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Robin Garr

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Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:04 am

Now's the time to cellar wine
Jane Kay
San Francisco Chronicle Environment Writer


Americans may have another reason to worry about global warming: Apart from the rising seas and disappearing polar bears, climate change could also wipe out premium wine grape growing in Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties by the end of the century, according to a new study out today.

An increase in the number of very hot days during the growing seasons would make California's richest wine-producing regions unsuitable for the finest grapes, under the scenario published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Yet some internationally known climate experts warn that models aren't yet good enough to predict effects on future agriculture and at best can only suggest possible outcomes.

Despite those cautionary comments, the study's authors say predictions of losing the best growing lands for the state's $2.9 billion wine industry bring home the importance of climate in farm production.

"One big lesson is that the daily temperature changes are very important'' and not just the change in average temperatures, said Noah Diffenbaugh, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University and a study author.

He and colleagues are starting to look at a number of other crops such as soybeans, corn and timber, as well as agricultural pests, he said.

The paper concludes that production in the Napa and Sonoma valleys and Santa Barbara County would essentially be eliminated by the late 21st century. The only areas in California that would remain suitable are the narrow coastal bands and the Sierra Nevada, according to the analysis.

Full story in The San Francisco Chronicle
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Dave Erickson » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:19 am

Damn, I wish Chateau Ste. Michelle was publicly traded...I'd start loading up now!
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:21 am

Robin,
These guys can't predict tomorrow's weather accurately, let alone the weather for next week. Why should we get all worried about what's going to happen in 30 - 50 years? They have the exact same equipment. They use the exact same models, yet they can't get it right with any real accuracy. We complain about 5 - 7% of our wine bottles being corked, but if that was the percentage that the weather missed the forecast we would be happy. There is no question that global warming is real. The question is how do we trust these computer models that have such a high degree of error?
Cheers!
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Robin Garr

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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:21 am

Dave Erickson wrote:Damn, I wish Chateau Ste. Michelle was publicly traded...I'd start loading up now!


Once upon a time, they were a corporate entity of American Tobacco Co., a situation that prompted some militant non-smokers not to drink the wines. Have no idea about their current status, but if it's still a corporate entity, the parent corporation is probably traded. :)
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:26 am

James Roscoe wrote:These guys can't predict tomorrow's weather accurately, let alone the weather for next week. Why should we get all worried about what's going to happen in 30 - 50 years? They have the exact same equipment. They use the exact same models, yet they can't get it right with any real accuracy. We complain about 5 - 7% of our wine bottles being corked, but if that was the percentage that the weather missed the forecast we would be happy. There is no question that global warming is real. The question is how do we trust these computer models that have such a high degree of error?


I know even less about climate science than I know about soccer, James. ;-)

But that said, I'd quibble with a point or two there. First, bear in mind that the atmosphere is a chaotic system - you know the butterfly-to-hurricane theory - and inherently not fully predictable. In looking at long-term climate trends, though, chaotic variations tend to dampen out, and so long-term predictions may be more inherently reliable than forecasting tomorrow's weather.

Second, I'm under the impression that, within those limits, short-term forecasting <i>is</i> significantly improved over a generation ago.

The bottom line, of course, is that as evidence mounts that Earth's climate is getting really screwed up, the risks of doing nothing grow more dire.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:31 am

Robin, you are bobbing and weaving and not answering my question. I agree that the earth is getting warmer. I just ask how we trust computer models that are programmed by human beings and have a degree of error?
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:49 am

James Roscoe wrote:I just ask how we trust computer models that are programmed by human beings and have a degree of error?


Best answer I can give, James, is that it makes sense to use the tools we've got, and if we're aware that they're imperfect, we make allowances for that, but we don't decline to use them.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Sam Platt » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:56 am

James Roscoe wrote:I just ask how we trust computer models that are programmed by human beings and have a degree of error?


I did some work on climate modeling in a past life. The atmosphere is very complex as are the models that predict atmospheric behavior. The main stream academic models generally agreed (at that time) that the climate will warm somewhere between 1.5 and 5 degrees C from between now and 2150. That is a large variation in predicted warming. To make matters worse understanding the cause of that warming has been taken out of the hands of scientists and usurped by those with political agendas. Politicians are never much concerned with facts.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by CraigW » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:57 am

I think we trust them based upon the fact that beyond all the madness that is meteorology, there is a science to it, and weather offices have had outstanding success in predicting things like hurricane seasons (this one is supposed to be particularly threatening because of a rise in water temps throughout the mid and north atlantic), tornado-producing thunderstorms and their respective seasons, el nino, and arctic melting.

