global warming dry up wine industry?
Rising temperatures could transform Wine Country's mild climate into one as sweltering as Tijuana, Mexico, eliminating Sonoma and Napa counties' competitive edge in producing world-class wines.
That's the conclusion of a study released Monday and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Areas in California suitable for growing premium wine grapes could be reduced by 50 percent -- and possibly as much as 81 percent -- by the end of this century because of global warming.
The study, the second report in two years on global warming's impact on premium wine, indicates increasing weather woes for wine grapes in California if fossil fuel consumption continues unabated.
In 2004, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report warning that within 80 years most of Sonoma and Napa counties could become too hot to grow premium wine grapes. If so, it would severely affect an industry that contributes more than $5 billion to the regional economy, defines the Wine Country lifestyle and anchors more than 100,000 acres of vineyards.
While growers and winemakers are concerned about global warming, they don't believe rising temperatures would necessarily destroy the state's $45 billion wine industry. They said adjustments in vineyard management, irrigation practices and varietal selection could keep grapes the leading crop in the North Coast and in California.
Nick Frey, executive director of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association, said the Pacific Ocean and its cooling maritime influence are the most critical factors in producing Sonoma County's premium-quality grapes. He said even if there are more hot days in the future, the Pacific Ocean will still be there to cool things down at night, creating the sugar-acid balance essential for fine wine.
"It's the cooling nighttime temperatures and fog from the Pacific Ocean that make Sonoma County such a great wine region," said Frey.
The primary change in the weather will be an increase in the frequency of extremely hot days, said Noah Diffenbaugh, a co-author of Monday's report and a scientist in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Purdue University.
Grapes used in premium wines need a consistent climate, he said.
When temperatures top 95 degrees, the vines have problems maintaining photosynthesis and the sugars in the grapes can break down, Diffenbaugh said.
"We have very long-term studies of how this biological system (of vineyards) responds to climate," said Diffenbaugh. He said that information gives the researchers confidence in their projections.
The issue of global warming and its impact on wine grape growing is one that certainly needs to be explored further, said Gladys Horiuchi of the Wine Institute, a trade association representing more than 800 of the state's wineries.
She said there are plans to discuss global warming at a major wine industry conference early next year.
Meanwhile, growers and winemakers, whose fortunes depend on the weather, wonder what the future will bring.
"It's on everyone's mind. A shift in temperatures could tilt everything," said David Cooper, winemaker at Yoakim Bridge Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg. "I keep my fingers crossed."
Scientists and environmental experts have become increasingly alarmed in recent years by accumulating gasses such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels.
A panel of climate scientists convened by the National Academy of Sciences reported last month that the Earth is heating up and "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming."
The scientists said average global surface temperatures rose by about 1 degree in the 20th century.
That may not sound like much, but many blame it for melting glaciers, weather changes -- perhaps even more hurricanes -- and threats of spreading diseases.
While problems are foreseen for California's Wine Country, the researchers suggest grape-growing conditions might improve in parts of the Northwest and Northeast.
However, the Northeastern and Northwestern states have higher humidity levels than the current top wine regions.
High humidity is associated with fungus outbreaks and other potential growing problems, Diffenbaugh said, "so it could be very expensive to produce premium wines in those areas."
"Our simulations suggest that the area suitable for the production of premium wine grapes will both contract and shift over the next century," the researchers concluded.
The new study, funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Purdue University, involved five months of supercomputer calculations.
It is the first study in which researchers have been able to calculate the daily temperature swings from various climate change scenarios in such detail.
The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press contributed to this story.
A message from CCWI regarding Hurricane Katrina:
After such a large disaster, all of us are feeling a bit more vulnerable. Americans count on their government to be there in the worst of times and it wasnt during Katrina. Fear is one of the primary motivators to action. After 9/11, observers saw an increasing interest in volunteer interest in close-to-home programs. One person may not be able to control the weather or stop terrorists. But by working locally we can improve our community and quality of life by providing a chance to invest in an important need in our town or state (or watershed).
