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Beautifully written article on adapting viticulture in Europe. Please do give it a read.

Warming temperatures associated with climate change are already affecting vineyards from France to Chile, often in beneficial ways. But as the world continues to warm, some traditional winemaking regions are scrambling to adapt, while other areas see themselves as new wine frontiers.

by John McQuaid

Fifty years ago, English wine was something of a national joke. “Wine making was for the very eccentric. It was drunk as a curiosity and often spat out,” says Richard Selley, Emeritus Professor of Geology at Imperial College, London and author of the book The Winelands of Britain. Wine has been made in Britain since the Romans imported it 2000 years ago. But production declined starting in the 17th century, due in part to cooling temperatures, and all but disappeared after World War I. Modern England’s chilly, rainy climate didn’t provide the minimal number of days of warmth and sunlight that even cooler-weather grapes need to ripen properly and make a commercial product.

Then came climate change. Between 1961 and 2006, temperatures in southern England increased an average of 3 degrees Fahrenheit. English wine came roaring back.

Today, there are about 400 commercial vineyards. English sparkling wines are beating their French rivals in international competitions. “We’ve noticed the climate has improved consistently. The weather has improved, the ripening period has become longer, and year after year we’re getting quality fruit,” says Chris White, the general manager of the Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, England’s largest vineyard at 265 acres. Denbies is anticipating an even warmer future. In 2010 it planted seven acres of Sauvignon Blanc vines, a grape originating from the warmer Bordeaux region of France.

Few products are more sensitive to changes in temperature than wine. So the rising temperatures and associated with climate change are already reshaping the industry.

A French winemaker says over the last 25 years his harvests have moved from late October to early September.

Production as a whole is moving north (or south in the southern hemisphere) as opportunities open up in once-inhospitable areas. Meanwhile, vineyards in warmer climates are facing mounting problems as it gets hotter. Assuming projections of much hotter world prove true in the next 50 to 100 years, many winemakers will be forced to change their signature products, move, or go under. Many will go under no matter what they do.

Scientists have been analyzing the influence of climate and weather on wine since long before global warming became an issue. Over the past two decades, dozens of studies have mapped the emerging impacts of warming temperatures on vineyards in Europe, the Americas, Australia and elsewhere, and modeled the possible effects over the next 100 years. They paint a picture of accelerating change unlike anything seen before.

Read the rest of this beauty at Yale360.

So much for mainstream media’s year claiming coffee crops will collapse in agricultural doom.

This is salt (well, an organism that loves salt). Here are some salt production stats from the USGS Minerals page. And did you know there is a think tank called the “Salt Institute”?


Lake Retba in Senegal

A boat floats on what looks like a huge strawberry milk-lake.

The wooden vessels were photographed from the air bobbing on Lake Retba, in Senegal.

From above the mass of water - which spans one square mile - looks staggeringly similar to a giant milkshake.

And just like the Dead Sea swimmers are even able to FLOAT on the water with ease.

The bizarre colour is caused by high levels of salt - with some areas containing up to 40% of the condiment.

Michael Danson, an expert in extremophile bacteria from Bath University, said: “The strawberry colour is produced by salt-loving organism Dunaliella salina.

“They produce a red pigment that absorbs and uses the energy of sunlight to create more energy, turning the water pink.

“Lakes like Retba and the Dead Sea, which have high salt concentrations, were once thought to be incompatible with life - hence the names. But they are very much alive.”

Salt collectors can often be seen scouring the expanse to remove the valuable mineral - but first have to coat their skin with sheer butter.

This helps protect their skin from exposure to the intense salt levels in the three metre deep lake.

Salt crystals cling to the bodies of miners who work the lake everyday to extract its contents.

And towering piles of collected salt litter the shoreline.

Villagers then process it before selling and using the valuable mineral. (via)

Follow Climate Adaptation

(via theatlantic)


Oil at year lows. Why haven’t prices at the pump followed??


By Christina Zander and Alexis Flynn, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

STOCKHOLM -(Dow Jones)- The Arctic region is likely to attract investment of $100 billion or more over the coming decade, according to a report by independent policy institute Chatham House and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market.

Interest in the Arctic region has intensified in recent years as a boom in commodities has seen companies scramble for precious resources to satisfy growing demand from China, among others.

