Master Gardeners: Making a Difference in Climate Change

Author: David Layland | Published: December 29, 2017

Climate change, also called global warming, has been in the news lately because of the devastating wildfires in Northern and Southern California. Climate change refers to the rise in average surface temperatures and is due primarily to the use of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the air.

The gases trap heat within the atmosphere, which can have a range of effects on the environment, including rising sea levels, severe weather, and droughts that render landscapes more susceptible to wildfires.

There are two ways to reduce the environmental damage done by fossil fuels. The most common way is to reduce the use of fossil fuels — by driving a hybrid or electric car, for example, or using solar or wind power. The second way, carbon sequestration, involves pulling carbon out of the air and storing it in the ground.

I don’t drive a hybrid or electric car but I do have solar power. It provides 90 percent of my electricity at home so I’ve done something toward lowering emissions.

Carbon sequestration is new to me. In researching what I could do to help pull carbon out of the air, I discovered that I’m already using several carbon-sequestration practices in my garden. To some extent, these practices are what organic gardeners have been doing for a long time.

Make compost: One of the primary differences between organic and conventional gardening can be boiled down to a simple change in perspective: Instead of worrying about feeding the plants, we should worry first about feeding the soil. Take care of the soil and the plants will take care of themselves.

By composting all of our food scraps and garden waste, we aren’t just providing valuable nutrients for plants. We are providing food for a huge ecosystem of bacteria, fungi and insects, all of which help to absorb carbon from the environment and keep it locked up in the soil. You can add cardboard and other paper-based waste to your compost, too. High-fiber composting works, and it’s another way to lock up some CO2.