Scientists have predicted increasing number of natural disasters as a result of climate change. Even though you cant say climate change was the overriding factor in causing the damage that Hurricane Katrina caused, scientists do say that these types of events are becoming more common, and that climate change plays some role in it. The citizen monitors in New Orleans and watershed protection groups have been dealt a huge setback in their efforts, and climate change has become much more real (and scary). These are troubling omens for the 21st Century.
CCWI is a member of River Network, which has established the Gulf Coast Watershed Recovery Fund to help the Gulf Coast conservation communities of New Orleans and rebound from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Below are important articles analyzing Hurricane Katrina, and with lessons for energy policy, climate protection, and wetlands protection.
Excerpt: Activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. blames the Bush Administration for failing to push curbs on global warming. Says Kennedy: "Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children."
Excerpt: Almost no one is addressing the much larger problems: the scandalous lack of planning that has kept us from even beginning to address climate change, and the sad fact that global warming means the future will be full of just this kind of horror Take New Orleans as an example. It is currently pro forma for politicians to announce that the city will be rebuilt, and doubtless it will be. Once. But if hurricanes like Katrina go from once-in-a-century storms to once-in-a-decade-or-two storms, how many times will we rebuild it?
Katrina is the wake-up call for a 23-year-old woman working in the environmental
justice movement. The future will be filled with the wrath of climate
change -- but a better society, she writes, is possible.
Sept. 16, 2005
just days after Katrina struck, new evidence has emerged that supports
the view that man-induced warming of the world's oceans may be spawning
course it's difficult to attribute any particular hurricane or hurricane
season to global warming," said Jim Lawrence, an associate professor
of geosciences at the University of Houston who studies hurricanes. "But
there's reason to believe there may be a trend here, and we ought to study
Snyder - Sonoma West Staff Writer
Unlike most other concerned people, however, Hancock, executive director and co-founder of Sonoma County's homegrown Climate Protection Campaign, decided to do something about it.
Like starting her own non-profit.
"The campaign started out of my home in 2001," said Hancock, adding that she and others, including friend Michael Sandler, currently coordinator of the Community Clean Water Institute, had long been aware of the need to encourage local action in working for an environmentally sustainable world.
Sandler, Hancock said, had been involved with ICLEI -the International Conference For Local Environment Initiatives - an international network of 475 towns, cities, counties and other local governments founded in 1990 at the United Nations to encourage energy efficiency and sustainable development.
"We were inspired by ICLEI," said Hancock. "There were one hundred cities in the state that belonged to ICLEI but none were in Sonoma County. We thought that if all of those other communities could sign up to create a more sustainable world, why not in Sonoma County?"
Five years later, the campaign is an outfit with a $132,000-plus annual budget and has become a national model for its work with local government. For example the campaign laid the groundwork for Sonoma County in 2002 to become the first county in the nation to pledge - along with all of its cities - the reduction of municipal greenhouse emissions by a whopping 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015.
The next year, 2003, in order for the local governments to take action on their pledge, the campaign inventoried emissions from municipal activities to create an emissions baseline as a place to start, itself another national precedent, said Hancock.
Meanwhile, a Climate Protection conference - "Climate Protection: Everybody Profits II" - is scheduled to be held from 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 14, at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park.
In additional to county and local city officials, Linda Adams, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, is scheduled to be the conference's featured speaker.
According to Hancock and Dave Erickson, the group's technical analyst, efforts by local county and city governments to reduce municipal greenhouse gases include the acquisition of a super-efficient aerator by the city of Santa Rosa at its Laguna treatment plant, the 2003 construction in Windsor of an energy efficient corporation yard, more recently installed solar panels on some municipal buildings, and current efforts to upgrade municipal energy uses, including wastewater operations.
In Healdsburg, the city is working with the campaign to improve energy efficiency at the city swimming pool and is initiating a citizen's advisory committee for climate protection. The city owned municipal utility also produces about half of what other county power production units discharge as greenhouse emissions per kilowatt-hour produced, according to Hancock.
