Scorched, Parched and Now Uninsurable: Climate Change Hits Wine Country

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jswordy

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I got notified of this story several different ways! :D

Over the long haul, I think California and some Washington wine country is going to move to Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. There is suitable terroir there, but the weather has been too cold in the past for large-scale vineyards (though there are smaller ones (and WMT has members who own and operate some of them). That will mean a dramatic shift in the cultures and social norms of those states, as well.

In my view, there will also be a resurgence of the central Midwest and the Northeast in grape production, as they reclaim major winemaking roles they once held pre-Prohibition.

I also expect renewed interest in the muscadine and scuppernong as grapes that thrive in heat, and a new turn to research on methods of wine production that can eliminate their less desirable characteristics (which is totally possible; I can do it on a small scale and inexpensively now). Genetic engineering may be able to transplant some heat tolerance characteristics of American grapes into European varieties.

Not only California, but much of the West has been growing over the past 60 years on borrowed time, climate change or not. Populations have reached a completely unsustainable level when matched with the history of resource availability year-to-year over the past 10,000.

Much of Western agriculture (which is essentially the practice of raising plants that are completely unsuited to the environment by using finite resources, European grapes and alfalfa being two of the more radical examples) and Western cities are dependent on unstable rains filling reserviors and drawing down aquifers that take long periods to recharge – in some cases, tens of thousands of years.

From a macro viewpoint, all this was inevitable in some form, eventually. Climate change may have hastened it, but it was coming anyway. Unfortunately, individual human activities are not conducted from a macro viewpoint. All those littler acts are promoting great change to come.
 
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bstnh1

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The chief cause of the California wildfires is the total lack of forest management there. When you prohibit logging, forest thinning, controlled burns and similar practices, the forest floor becomes lined with dead branches, trees and other easily ignited litter. Once a fire gets started, it not only has an abundance of fuel on the forest floor, but the density of the trees gives it all the oomph it needs to become the lead story on the evening news.
 

jswordy

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The chief cause of the California wildfires is the total lack of forest management there. When you prohibit logging, forest thinning, controlled burns and similar practices, the forest floor becomes lined with dead branches, trees and other easily ignited litter. Once a fire gets started, it not only has an abundance of fuel on the forest floor, but the density of the trees gives it all the oomph it needs to become the lead story on the evening news.
I would say that is a significant part of the problem, but the "chief cause"? No.
 

jswordy

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This has been perhaps the most disturbing development in the west to me in the last few years. Foreign desert nations buying up arid US southwestern dry land to raise alfalfa that they ship back home. Disregarding the carbon footprint of that, they are using up finite aquifer resources.



 

ibglowin

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Ha ha but nope. Climate change is the chief cause.


The chief cause of the California wildfires is the total lack of forest management there. When you prohibit logging, forest thinning, controlled burns and similar practices, the forest floor becomes lined with dead branches, trees and other easily ignited litter. Once a fire gets started, it not only has an abundance of fuel on the forest floor, but the density of the trees gives it all the oomph it needs to become the lead story on the evening news.
 

sour_grapes

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The chief cause of the California wildfires is the total lack of forest management there. When you prohibit logging, forest thinning, controlled burns and similar practices, the forest floor becomes lined with dead branches, trees and other easily ignited litter. Once a fire gets started, it not only has an abundance of fuel on the forest floor, but the density of the trees gives it all the oomph it needs to become the lead story on the evening news.
So you want to rake the forest floor? Here is some perspective: The amount of just forest land in California is 5.5 times the size of New Hampshire, or 1.4 times the size of NH, VT, MA, CT, and RI combined. You better get busy!
 

jswordy

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So you want to rake the forest floor? Here is some perspective: The amount of just forest land in California is 5.5 times the size of New Hampshire, or 1.4 times the size of NH, VT, MA, CT, and RI combined. You better get busy!
Let me preface this by saying that keeping up with research is my job. Not preaching to anyone here, just summing up some research...

