Why We Need a War on Weeds

I wear two hats. One hat is that of a PhD gerontologist specializing in long-term care, alternatives to nursing homes, and aging well. The other hat is as an award-winning expert on native plants and habitat restoration. They are related in an intricate web on our suffering planet. Nursing homes in the US and Europe have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19.

“Weed Warriors are not ornamental gardeners. Noxious weeds are not about dandelions. Read on!

What does a healthy native plant environment have to do with global warming? It has everything to do with global warming, not to mention COVID-19, and quality of life for humans of all ages and all living things.

As I write this in August of 2020, the U.S., ostensibly the richest country in the world, has one of the 3 highest rates of COVID-19 per capita in the world.  In addition, the virus has killed Black Americans at twice the rate of others in the country. Older people are at greater risk of contracting the virus, dying from COVID-19, or being left with lasting disabilities. The issue of global warming is connected to the corona virus in multiple ways. As habitat shrinks from rising seas and encroachment of human habitation and farming, wild creatures, such as bats, lions, rats, and the viruses, bacteria, and dangers they spread, will increasingly invade human habitations.

How can we green the planet to insure a decent world for our grandchildren and our species?

We can restore the environment around us to a more natural state. When we clear-cut forests for farms, or cities, or timber, the first plants that appear are non-native noxious weeds. These invaders can smother the more productive and desirable plants with aggressive growth, stifling the trees that help combat global warming.

Weed Warriors struggle on Bainbridge Island to return parks, forests, road ends, schools, tree farms and the like to a more natural, healthy, sustainable environment. Trees are a priority, and trees are on the front lines of global warming. I could go on about the healing qualities of green and nature, but this is a start on understanding why removing ivy, Scotch broom, tansy ragwort and other noxious weeds is important, gratifying, and fits into a larger context.

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