I don't think you're going to see Cakebread, Firestone or KJ shutting down operations because of these predictions, but it is worth being overprepared than being caught off guard. Besides, there's nothing wrong with taking note of it and stockpiling as much Cali wine as you can!

If ever climate change can be witnessed and fully attributed, it would be now when we see increasingly wetter Cali winters and increasingly dryer and more combustible summers. It's simply a law of averages and record highs and lows within those averages are currently being reset year after year.

And hey - plenty of shareholder opportunities in BC right now, folks.... :D
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Carl Eppig » Tue Jul 11, 2006 12:58 pm

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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:08 pm

Carl Eppig (Middleton, NH wrote:Follow the money:

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/John ... enient_lie


John Stossel? He's the Per-Henrick Masson of political commentary.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by CraigW » Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:16 pm

Wow, I can't believe my computer didn't explode after viewing that website. I couldn't decipher your intention in your post, Carl. Are you legit in referencing that article, or are you making fun?

I'm a little more than suspicious when one of the contributors to a "news-worthy" website is Pat Buchanan. Not to mention big flash-animated ads that tell us to beware of evil liberals raising concern over sending American troops to Iraq. Support the troops!! Yikes... I don't think I saw a Fox News ad, but maybe I just missed it or blocked it out.

Isn't it funny, the gist of that article tells us that the media is drooling over the fear-mongering of "fundamentalist" enviro's and scientists, and that they take every opportunity they can to scare us ('us' being Americans, not me, per se). I find that ironic, because right-wing, conservative, born-agains are constantly screaming chicken-little over the prospect of terrorists striking at any place, any time, and yet we're not supposed to be concerned when agencies and scientists, whom we're granting billions of dollars globally, tell us we're destroying the environment??? Hello?

Guess I'm in the wrong business - wine - should probably head north and start contributing to the pit-mining in Alberta's oil-sands... Because Pat Buchanan's friend told me not to worry - climates change, and if Earth is going to turn into an atomosphere-less, cooked planet like Mercury, it won't have anything to do with the destruction and mindlessness we're partaking in as human beings....

I'm going to go have a drink of water.... Sorry for tangenting, but that article is ludicrous!
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by wrcstl » Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:31 pm

Went to see "An Inconvenient Truth" this weekend and came away with two thoughts, 1) the basic premise is correct, and 2) there was data manipulation to make many points. Don't think any educated person could deny that there is global warming and it is effecting us all. May dissagree on how much it is caused by natural cycles vs man made problems but don't like the extrapolation of events. The movie made an interesting comment in the end that basically said it is not too late. The real problem is that the general public is not putting this as a priority and therefore politicans do not have any incentive and God knows they won't move on something that is not forced on them. It did make me wish even more that Gore had been elected but that is a personal aside.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Sam Platt » Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:22 pm

The mention of "right wing born agains" and former Democratic presidential candidates is more evidence for how politicized the global warming debate has become. Unfortunately the issue of global climate change is complex. The causes of global climate change are many, varied and completely non-political. We are dealing with a non-sound bite problem in the age of sound bite solutions. This will not end well unless the world community at large is able to rise above name calling and work the issue in a non-partisan manner. There may well be too much political hay to be made for that to happen in time.

Just a reminder in order to help keep the discussion as non-divisive as possible: We all like wine. I like both red and white wine! :)
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by CraigW » Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:38 pm

But, Sam, while we agree that "the causes of global climate change are many, varied and completely non-political" (although even that is hard to argue when two out of the last three Presidents of the United States were chief proponents and executives of some of the largest oil companies in the world), unfortunately, the basic recognition of global climate change is extremely political, and is the focus of this debate and that website article.

I aim to offend no one with my stereotypical reference of conservatives, only to rebut the argument that 'those' who even so much as bring up climate change are, in the words of that article, "fundamentalist." Just as with the word 'liberal,' while there is no foundational definition of it being a bad word, it has adopted a slang mentality and is, in many peoples' eyes, popularly and perseptibly bad.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Sam Platt wrote:The mention of "right wing born agains" and former Democratic presidential candidates is more evidence for how politicized the global warming debate has become. Unfortunately the issue of global climate change is complex. The causes of global climate change are many, varied and completely non-political. We are dealing with a non-sound bite problem in the age of sound bite solutions. This will not end well unless the world community at large is able to rise above name calling and work the issue in a non-partisan manner. There may well be too much political hay to be made for that to happen in time.

