Field of Science

Global Warming and Wine

First off, I disagree with the premise that wine is an unnecessary luxury. Wine is a basic food group 0f the civilized person and must be included in at least one meal a day.

Now in case you happen to be completely ignorant about crops and climates, wine grapes is a crop associated with Mediterranean climates, which range from cool to hot, but basically they have cool, relatively mild, wet winters and relatively hot, dry summers. Different grape varieties do better at various points along that climatic gradient. In a bit of climatic irony, the Mediterranean area does not have a monopoly on Mediterranean climates, which are also found on the west coast of North America, in California, Oregon, and to some extent in Washington, in South Africa, in Australia, and in Argentina and Chile, just look at the latitudes on a globe. So it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out where all that wine comes from.

Global warming is certainly a concern, but by affecting wine, it’s getting serious. Climatic change associated with global warming may ruin Australia’s interior wine growing regions by increasing aridity, more and greater drought. Now granted this region does not provide the most distinguished wine, and elsewhere climatic shifts may have given some of France’s wine producing regions warmer, wetter summers and a fabulous 2005 vintage, but day to day, many of us don’t drink vintage year French wines. So this is getting serious.

Yes, without a little Long Flat Red to sip as you tend the Barbie (grill, not girl), you begin to wonder if life is worth living.

But similar shifts in climate are what will not just damage, but wholesale ruin many agricultural areas. And the Land of Lincoln is not immune from this. The maize and soybean desert will become more of a desert, a drier region, one that is too dry for its two main crops. Presently the USA produces about 70% of the world’s soybeans in a narrow latitudinal band. If soybeans are raised any further south, they do not get long enough nights to trigger flowering; and if try to raise them further north, then the growing season is too short for the fruits and seeds to mature after flowering takes place in late summer (longer nights). No need to mention that soybeans are the USA’s #1 agricultural export and their value is huge. And indeed, this commodity threatened by climate change, yet the scientific dummies running things still act as if this isn’t a serious problem.

Why it’s enough to make a guy drink. Pass the Hermitage Côtes du Rhône 2005 please. No time to waste on cheap wine.

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