It Makes No Sense, With Climate Change,
To Hack You Down, Contract Your Range,
You Hold The Carbon Oh So Well,
To Keep Our Planet From Turning Into HELL,
Oh Christmas Tree,
Oh Christmas Tree,
Without You None of Us Can Breathe!
Oh Christmas Tree,
Oh Christmas Tree,
How Lovely Are Thy Branches!
I know I am not the only one who finds it a bit incongruous that in order to celebrate a life coming into the world, say, I don’t know, JESUS, we hack a tree down in his honor. What would Jesus say? (Not to mention that uhm, later he is nailed to one for completely fabricated reasons).
I am also intrigued by the inability of the human species to let go of cultural practices that are, well, harmful, stupid, weird, dumb, especially when they are fairly easy to change.
December 26th. Millions of once photosynthesizing, carbon sequestering young trees now qualify as refuse. Disposing of them will add even more carbon to the atmosphere.
Here’s an idea–go live for Christmas! (Those of you who already get a live Christmas tree that you plant every year, you can stop reading at this point and thank you. There is also an added bonus in that you are not bringing a dead tree into your house you then expose to heat thereby knowingly creating a phenomenal fire hazard).
You Can Have a Living Tree for Christmas!
Here are a couple options:
Rescue: Rescue a young native tree destined for death or perhaps in a terrible place. It’s more work of course but the tree is free though you may still have to buy some supplies such as a tub and inexpensive potting soil. Rescuing should be done within your bioregion and may require permission. (This is left to your discretion but we’re definitely not talking about poaching trees! This is about rescuing a tree in a hopeless situation. Think about a Charlie Brown Christmas with the difference being he picks out a small living tree that needs some love; after Christmas all the Peanuts kids plant it together and of course, sing). I also strongly recommend buying an eco-friendly rooting hormone, the kind you mix with water (more on this later). In both cases described here, if you live in a mild climate and can plant anytime, it’s best to dig the hole before you bring the tree home so this is done. This will also provide you with native soil. Not sure how big the roots are? You may need to modify the size of the hole but modifying it is far less involved than digging it in a hurry. The hole needs to be as wide as the roots/rootball plus half this size. (If the rootball is 18 inches in diameter, the hole needs to be 27 inches in diameter). Cover the hole with plywood so nothing falls in, including soil.
Dig your tree up carefully to preserve as many of the roots as possible (the smaller the tree, the easier it is to do this). No need to ball it up. You just need to have a tub of some type, be it plastic or steel. Ideally the tub has drain holes but this isn’t totally necessary if you water carefully. Fill the bottom of the tub up with some soil to anchor the tree after you dig it up. Put it in the tub and cover the roots but do not fill the tub with soil yet. If the soil where it is growing looks healthy, fill-up another container with this soil to bring it home. This healthy soil may have needed mycorrhizae/soil symbionts in it that help the tree grow. If the soil it is growing in does not look healthy, you can use the native soil from the hole you dug beforehand and/or, use some inexpensive potting soil.
Don’t completely fill the tub with soil until you get it where you want it in the house because one it’s filled with soil, it gets heavy. Once your tree is where you want it in the house, go ahead and fill the tub with soil leaving about an inch or two from the top for watering. If your tub has holes in it, of course, you want to put a container under it; water until some comes out of the bottom. If your tub does not have drain holes in the bottom, do the stick test every other day–push a stick that is at least eight inches long into the soil and if it comes up damp to dry, water the tree. In either case, you will need to check the tree every other day. Assuming you put lights on the tree, it can dry out very quickly. Misting it every day to every other day helps too. Of course, make sure your lights are not ON when you do this (i.e. use common sense).
Buy a Live Tree (ideally native to your bioregion): if it doesn’t come in a tub or pot already, do not take it out of the rootball. If the tree was prepared properly by the nursery, it has soil around it that is protecting the roots. Put the entire intact rootball in a plastic/stainless steel tub as close to the house as possible then you have some options: you can use native soil ideally from where you intend to plant it, or use inexpensive potting soil. If you are going to plant it right after the holidays, you can use just enough soil to cover the rootball and anchor the tree. You can also use only water. Fill the tub so water covers only about half of the rootball. Don’t suffocate the tree by submerging the root ball completely in water. It’s not an aquatic plant! It needs oxygen too! If you will have to wait a few weeks or months to plant, fill the tub to the top with soil. In all cases, the tree will need watering on a regular basis; check every other day. As mentioned above, misting the tree every day will help keep it hydrated and again, make sure when you mist it, the lights are off (duh?).