There is an argument in academic research that the former 50-year practice of snuffing out all fires as soon as they started has led to as unnatural a landscape in forests as it would be if they were burned out completely. The resulting underbrush, mast, needle and leaf debris pileup makes for a much hotter fire and a slower-advancing flame front when it does eventually burn, and retards reforestation because seeds that would have survived a quicker, less hot fire die and also because the slower advance of the flame front kills more trees than a quick fire would.

As a result of that research, the US Forest Service has modified its approach to fire suppression. The Forest Service is now more about containment in situations where that is appropriate, and is also setting many more underbrush clearing fires than it used to.

It's also been postulated that the fires themselves may be a form of natural "reaction" in the ecosystem to a warming climate, since the smoke shades out sunlight.

Less well studied is a theory that human expansionist activity itself in the Western region is helping to drive even hotter weather there due to the increase in hard surfaces that retain heat, a "heat island" effect that has been well documented in cities but is not well understood in regions, and increased rapid runoff of what water is available - which deprives it of a longer-standing cooling effect.

All that said, it is abundantly clear that the longstanding presence of drought that is uncharacteristic in the weather pattern history of the West in the past 5,000 years is the main cause of the ease with which major fires erupt and expand. And rather than being a transient weather pattern like shorter-lived droughts, this longer duration drought is being driven by climate change. Since climate operates on a much longer "wavelength" than weather, the long-term pattern is not likely to subside even if it ebbs and flows in coming years.
 

bstnh1

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Droughts are nothing new or unexpected in California. The most significant statewide multi-year droughts occurred during 1918-1920, 1928-35, 1947-1950, 1987-1992, 2000-2002, and 2007-09. And while we see some unusual weather events now and then, the NOAA scientists that analyze weather patterns don't look at any cycles less than 50 year periods. So just because it's dry, wet. hot, etc. for 10 years, doesn't really count for anything more than a short-term phenomenon. As far as climate change .... sure the climate changes. It always has. We've had ice ages in the past and the planet warmed and the ice melted - all with no humans or cows spewing stuff into the atmosphere. Can we humans affect the worldwide climate? I doubt it. I remember the good scientists telling us back in 1973 that an impending ice age was ready to freeze us all out of existence because we were blocking the sun's rays from warming the Earth.
 

sour_grapes

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Can we humans affect the worldwide climate? I doubt it.
"Hey! I have an idea! Let's take ALL of the carbon that has been slowly sequestered in the Earth's crust over the past 500,000,000 years, and then burn it ALL over a 500 year period! What could possibly go wrong?!?!"
 

bstnh1

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From the John Locke Foundation:

"Climate experts believe the next ice age is on its way…within a lifetime…" Leonard Nimoy 1978

The really sad part of all this is that Leonard Nimoy was right. In 1978 this is what "climate experts" believed. Like today, they were blaming the weather on humans and their polluting lifestyles. And, like today, part of the problem, along with particulate matter, was the evil carbon dioxide. As one government scientist concludes according to this 1970 article in the St. Petersburg Times, "doubling CO2 in the atmosphere…would raise surface temperatures by 3.6 Fahrenheit and [here’s the kicker] cool the lower stratosphere some 27 degrees." Holy iceberg, Batman!!!

Below you’ll find similar hysterics from the 1970s global cooling alarmist crowd in a long (but partial) list of 100 newspaper and magazine articles from the period. I wonder, after 15 years of no global warming, when will we start to view the hundreds if not thousands of scare stories from newspapers, magazines, and TV newscasts over the last 20 years with the same sense of humor with which we now view these stories from 40 years ago? Have fun!
 

bstnh1

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Find this full list and additional videos here.

