Durango BOtanical Society

Building Public Gardens Committed to Demonstration and Education


Facing Up to Climate Change at Plant Select® Annual Meeting

03 Jul 2019 10:27 AM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

Melanie Palmer, Durango Botanic Gardens Curator, and Patsy Ford, one of the Durango Botanical Society’s newest docents and board member of The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado attended the Plant Select® annual meeting June 11, 2019 at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Plant Select, a consortium of Colorado State University, the Denver Botanic Gardens and cooperating commercial nursery partners, the program sources and promotes plants designed to thrive in high plains and intermountain regions. There are currently 60 Plant Select Demonstration Gardens in Colorado, including the Durango Botanic Gardens.  DBG was recognized for its outstanding work in the program with the Golden Shovel award in 2016.  DBS has planted 70 new plants this year in the gardens, some Plant Select plants as well donations from DBG Alpine Curator Mike Kintgen.

            Palmer and Ford remarked upon several presentations, including those of David Salman, chief horticulturalist and founding member of Plant Select, who emphasized the importance of songbirds, hummingbirds, and pollinating insects in a landscape design. Salman shared a variety of strategies aimed at how to keep these pollinators working in your yard all season. 

            An especially topical message came from Scott Denning, Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. Denning reduced the climate change discussion to its barest essentials: When earth absorbs more heat than it emits, the climate warms. With a steady depletion of planet’s ozone shield which protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation, entire regions of the earth could face catastrophic changes in climate and, therefore, growing conditions. 

           

In photos above, at left Scott Denning delivers his presentation on climate change, at right, Patsy Ford, Melanie Palmer of DBS with Ross Shrigley, director of Plant Select. 

            For example, warmer average temperatures, the kind we are experiencing almost annually now, are associated with dramatic increases in the frequency of extremely hot weather.  Warmer air evaporates more water from soils and vegetation, so even if precipitation doesn’t change, the demand for water will increase with warmer temperatures, according to Denning. Policies that realistically confront what the science of climate change is revealing to us is essential, says Denning, because the consequences of unchecked climate change to the global economy are simply unacceptable.  Foremost, those policies must require the development of energy efficiency and the rapid deployment of non-fossil fuel energy systems.

            Economically, says Denning, the clean energy transition required to address climate change will almost certainly be expensive, perhaps involving roughly one percent of the global economy.  (Ed. Note: Many estimates of the size of the world economy place the number at $87 trillion or roughly $87 billion.) But while that financial commitment is large, Denning points out, it’s not that much out of line with previous economic transformations and dislocations, noting that previous investments in indoor plumbing, rural electrification, the global internet and mobile telecommunications also paid huge dividends to society. “Our descendants will live better lives if we develop and improving their infrastructure just as our ancestors did,” says Denning.

            Melanie Palmer says what impressed her about the Denning remarks was that he was not preaching deprivation, shaming, or the demonizing of fossil fuel producers and users, but simply urging the expanding use of technologies we already have to begin a transition from burning fossil fuels.

            For more on Denning’s thoughts, strategies for dealing with climate change, to go www.Simple.Serious.Solvable.org

            For more on Plant Select®, including soon the Plant Select® items for 2020, visit https://plantselect.org 


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