Vertical gardens

Climate Change: Dealing with Air Quality

Can we live without clean air?  Just hold your breath for a minute and you will know how critical clean air is for life.  Vertical gardens, green walls and wall mounted trellis systems can improve air quality, bring nature to our living spaces, and enhance general health and wellbeing.

The carbon cycle

The debate on climate change focusses too heavily on reducing carbon emissions and not enough on the loss of atmospheric oxygen in the air we breath.  Most people recognize that we need oxygen to survive on this planet.  Oxygen is a byproduct of dynamic carbon cycle involving photosynthesis. However, this carbon cycle is severely compromised as we convert agricultural forest lands for urbanization. The result is a decrease in oxygen levels in the air we breath.  The humanity is on a perilous path of self-extinction by eroding oxygen levels throughout the world.

Carbon cycle
Carbon cycle. 2

In addition to the carbon produced by the natural carbon cycle, much of the atmospheric carbon is produced by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. Such emissions from fossil fuels are described as greenhouse gases. There is a lot of discussion about reducing greenhouse gases to combat the impact of climate change. What is not being discussed is that even if the greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to zero, we will still have surplus carbon dioxide generated from the disrupted carbon cycle.

Climate Change and Air Quality: Vertical gardens

One strategy to increase the supply of clean air is by growing vertical gardens. Such gardens are showing up increasingly in larger buildings and university campuses such as the Holyoke center (The Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center) at Harvard university and IIM Banglore in India. They add to the atmospheric oxygen and make a statement about sustainable architecture.

Vertical Garden at Holyoke Center, Harvard University
Green wall at Holyoke Center.  Photo by Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Individual action for clean air

What can we do as individuals? Small steps such as adding plants and trees wherever possible and maintaining them will go a long way in supporting the natural carbon cycle. Where space is limited, it is possible to create vertical gardens on exterior (and interior) walls using wire rope trellis system readily available at home center stores such as the Home Depot and Lowes. Such plants will bring nature into the living environment and increase the supply of oxygen.

Community gardens for clean air

GrowNYC’s Bronx Community gardens exemplify what can be accomplished in high density urban areas such as the Bronx in New York City. Such gardens provide a place for people to congregate and offer opportunities to enjoy the joy of gardening. They can also create a sense of community and add to the clean air we breath.

Key Takeaways:

1 Grow and maintain plants and trees wherever you can: indoor, outdoor, vertical garden walls, balconies etc.
2 Spread the message to your friends and family to grow plants for oxygen as well as for our survival on this planet.
3 Start or support businesses for design, installation and maintenance of vertical gardens, green walls and aeroponic towers in homes and offices.
4 Click vertical garden resources for more information and visit Vertical Gardens page on Pinterest for more ideas.

Title image: Lupulo2010, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
2 Image by At09kg, Wattcle, Nefronus At09kg: original Wattcle: vector graphics Nefronus: redoing the vector graphicsCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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