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Gardening to Help Prevent Climate Change

Both drought and flooding can ruin a garden, but there are lots of things the average home gardener can do to help stop global warming. We already know that we should trade in our SUVs, use florescent light bulbs and turn down the thermostat. According to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation called "A Gardeners Guide to Global Warming," there are also many things you can do in your own garden to help fight climate change.

Environmentalist Patty Glick says, "There are many simple and thoughtful ways we can manage our gardens that can make an enormous difference in reducing the impacts of global warming."

As any gardener knows, even just one degree difference between 32 and 33 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of time can make a huge difference in a garden. Scientists are now finding what many gardeners have already been noticing: earlier leaf out and bloom times, earlier emergence of butterflies and other insects, and arrival of new bird species at the backyard feeder.

Many of the "hardiness zone maps" that gardeners rely on to identify which plants to choose for their gardens are already being adjusted to account for the impacts of global warming. In many states, the climate change may be so intense that states may no longer have a favorable climate for their official state tree or state flower before this century is out. Heavier downpours and more intense storms will lead to extensive flooding in vulnerable areas. At the other extreme, severe drought conditions plaguing parts of the nation over the past few years lead to watering restrictions for our gardens.

Glick's advice? Use plants that are native to your area and?most important?plant native trees. Planting rooftop gardens and planting trees near your home can significantly shield your home from the elements, reducing energy use for air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. One study showed that shade trees can reduce energy use for air conditioning by up to 70%. Trees also absorb and store carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the gas primarily responsible for global warming. Over its average life-span, a tree can remove a ton of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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