It happens twice a year. The polished surfaces of tombstones facing east, light up to reflect the sunrise. It shows up as a brilliant bright line at the base of the trees on the horizon in this photo that Margaret took. That’s the State Line Cemetery across the Kanaranzi Creek and straight west of us.
It happened this past week when the equinox sunrise aligned perfectly with the east-west State Line. But, there were a lot of other changes that happened this week. Unfortunately, the impeachment investigations pushed the climate “strikes” out of the news coverage. The next equinox sunrise will happen again next spring. We’ll see how all the impeachment stuff works out. But, climate change will still be with us. It is inexorable.
It’s a global crisis: ice caps are melting and rainforests are burning.
It’s a national emergency: there are wild fires on the West Coast and severe hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.
It’s a time of changes in the Midwest: “rain bombs” drop a month’s worth of precipitation in just a few hours and new varieties of weeds and insect pests are moving north.
So, what’s happening on Lone Tree Farm? How does climate change impact our local rural environment?
Well, global warming does put excess energy and water into the atmosphere and that aspect of climate change hits home for us.
The extra water is influencing our lakes, streams, and wetlands. In other words, the hydrosphere is impacted.
But, changes in the atmosphere and hydrosphere also affect the lithosphere. Soil and rocks don’t change as fast as water and air. But, even those seemingly more solid things change as well.
These two photos illustrate changes in soil and rock down in the Creek pasture. As the channel has shifted, that big boulder has slowly emerged from the eroding high bank. Three years ago it was barely showing out of the bank in the left photo. Plants were growing on it. Three years before that the rock was still buried in the soil. Now, the boulder is out in the water away from the bank in the right photo.
The rock is located on the outside of a meander loop where erosion is naturally faster. But, there are also other factors at work.
An “altered hydrology” has been documented in our area. Stream flow after the early 1980s has increased substantially. This increased water in the total ”plumbing” system is interpreted to be due in part to increased agricultural tile drainage. But, it’s also thought to be the result of the increased precipitation associated with climate change.
The debates about climate change are so polarized and politicized that it’s hard to see any solutions. Unfortunately, there are people making big bucks and building political careers by NOT looking for solutions. But, there really are things that can be done in our local rural setting. And, they are things that make economic as well as environmental sense.
In our neighborhood along Kanaranzi Creek, farmers are raising more cover crops, doing rotational grazing, reviving longer and more diverse crop rotations, and continuing to do minimum tillage. These practices are all rooted in traditional values, but are also part of the newly energized “soil health” and “regenerative agriculture” awareness.
However, it’s the basic mental attitude that’s more important than these concrete local results. It’s better to work directly with Mother Nature than complain about big corporations or shouting demonstrators.
This equinox week has been a time of change.