Wine grapes are only a single example of what will be a much larger trend in land use over the coming decades. Growing seasons, strategies and locations for all sorts of crops could change. The researchers argue that people will have to manage that transition to minimize environmental disruptions, using water-conserving technologies to cool grapes or instituting clever land management programs. Perhaps winemakers could even find grapes that taste about the same but are more resistant to climate change’s effects. Wine snobs everywhere will shudder. And all of that, of course, will cost money.
As best as experts can reckon, rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will have all sorts of complex impacts, large and small, on heat waves, sea levels, oyster beds, viticulture, and lots else, many of which most people don’t know to think about when they consider climate change. Scientists have predicted lots of effects. But there’s still plenty of uncertainty — about what the experts haven’t contemplated yet, and about the likelihood and severity of many of the things they have predicted. That uncertainty shouldn’t be comforting. It should convince us to sacrifice a little now to head off the possibility of paying much more later.
Now if only John Boehner, Washington’s most notable wine devotee, would raise a glass to that.