Monday, January 14, 2019

Canary in the Coal Mine

In the old days, before the advent of more modern equipment, miners would carry a canary in a cage at the forefront of their progress in the mine.  The canary would be much more sensitive to the poisonous gases which could overcome the miners.  So the canary’s wellbeing, or death, was an indicator of things to come for the miners.  If the canary keeled over, it was time to escape the mine.  Hence the phrase “a canary in a coal mine”… an indicator of danger.
The real Canary in a Coal Mine

For years I have been saying that our essential oils are ‘the canary in the coal mine’  as I see, season after season, crops fail because of extreme weather. 

The Bulgarian Lavender harvest this past summer was 1/3 what it should have been, because of heavy rains for the weeks prior to harvest time, when the lavender needed bright, sunny days.  Wildfires destroyed the world’s only Fragonia plantation two years ago.  The French wild Thyme harvesting has not occurred, because the plants were not worth harvesting for the past two years.  Again, the ‘wrong’ weather.

Today, a lengthy response from a grower/supplier of Australian oils I’ve dealt with for years, indicates trouble yet again.   I had sent him a shopping list.  He could supply nothing that I was asking for, because severe drought had prevented most of the harvests, and monsoon rains are preventing the others.

He urged me to look elsewhere, that a larger exporter might have what I am seeking, and added, “No doubt about it, Australia is in the forefront of climate change, and harvesting and distillation of essential oils is among the first of industries to be adversely affected. I hope the rest of the world takes notice, but somehow, I think not.”

Now, Australia has been known for extreme weather ever since it was settled.  But it is now suffering even wilder extremes.

And, if our essential oils are not growing and being harvested, how long will it be before the food supplies are also threatened?

What are your thoughts on this problem, and what can we, as individuals, do to make it better?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's sad really. As an individual I can only follow the rule of 'be the change you wish to see' and hope that others follow suit. I try to separate needs from wants. As an example, given that commercial air travel is a major creator of greenhouse gas emissions, I've banned myself from flying anywhere for personal enjoyment. I keep the temperature in my home as low as I can tolerate and so on. It's easy to go put on a sweater. I grow a garden of medicinal herbs and include lots of pollinator attractors. (I threatened to get a home distiller last year though because the Melissa was taking over It starts with each and every one of us being mindful of the impact of our actions, all day, everyday. Thank you for the cold hard reality post.