The Time For Climate Change Denial Is Over [Opinion]

Climate change is something we’ve covered often in the pages of this magazine. It’s a sensitive subject in agriculture — with many growers believing it’s more fiction than science.

This has always come as a bit of a surprise to me. If anyone is well aware of the changing climate we are living in, it’s those who work directly with the elements themselves.

These past few years we’ve been on a roller coaster of extremes. Whether it’s punishing cold in the Northeast or Midwest which decimates peach crops, or an unseasonable drought, catastrophic flooding from rainstorms, earlier bloom dates, cold snaps, and earlier and earlier harvest dates, it’s hard not to miss the changes.

As I’m writing this, 98% of the state of Massachusetts is in a drought. This, of course, follows the bone-chilling
Feb. 14 “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” which virtually eliminated the peach crop in the Northeast. Nearly 10% of New York is in an extreme drought. While the average number of growing degree days in the Finger Lakes is 588, this year’s total was 742, the highest on record, according to Hans Walter-Peterson of Cornell University Cooperative Extension.

NASA reported this past August was the hottest on Earth in 136 years — as long as worldwide temperatures have been recorded. It was the 11th straight month of record-setting worldwide temperatures.
I recently posted a story on GrowingProduce.com which talks about a Cornell study predicting earlier springs, like 2012, will become more frequent in the next 30 years if emissions and greenhouse gases — which increase global warming — are not curbed.

Climate change is often confused with global warming. Although they’re related, it’s important to understand global warming is the increase in temperature near the Earth’s surface, whereas climate change refers to the long-term climate models — air temperature, precipitation, and weather patterns.

NASA researchers say 2/3 of the spike in global temperatures has occurred since 1975, rising about 0.20°C per decade. Mounting temperatures do directly influence long-term climate patterns. Researchers say although a degree seems like an insignificant figure, a 1- or 2-degree drop in temperature sent the Earth into the Little Ice Age and a 5-degree drop was enough to bury North America in ice 20,000 years ago.

You and I have sat in on many a presentation by experts at land-grant universities who say the new normal — thanks to climate change — will be these extremes of high temperatures, cold temperatures, drought, and flooding. In other words, it’s time to expect more volatility in your growing seasons and start to look at what choices you will make in the next cycle of orchard and vineyard renewal.

The time for climate change denial is over. It’s time to prepare your orchards and vineyards for a future of extreme heat, cold, droughts, floods — the gamut of weather patterns thanks to climate change. It’s also time to acknowledge that much of this climate volatility is our fault, which means we can take steps to curb further damage, together.

I think Barry Bedwell, a member of our Editorial Advisory Board, said it best in our July 2015 cover story, “Climate change should bring more people together for the common good and result in real progress rather than just political debate and rhetoric.”

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “The Time For Climate Change Denial Is Over [Opinion]

  1. I think you should be discussing climate oscillation which has occurred over and over. In the year 1000 or so grapes were raised as far north as Hadrian’s wall. In the 1600’s a period of “no summer” occurred in Europe. Mankind was not responsible for those changes. When you say the time of climate change denial is over it seems you are against any inquiry in to the cause or lack of cause for climate change. Why would you deny that freedom?

Farm Management Stories
Flooded peach and grape groves from Irma at UF/IFAS HAEC
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall Measured by the Trillions
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
A water-logged citrus grove in Southwest Florida following Irma
Citrus
October 10, 2017
Impressions from Irma Indelible on the Florida Farmscape [Slideshow]
Striking images from the field reveal not only the storm’s destructive nature, but also paths to recovery and reconstruction. Read More
Farm Management
October 6, 2017
California Small Farm Conference Celebrates 30 Years
Conference will be held October Oct. 29 - 30 in Stockton, CA. Read More
Greenhouse structures flattened by Irma at C&B Farms
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Hurricane Irma Toll on Florida Farming in the Billions
Preliminary damage estimates confirm storm’s ferocity. Read More
Citrus
October 4, 2017
Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag Guestworker Act
On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Read More
Swamped citrus in Southwest Florida
Citrus
October 2, 2017
Perseverance a Priority for Florida Farmers Post-Irma
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam heartened by the strides being made by growers around the state as they begin to recover from the hurricane. Read More
cash money in hand
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$18 Million in Grants Available for Value-Added Producers
Farmers in need of planning or working capital funds to move their ideas forward encouraged to check out program. Read More
GenNext Growers
October 1, 2017
USDA Announces $12.6M to Train Next Generation of Ag Scientists
Future ag scientists are looking to tackle exotic invasive pests, water quality monitoring. Read More
Field of carinata
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Research on Jet Fuel Cover Crop Ready for Takeoff
Scientists seeking to find if carinata can sustainably feed future renewable energy demands. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Agriculture Offers Rare Opportunity for Bipartisan Action
A running theme from agricultural-friendly politicians speaking at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Conference was the need for a bipartisan approach to agriculture and immigration. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Will H-2A Become H-2C? Find Out What the New Bill Proposes
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R VA) is re-introducing a bill that aims to replace H-2A. Here are some of the ways it will differ from the current program. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2017
Rise of Agricultural Automation Drives Innovative Event
The International Forum of Agricultural Robots aims to provide links to farming’s future. Read More
Citrus
September 25, 2017
Building Strong Advocates for Farming a Class Act
Emerging leader development for agriculture starts from the ground up. Read More
SFWMD Big Cypress Basin pump station following Irma
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Florida After Irma
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Handfuls of Florida hops
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmers Never Say Never
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
October 19, 2017
Disaster Relief: Ways Florida Growers Ca…
With billions of dollars lost to Irma, financial assistance will be crucial for many. Read More
Citrus
October 18, 2017
How to Keep Track of Climate Change
Use cool tools to find out how your production methods may change in the future, how much your area is at risk, and how to limit your own impact on the climate. Read More
Citrus
October 17, 2017
USDA Issues Disaster Declaration for Hur…
Operators in designated counties eligible for emergency assistance. Read More
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall…
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
Citrus
October 10, 2017
Impressions from Irma Indelible on the F…
Striking images from the field reveal not only the storm’s destructive nature, but also paths to recovery and reconstruction. Read More
Farm Management
October 6, 2017
California Small Farm Conference Celebra…
Conference will be held October Oct. 29 - 30 in Stockton, CA. Read More
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Hurricane Irma Toll on Florida Farming i…
Preliminary damage estimates confirm storm’s ferocity. Read More
Citrus
October 4, 2017
Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag G…
On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
Perseverance a Priority for Florida Farm…
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam heartened by the strides being made by growers around the state as they begin to recover from the hurricane. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$18 Million in Grants Available for Valu…
Farmers in need of planning or working capital funds to move their ideas forward encouraged to check out program. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Research on Jet Fuel Cover Crop Ready fo…
Scientists seeking to find if carinata can sustainably feed future renewable energy demands. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Agriculture Offers Rare Opportunity for …
A running theme from agricultural-friendly politicians speaking at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Conference was the need for a bipartisan approach to agriculture and immigration. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2017
Rise of Agricultural Automation Drives I…
The International Forum of Agricultural Robots aims to provide links to farming’s future. Read More
Citrus
September 25, 2017
Building Strong Advocates for Farming a …
Emerging leader development for agriculture starts from the ground up. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Flo…
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmer…
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More