In Sebastopol, the acquisition of two police cars in 2004 under Police Chief Jeff Weaver - a Ford Escape Hybrid and a Toyota Prius - was a step toward helping the city meet its target of lowering its internal greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2008, according to the CPC Web site.
Hancock said the acquisition of the more energy efficient police vehicles is a great example of city officials walking the energy efficiency walk and not just talking the talk.
"If we don't watch it, we're going to be toast," said Hancock. "The scientific imperative calls for a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions. Even so, our local targets are the boldest in the nation and they are going to be tough to reach, but we have to do it."
If working for the future is the key in dealing with global warming, there is no better way than to involve youth, says Jessica Kellett, the campaign's Cool Schools coordinator.
"The focus of Cool Schools is to engage young people in climate action today in order for them to protect their world tomorrow," Kellett said. "The big piece is the leadership roles we encourage in making young people part of the decision making process. Not only now but in the future when they are on city councils or buy energy efficient goods."
Kellett said the Cool Schools campaign, sponsored in large part by Cool Agents Alliance of area real estate agents, is working with three schools in Sonoma County, El Molino, Laguna and Analy high schools.
Analy, meanwhile, has been the site of an impressive Cool School project aimed at determining how much the 1,500-member student body contributes to greenhouse emissions.
The results, said Kellett, were an eye-opener.
The weeklong sampling of 250 students, extrapolated into a school year, showed that although most students lived within three miles of school, most drove an estimated 42,000 miles per week, enough to produce some 50,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Following that revelation earlier in the year, the students conducted a three-week walk, bike or carpool campaign that in May showed a 20 percent reduction in student vehicle use.
Kellett said as a result, Analy High School officials are planning to involve parents and students this fall to not only conduct another survey, but continue to push for increased non-vehicle use by promoting travel on the district's expensive but underused school buses.
"There are a handful of schools in the nation addressing greenhouse emissions," said Kellett, "but this is the only one coming up with greenhouse emission statistics. When you think about it, it opens the door to other groups, classroom resources and increased learning."
groups band together
By Tom Chorneau,
In those days, few people worried about agricultural runoff, bacteria blooms or sediment control. Most people believed the river to be a pretty clean system, the perfect spot for a boy to swim, fish and play.
McEnhill, designated riverkeeper for the Russian Riverkeeper program sponsored by the Friends of the Russian River, says the river still is a clean place to play despite the ever-increasing demands placed on it. McEnhill and a cadre of volunteers patrol the river looking for problem spots and try to work with landowners on solutions.
"Based on what we're seeing, I'd have to say the water quality in the Russian River is still pretty darn good," he said. "There are some issues of runoff from storm drains and pasture land that we're aware of, but overall I think things are still good."
Many experts agree with McEnhill that the expenditure of millions of tax dollars on restoration plans -- including waste treatment facilities, erosion control programs and stream improvements -- is making a difference since the listing of coho salmon and steelhead trout as threatened species in 1996 and 1997.
While it remains far too early to say what effects the efforts will actually have on bringing back the fish, experts believe that the basic condition of water in the river remains good, even though there is no central testing of water condition on the river.
"I see major improvements with how landowners and some public agencies are responding to water quality issues," said Bill Cox, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. "I think we've come a long way in a short period of time, but it's kind of like dealing with traffic congestion. You add an improvement to Highway 101 at Highway 12 and it makes things better at that spot, but congestion itself is still pretty bad overall because there are a lot of places that still need help."
the director of Sonoma County's environmental health division, agreed:
"The water is good," he said. "I wouldn't hesitate to swim
in it, although I think people should treat it differently than you would
a pool. But overall it's not nearly as bad as some people suggest."
however, remain skeptical.