And now the fun part…
Your live tree is now in the house. Decorate your live tree, smell its fragrance all throughout the house, a fragrance not of a tree KILLED, a tree that is DYING, but one of memories yet to be made; a fragrance that symbolizes LIFE, the tree’s life, that of your family, your loved ones, your life.
Maybe this is the real Christmas-y part: after the holidays, instead of throwing it out in the yard (with regards to John Prine who may have to change his song, sorry), putting it with the trash, you get to PLANT IT– with or without ceremony. Of course, it depends on your climate. In milder climates, you can plant anytime. For your rescue tree, the sooner you plant it, the better but don’t plant it under severe weather conditions (it could stay below freezing for weeks to come). If you can’t plant it for awhile, make sure the tub is filled nearly to the top with soil, the roots are covered well, the tree is stable, then move it outside into a sheltered location and just wait for milder temperatures/spring. In this way too, you are ‘hardening’ it off, getting it used to its microclimate, even if it is a native tree from your bioregion; it’s still good to harden it off as close to where you are going to plant it as possible. When you plant your rescue tree, pour the proper mix of liquid rooting hormone over the roots before filling the hole with soil and/or you can also soak the tree roots in a bucket of rooting hormone before planting (20 minutes or so prior to planting) then pour the bucket of hormone mix over the roots before filling the hole.
When you plant your purchased live tree, unless the material holding the roots is truly 100% organic, biodegradable, you need to carefully, gentlyremove it, trying not to disturb the root system at all, then plant the tree immediately. Use of rooting hormone for a purchased live tree is optional.
When I lived in Wyoming, I bought a live white fir (Abies concolor) in a 10-gallon pot. Since it grows in this type of climate, it did fine (again, native trees from your bioregion do much better). After New Year’s Day, I added some more soil to the pot then moved it outside to a sheltered location by the house so it could harden-off. It lived out a fierce winter until April when I planted it. It grew to be a lush, full, beautiful tree.
Your Beautiful Forest
Plant your Christmas trees year after year and your present is a forest of beautiful living trees that keep the memories of each Christmas alive. Regardless of religion or creed, can there be nothing more appropriate than to plant a tree in the memory of a life lived? To plant a tree to mark each season of our lives, and those of our friends and family?
Your Christmas trees will continue to give back in so many ways–by providing food, shelter, and habitat for numerous species of birds and other wildlife. Trees provide a wide array of ecosystem services for all living organisms, including us. (For example, are you breathing?). But perhaps most importantly, the future of our planet may be in the hands, er, trunk, leaves, needles of trees–they hold carbon.
This is an Christmaecological win win.
With all due respect to the season, and I LOVE Christmas-time (sans the commercial contamination), the cutting and killing of millions of trees to ‘celebrate’, well, anything, is a paradigm we need to change–now. You can easily be a part of it. Just imagine all the Christmas-inspired forests that would spring up around the world!
Oh Christmas Tree!
(Originally Published December 20, 2015 @ 19:20). Re-posted.
Note: Since the original post from last year, the program that asked corporations to pay their fair share for use/profit off OUR public lands is dead. Read more at the link: https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/press-releases/
REPOST Oh that I wouldn’t have to post this every summer !
I want to thank Dr. Jeff from Goodreads for reminding me, it’s that time of year again!
I have never seen it this bad, then again, there have never been so many people in our back-country as there are now.
TOILET PAPER AND HUMAN WASTE IN AND ON THE SHORES OF OUR CREEKS AND LAKES.
Anyone that urinates/craps in or near water has to be a complete and total moron, right? Because they are knowingly(?) contaminating their own water supply. As an ecology teacher these days, I can tell you many people do not know this! Common sense but you see, it’s not.
Hey Dummy, There’s a Bathroom Right Across The Street!