1970 – Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age – Scientists See Ice Age In the Future (The Washington Post, January 11, 1970)

1970 – Is Mankind Manufacturing a New Ice Age for Itself? (L.A. Times, January 15, 1970)

1970 – Pollution Could Cause Ice Age, Agency Reports (St. Petersburg Times, March 4, 1970)

1970 – Scientist predicts a new ice age by 21st century (Boston Globe, April 16, 1970)

1971 – Ice Age Refugee Dies Underground (The Montreal Gazette, Febuary 17, 1971)

1971 – Pollution Might Lead To Another Ice Age (Schenectady Gazette, March 22, 1971)

1971 – U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming (The Washington Post, July 9, 1971)

1971 – Ice Age Around the Corner (Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1971)

1971 – New Ice Age Coming – It’s Already Getting Colder (L.A. Times, October 24, 1971)

1972 – Weather To Get Colder (Montreal Gazette, September 12, 1972)

1972 – British climate expert predicts new Ice Age (The Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1972)

1972 – Scientist Sees Chilling Signs of New Ice Age (L.A. Times, September 24, 1972)

1972 – Science: Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, November 13, 1972)

1972 – Ice Age On Its Way, Scientist Says (Toledo Blade, December 13, 1972)

1973 – The Ice Age Cometh (The Saturday Review, March 24, 1973)

1973 – Possibility Of Ice Age Worries The Scientists (The Argus-Press, November 12, 1973)

1974 – New evidence indicates ice age here (Eugene Register-Guard, May 29, 1974)

1974 – Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 24, 1974)

1974 – 2 Scientists Think ‘Little’ Ice Age Near (The Hartford Courant, August 11, 1974)

1974 – Ice Age, worse food crisis seen (The Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1974)

1974 – Believes Pollution Could Bring On Ice Age (Ludington Daily News, December 4, 1974)

1974 – Scientists Fear Smog Could Cause Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 5, 1974)

**** 1974 CIA Report on climate change (or here) ****

1975 – Climate Changes Called Ominous (The New York Times, January 19, 1975)

1975 – B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon? (The Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1975)

1975 – Cooling Trends Arouse Fear That New Ice Age Coming (Eugene Register-Guard, March 2, 1975)

1975 – Is Another Ice Age Due? Arctic Ice Expands In Last Decade(Youngstown Vindicator, March 2, 1975)

1975 – Is Earth Headed For Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, March 2, 1975)

1975 – New Ice Age Dawning? Significant Shift In Climate Seen (Times Daily, March 2, 1975)

1975 – The Ice Age cometh: the system that controls our climate (The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1975)

1975 – The Cooling World (Newsweek, April 28, 1975)

1975 – Cooling trend may signal coming of another Ice Age (The Sun, May 16, 1975)

1975 – Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead (PDF) (The New York Times, May 21, 1975)

1975 – Summer of A New Ice Age (The Age, June 5, 1975)

1975 – In the Grip of a New Ice Age? (International Wildlife, July-August, 1975)

1975 – Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 11, 1975)

1976 – Ice Age Predicted (Reading Eagle, January 22, 1976)

1976 – Ice Age Predicted In Century (Bangor Daily News, January 22, 1976)

1976 – It’s Going To Get Chilly About 125 Years From Now (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, January 23, 1976)

1976 – Worrisome CIA Report; Even U.S. Farms May be Hit by Cooling Trend (U.S. News & World Report, May 31, 1976)

1977 – The Ice Age Cometh… (New York Magazine, January 31, 1977)

1977 – The Big Freeze (Time Magazine, January 31, 1977)

1977 – Space Mirrors Proposed To Prevent Crop Freezes (Bangor Daily News, February 7, 1977)

1977 – We Will Freeze in the Dark (Capital Cities Communications Documentary, Host: Nancy Dickerson, April 12, 1977)


1978 – Winter May Be Colder Than In Last Ice Age (The Deseret News, January 2, 1978)

1978 – Winter Temperatures Colder Than Last Ice Age (Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene Register-Guard, January 3, 1978)

