Climate change: How did we get into this mess?

Discovering an ozone hole in the Arctic and ultimately researching and combating it successfully gave hope that we could deal with these other daunting climate obstacles.

Greater Sucker Creek founder Sally Hausken, at left, was on hand for the installation and dedication of a new sign, titled A Treasure Trove of Gifts to All from Greater Sucker Creek," at the local nature preserve by longtime local resident Kay N. Larson and her children last May. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

To cherish what remains of the earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.” — Wendell Berry

Tackling climate change has finally hit media front pages, especially for young people, many of whom can see that if we keep polluting in so many ways, they and their progeny will not have a planet to live on.

As we learn about the Earth’s cries, we listen carefully for facts. Think about it:

  • Team Covid versus Team Humanity.
  • Team Earth versus Team Mankind.

If man loses in either “game” we are destined to reach extinction.
As a master gardener in Becker County specializing in native plants and their proliferation, I find myself with much sadness about how man has and is affecting our globe. My first of two objectives is to define environmental terms used about climate change and how science uses them to explain outcomes. Our busy lives temper how much focus goes into concern for Earth.

Throughout, my other objective is listing many ways individual families and individuals themselves can decrease our carbon footprint.


The power of Greater Sucker Creek’s climate sign will be discussed in the second article. Aided by the Minnesota Legislature’s DNR grants, Greater Sucker Creek is habitat-friendly to the planet, and offers many, many gifts to its human neighbors. You’ll feel like you’ve read the sign once you read Article 2!

Articles 3, 4, and 5 teach us climate change general categories:

  1. Biodiversity. This means everything living. You’ll be surprised how important that is to saving the earth!
  2. Water. Did you know it is finite? Just like land, they aren’t making more.
  3. Carbon footprint. So much of Earth is carbon and man is forever increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Rich people have a larger carbon footprint.

Let’s start with a very succinct history of how man got himself into this mess.
James Watt, in Glasgow, Scotland, invented the first steam engine in the middle 1800s. Voila! Smokestacks introduced the industrial revolution which made man more mechanized — more efficient. In just two centuries, mechanization and human populations increased more than in thousands of preceding years!

Meanwhile, governments stayed afield.

After World War II, creation of plastics and fertilizers and mining unfortunately disrupted natural ecosystems and threatened public health and nature. Untreated wastes were dumped into water globally.

Not until 1962 did the U. S. government awaken. Written by Rachel Carson, former government aquatic biologist, the book "Silent Spring" showed how damage from chemical pesticides, for example DDT, weakened the eggshells of bald eagles.

Instantly the modern environmental movement was born, with the government a major player.

Discovering an ozone hole in the Arctic and ultimately researching and combating it successfully gave hope that we could deal with these other daunting climate obstacles.


The objectives for all of this are threefold:

  • Continue to appreciate Greater Sucker Creek for its gifts to man and planet.
  • Introduce all of us to the frailties of our stewardship. Resolve to learn, listen and act kindheartedly.
  • Within the family, have a meeting and brainstorm for family activities to keep our planet and our community free of pollutants. But through it all, buy yourself a sense of humor!

(Sally Hausken of Detroit Lakes was instrumental in the creation of Greater Sucker Creek, a city preserve near Big Detroit Lake. PBS is among the sources used for this column, the first in a series of five sponsored by the Becker County Master Gardeners.)

What To Read Next
Get Local