Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
Three important articles, relevant to urban trees and climate change, crossed my desk this week. I can’t wait to show you the graphics. But when I started to write here, I realized each article as old. Perhaps they were not newsworthy. They have may been new to me, but they aren’t new news. (At least, not as new as Queen Elizabeth dying, two hours ago.)
Looking at their dates of publication, I can’t shake the song from Rocky Horror Picture Show from my head.
Each of these article grabbed me and shook me. The first shock was this picture, from a Medium article published in October 2017. The graphic shows the average temperature around the world in 2016, minus the average temperature in the same regions between 1900 and 1930.
OMG! Look at the regions already above 2°C: Europe (especially Northern and Central Europe) Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Northern and Far Eastern Russia, and the Stans (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan). Also a big chunk of Brazil and North Africa.
This was in 2016!
Now I understand the droughts in the Dakotas and the failure of the mustard crop in Canada. A 2°C increase corresponds to a 15% drop in agricultural production. Except, perhaps, in places like Sweden, where wheat production increases.
Is the true origin of the Christmas Wheat Sheaf unusually warm years, with bumper grain crops?
Look again, the Artic Circle and Northern Greenland both were already above 4°C in 2016. It was 5 years ago, when Akhil Puri wrote 2 degrees- sure doesn’t sound like much…
It explains why we recently saw news that both poles, simultaneously, were reporting record seasonal high temperatures.
The mind plays interesting tricks. Akhil’s graphic was shocking, I spent time looking at it and thinking about it. But when I ran the current version (published here), my emotional reaction was “Ho, Hum. So what. I’ve seen that before.”
The second article wasn’t shocking, but its picture was powerful. A picture of the street level heat in last year’s Northwestern heat wave — where the temperature of building exteriors and unshaded streets hit 157.7 F (69.8 C)
Published 6 months ago, by Reimagining the Civic Commons, a Medium Publication, Climate Change and Green Space interviews Professor Vivek Shandas discussing urban heat. His comments included the role of trees, race, income and the lingering impact of redlining.
It is worth repeating Professor Shandas’ comments:
As a species, we have designed our physical environment to reduce threats for millennia. So, while design that reduces threats from the environment isn’t a new idea, we had 35,000 years of a stable climate to understand how to reduce these threats.
As we start to experience climate destabilization from what we’ve known for our entire evolutionary history as a species, we need to ask ourselves what our new climate will mean for habitable spaces and how we design them in the future.
Needless to say, trees play a big part of Shandas’ ideas about the future of neighborhoods and cities.
The third article, was published in the NYTimes on August 19th. By Hannah Seo, How Heat Waves Take a Toll on Mental Health was featured prominently on the app this morning, before the Queen’s death became the big news.
I shared much of the same information in July in Trees, Climate Change and Community, but now the message has validation from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). From the article:
Studies have found links between rising temperatures and a range of mental health issues including mental fatigue, aggression, and higher rates of suicide. … [It is still unclear] whether heat itself can cause brain changes that may lead to these effects. Regardless, experts say, it’s clear that oppressive heat is linked with worse mental health.
Emergency room visits for anxiety, self-harm, mood and schizophrenia disorders all rose in proportion to the heat. This is based on 2.2 million adults who visited emergency rooms across the country, between 2010 and 2019, as published in JAMA Psychiatry in February. Mental health related visits were 8% higher on the hottest days vs the coolest days.
Today is Thursday, September 8, 2022. I’m going out to get a tree to plant tomorrow.
Tell everyone you know. Fridays For the Future (FFF) is a reminder that YOU can plant or protect one more tree. It is something you can do to cool down your neighborhood in the future.
If it took this long for these 3 articles to get my attention, and I’m focused on climate change, we need to circulate this information as widely as possible.
Why does SymSoil care? We focus on solutions to environmental issues, with a focus on soil biology. Trees and plants feed, and are fed by, the soil microbiome. Healthy soil influences water, carbon sequestration and human health. SymSoil holds a patent on the first scalable approach to manufacturing Soil Food Web products as an alternative to agrochemicals.