Monday, January 29, 2007

Global Warming - Let's Just Call It Climate Change

Had a question from Paul at Inertia asking what sessions at the Unified W & G symposium I thought were best.
First I have to fully disclose that I did not attend all the sessions as I was in transit for day 1 ( Sorry, Paul) and running around Wednesday and Thursday trying to cram in as much as I could.
Second, some sessions I skipped simply because they were fairly narrow in scope. They were Californiacentric. Winery folk from outside California have to realize and accept - this is the Golden State's big show. There is an effort to cast the net of appeal wider but you still have to translate some of the data into something you can use in the jurisdiction where you make your wine.
I found the State of the Industry general session to very informative. The speakers were from diverse wine industry sectors and it was stimulating to hear their varied opinions. I'll be posting about this soon.
My favourites were the two sessions dealing with global warming. One of the take home messages was: Yes, the globe is warming and No, that doesn't mean it's going to get hot everywhere all the time.
What is does mean is that there will be some fairly rapid changes. Some places will become wetter. Some places may see wider shifts in seasonal temperature means.
Models presented by the expert speakers showed varying results but, for the most part, consistent outcomes. With a focus on western North America, for example, it would appear that an enormous section of the California's central valley will undergo "desertification" making it too hot over too long a time for all but the toughest grape varieties. Time frame? Could be as short as 30 years.
Washington State seemed to benefit most from the climate change (and BC even though the study quit at the 49th parallel). But that would hinge on other factors like pests and water.
That's right: bugs and rain.
Too much of the former and not enough of the latter.
It may get warmer and there may be more growing days but it won't be worth a thing if new pests, encouraged by the climate change, are invading new vineyards/ territory. Same goes for water. Should the climate change create extended drought conditions, access to irrigation will be essential in some areas already stressed for water supplies.
So climate change is not an 'end-of-the-world' scenario. But it will require sharp adaptive skills and canny investment practices.

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