Mehernosh Khan, M.D.: Cultivate your garden in the worst of times
Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"
By Dr. Mehernosh Khan
PITTSFIELD — This iconic preamble by Dickens has wormed its way into my consciousness, like a favorite tune that keeps playing, until it has become a mantra for our generation. Almost a year into the reign of Emperor Trump, with his full blown diagnosis of Twitterophilia, we can be certain that the spring, summer, and fall (of despair) will surely follow the "winter of despair" as the news cycle reassures us daily of a dystopian future!
But before we get distracted by the Putin bromance and the Russia probe, the endless reports of dysfunctional expressions of libido by powerful men, and an equally demented leader in the Northern part of Korea, let us not forget the elephant in the room: "The Environment."
Usually there is a knee-jerk response to this issue.
— You do not believe there is a problem and climate change is an act of God anyway and what do I care if future generations do not have clean air, potable water and have food insecurity because of increasing floods and droughts. It's not my issue as long as I can keep getting cheap energy from fossil fuels and my lettuce grown 3,000 miles away, wrapped in plastic, from the local supermarket. And global warming is another myth. Just spend a freezing winter in the Berkshires!
If so, please step away from this op-ed piece and continue wallowing in ignorance. After all, it is also the "epoch of incredulity."
— You do believe there is a problem and we all need to wake up to what nature is telling us with messages of gigantic hurricanes, historic floods and major droughts (the Syrian conflict was triggered by successive years of droughts and subsequent crop failures) and the rising sea levels, causing cities like Miami to use powerful pumps and raise the height of their streets, an exercise in absurdity and futility. There is the incessant but truthful drumbeat of the need to reduce CO2 emissions from car exhausts, coal-fired production of electricity and industrial agriculture and animal husbandry, that can be taken on with electric cards and solar panels.
But there is a simpler way to address this issue.
At this point in a climate discussion there is the usual response, "But what can little old moi do about this overwhelming problem?" And somebody else mentions that it is up to the powers that be in Washington (coal-based electricity, Keystone XL anyone?) or it is the job of EPA, now also known as the Environmental Pollution Agency. So here is the other way. A way that each of us can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases.
The answer is as near as the vegetable garden in your back yard (or front yard) and it is called "Biosequestration." This is simply locking up CO2 using the unique ability of plants to thrive by using carbon dioxide for the process of photosynthesis and in turn exhale life-giving oxygen. And in return they give us wood for our homes and fireplaces; fruits, grains and vegetables for our nourishment and also of our livestock; and herbs, spices and medicines for our health.
The most elegant expression of biosequestration is the agrarian movement of "Permaculture." But this is a story for another day!
Mehernosh Khan, M.D., is an occasional Eagle contributor.
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