Simple practices can partly blunt some climate change impacts
Written by Marc Albert
Clover planted between grape vines photo credit: Patty Skinkis, Oregon State University, Grape Community of Practice
Though still frequently shrouded in fog, climatic conditions in Sonoma County, like the rest of the world, are changing. While large scale efforts remain hostage to political intrigue, there are practical, small scale ways to limit impacts locally.
Along with oak, raspberry and mango notes, recent local grape harvests carry an undernote of ash, according to murmurs from some in the industry. For Kimberley Miner, a climate scientist and science systems engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, it only presages what lies ahead as climate change becomes more evident.
"As the Sonoma-Napa area transforms to a drier ecosystem, I imagine we will continue to have really far-reaching impacts on both the human and natural ecosystems above and beyond the taste of our grapes," she said.
Predictions anticipate high tides regularly inundating parts of State route 37, beaches and cliff-faces eroding and water lapping up from the bay.
There are ways to dodge catastrophic impacts. In ancient times, savvy subsistence farmers in parts of the New World planted squash, beans and corn---each crop a hedge against too much or too little summer sun, water, heat and pests.
Resuming that strategy could very well prove key, Miner said.
"Agricultural diversity is always going to be a safeguard to risk. It's always going to improve the resilience of the system, so whether it's planting wildflowers that are natives in between the rows, doing a different type of harvesting or diversifying the grapes, for example, there will be a lot of different ways for landowners to encounter climate change and really work past it and through it."
While massive solar arrays, denser cities, sharp reductions in oil drilling and convenient mass transit are common pitches to policymakers, there are inexpensive and humble tasks individuals can take to buttress any collective efforts. They fall under the rubric of what's being called 're-wilding.'
"And that's something that you can do on small scales and large scales by incorporating more natives and more of the pollinator and helpful species that you already find in the area," she said.
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