Just a reminder in order to help keep the discussion as non-divisive as possible: We all like wine. I like both red and white wine! :)


Well said Sam. While I tend to come at the debate from the right side (as opposed to the left), I too have come to despair of the screeching from all sides. It's very sad to see. The very nature of the posts in response to the John Stossel report are indicative of what you are saying. Instead of attacking the arguements, the posters attack the reporter or the people who are quoted. I know very little about the science involved, but if people are going to attack an arguement, they should at least do so and not make personal attacks such as
John Stossel? He's the Per-Henrick Masson of political commentary.
It's a sorry state of affairs indeed.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by CraigW » Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:26 pm

Okay, fair enough. Let's talk about the issue at hand. On a wine board, mind you.

As I alluded to, before we can fix the problem, as Sam suggested we ought to, we need to at the very least recognize that a problem exists.

My argument is that science exists; scientists have spend decades studying the phenomenon that climate change is occurring and is at the very least, minutely resultant because of the impact of humans consuming and burning fossil fuels on a staggaring level, cutting down rainforests, polluting rivers, lakes and oceans, and wiping out natural processes.

Here's the science behind it (as explained by a marketing professional, mind you): combustion of any material releases at the very least carbon dioxide into the air. If you're burning plastics or the like, even more chemicals get released into the air, but that's another matter. When we as a society burn gas, oil, coal, wood, etc. at the quantity that we are, carbon dioxide (CO2) in ridiculous quantities heads up into the atmosphere where it interacts with out atmosphere, including our ozone (ozone is the layer of gas - O3 - that deflects harmful radiation from the sun away from the surface of the earth). The amount of CO2 we're sending up there, via our factories, processing plants, cars, SUVs, etc. is doing two things: forming a layer of CO2 in our atmosphere and destroying our ozone layer. The earth's heat escapes off the surface naturally through a process of convection and is released into space (heat rising up: convective heating) and with all that CO2, instead of being released, is being trapped, like how heat remains in a greenhouse. Like a greenhouse, the earth is therefore not cooling down and is becoming hotter. The subsequent destruction of our ozone layer is also allowing in far more solar radiation than normal, which means that the earth is getting hotter to begin with, and add this to our greenhouse effect, it produces twice the problem. Not to mention we're getting tanned and burned easier, and that cancer is becoming more problematic. We are seeing direct results of this process in a variety of ways - ice melts when it is warmed, and therefore, polar icecaps, which have existed for hundreds of thousands if not millions of years (long before the ice age), are melting. Additionally, oceans are warming - just a degree or two - but enough to precipitate increased storm activity. Hurricanes are bred off the coast of Africa and derive their strength and intensity from warmer waters. Warmer waters = more and stronger hurricanes. If the ice caps have melted and the oceans have risen just an inch or two, or say six, then when we get hurricanes and storm surges occur, they don't rise by an inch or two, they rise by feet. And ask anyone in New Orleans, a foot or two matters a lot.

Now, plants consume CO2 as a natural process of photosynthesis - that is to say, it's what keeps them alive. The process of photosynthesis, while consuming CO2 also releases pure oxygen as a result, which is handy for us. Forests are excellent consumers of large amounts of CO2 and it's a wonderful treat to know that we have an atmosphere that moves air via tradewinds all around the world. Therefore, our CO2 could be consumed by the Amazon rainforest, or the forests in India or China. When you cut down rainforests, you're removing the earth's ability to consume CO2 on a large scale. So the problem is two-fold - not only are we producing far too much CO2 for the earth to handle, but we're destroying its ability to cope with it as well.

The enormous hole in the ozone layer, due to greenhouse gas build up has proven by science, over Antarctica should provide proof. The weakening of the ozone layer over Alberta, BC and parts of the US pacific northwest should also raise eyebrows.

The fact that the oceans are warming, that polar icecaps are melting, that species are becoming extinct by the hundreds each decade, and that pollution is sickening people with allergies, miscarriages, cancers and mutations should provide some reason for concern. And isn't it more than convenient that the people disbelieving the strongest in the entire phenomenon are those with power and money tied up in controlling the consumption of resources - whose livelihoods are dependant on society maintaining the status quo and not blinking an eye.

Telling people that climate change is unproven, unscientific, wrong, politically-motivated, fundamentalist, not related to human involvement or even non-existant is as much propaganda as is the warning that we have to do something. The difference being that to question it, after we as a society have poured billions of dollars and hundreds of careers into it, is completely ignorant and substantiatively baseless.

When are we going to get the picture? To refute one computer simulation is one thing, but what about the hundreds of scientifically-based predictions over the past twenty or more years? They add up over time....