As I say to my agency friends (U.S. Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife, State Parks, etc.), if you’re not doing Environmental Education, then what in the hell are you doing? In other words, posting a shit-load of signs does not replace the need for an active environmental education program that INCLUDES telling people not to crap/urinate in the water. I offer up Exhibit A:
Signs From God? No. God Would Put Something Up About Not Crapping In/By the Water.
HOLY CRAP! Lord but we love our signs! The information board in the photo above is across the street from where I took the T.P.-on-the-creek photo. This information board is next to some very nice bathrooms so the idiots that crapped by the creek are indeed, total idiots, but also, no where on these bastions of government guidance does it say anything about how to care for water when you are in the out of doors–something like, “HEY MORON! DON’T CRAP IN THE WATER! IT CAN MAKE YOU AND OTHER ANIMALS SICK! THANKS!”
In traveling to public lands all over California, I have not seen ONE SIGN that addresses proper treatment of water when one is camping or hiking and I am seeing more of the scene above every where I go. Again, hey Statie, Freddie, IF YOU’RE NOT DOING ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? In California, would this not be a great campaign for our Water Boards to take on? Perhaps every bathroom, Porta-Jon, outhouse could be fitted with the near classic, How To Shit in the Woods.
Tying into all this is the need to make sure the Land and Water Conservation Fund gets fully reauthorized and funded. This little pot of money (of course, it’s a little pot because it comes from corporations/corporate fees and of course certain members of our Congress want it to sunset because we can’t possibly make corporations that drill, mine, explore, etc. on our public lands actually PAY/COMPENSATE Americans for the right to do this! Gosh, no! Let them just take all the profits while we clean up the mess with taxpayer dollars! OK!)–anyway, ahem, this teeny tiny pot of money is used exclusively to buy new public lands and/or maintain them, FOR US. This includes putting in bathrooms. Again, it uses no tax payer dollars.
Time is of the essence. Please send an email to your legislators as soon as possible. If you love our Public Lands, you need to do this. You can learn more about this important program at this link or just let Katy explain it. Thanks! Land and Water Conservation Fund Listen to Katy
Old manzanita with its own stories to tell. Much of it being cut out and killed in California for “fire safety”.
Stranger in a strange land is where I live, preferring isolated little corners. I stuff in a beer and a book of poems, oh you poor nostalgic slob not posting to your Facebook page (don’t have one); instead you walk down the more remote roads, with the dogs, if “remote” even applies in California.
I hope everyone has little places they can go to. If you don’t, find one; nobody needs to know where it is but it’s best if it’s a little hard to get to, maybe on the edge of something, with a view out–of your head that is.
I have a lot of these places I can steal away to, thankfully a few miles from my home. One of them is a dirt road that leads to granite outcrops with a view to the east, towards the Sierras. I walk this road with trepidation, not because I am afraid of anything like mountain lions, but because I can tell the owner is going through that inevitable process all new landowners go through–what to do with the land once you own it because you can’t just LEAVE IT ALONE! You have to CUT SOMETHING DOWN, mow, spray, buy a bright red tractor then drive it around on the land for no good reason but to declare to the world that can’t see you, this is MY land. It ALWAYS goes this way, and I always have to brace myself for it because I know once I find a patch of something pretty and wild, forgotten about, it will be destroyed sooner or later. So it goes with the antsy human primate.
I approach the opening of the manzanita that borders the crude new path with a stone of dread in my gut, prepare myself for the grief…last time it was one older ponderosa pine, cut down for absolutely no reason I could tell, left sprawling in pieces all over the ground, like a dismemberment; then a grove of manzanita, also left in heaps, once living browse for deer, cover for their babies, nectar for bees, butterflies, and ants…I try to spy to see what has been done before we get there so I can prepare myself emotionally. I see two more young pines on the ground, again, as far as I can tell, cut for absolutely no reason except for the sheer “fun” of it (?), because he has to do something with that new chainsaw? We walk through and over the carnage. I am relieved to see he has not yet made it to the top of the outcrop where one can see out to the snow-capped Sierras. It’s nothing spectacular (which is why nobody has found it yet); it’s only about 2800 feet up, but for now anyway, it’s ours.