1978 – Winters Will Get Colder, ‘we’re Entering Little Ice Age’(Ellensburg Daily Record, January 10, 1978)

1978 – Geologist Says Winters Getting Colder (Middlesboro Daily News, January 16, 1978)

1978 – It’s Going To Get Colder (Boca Raton News, January 17, 1978)

1978 – The Coming Ice Age (In Search Of TV Show, Season 2, Episode 23, Host: Leonard Nimoy, May 1978)
 

jswordy

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Droughts are nothing new or unexpected in California. The most significant statewide multi-year droughts occurred during 1918-1920, 1928-35, 1947-1950, 1987-1992, 2000-2002, and 2007-09. And while we see some unusual weather events now and then, the NOAA scientists that analyze weather patterns don't look at any cycles less than 50 year periods. So just because it's dry, wet. hot, etc. for 10 years, doesn't really count for anything more than a short-term phenomenon. As far as climate change .... sure the climate changes. It always has. We've had ice ages in the past and the planet warmed and the ice melted - all with no humans or cows spewing stuff into the atmosphere. Can we humans affect the worldwide climate? I doubt it. I remember the good scientists telling us back in 1973 that an impending ice age was ready to freeze us all out of existence because we were blocking the sun's rays from warming the Earth.
For my part, I am referring to the CLIMATE, which is not the same as the WEATHER. I just want to clarify that.
 

jswordy

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From the John Locke Foundation:

"Climate experts believe the next ice age is on its way…within a lifetime…" Leonard Nimoy 1978

The really sad part of all this is that Leonard Nimoy was right. In 1978 this is what "climate experts" believed. Like today, they were blaming the weather on humans and their polluting lifestyles. And, like today, part of the problem, along with particulate matter, was the evil carbon dioxide. As one government scientist concludes according to this 1970 article in the St. Petersburg Times, "doubling CO2 in the atmosphere…would raise surface temperatures by 3.6 Fahrenheit and [here’s the kicker] cool the lower stratosphere some 27 degrees." Holy iceberg, Batman!!!

Below you’ll find similar hysterics from the 1970s global cooling alarmist crowd in a long (but partial) list of 100 newspaper and magazine articles from the period. I wonder, after 15 years of no global warming, when will we start to view the hundreds if not thousands of scare stories from newspapers, magazines, and TV newscasts over the last 20 years with the same sense of humor with which we now view these stories from 40 years ago? Have fun!
About the John Locke Foundation...

I'll take my science without the politics.
 

bstnh1

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About the John Locke Foundation...

I'll take my science without the politics.
Science w/o politics is rare, if it exists at all. All scientists depend on grants for their own survival. Most grants depend on who's in office and what policies and programs they favor. If it was proven tomorrow that there is no climate change taking place, just think how many scientists would be packing up their desks.
 

sour_grapes

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Find this full list and additional videos here.

1970 – Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age – Scientists See Ice Age In the Future (The Washington Post, January 11, 1970)

1970 – Is Mankind Manufacturing a New Ice Age for Itself? (L.A. Times, January 15, 1970)

1970 – Pollution Could Cause Ice Age, Agency Reports (St. Petersburg Times, March 4, 1970)

1970 – Scientist predicts a new ice age by 21st century (Boston Globe, April 16, 1970)

1971 – Ice Age Refugee Dies Underground (The Montreal Gazette, Febuary 17, 1971)

1971 – Pollution Might Lead To Another Ice Age (Schenectady Gazette, March 22, 1971)

1971 – U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming (The Washington Post, July 9, 1971)

1971 – Ice Age Around the Corner (Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1971)

1971 – New Ice Age Coming – It’s Already Getting Colder (L.A. Times, October 24, 1971)

1972 – Weather To Get Colder (Montreal Gazette, September 12, 1972)

1972 – British climate expert predicts new Ice Age (The Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1972)

