Saturday, March 27, 2010

Maple Syrup and Thoughts on Climate Change

There's a lot of debate over global warming, or climate change, and what the effects would be if it continues.

Perhaps maple syrup would become a rare and precious substance.

This year, in fact, a little less maple syrup will be flowing to foodies because of an unusually early warming trend this season. The atypical weather has cut maple syrup production in southern Vermont, reports Katie Zezima for The New York Times in "Spring Came too Soon for the Syrup." According to the story, one producer was able to boil out only about a third of what she produced last year. Some producers in New York state also have faced a shorter tapping season, although prices for consumers in the near-term are not expected to rise, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.

I'm not saying this year's shorter tapping season can be tied with certainty to climate change. But thank goodness the problem was local, not global, and affected a non-necessity rather than staple crops.

Under a worse case scenario, in a Stanford University study on potential results of climate change, a 2.7 degree Fahrenheit increase could result in a drop in crop yields and price increases from 10 percent to 60 percent for such staples as wheat and rice. The result would be an increase in poverty and hunger for many people. There is a lot more to consider, including two other less-severe scenarios in the report, which was presented last month in San Diego for an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

But even though the scenario I mentioned is not cited by study authors as the most likely one, it's ugly enough to serve as warning.

In other words, it's not nice to abuse Mother Nature; she can really kick ass.

 You may also like (updated March 30, 2010): A U.K. panel has announced it did not find evidence to support allegations that scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit misrepresented data in advance of a climate conference in Copenhagen last year.

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