The dogs and I settle down on an outcrop surrounded by wise old manzanita and shrubby oaks. Lupine blooms on the edges and I can smell the native ceanothus but I can’t see it. Towhees “tweet” and retreat. The outcrop is covered in wash from raptors and vultures, particularly from the vultures that soar at eye level whenever I am there. I get up to check out the wildflowers in bloom and within seconds, a riot (literally) of butterflies is in my face, around my body. They’re hill-topping meaning the males are fighting for territory/females on top of this outcrop and I am in the way, annoying them, threatening their very important and essential ritual. Skippers, swallowtails, lady’s, and buckeyes are fighting it out, flying furiously. They land in a sunny spot to open and close their wings, then they’re off again. I am in the way so I go back to my original spot where the dogs are tethered but then a turkey vulture buzzes the top of my head so close, I am sure he/she is going to graze my hair. Another languidly passes over from the other direction. I notice there is a lot more wash than the last time I was here. Maybe they are breeding. I look up and see two more launch from Douglas firs and son of a bitch if the first one doesn’t seem to be coming back around, and lower. I duck just in time. Shit, I say to the dogs. It is becoming obvious we are not particularly wanted up here right now.
We move to a lower spot on the outcrop, a ledge. I finish my beer and take out some peanuts. The dogs settle in next to me but after a few minutes the littlest one, a fearless pom mix, starts to freak out, trying to bite his own belly while the beagle abruptly stands up and snaps at his back. Soon, I am smacking my back and lifting my sock where a red and black ant has just sunk his mandibles into my ankle. I flick him off and notice my backpack is covered with his buddies…the smell of formic acid fills the air around us–the ants be pissed. The dogs plead with their eyes, “Can we please go now?”
I laugh. Antsy human primate indeed! We are definitely not wanted here, and how glorious! I pack up and we head back down the dirt path. Oh to be driven off in this way, from this yet to be destroyed place! They will not go without a fight! How I love them for this. What joy, what perfect justice, what hope! My heart is light.
First of all, you know I HATE that word, designation-“environmentalist” and second, more to the point, because, uhm, I care about the climate?
Thank you if you do pack a bag, buy a ticket, fill up with gas (or plug in?), pump carbon into the atmosphere for the worthiest cause of all but unless it’s regional or local, I’m not going because the best thing we can do to “stop” climate change (I feel it’s too late but hey planet, please prove me wrong) is STAY HOME.
In watching the news coverage of the events in D.C. this weekend, I am indeed heartened that the generations most represented are the ones we are currently screwing over, the Millennials and my generation, Gen X. (I straddle two generations and per my disdain for the Boomers, have claimed Gen X as my generation; I rejected the Boomer paradigm though maybe should have bought in if it wasn’t for those morning breakfasts with my dad and my tearful mom, neither college educated, who I watched get screwed over by the corporations they gave over two decades of their lives to. I made the decision to reject their Babbittian paradigm but being “self-employed” in a country dead-set on going third-world hasn’t been a blast either).
There they all are, with their signs and matching T-shirts, funny costumes–required thousand and thousands of pounds of carbon to create in order to tell everybody to stop using so much carbon but folks, I’m sorry, blame the scientist in me…
the earth doesn’t know the difference between “carbon for a good cause” and “bad carbon”, so as an ecologist, a clifer, I can’t do it.
Democracy or whatever the hell we have right now (last I checked a ‘precedent’ that caters to cronies for favors, skips the pesky citizens of his own country, and completely bypasses Congress is called a dictator or qualifies as authoritarian say like, I don’t know, Putin, or at its most extreme, Jong-un?)–democracy requires constant vigilance and all that get-off-your-phat-ass stuff and what I feel is and has been far more effective is acting locally which of course, saves the climate.
Who are your representatives in Congress? Find out and make them into your own little research project. Study their websites (if they function anyway; gotta’ love those “403 errors”); go to any public meetings (“town halls”) if they actually hold any. Participate in their online “events”. Call them (“sorry, the mailbox at this number is full” no kidding, this is what I got this week for my own representative in Northern CA). They are supposed to represent us so FIND OUT WHAT IN THE HELL THEY ARE DOING. YOU PAY THEIR SALARIES AND HEATH BENEFITS. Keep notes.
