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Attention, wine lovers! The climate crisis will not only be bringing more extreme weather events and disasters, but scientists are now warning that it will be bringing about a shortage of wine in the near future. We are already well on the way to see a global rise in temperature of 2 degrees celsius – enough to cause a major loss of vineyard land growing the grape varieties of the most popular wines.
As if rising sea levels and devastating wildfires aren’t enough to be concerned about, our climate crisis is now going to bring about a shortage of wines. According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have found that global heating of 2 degrees celsius would cause a 56% loss of vineyard land, while 4 degrees celsius would wipe out around 85% of suitable land for wine grapes. Currently, the world is well on track to exceed a 2 degree warming of pre-industrial levels, despite the targets set out in the Paris Agreement and warnings of youth climate activists and scientists alike.
Researchers came to the conclusion after studying the land suitable for 11 popular varieties of wine grapes, and found that over half of it will be lost within the current wine-growing regions compared with the 1970s. Some varieties will be harder hit, including the white grape trebbiano toscano, which is expected to lose 76% of its suitable growing land region and riesling, predicted to see a 31% decline in the area deemed suitable for growing the variety.
The team used a computer model that takes into account the timing of processes of harvesting wine grape varieties, such as budding and fruit ripening, as well as the climate in the areas where each variety is being grown.
Commenting on the findings, co-author of the study Ignacio Morales-Castilla from the University of Alcalá said: “We should limit warming [as much as] possible, because the more warming we have, the fewer options for adaptation.” He adds that the main climate-induced changes that are behind the threat to vineyard land is heat, which may damage plants and speed up ripening, making grapes too high in sugar to use to make wines.
While the picture is bleak, there is a glimmer of hope if action is taken now to combat global heating, the researchers found. If the areas that are at risk could be replanted with more suitable heat-resistant varieties, the predicted shortage in wine grapes could be reduced. However, replanting or re-grafting vineyards is expensive, and might also affect the characteristic taste of certain wines.
Climate events won’t just be affecting wines, but many of our favourite crops, of which many are staple foods in Asia. Due to drought, rising temperatures, unpredictable rainfall patterns and flooding, everything from bananas to chocolate, rice and potatoes will be at risk of extinction. So if you’re having trouble convincing your uncle who is still in climate denial, perhaps rescuing his beloved food and wine will be a good enough reason.
Lead image courtesy of Land & Wildlife.