When the tiniest bit of snow hits Washington, DC, area grocery stores can suddenly find their shelves (especially milk... ) depleted with the hordes of panic buyers terrified of being caught without the liquid for their morning cereal. Amid March Madness, with "mind-boggling" high temperature records outpacing low temperature records more about 35 to 1 in North America (with many 'low temperatures' exceeding the previous high temperature records -- note, over time, these should roughly balance out... but, with a warming climate, they're not), one has to wonder when people might start hoarding agricultural products damaged by this climate change driven global weirding.
A case in point: maple syrup.
Maple syrup was laid out long ago as an agricultural product whose production was shifting northward with a warming planet. (A century ago, the geographic center of maple syrup production was in Western Maryland and is now in New England and is moving into Canada.) And, as with so many other agricultural arenas of climate change impacts, the risk is not just changing geographic locations of maple syrup production but to what extent climate change will disrupt (diminish) actual production.
This year's global weirding and heat wave through much of the country (even as some of Alaska and the Pacific coast are hit with cold temperatures and snow) are providing what might become a text book case of climate impacts on agricultural products. At a time when the Northeast and Canadian producers might "typically" still be producing sap with a significant layer of snow still on the ground, in Vermont, "every maple is budded out. It is truly weird to see." (Note, "once the tree buds bloom, the season is over.") Ottowa's production ended with 24 centigrade temperatures when 'normal' temperatures might be 4 degrees. And, this will have an impact on prices on the shelf as per this blinder-wearing entitled maple syrup production thwarted by nice weather (note: "nice weather" not "global warming fostered heat wave").
Our beautiful almost snowless winter, that has made morning commutes easy and eased the burden of towns snow removal budget, has taken a toll on maple syrup production. Most farmers have never seen anything like it and are sitting out the season...
Consumers may have to make the choice between gas or pure maple syrup.
One columnist, in a piece entitled Good weather can be terrible, speculated that "the $50-a-gallon price for maple syrup purchased directly from the farm last year might prove a bargain in 2012." Others see a maple syrup price increase 'only' on the order of ten percent.
Perhaps, if you truly enjoy maple syrup on your pancakes, it is time to head to the stores for a serious syrup supply before the price hikes hit the shelves?
And, well, how many years of supply can one buy? After all, climate science and study of maple syrup doesn't suggest (on average) that the situation will get better.
Now, as per Cherry Blossoms, another global warming canary, we need to keep maple syrup in perspective. First, to be clear, this month's temperature highs don't "prove" climate change even as they are part of the evidentiary basis for how climate change is impacting our lives, quite seriously, already. When it comes to maple syrup, specifically, as much as I enjoy (love) it and even as many people derive income from it, maple syrup is a luxury symbol about climate-change impacts. If the only thing at risk with out fossil foolish ways were whether we needed to pay another $1 or so for some maple syrup, then things would be great ... sadly, the issues at stake are much greater than just what goes on my morning pancakes.
This Weather Channel discussion lays out a meterologist's realization that climate change is real amid a discussion of 2012's real March Madness.