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September 28, 2009

Big Ag on Climate Change: "What, me worry?"

Once again, topics covered at length in the pixels of Grist are slowly percolating out into the wider media world. Newsweek over the weekend posted an article by Jeneen Interlandi about the grave effects of climate change on agriculture, summed up as the triple threat of "droughts, bugs and big storms." And once again, we learn the future is now:

Farmers on both coasts are already starting to reap some of what the nation's fossil-fuel addiction has sown. Crops in those regions (cranberries in the East and almonds in the West) require a certain number of colder days, or "winter chill" before they break dormancy and begin flowering. Too few cold days disrupts the plants' flowering schedule which in turn affects pollination and hurts yield. A UC Davis study found that winter chill has already declined by 30 percent in California's Central Valley, and almond growers report that yields are down 20 percent from last year. Shorter winters have had a similar effect on cranberry yields in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

As usual, we see the initial effects of a largescale phenomenon on the margins. As Nathanaiel Green of the NRDC puts it, "it hasn't really hit the breadbasket yet," which is why Big Ag, focused as it is on grains and commodity crops grown in the Midwest and South, can so easily dismiss it.

READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON GRIST

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