You'd think that within the wine industry, among the first people to see the bigger picture and possible disaster would be those growing, selling, and consuming the grapes.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:16 pm

Well done Craig. You are correct, a problem exists, and too many people say it doesn't. The real focus should be on how we handle the problem without sending the economy into the toilet. There is a lot of room for debate even after we look at the problem square in the eye. It's not one that's going to go away. We need less stupid rhetoric from all sides. Unfortunately, it's really all about the money in the end. Sad, but true.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by David Creighton » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:35 pm

Hey, lets get back to the wines. why talk about the future when they are already picking red wine grapes at auslese sugar levels and substantially higher than vintage port levels. if we all start drinking more fortified wine, the CA wine industry can be saved.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:39 pm

One of the great things about this forum is the variety of topics that get discussed and the general civility with which they are discussed. that said, lets drink some wine. I think we have a few years before we see any huge problems. Maybe Virginia will pick up the slack?
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Peter May » Tue Jul 11, 2006 5:35 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
production in the Napa and Sonoma valleys and Santa Barbara County would essentially be eliminated by the late 21st century.


I thought the previous prediction was they would already be under the ocean as a result of the San Andreas fault shearing off. :)

Did they also predict how much gasoline would be costing by the end of the 21st century?
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Sam Platt » Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:04 pm

Craig W wrote:Telling people that climate change is unproven, unscientific, wrong, politically-motivated, fundamentalist, not related to human involvement or even non-existant is as much propaganda as is the warning that we have to do something. The difference being that to question it, after we as a society have poured billions of dollars and hundreds of careers into it, is completely ignorant and substantiatively baseless.


Craig, Nice primer on global warming issues. Global temperature change over the past 20,000 years has been very well documented. The earth has warmed up 5 degrees C since the last ice age. There have been substantial rapid, swings in global average temperature even relatively recently. Those changes have come with extinctions and other ugly side effects. The new player here, as you point out, is an increasing level of CO2 emission since the industrial revolution. In 1850 the global atmospheric CO2 level was 280 ppm. Today it is 360 ppm. During that time the average surface temperature of the earth has increased by about 0.5 C. Projections are that the level of atmospheric CO2 will double to 700 ppm by about 2150. That projection is relatively widely accepted, but that is where it becomes murky. What that increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration means against the back drop of other factors is not clear, and that is why the models vary from 1.5 to 5 degrees C. Certainly it would be hard to argue that taking steps to minimize CO2 emissions would not be a good thing.

FWIW, I do not have a political dog in this fight. I am pro fact, pro common sense, and anti rhetoric.

Just a reminder, I like wine and wine products.
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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by Mark Lipton » Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:36 pm

Sam Platt wrote:
James Roscoe wrote:I just ask how we trust computer models that are programmed by human beings and have a degree of error?


I did some work on climate modeling in a past life. The atmosphere is very complex as are the models that predict atmospheric behavior. The main stream academic models generally agreed (at that time) that the climate will warm somewhere between 1.5 and 5 degrees C from between now and 2150. That is a large variation in predicted warming.


Well said, Sam. I'll add to that that comparing weather forecasting with climate modeling is an apples-and-oranges situation. As you know, climate modeling deals in long-range and global trends that are amenable to statistical modeling. In contrast, telling someone whether it'll rain in Detroit tomorrow requires a detailed model of a highly complex system that moreover displays chaotic behavior.

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Re: Climate change poses growing threat to Napa/Sonoma

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:36 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:Well said, Sam. I'll add to that that comparing weather forecasting with climate modeling is an apples-and-oranges situation. As you know, climate modeling deals in long-range and global trends that are amenable to statistical modeling. In contrast, telling someone whether it'll rain in Detroit tomorrow requires a detailed model of a highly complex system that moreover displays chaotic behavior.

Mark Lipton
(Not that kind of scientist)


Yes, but it's still science, and if us regular morons can't trust the scientists to come up with an accurate forecast for Detroit's weather for tomorrow, let alone the DC area, how are we going to trust the scientists with forecasts for weather 50 years from now? It all sounds like weather forecasting to me no matter how much you say it's apples to oranges. If you want my to give up my big SUV (I drive a Jetta) you have to make better arguements than you're making in this thread. You will never get the majority of the voting public over on your side with these escoteric arguements. Too often, as the Stossell article adeptly points out, there have been warnings that have been overdrawn by the news media for its own benefit. I am not necessarily disagreeing with anyone, I would just like an honest answer rather than pompous posturing from Al Gore and John Stossell.
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