My representative is latching hard and fast onto the horrible Bush Jr. era “Healthy Forests Act” to start logging for “biofuels”, projects that have continuously failed in CA but who cares (four biofuel plants have been built, NONE of which are operating but the consultants made a killing building them). According to my sources, he met with the timber industry last week. This is really important information!
This is what I am doing–finding out what my “representatives” are doing then writing to the local paper about it (guest columns, opinion columns, letters to the editor, blog.). I am letting them know how I feel all the time in emails, letters, and phone calls (they still get mail I assume). They want to cut deals, nix environmental regulations while “grandpa” is busy quite frankly, doing the same thing, degrading our democracy, making a mockery of it, and disrespecting us. They are making a mockery of our country because all the country is to them right now is a great chance to cut some deals and make a lot of $$$$$$$$$. (Tillerson? Exxon-Russo pipeline? Anybody?). (Evolution-wise, biologically speaking, this is a textbook demonstration of primitive human primate behavior).
If there is a regional or local protest, go to it as long as it isn’t a waste of time (or of course, organize your own but read on). There was one last week in my town that walked through downtown on Saturday at 10 a.m. No one was there. It felt a little silly so some of us left–one has to be SEEN if one is going to publicly protest–the “protest” was organized by comfortable retired boomers who quite frankly are extremely well-off–so they do recreational activism but the rest of us have to protest or die. Figure out, truly, if participating will accomplish anything other than making you “feel” like you did something. Walking down empty streets on a Sat morning…well I have better more effective things to do.
If it is worth your time, the protest is on a street corner, visible, and yes, a few people may tell you, ironically, ignorantly, to “go back to Russia” (not kidding here) yes, it may feel a little uncomfortable, then go but the most important thing you can do right now to bring Grandpa Orange Hair up to speed is dog your representatives as many of them fully embrace abandoning democracy to feather their own nests, and of course, always remind them, YOU VOTE.
As far as I can remember, I have always known I am part of a destructive species and I have always lived my life to minimize my impact, the greatest decision of which was to not have children. As far as I am concerned, I’m free and clear with this decision as I could not possibly consume as many resources as if I had kids, and they had kids, etc. (Maybe this was from coming up in the 70’s, the greenest time in America, or maybe it was being born a “wise child”. I don’t know. I only know that I have “always been like this.” Maybe you can relate).
I live my life to minimize my carbon output and this includes suffering financially. I few years ago, I quit my position teaching ecology at multiple community colleges because I had to drive at least 100 miles a day to tell people not to drive…It was absurd. I was offered a great opportunity recently to make some good money doing something I am good at but it required me to drive 150 miles a day (round trip) for a month. They refused to compromise allowing me to work from a home a few days a week, use Skype, Webinar, etc. I did the math on just how much carbon I would pump into the air (not to mention the hell of commuting into a large city, mass transit not being an option at their location). I turned it down and as a result, lost out on a substantial sum. Nobody earns money for me but me.
We need a name for those of us that live our lives as if climate change matters. We will sacrifice socializing (driving to do it), shopping, money–maybe we stay home a lot. Shop online (does this minimize our footprint?) We may get laughed at. Try telling someone “I’m sorry but I can’t do it because I am worried about climate change and I want to minimize my carbon footprint.”
In order to institutionalize climate change, those of us like me, need to start SAYING this on a day to day basis. There are other ways to institutionalize climate change but the INSTITUTIONS that should be doing it right now ARE NOT–SO IT FALLS TO US. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ON A DAILY BASIS and unfortunately, this is how I think we will slow climate change down. I think the larger institutions are and will fail to right our eco-ship in time.
I needed a way to describe myself to people to negate constantly having to EXPLAIN…so I call myself a CLI-FER (long “i” sound)= I live my life according to climate change.
Be prepared to get laughed at.
“I’m sorry. I am very interested in helping you with your project but I am not driving 150 miles every day for a month to do it. I need to work from home, or drive less. I’M A CLI-FER.”
“You’re a WHAT?”
“A Cli-fer. I try to live my life in such a way as to minimize my carbon footprint.”
Silence. Scoff. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No. You shouldn’t be surprised. I am a professional ecologist and even if I was not, I would be a Cli-fer. I’m sorry. If you change your mind or we can work something out so I don’t have to pump so much CO2 into the air, please call me.”
