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Field Notes
News Articles
Birds: The De-List
Global Warming: Trouble Brewing
Interview with John O’Hurley: Garbage Man
Policy: Good Chemistry

Gecko sleight of tail; robo fish; Playboy bunny research; penguin poop; more.

Global Warming
Trouble Brewing

Global warming is hitting the bottle. Higher temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns are affecting the crops used to make our pilsners and Cabernets, our tequilas and whiskeys. “Hops and hazelnuts, pineapples, you name it—they’re grown where they’re grown because that’s where time has shown to be most optimal for their ripening,” says Greg Jones, a Southern Oregon University climatology and agriculture expert. Grape varieties have particularly narrow prime climatic zones, leaving little room for plants to adapt. “If you’re growing Pinot Noir in an ideal climate today and it warms by a couple of degrees, it very well may not be ideally suitable for Pinot Noir anymore,” he says. But don’t start hoarding your favorite beverage just yet. Rising temperatures are actually making some regions better suited for producing libations, including the burgeoning wine country around northwest Washington’s historically cold and wet Puget Sound.—Lynne Peeples

California: wine
Wine regions that were once ideal have begun producing overripe fruit, while cooler vineyards to the north are experiencing increasingly favorable conditions for growing grapes.

Mexico: tequila
The sun-loving blue agave cactus can take the heat—up to a point—but the increasingly warm, wet weather also fosters pests that threaten tequila crops.

Kentucky: bourbon
Higher winter temperatures affect the seasonal warming and cooling cycle that helps oak barrels impart Kentucky bourbon’s distinctive flavor as the liquor ages.

ND/Idaho: barley
Declines in malted barley yields could stem from a mix of drought and other extreme weather, pest infestations, and farmers converting their crops to biofuel production.

Washington: hops
A devastating fungus and water shortages could threaten agriculture in Washington State’s Yakima Valley, where more than 70 percent of the U.S. hops supply is produced.

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