SF Chronicle article on Global Climate Change and Your Backyard

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Terrific article in the SF Chronicle on Global Climate Change and Your Backyard

UC Davis offers water-saving wisdom
Ron Sullivan, Joe Eaton
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle

At a conference convened by UC Davis’ new California Center for Urban Horticulture, we learned a few things we hadn’t known even after all these years of working the tree-hugger beat and passing along the bad news about the state of the ecosphere.

Oddly, we also had a good time. UC Davis knows how to throw a garden party. Kudos to the arboretum and the student catering service there: The food was great. They’d even arranged a sequence of nice breezy days to talk about global warming without having to suffer much from it.

They called the event Global Climate Change and Your Backyard. It was a good mix of compelling science and practical advice, centering on how we can adapt our gardening to a warmer and potentially drier world, and what bits we might contribute to not making it worse.
As East Bay Municipal Utility District customers, we’re attuned to water use issues. Dragging buckets and siphoning from jugs to water the potted plants gets old fast, and realizing how little water we’re actually using can make the annoyance worse.

We’re thinking in terms of gallons, while most of California’s water goes to users who think in terms of acre-feet: 325,851.4 gallons at once. But the current reality is that EBMUD doesn’t get that water, so we must do what we can to keep from going dry – and going broke paying the water bill, never mind the actual impact.

We knew that poor garden-irrigation practices aren’t just wasteful; they can contaminate the local watershed with runoff, even contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. No kidding: Diane Pataki, of the departments of earth system science and ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Irvine, showed us a study in which plots of fescue were warmed by heat lamps to simulate climate change. Nitrous oxide emissions were highest in warmer plots with higher soil moisture. Nitrous oxide exists in much smaller quantities than carbon dioxide but is about 300 times as potent as a greenhouse gas.

Read the rest HERE

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