This is what we have to do. Call it a form of climate change civil disobedience.
I am convinced nobody else is going to do it if we don’t.
The other day I got yet another mailing from the Union of Concerned Scientists (versus the Union of Unconcerned Scientists–they’re out playing golf, hitting the bar afterwards, driving around in their Hummers, spraying pesticides wherever the hell they want…they’re a bunch of assholes).
The organization was founded in 1968 by MIT science faculty, no doubt many of them have since gone atomic, as in died…the point being, the Union of Concerned Scientists have been “concerned” about 50 years and well, things are a lot worse…
I am suggesting they ramp it up a few notches to reflect the pending reality of our planetary “situation”. Here are some possibilities (note: if not already added, “alcoholic” can be added to any listed below).
JUST ADDED! (Thanks Sci Fri!)– Union of Terrified Scientists
Union of Panic-stricken Scientists
Union of Angst-Ridden Scientists
Union of Anxious Scientists
Union of Perturbed Scientists
Union of Bothered Scientists
Union of Troubled Scientists
Union of Distressed Scientists
Union of Uneasy Scientists
Union of Desperate Scientists
Union of Frustrated Scientists
Union of Depressed Scientists
Union of Depressed Alcoholic Scientists
Union of Depressed, Frustrated, Alcoholic Scientists
Union of Depressed, Frustrated, Desperate, Alcoholic Scientists
Union of ‘I Can’t Sleep At Night’ Scientists
Union of “Hey, I’ve Got Grand-kids!” Scientists
Union of ‘Hello, Anyone? We’re Freaking Out Over Here?’ Scientists
Union of ‘We’re Fucked’ Scientists
Union of ‘Smoke ‘Em if Ya’ Got ‘Em’ Scientists
Union of ‘What Will the Evolution of Humans Into Subterranean, Cave-dwelling Creatures Be Like?’ Scientists
Union of “We’re Looking For Another Planet Very Quickly” Scientists
and my personal favorite: The Union of Pissed Off Scientists.
Any one will do but will any one do…anything about it? This is the real question.
Hint: we could reject the current paradigm, demand change immediately, and stop driving our cars, like, tomorrow. Tomorrow.
(Oh but the car industry…whose tentacles reach out…)
He said multiple times and in multiple ways that we are really going to be fucked by climate change, words like CATASTROPHIC, DISASTROUS. He tried really really hard to get Ms. Woodruff’s attention, elicit SOME kind of response but of course, nobody was home.
I tried to imagine if this was about, say a tornado, a hurricane, how Ms. Woodruff might have responded:
Judy Woodruff: So this hurricane could be “catastrophic and disastrous” for what specific counties? Can you say?
Then Dr. Oppenheimer would name the counties, get SPECIFIC but Judy just moved on to another story because no one really wants to get specific about planetary death. A hurricane? An isolated weather phenomena? Yea. Planetary Death? Naaaa…
This man said that life on earth COULD END not TOO LONG FROM NOW from CLIMATE CHANGE and Judy just moved on to another story as THEY ALL DO.
What SHOULD have Judy Woodruff asked? How about:
What exactly do you mean by catastrophic and disastrous? Like, there would be so much CO2, it would essentially kill us in our sleep because we all know CO2 is toxic to the human species and much of life; or do you mean the temperature on earth would get so hot, the planet would burn, plants could no longer conduct photosynthesis cutting off our oxygen supply? Infrastructure would be affected, such as power line sagging, melting roofs, buckling asphalt? The earth would get so hot, large portions would be on fire at any one time? We would have to live underground? What do you mean by this and how should we be preparing for it? Can we or are we looking at the end of all life on earth?
But–no. Like every other mainstream journalist, Ms. Woodruff completely blew off his WARNING regarding our pending EXTINCTION. The prospects are really really bad but, no, please, don’t impart any details. We’ll just all figure it out when our houses blow up in flames when the basal temperature of the earth reaches 138oF…
No, don’t respond to the words CATASTROPHIC and DISASTROUS Judy, all you “journalists”. Move on, talk about Donald Trump. Maybe if you don’t ask about it, climate change will just go away.