Update: This is more about America’s heritage landscapes - grasslands - and less about particular crops. Grasslands provide important habitat for countless species. President Theodore Roosevelt protected millions of acres of grasslands by including them in several National Parks. Converting them to crops destroys habitat for animals, changes and poisons the soil, pollutes rivers, devalues people’s properties, among numerous other environmental harms. Destroying nature for a quick buck is not the right direction for America’s future. The situation is worse when climate change is factored in.
And, the US Forest Service has an excellent overview of how grasslands are threatened by agriculture and climate change.
Corn sex is complicated. As Michael Pollan observes in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” the whole affair is so freakishly difficult it’s hard to imagine how it ever evolved in the first place. Corn’s female organs are sheathed in a sort of vegetable chastity belt—surrounded by a tough, virtually impenetrable husk. The only way in is by means of a silk thread that each flower extends, Rapunzel-like, through a small opening. For fertilization to take place, a grain of pollen must land on the tip of the silk, then shimmy its way six to eight inches through a microscopic tube, a journey that requires several hours. The result of a successfully completed passage is a single kernel. When everything is going well, the process is repeated something like eight hundred times per ear, or roughly eighty thousand times per bushel.
It is now corn-sex season across the Midwest, and everything is not going well.
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