Farmer notices climate change

Shields Herb and Flower Farm has provided Greene County with plants of all types since 1982. 

“Since then, we’ve definitely noticed a change,” said Alex Shields, the son of the owner Leigh Shields.

The change Shields is talking about is a rising global temperatures. 

The Department of Environmental Protection of Pennsylvania reported the state’s climate has risen 1.8 degrees Farenheight over the past 110 years. The cause of this change is human activities affecting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. These greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, are dangerous because they trap heat from the Earth in the atmosphere, according to the website. This results in an imbalance of the heat energy in the atmosphere, which in turn causes the warming or cooling of Earth’s climate. 

Rural areas, such as Greene County, are experiencing the blunt of this climate change because of their dependance on the areas’ natural resources. The county is home to numerous coal mines, gas companies and farms; all of which are experiencing effects from this national crisis. Despite the negative connotation with climate change, not all of these effects are bad. 

“It’s definitely become a lot warmer, we can grow things here and have them survive outdoors that we never could’ve a decade or two decades ago,” Shields said. 

For instance, the farm can now leave their tropical plants outside further into the fall. Shields explained also he has experienced less frosts in September.

Even though Shields Herb and Flower Farm is able to grow different plants they were unable to in past years, the weather isn’t always reliable. 

“You can still have instances, all it takes is one night where it gets a little too cold and that can kill things off,” Shields said.

This influx of temperature is just one of the many effects of climate change that the DEP lists on their website. Others include more flooding, more heat and respiratory deaths, increased disease and pests and disruptions to agricultural systems. Pennsylvania is getting warmer and wetter.

For businesses like Shields Herb and Flower Farm, this could be both beneficial and harmful. It’s a change but one businesses can adjust to. 

“It definitely has changed this but you can’t just totally rely on that. It has totally changed enough to grow everything that you want to,” Shields said. “You just have to watch for what species of plants you can grow now and what [the] survivability rate [is].”

Overall, Shields said there is a difference in the local climate and there has been for a number of years.

“The short answer is there’s a difference, there’s definitely been a difference over the last few years.”

Based on DEP’s statistics, Pennsylvania is expected to warm another 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. DEP’s website also reads the state will see many more days above 90 degrees.