This week, we wanted to shine a light on how the weather is affecting those of us in the Permaculture Garden tribe who live in Texas and how the rest of us “dry folk” can help Hurricane Harvey victims.
What is a Hurricane?
According to NASA, hurricanes (the scientific term is “tropical cyclones”) are large swirling storms which are formed over warm ocean waters close to the equator. They produce winds of 119 kilometers per hour (74 mph) or higher.
There are 5 tropical storm categories based on their wind speed. Category 3-5 is considered a Major Hurricane with 5 having winds more than 252 km/hr (157 mph). Harvey was 130 mph at its peak, a Category 4.
NASA also has a cool app for tracking storms HERE.
Kerry Immanuel, professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT writes that due to the unusual warming of the earth in the last thousand years, while there will be fewer storms, they will be stronger ones.
“Tropical cyclones cause on average more than 10,000 deaths and $40 billion (U.S.) in damages globally each year.”
Immanuel is also quoted to say, “If Hurricane Harvey had happened at the end of the 20th century, the amount of rain falling in Houston in a single storm would have been a rare 1-in-2,000-year event.”
Some of us in the Permaculture Garden tribe witnessed this rare event first-hand. One of our Garden Gamers writes:
Nicky and Dave,
Thank you so much for your concern. We are safe, and by God’s grace were spared any real ill-effects from the storm. Our home did not flood, and we did not even lose power. Some of our friends suffered much more severe impacts. I am honestly not sure what would be the best charity to support. There are a lot of people in need, and a lot of things are still very uncertain around here. If a charity you trust is working to help, I would give to someone you know and trust.
Thank you so much for your concern,
Help Hurricane Harvey Victims
One of the charities we personally use and trust is Washington DC based, Global Giving. We have been able to safely fund compost toilet projects in the Philippines in the past using their online giving service.
They are upfront about letting you know that in order that 100% of your donation goes to the actual cause itself there is an additional 10% fee you need to give to cover the administrative/overhead costs associated with running non-profits.
The best part is that they report back to you regularly on what is being done in-ground with pictures and data that are sent to you via email.
HERE is one of many efforts to help Hurricane Harvey victims on their site.
Of course you are free to choose whatever charity you believe in, but please help Hurricane Harvey victims: those who have lost homes, loved ones, and livelihood in the storm.
What does this have to do with Permaculture?
Permaculture is more than just gardening. Permaculture is holistic design that takes into consideration the whole natural environment, and especially the weather. Permaculture is about pitching in wherever you are needed to create a sustainable “permanent” civilization. It’s about People Care.
I started developing a concern for climate change back in the 90s. Back then, scientists were predicting that by the end of the 20th century, we would be experiencing extreme weather events. More violent storms, longer and hotter dry spells. While I grew up experiencing the seasonal rains living in the heart of the equatorial belt, the storms and floods in the Philippines have grown stronger only in recent years. (I guess the science was off by a few decades.)
Now, living in Northern Virginia, I find that even on a daily basis it is hard to predict the weather. I’m often reminded of a scene in the movie “The Martian” when Matt Damon is working outside in the extreme desert climate and needs to run back into his space ship to escape the sudden violent storms that are typical of Mars. I often wonder if this extreme unpredictability will indeed become the new normal weather for us who live in “temperate climates.”
The Importance of Trees
It will be the trees that help mitigate extreme weather. When we cut down large masses of forests, we change the environment.
I’ve heard homeowners who have problems with flooding in their backyards say that they want to take out the trees and build a “retaining wall.” This doesn’t make sense, because trees actually prevent erosion and runoff through their roots. In hot climates, their leaves transpire the water into the atmosphere. Trees and other plant life help stabilize the weather.
Not mine alone, but all of our food forests combined are going to help reverse this trend of extremes and normalize weather patterns in the long run.
For more information about starting your own “food forest” See: