Sally Hausken: Climate change is a slow-rolling disaster. Take action now

Now, with wildfires killing trees, the captured carbon in their roots transforms to greenhouse gases. Glaciers melt, Arctic ice melts, sea levels rise – all flooding coastal areas and releasing more carbon. Suffering most from these dangers are the poor and colored people of the world.

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Sally Hausken

We adults are only stewards of the planet until youth and children take over. Earth is our island home, the only place to live. For all of us, beyond our professions or life work, we must make time to do the things necessary to make the planet healthy.

Fifty two billion is the yearly tons of greenhouse gases produced every year, says Bill Gates in How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. He further explains that our effort must be to get it down to zero. The effort must come from many places: governments, corporations, companies, bankers, farmers, individuals and families. Carbon and its impact on Earth is extremely complicated. It is also ubiquitous – all over the place – in the ground, and in the air.

A landmark deal announced at Glasgow Accord COP 26 to end international public financing for fossil fuels intends to challenge the narrative that oil, coal, and gas are necessary for the development of low-income countries, according to one of the officials who worked to secure the agreement.

The agreement has the support of 26 nations and financial institutions, and — if implemented correctly — will see at least $18 billion of international public financing switch from fossil fuels to supporting clean energy, according to a civil society estimate.

Plants with deep roots hold carbon in the ground. Tallgrass prairies of the Great Plains sequester carbon in their roots. Peatlands, desert and permafrost tundra do as well. Forests abound with carbon sequestered in their roots.


Now, with wildfires killing trees, their capture transforms to greenhouse gases. Glaciers melt, Arctic ice melts, sea levels rise – all flooding coastal areas and releasing more carbon. Suffering most from these dangers are the poor and colored people of the world.

“Greenhouse gasses” provoke drought, turning up the heat another notch. In the oceans, coral is bleached and damaged by the acidity. All of this causes winter to end earlier and snow levels in mountains to decrease by 25-40%.

Fossil fuels and methane are the biggest offenders. Think about man’s need for energy! Autos and trucks thick on the planet — all spewing fuel. Man has little concern for miles per gallon. GM and Ford are spending billions to build electric vehicles.

Even Norway, plush though it is with oil and natural gas in the North Sea, offers licensed “E” vehicles free travel, while license plates without the “E” are billed for daily travel!

Solar, wind and hydroelectric power is clean energy that helps modernize the electric grid. Iceland is totally hydroelectric power!

One of the most sensible options has been to put a price on carbon, then refund the proceeds to customers. Taxing carbon at the source would double the price of refineries, mines and wells.

But then a family of four, for example, would get a $2,000 rebate to offset those increased costs. Fee credits would be offered for new ways of storing or reusing carbon.

The Nature Conservancy creates skillful ways of helping poor countries with carbon credits, cap and trade, and carbon offset, often involving thousands of acres of land. It can include planting millions of trees.


Agriculture constantly seeks carbon-capturing processes and technology directly from the air of greenhouse gases. Even cement! As well as manure, fertilizers, methane, and tilings.

OK, so what can the individual and the individual families do to make the planet just a little less warm? Allow time each day to help out the planet. How? Here are a raft of ideas:

  • Plastic bags. My goodness, have you watched the flood of plastic bags in the cart of each shopper coming out of a supermarket?! Get cloth bags, leave them in the car trunk and yank them out as you head for the market! Easy, cheap; decreases litter in water and on land.
  • Consider some landscaping: Native trees, bushes and wildflowers to attract pollinators.
  • A green “Bright Energy” program is a choice through the City of Detroit Lakes. Contact Bridget Penton at 218 846-7133.
  • Shift as many tools as possible to electric use: Lawnmowers, trimmers, saws, boat motors. Do your research. For your home: electric thermostat, window insulation, efficient appliances. Leaving your room? Turn off the lights.
  • Think hard on an electric vehicle purchase. My Prius gets 60-plus miles to the gallon in the summer and 45 mpg in the winter. Compare it with SUVs and pickup trucks.
  • For companies that pollute, they have a choice: reduce their carbon, (fossil fuel emissions) or pay for polluting. It might well come to us individuals as well. Among corporations, a carbon tax is already in place.
  • Are you a stockholder? Speak out and vote your shares in the interest of helping the planet.
  • Keep abreast of politics and register your insistence on fighting climate change. Make calls, write letters, attend town hall meetings. Urge more funding for research and development to register your request for decreasing greenhouse gasses.
  • Carrying a plastic bag with you, curiously, is a good idea. Be a cordial citizen beloved by the planet and pick up trash: fast food bags, energy drink bottles, cigarette butts. They all fit in that bag, and the bag fits into the trash!
  • What can I do today that will live on into tomorrow? Plant a flower or tree? Teach a child or a friend about kindness to the planet?

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions. She has more votes, a longer memory and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” – Wendell Berry

( Sally Hausken is a Becker County Master Gardener who lives in Detroit Lakes. This is the last in her series of five columns on climate change)

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