In 1999 the
state Fish and Game Department began requiring landowners working around
streams to conduct an environmental analysis as a condition of getting
permits. In addition to the hillside planting ordinance, which regulates
where vineyards can be planted, Sonoma County supervisors are also considering
requirements that growers perform environmental reviews before clearing
Also, more than $5 million in public funds has been invested in restoration projects, including the planting of tens of thousands of native trees and plants along local creeks, and the removal of scores of barriers that pose problems for migrating fish.
If there is general consensus that water quality in the river is good, there is little empirical data to support the conclusion.
Despite the fact that there are about a half-dozen state and federal agencies mandated with some oversight of conditions on the river, there is no comprehensive source of data on the water quality in the main stem of the river or its hundreds of tributaries.
State regulators at the Regional Water Quality Control Board say they test for specific contaminants at specific places. They agree that some positive steps have been taken, but without more comprehensive testing they are unwilling to make any characterization about the water quality as a whole.
"Water quality varies depending on where you sample," said John Short, a senior engineer at the water board. "Upper areas of the river are better than lower areas. We have some areas we know have poor water quality because of specific issues. But we don't test up and down the river. We need more data."
water agency is installing gauges at four points on the river to gather
better information on such water quality elements as temperature, acidity
Perhaps most vexing of the pollution problems are the high levels of coliform bacteria found at both Healdsburg Memorial and Monte Rio beaches.
Santa Rosa Creek has also been cited by the state as having a problem with coliform, E-coli and enterococcus -- forms of bacteria primarily found along with animal or human waste.
summer at 12 points along the creek raised questions about the effects
of homeless encampments on the creek. Since then, most of them have been
cleared out. The high levels of bacteria have not been found as frequently
in testing this year, city officials said.
Temperature has increased as more native growth trees and shrubs have been removed over the years for agricultural and other developments.
farms, timber operations and roads is considered the greatest cause of
sediment buildup in the river, a problem that persists even with recent
planting of native vegetation.
October 1996 -- Sonoma County supervisors approve new rules on timber harvests, including prohibitions on logging within 50 feet of streams.
-- State Water Resources Control Board adopts new policy making it harder
for landowners and public agencies to divert water from Russian River.
November 1999 -- Congress approves $80 million in funding for salmon programs throughout the Pacific Northwest, the first of more than $2 million received so far from a new federal program.
-- County and federal officials begin $3.4 million study of sediment problems
in Laguna de Santa Rosa.
January 2002 -- City of Healdsburg takes first steps toward upgrading its wastewater system, approving new $3 million plan.
-- State imposes stricter controls over wastewater discharged from wineries.
of contaminated wells expands
May 17, 2002
officials are expanding their probe of contaminated wells south of Sebastopol
after test results released this week found dangerous levels of toxic
chemicals in eight wells in that area. The state early this year tested
about 60 wells in a rural neighborhood west of Highway 116 near the intersection
of Witter and Elphick roads. One of the contaminated wells is on the edge
of the testing area, so the state will test several more wells to the
south of it on Elphick Road to determine how widespread the problem is,
said Jeff Lewin, a Sonoma County environmental health specialist involved
in the probe.
groundwater toxics worse than feared
By MARY CALLAHAN
A 2 1/2 -year
investigation into groundwater contamination in Roseland turned up unexpected
levels of fuel additives and other chemicals, county and state water quality
officials said Thursday. And the study found so much commingling of contaminants
that cleanup efforts probably will be delayed while experts determine
how best to approach the toxic soup, officials said. Many homes in the
area already have been connected to the city's water delivery system because
of the potential for contaminated wells. Chemical levels exceeding standards
for drinking water have been found in only three wells that are still
in use. Two of those wells serve businesses and do not provide drinking
water, said Stephen Bargsten of the North Coast Regional Water Quality
Control Board. The other serves a duplex whose well is fitted with a filter,
to trace Russian River bacteria
River is still polluted at Monte Rio and Healdsburg beaches, and state
officials said they are redoubling their efforts to find out the cause.
