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Climate Change Could Make Us Choose Between Wine And Pandas

According to the new models, around 70 percent of the area currently suitable or used for grape growing could be gone by 2050

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Back in 2006, a study showed that global warming could eliminate 80 percent of the United States’ current vines. Vinters started getting serious about planting and researching heat-resistent grapes, working on water-saving techniques and surveying future properties if it becomes necessary to pick up shop and move to higher, less sizzling locations. Which means, perhaps, that in the not too distant future, vinters may end up wreaking havoc on the natural habitats of currently endangered species.

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, Mother Jones writes, around 70 percent of the area currently suitable or used for grape growing could be gone by 2050 (when atmospheric carbon dioxide will likely double). This problem isn’t specific to wine growers. As the Environmental Protection Agency points out, both in the United States and abroad, crops of all kinds face an uncertain future under changing temperatures, fluctuating and extreme weather and increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. While some crops may benefit from warmer temperatures (wheat and soybeans are potentials) and higher levels of CO2, others, like some grains, will likely whither under increasing temperatures and won’t have time to produce as many seeds.

Researchers can model how these fluctuations may shift suitable locations for growing certain crops, and in the new study, climate models predicted where the most suitable plots for wine growing may be located in Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia and China. Mother Jones reports that places will gain appeal include the Northwest U.S.—bear and moose territory—and mountainous parts of China—panda habitat. As wine growers move their operations to suit shifting climate, they may infringe upon endangered species. And while the choice between wine and pandas is a particularly difficult one to deal with, these are the sort of compromises that we’ll have to make as the planet changes in order to keep growing the food we need to survive.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Climate Change May Obliterate Pandas 
Climate Change Means More Adelie Penguins 

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