How’s that climate change thing working for you?
Not everyone is in agreement on the causes, but the effects are undeniable.
Popsicles and iced drinks can only take you so far. What will you be eating as the planet heats up?
2010 was the world’s hottest year on record. Centuries-old records fell as we went on a rollercoaster ride of weather events. Then the summer of 2011 stunned us with a heatwave the breadth, duration, and strength of which we’d never seen, pulling the year into the all-time top ten. And with historical high temperatures bested by 40 degree margins this winter, it’s a pretty safe bet that 2012 will be another one for the record books.
Climatologists are telling us it’s just a taste of things to come.
Atmospheric scientists at the University of Washington and at Stanford University’s Program for Food Security and the Environment analyzed data from 23 climate models. They predict, with 90% certainty, that by the end of the 21st century, average growing-season temperatures will be hotter than the most extreme levels recorded in the past. Barring a swift and sudden reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions, here’s what will happen to our food:
- Fruit trees will blossom weeks early in the warmer spring weather, before insects arrive to pollinate them. Without successful pollination, small fruit will form and quickly drop off the trees before it can mature.
- Grapes will wither into raisins before they can be pressed for wine.
- Dairy cows will experience reproductive failure and produce less milk.
- Hogs and cattle will go off their feed and take longer to get to market.
- Chickens will lay fewer eggs.
- Coffee-growing regions will fade away as growers are forced to either move to higher ground or pack it in.
- We’ll drink summer ales year-round—the only palatable brew from weaker, low-acid, warm-weather hops.
- Fish will flee the southern hemisphere, vegetables will wither in the fields, maple syrup will be just a memory.
We’ve seen food prices rise by 20% as the hot weather torpedoes production, but what if dinner costs 20 times what it did?
The midwestern breadbasket will be redubbed the tropical fruit bowl.
Mashed cassava will stand in for potatoes, we’ll eat french-fried yucca, and scramble the eggy akee fruit for breakfast. It’s already happening across Europe, where England has begun producing bananas, olives, and oranges, and central Russia is planted with fig trees and lemons.
The evidence continues to pile up.
This is not an ordinary heatwave but part of a larger trend that is indisputably based on measured concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming as a result of human activity is recognized by the national science academies of every major industrialized country.
Learn how your personal choices impact the environment. Read Ten Personal Solutions to Global Warming from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Join 350.com, a global, grassroots movement to solve the crisis.