Monday, November 29, 2010

Turf pros say that evidence is strong for global warming

It seems like we don't hear as much about global warming these days in the mainstream media because the economy continues to dominate the nightly news. But at a recent industry event, climate change — as two speakers preferred to call it — was talked about often. And both speakers, who appeared at the recent Green Start Academy hosted by John Deere Golf and Bayer Environmental Science, believe there's something to global warming.

During his presentation, Tom Rufty, Ph.D., a turfgrass professor from North Carolina State, displayed a slide containing two satellite photographs of Artic sea ice — one from 1979 and the other from 2008. The later photograph clearly revealed ice that had melted.

"We're in an inter-glacial period right now where the Earth should be cooling, but instead it's warming up," Rufty said.

Nick Hamon, Ph.D., who was recently named the head of sustainability for Bayer CropScience, said 95% of scientists believe there's a climate change issue.

"The 5 percent who don't think we have a climate change issue may end up being right," he said. "But 5 percent is not a great probability to live and work by when it comes to decide what the future may look like."

The basic message from Hamon and Rufty is climate change is something that can't be ignored.

"You may be cynical and say this is not going to happen," Hamon said. "But even if it's 50 percent correct, it's a little concerning."

Despite the challenges the world will face, Hamon has a good outlook for the green industry.

"Good science shows that the green industry has a place," he says.

Turfgrass plays a vital role in carbon sequestration, which can mitigate climate change, Hamon adds. He notes the following statistics should make people who work in Green Industry feel good about what they do for a living:

* Turfgrass removes 20 million tons of carbon — 5% of the carbon from our atmosphere.

* 10,000 sq. ft. of grass can produce enough oxygen for a family of four. 10,000 sq. ft. of healthy grass absorbs 6,000 gal. of rainwater without runoff.

* Managed turfgrass sequesters significantly more carbon than healthy turf.

Editor's note: Thanks to sister magazine Golfdom for the above report.

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