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  •  Wildflower Loss Is Not Caused By Global Warming (1+ / 0-)
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    wondering if

    The loss of wildflowers is caused by people eating beef and driving priuses, or SUVs, or Hummers, or buying land where they can "afford" it away from past development.

    It's caused by business and the paving of this country.  Land amounting to the area of Vermont is paved in the U.S. each year.

    The Willamette Valley, the most fertile land in the 1840s whiche fueled the bicoastal development of the nation, was composed of oak savannah... less than 1% remains, and this is a relatively small area.  

    Almost none of the grassland of America remains, some is in northeastern Oregon, and you'll find tiny remnants here and there down to Oklahoma, but they're almost all covered in weeds, disected by roads, which then dump toxins on the fields.  Perhaps worst of all is big cattle, although the Wallowas in Oregon have been ranch-country for a century and have the higher end of raptor and native grassland habitation left.

    (-7.88, -6.10) "Susan Collins is worse than garlic breath and stinky old socks together" me, out of context

    by Nulwee on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 10:12:35 PM PST

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    •  further north (1+ / 0-)
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      Washington has lost much of it's river bottom farm and dairy land to housing developments, strip malls, and tilt-up business parks.  

      The same is starting to happen in California's Inland Valley, which produces (or produced) a quarter of the food in the USA.

      And Western Washington is losing its forests to housing developments as well.

    •  While the loss of open land is a (1+ / 0-)
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      contributing factor over the long term (several decades), extreme "out-of-bounds" spring temperature and precipitation variations over the last few years, definite symptoms of climate changes attributable to Global Warming, have caused an equally signifcant drop in the number and duration of wildflower blossoms in a very short time frame - which is what Eric Mussen is referring to.

      As a gardener in (not-rapidly-developing) rural Maine specializing in perennials and naturalistic designs incorporating native wildflowers, I can testify that recent unusually cold and wet springs following warm, droughty winters have very seriously affected even the toughest wildflowers, both those that depend primarily on seed distribution for propagation and those that spread by root and rhizome.  Bloom timing has been way off as well and out of sync with "normal" pollinator lifecycles, meaning that the populations of those wildflowers that depend primarily on seed distribution for propagation have been degraded even further in successive years.

      There is no question that overdevelopment, rampant paving, herbicide use and over-grazing have reduced the area in which wildflowers may grow freely (although it must be noted that many of the most floriferous wildflowers are extremely aggressive "first colonizers" of cleared land and will grow and bloom quite happily in even the smallest cracks in thick asphalt), it is simply incorrect to claim that  recent wildflower loss is NOT caused by Global Warming.

      The further point I make is that these same extreme (moreso to us gardeners) climate variations that have degraded wildflower growth and bloom have had the same effect on plant crops.  At the very least, this has caused commercial growers (both corporate and small, local, family-owned) to increase their inputs - artificial fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, irrigation, etc. - in an attempt to maintain profitable harvest quantities.   Should the temp-precip patterns of the past few winters/springs repeat for even a few more years, even increasing artificial inputs won't be enough to stave off significantly higher food prices and shortages.  

      Private life is all about managing pain. In business and government, this means externalizing and deferring costs whenever possible.

      by sxwarren on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 06:14:39 AM PST

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    •  Global warming is killing off wildflowers too (1+ / 0-)
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      Granted, development, herbicides, etc. are enemies of wildflowers.

      But the heating of the soil and the desertification of natural meadows in the West is promoting the replacement of wildflowers with sagebrush.  

      John Harte is an ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley. For the past 16 years he has used electric heat lamps to warm experimental plots of land at RMBL. The artificial temperature increase matches the small rise of a few degrees that global warming climate models project will occur over the next century.

      Harte's study results show snows melting earlier and the soil drying. Drier soils store less carbon. Less carbon in the soil means more carbon in the atmosphere, which will accelerate the pace of warming, he said.

      Drier soils are also more suited to sagebrush, the hearty shrub that carpets much of the arid West. In Harte's heated study plots, sagebrush is crowding out wildflowers.

      The ecologist said the transition from wildflowers to sagebrush only speeds the trend: Sagebrush is darker than most wildflowers and absorbs heat instead of reflecting it.

      "Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in." --General Jack Turgidson

      by Plan9 on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 10:45:11 AM PST

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