But the water
board is concerned because coliform bacteria can carry disease, and the
board doesn't know where the bacteria is coming from. Most major sources
of pollution, such as municipal wastewater plants, are now regulated.
will begin taking water samples year-round, instead of just during the
summer, and increasing the number of places sampled in an effort to find
the cause of the coliform, Tancreto said. The details of the monitoring
program, including cost, are still being worked out, but monitors will
probably be placed for the first time at streams emptying into the Russian
River, said Frank Reichmuth, the board's acting assistant executive director.
River problems were listed in January in a lengthy report on North Coast
watersheds, which is updated every two years and submitted to the federal
Environmental Protection Agency.
watershed groups and non-profit organizations are planting trees and bushes
to increase the shade cover and reduce the temperature, said Bob Coey,
an associate fishery biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game.
But there's no immediate fix. It takes time for trees to grow, Coey said.
(Washington, DC) - Climate change could drive more than a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction, according to a major new study published in tomorrow's edition of the journal Nature.
The study estimates that climate change projected to take place between now and the year 2050 will place 15 to 37 percent of all species in several biodiversity-rich regions at risk of extinction. The scientists believe there is a high likelihood of extinctions due to climate change in other regions, as well.
Scientists studied six regions around the world representing 20 percent of the planet's land area and projected the future distributions of 1,103 animal and plant species. Three different climate change scenarios were considered - minimal, mid-range and maximum, as was the ability of some species to successfully "disperse," or move to a different area, thus preventing climate change-induced extinction. The study used computer models to simulate the ways species' ranges are expected to move in response to changing temperatures and climate. It represents the largest collaboration of scientists to ever study this problem.
"This study makes it clear that climate change is the most significant new threat for extinctions this century," said co-author Lee Hannah, Climate Change Biology Senior Fellow at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at Conservation International (CI). "The combination of increasing habitat loss, already recognized as the largest single threat to species, and climate change, is likely to devastate the ability of species to move and survive."
These forecasts are for species predicted to go extinct eventually based on climate change between now and 2050, but do not suggest that these species will go extinct by then.
The study concluded that the minimum expected, or inevitable, climate change scenarios for 2050 produce fewer projected extinctions (18% averaging across the different methods) than mid-range projections (24%), and about half those predicted under maximum expected climate change (35%). Therefore, 15-20% of all land species could be saved from extinction if the minimum scenario of climate warming occurs.
"If these projections are extrapolated globally and to other groups of land animals and plants, our analyses suggest that well over a million species could be threatened with extinction as a result of climate change," said study lead author Chris Thomas of the University of Leeds.
Small fluctuations in climate can affect a species' ability to remain in its original habitat. Slight increases in temperature can force a species to move toward its preferred, usually cooler, climate range. If development and habitat destruction have already altered those habitats, the species often have no safe haven. According to Hannah, this study underscores the need for a two-part conservation strategy.
"First, greenhouse gasses must be reduced dramatically, and a rapid switch to new, cleaner technologies could help save innumerable species," he said. "Second, we must design conservation strategies that recognize that climate change is going to affect entire ecosystems, and therefore have to prepare effective conservation measures immediately."
For this study, CABS at CI worked with the National Botanical Institute of South Africa to model more than 300 plant species in South Africa's Cape Floristic Region, located on the country's southern tip. In that region, fully 30 to 40 percent of South African Proteaceae, for example, is forecast to go extinct as a result of climate change between now and 2050. Proteaceae is a family of flowering plants that includes South Africa's national flower, the King Protea, as well as the daystar and the pincushions.
The Cape Floristic Region is considered one of the world's 25 "biodiversity hotspots," areas with a large number of unique species under tremendous threat.
Global mean temperatures have increased about one degree Fahrenheit over the past century with accelerated warming over the past two decades. Scientists attribute the recent rise of global temperature to human induced activities that have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere. The buildup of greenhouse gases - primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide - traps heat, acting much like a greenhouse in the atmosphere.
Water shortages, species extinctions imminent, report says.
