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Double-edged sword of climate change

Posted on February 10, 2015 by Sunny South News

By Debby Gregorash

February is usually the most horribly cold month.
I am not alone, as I revel in the warm temperatures.
I love the fact the furnace doesn’t come on as much, which means a lower heating bill and I also like not having to bundle up as much when I go out.
The warmth is a double-edged sword. If it keeps up, the plant life might think it is spring.
The sap will start running in the trees. There are violets blooming in my garden. I can afford to see them die when the temps plummet again but not for the farmers with fall-seeded crops or fruit crops of some kind.
And of course there is the snow-pack in the mountains that maintains our summer water supply.
As the planet continues to heat up will snow-packs appear every winter or will it rain instead and deprive us of runoff?
The wise ones say what happens to the Earth happens to us. Our human ego is huge but it is putting our existence into jeopardy and it is time to face the reality of global warming.
I was in the rocky mountain foothills last week and marvelled at a huge drift curled up under a steep ridge.
When I walked on it, it was solid. The snow-pack was there because the wind blew all the snow up from a bare hill, causing it to fall over the cliff and settle on the lee side of the ridge. This goes on all winter, usually, and the snow-pack thickens.
We need to constantly remind ourselves those big snow-packs all over the east mountain slopes will turn into a liquid that will feed the forests, grasses, wild animals, domestic human beings and their domestic animals and crops.
How many of the potato, sugar beet, wheat, canola, hay, bean, pulse crop, sunflower and corn producers have ever been to the headwaters in the Oldman River basin and perhaps stood at the edge of a creek and said a prayer of thanks?
I wonder if the flatlanders on the prairie who make their living with the help of the Oldman and St. Mary rivers think about our watershed and how we need to take care of it.
And how many folks from Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon and towns downstream to Lake Manitoba ever stop to give thanks for the river that flows by silently towards the lowest point, the Hudson Bay.
We should have a national holiday where we examine our use of water and give thanks or have some kind of honouring ceremony.
Our bodies are about three-quarters water, just like planet Earth.
We’re made of dust but we are grounded by the water in the dust.
When I enjoy grape jelly I made with our own grapes, I thank the St. Mary and Oldman rivers for sharing their life-giving resource.
But I also remember the fish in the streams and rivers that have such a hard time surviving because of dams, forest clear-cutting, off-road vehicles that muddy the water, and other human-caused mayhem.
I thank the beavers that create sloughs and ponds that hold the water back during the spring melt.
Marshes and sloughs act as giant sponges, as does the ground water where plant roots hold the soil and the moisture in place, letting it go slowly through the summer months.
I use water wisely because I have seen, smelled, tasted, heard, and felt the rivulets of spring runoff.
If we hit a long stretch of drought will people around here finally think about lowering their individual and communal carbon footprint?
We should be cognisant of all water does for us and treat it like the sacred element it is.

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