As noted in class, climate change is already affecting important agricultural products. Whether its drought or warming or sunlight hours, these changes can have profound effects on crops as well as in animal agriculture. Unfortunately, several of these products are very dear to me, personally.
Among the products perhaps most sensitive to a change of just a degree or two are wine grapes. Interestingly, as noted in a series of recent papers from 2016, there will be winners and losers. The reason why Cabernet Sauvignon grapes do well in Bordeaux, for example, is because the temperature, moisture, and sunlight hours are perfect for that particular grape cultivar in that specific region of France. If the climatic conditions are altered, then those grapes will not have the proper level of sweetness, acidity, or color necessary to make a good Bordeaux wine. The same considerations exist for other grapes grown throughout the rest of the world. Of course, as the temperature rises, colder regions (Nebraska?) may become the “new” Napa Valley.
Then there are my two other “cannot-get-through-the-day-without” foods – coffee and chocolate. The growth of cocoa and coffee beans is also sensitive not only to temperature, sunlight, and moisture, but also elevation. Climate change will force farmers to move their plantations to more conducive elevations. This article points out that farmers in Central America and other coffee and cocoa-growing regions are poor and may not have the option to re-locate their farms. The authors also note another very important and often neglected collateral effect of climate change. Specifically, there are pests, both fungal and insects, of these products that may thrive and even spread as the temperature increases.
I can hardly imagine living in a world without wine, coffee, and chocolate. If I hear that the future of Bourbon is also threatened, well, that would really be the end of Western Civilization.