U.N. gives bleak environmental report
Associated Press - 5/23/02
By Jill Lawless, staff writer
LONDON - A quarter of the world's mammal species, from tigers to rhinos, could face extinction within 30 years, and millions of people could suffer severe water shortages unless firm political action is taken to protect the environment, the United Nations said Wednesday. In a state-of-the-world report, the U.N. Environment Program said the Earth faces more rapid, dramatic and devastating environmental change in the next three decades.
increasing pace of change and degree of interaction between regions and
issues has made it more difficult than ever to look into the future with
confidence," the organization said in Global Environment Outlook-3.
At a London news conference, U.N. Environment Program executive director
Klaus Toepfer said human development "across more and more areas
of the planet is not sustainable. Unless we alter our course, we will
be left with very little."
in advance of the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development -- to be
held Aug. 26 to Sept. 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa -- the report is
based on contributions from more than 1,000 scientists collaborating with
the Nairobi, Kenya-based U.N. agency. It assesses environmental changes
during the past 30 years and looks ahead to the next three decades, a
period the United Nations says will be critical in determining the future
of the planet. The report says the world's biodiversity is under threat,
with 1,130 of the more than 4,000 mammal species and 1,183 of the 10,000
birds regarded as globally threatened, meaning they could become extinct
but are not necessarily under immediate threat of extinction.
Among the most threatened are the black rhinoceros of Africa, the Siberian tiger and the Amur leopard of Asia, according to the U.N.'s World Conservation Monitoring Center. Much of the threat is man-made, with loss of habitat from industry, mining and farming, and the introduction of non-native species among the chief dangers. Fifteen percent of the world's land has been degraded by human activity such as overgrazing, the report says, while half the world's rivers are seriously depleted or polluted.
warns that roads, mining and other infrastructure developments could affect
more than 70 percent of the world's surface in the next 30 years.
have a taste of this in marine ecosystems," he said, citing devastated
coral reefs in the Caribbean, loss of fisheries in the Mediterranean and
the "hugely threatened" South China Sea, which feeds so many
The report argues that political action to decrease poverty and over-consumption, reduce poor countries' debt burden and promote good government could help alleviate the worst environmental problems.
Two-thirds of world's resources 'used up'
race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from
95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns
that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life
on Earth is being degraded by human pressure.
Says Biodiversity in Decline
Biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate and human activity is to blame, according to an international report.
The report released Thursday is the second of seven reports billed as the world's largest study of changes to Earth's ecosystems and the impact on humans. It is the result of five years of collaboration between 1,360 experts from 95 countries around the world.
Human activity is responsible for a reduction of biodiversity which degrades ecosystems and penalizes other groups of people, especially the poorest who depend most on them, according to the report presented at McGill University in Montreal to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity.
Entitled "Ecosystems and Human Well-being: the Biodiversity Synthesis Report," it was prepared by the U.N. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment with the cooperation of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
"The loss of biodiversity is a major barrier to development already and poses increasing risks for future generations," said Walter Reid, the director of the Millennium Assessment, "However, the report shows that the management tools, policies, and technologies do exist to dramatically slow this loss."
According to the report changes in biodiversity due to human activities were more rapid in the past 50 years than at any time in human history, and over the last 100 years species extinction caused by humans has multiplied as much as 1,000 times.
Some 12 percent of birds; 23 percent of mammals; 25 percent of conifers and 32 percent of amphibians are threatened with extinction, and the world's fish stocks have been reduced by an astonishing 90 percent since the start of industrial fishing.
"We will need to make sure that we don't disrupt the biological web to the point where collapse of the whole system becomes irreversible," warns Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, of Canada's International Institute for Sustainable Development, one of the co-chairs of the report.
The report notes that while efforts have helped reduce the loss of biodiversity more action is needed as little progress is foreseen in the short term.
"The magnitude of the challenge of slowing the rate of biodiversity loss is demonstrated by the fact that most of the direct drivers of biodiversity loss are projected to either remain constant or increase in the near future," the report says.
The report blames biodiversity change on a number of factors including habitat conversion, climate change, pollution and over-exploitation of resources.