1972 – Scientist Sees Chilling Signs of New Ice Age (L.A. Times, September 24, 1972)

1972 – Science: Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, November 13, 1972)

1972 – Ice Age On Its Way, Scientist Says (Toledo Blade, December 13, 1972)

1973 – The Ice Age Cometh (The Saturday Review, March 24, 1973)

1973 – Possibility Of Ice Age Worries The Scientists (The Argus-Press, November 12, 1973)

1974 – New evidence indicates ice age here (Eugene Register-Guard, May 29, 1974)

1974 – Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 24, 1974)

1974 – 2 Scientists Think ‘Little’ Ice Age Near (The Hartford Courant, August 11, 1974)

1974 – Ice Age, worse food crisis seen (The Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1974)

1974 – Believes Pollution Could Bring On Ice Age (Ludington Daily News, December 4, 1974)

1974 – Scientists Fear Smog Could Cause Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 5, 1974)

**** 1974 CIA Report on climate change (or here) ****

1975 – Climate Changes Called Ominous (The New York Times, January 19, 1975)

1975 – B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon? (The Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1975)

1975 – Cooling Trends Arouse Fear That New Ice Age Coming (Eugene Register-Guard, March 2, 1975)

1975 – Is Another Ice Age Due? Arctic Ice Expands In Last Decade(Youngstown Vindicator, March 2, 1975)

1975 – Is Earth Headed For Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, March 2, 1975)

1975 – New Ice Age Dawning? Significant Shift In Climate Seen (Times Daily, March 2, 1975)

1975 – The Ice Age cometh: the system that controls our climate (The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1975)

1975 – The Cooling World (Newsweek, April 28, 1975)

1975 – Cooling trend may signal coming of another Ice Age (The Sun, May 16, 1975)

1975 – Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead (PDF) (The New York Times, May 21, 1975)

1975 – Summer of A New Ice Age (The Age, June 5, 1975)

1975 – In the Grip of a New Ice Age? (International Wildlife, July-August, 1975)

1975 – Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 11, 1975)

1976 – Ice Age Predicted (Reading Eagle, January 22, 1976)

1976 – Ice Age Predicted In Century (Bangor Daily News, January 22, 1976)

1976 – It’s Going To Get Chilly About 125 Years From Now (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, January 23, 1976)

1976 – Worrisome CIA Report; Even U.S. Farms May be Hit by Cooling Trend (U.S. News & World Report, May 31, 1976)

1977 – The Ice Age Cometh… (New York Magazine, January 31, 1977)

1977 – The Big Freeze (Time Magazine, January 31, 1977)

1977 – Space Mirrors Proposed To Prevent Crop Freezes (Bangor Daily News, February 7, 1977)

1977 – We Will Freeze in the Dark (Capital Cities Communications Documentary, Host: Nancy Dickerson, April 12, 1977)


1978 – Winter May Be Colder Than In Last Ice Age (The Deseret News, January 2, 1978)

1978 – Winter Temperatures Colder Than Last Ice Age (Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene Register-Guard, January 3, 1978)

1978 – Winters Will Get Colder, ‘we’re Entering Little Ice Age’(Ellensburg Daily Record, January 10, 1978)

1978 – Geologist Says Winters Getting Colder (Middlesboro Daily News, January 16, 1978)

1978 – It’s Going To Get Colder (Boca Raton News, January 17, 1978)

1978 – The Coming Ice Age (In Search Of TV Show, Season 2, Episode 23, Host: Leonard Nimoy, May 1978)

Do you have the foggiest inkling how much we have learned since the 1970s?

See the Keynes quote above. Do you also continue to think that the sun goes around the Earth, as leading scientists believed a few hundred years ago? Do you believe that diseases are caused by noxious vapors, as everyone believed in the late 19th century? Evolution? Plate tectonics? Quantum mechanics?

More time has elapsed between 1970 and now, than elapsed between the formulation of quantum mechanics and 1970.
 

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