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.  The manufacture, use, and disposal of petroleum based home chemicals release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, ozone and other pollutants.  When individuals reduce their reliance on lawn and garden chemicals, you reduce your climate change footprint.

The most productive way to affect climate change in your backyard is to plant an organic vegetable garden.  Growing your own food eliminates greenhouse gasses at every step of the cycle.  Garden plants are great respirators snatching up free carbon dioxide and breathing back oxygen.  Garden vegetables require no trips in grocery delivery trucks or your personal car, eliminating those sources of greenhouse gasses.  Reduced or no pesticide/herbicide use keep the greenhouse gasses related to their production and use out of the environment.  Best of all, home gardeners enjoy fresh produce steps away from their kitchen!

When you decide to take greenhouse gas reducing steps, tell your neighbors and friends.  Spreading the word about simple ways to affect climate change broadens the impact of your green choices.

--- This post is part of Blog Action Day 2009.  Read thousands of other thoughts about climate change by visiting the Blog Action Day post archives.