A melting ice cap hasn’t only opened up new shipping routes that significantly cut transport times and distances between Europe and Asia, it has also made the region’s estimated rich deposits of oil, gas and minerals more accessible.

The report, published Thursday, notes that oil and gas, mining and the shipping industries will be the biggest drivers and beneficiaries of Arctic economic development in the coming years, but it says the Arctic’s economic future depends principally on local investment conditions and global commodity prices.

(via foucaultscat-deactivated2013121)

An $80 watermelon in Japan? Can anyone confirm this for me, please??

UPDATE: Thanks for the messages everyone! Looks like these fruits are given just as gifts rather than regular consumption. Still, 50 bucks for a handful of grapes is outrageous.

A must read fracking reading list corporatelaw

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft study linking fracking, a controversial process of drilling for natural gas, to contaminated well water in Wyoming. It’s the first time the EPA has found any connection between the practice of hydraulic fracturing (aka ‘fracking’) and groundwater contamination, and the preliminary results of the study (which won’t be completed until 2014) are likely to add fuel to the ongoing debate over the regulation of natural gas drilling. 

For your reference, here is a broad reading list of fracking-related commentary and analysis, from lawyers and law firms on JD Supra:

See also: 

U.S. farm income will jump 28 percent this year to a record $100.9 billion because of higher crop and livestock prices, the government said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its estimate from $103.6 billion forecast in August because of declines in grain and oilseed prices since Sept. 1, according to a report today on its website. Income in 2010 totaled $79.1 billion. Sales of crops including corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton will rise 19 percent to $204 billion, and livestock receipts will jump by 17 percent to $164.1 billion, the USDA said.

Higher farm income and record land values that spur purchases of Monsanto Co. (MON) seeds, Agrium Inc. fertilizer and Deere & Co. tractors have been driven by greater demand for exports and biofuels. The U.S. shipped a record $137.4 billion of farm goods overseas in the year ended Sept. 30, the USDA said earlier this month. Ethanol will consume a record 5 billion bushels, or 41 percent, of this year’s corn crop, three times the total used five years ago, department data show.

“Across a broad swath of American agriculture, things are still good,” Cargill Chief Executive Officer Greg Page said in an interview today. “A voice of caution has been introduced to the almost unbridled optimism we had in July and August, but I think the outlook is still quite positive.”

Futures Rise

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of eight farm commodities has dropped 18 percent this year, as an escalating debt crisis in Europe dimmed prospects for the economy and farmers boosted output of crops including wheat and cotton. The gauge still is up 18 percent since the end of 2009, and this year’s average is the highest ever.

Average corn, soybean and wheat prices this year are at least 24 percent higher than in 2010. Futures for the commodities have fallen at least 22 percent through yesterday since Aug. 31 on concerns that economic growth is slowing. Cattle and hog futures traded in Chicago are up at least 16 percent in the past year.

Expenses such as diesel fuel and animal feed are projected to rise by 16 percent to $223.1 billion, the USDA said. Government subsidies will decrease by almost 15 percent to $10.6 billion, according to the report.

The increase in farm income drove agricultural real-estate prices to a record $2,350 an acre this year, the USDA said in a report in August. Farmland values in Midwest and Great Plains states were up at least 25 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the Federal Reserve banks in Chicago and Kansas City said in reports released earlier this month.


This article correlating the gap between two types of crude oil prices with economic growth doesn’t make any sense to me for three reasons. First, economies around the world are booming and recovering despite the spike in across-the-board energy prices. Slovakia, for example, experienced higher costs per gallon of oil than the U.S. yet its growth rate is among the highest in the world. Same holds for the Scandinavian and e-bloc countries. (There’s a food price argument here, too, but I’ll spare your lovely souls!). To say that price increases in crude affects U.S. economic to the extent that “120,000” jobs are lost belies the fact this hasn’t happened elsewhere - never mind arguing, as this article does, that the gap between two oil indexes has a direct effect over economic recovery. It’s flat out BS.

Second, you may be thinking that the above examples show that economies are more complex than a 1:1 ratio of oil prices to job losses and economic recovery. Well, you’re absolutely right - economies are ultra-complex beasts, which shows why this article is deeply flawed. Economies are not 100% tied to the cost of one commodity. Nor are they tied to a market gap within a particular commodity, and there are many commodities!

The U.S. economy is one of the most complex in the world, and it is not uni-dependent on one source of crude over another. The article claims that WTI is a better choice than Brent Crude, and that if only U.S. consumers purchased WTI the economy would be recovered. This is booger balderdash and snakey trickery!!

Housing and local tax receipts are huge drivers of growth, in fact, these are the key growth metrics, which are nowhere mentioned in the article. One could argue that VMT is down, causing growth to slow. But VMT is down only slightly at around 3-4% (and there are signs VMT is on the rise).

Even if people are traveling less, there are barely any correlations between driving less and economic growth. Recall that millions of people have moved to cities over the past 10 years, and they voluntarily gave up their vehicles. Nor does the article take into account a) the number of people who are retiring (e.g., baby boomers leaving the job market in the millions) b) the mega trend that young people are not interested in buying cars relative to the previous generation and c) car, truck, and tractor sales are (surprisingly) robust (I own stock in Ford and pay attention to sales).

Which brings me to the third reason why I believe this article if FOS and economists have no friggin clue what’s going on in the world. No one chooses where their gasoline comes from when they visit the Shell, Hess, or 7-11. Despite the argument that BC and WTI are experiencing a historically wide spread, prices at the pump do not favor one source of crude over another. The local Shell station competes with the local 7-11 who competes with the local Hess, and all try to balance complex, volatile, sometimes arbitrary costs-of-operations all with respect to the crude markets.

OK, a fourth problem. The article concludes that the price gap between the two is closing. Well, if this is the case than the opposite argument should hold true for the author - that as the gap closes, the U.S. economy will grow. Is the author willing to bet that as the gap closes, an equal amount of economic growth will occur?

I get what the author is trying to say - that consumers are losing jobs and spending less because of the price of energy. He’s flat wrong. The spread between Brent Crude and Sweet is not hurting the recovery to the extent argued.

Crude Awakening: How Historically High Gas Prices Hurt the Recovery

Cotton yields down in southern US due to record drought. Tee-up the subsidies…

Looks like we’ll reclaim our Number 1 spot for the first time in 40 years. Story is paywalled at The Sunday Time, but a blogger copied the nut, HERE. And here’s Dow Jones’s clip:

LONDON -The U.S. will soon become the world’s top oil producer, The Sunday Times reported Goldman Sachs as forecasting.

U.S. oil production should reach 10.9 million barrels a day by 2017, a third higher than 8.3 million barrels currently, the newspaper reported the investment bank as saying.

Russia, now the top oil producer, should see production increase only 100,000 barrels in the same period, for an output of 10.7 million barrels a day, the report said.


-London Bureau, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9320

Copyright © 2011 Dow Jones Newswires

Read more:

Aging trees will cause a drop in cocoa output in Nigeria, the world’s fourth-biggest producer of the chocolate ingredient, a researcher said.

The age of the trees has created a “wide yield gap,” Chris Okafor, of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, said by phone from Akure in southwestern Nigeria.

Nigerian farmers are reluctant to replace aging trees because it can take 10 years for soils to recover sufficiently to be able to support new plantings, David Onyenweaku, an 84- year-old farmer, said by phone today from Umuahia in southeastern Nigeria.

“I started planting cocoa in the 1950s and some of the trees I planted then are still standing,” Onyenweaku said. The trees are still producing beans, “but not much,” he said.

The farmers have to wait so long before replanting their land because of “poor soil nutrient management,” said Okafor, who manages the Nigerian sustainable tree crops program at the institute in Ibadan, southwestern Nigeria. Soil is seriously depleted and farmers aren’t using fertilizers, “which tells on the yield,” he said.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the federal government will invest $60 million in three major studies examining the effects of climate change on forests and crops. The studies are designed to prepare foresters and farmers with information and strategies to aid them in combating the detrimental effects of climate change.

Under the collaborative work of climatologists, soil scientists, and plant scientists, each study will examine how climate change impacts crops and tree species. Specifically, the three studies will explore the effects of climate change on corn, wheat, and the loblolly pine, which covers 80% of planted forests in the southwestern United States

Source: ActGreen