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Climate Hustle

Flowers blooming earlier now than any time in last 250 years

Posted on 13 April 2010 by John Cook

Climate change is being recognized as one of the most influential drivers of changes in biodiversity. This is particularly evident in the field of phenology, which looks at how climatic changes affecting timing of events in the natural world. Changes in the timing of one part of the ecosystem can have a ripple effect, disrupting other areas. For example, a change in timing of plant flowering can disrupt the creatures that pollinate them. Similarly, changes in timing of plant or insect behaviour can affect the birds that use them as food supplies. New research has been published stitching together nearly 400,000 first flowering records covering 405 species across the UK (Amano et al 2010). They've found that British plants are flowering earlier now than at any time in the last 250 years.

There's a strong correlation between temperature and the date when flowers first open each year. Consequently, much information can be gleaned from looking at flowering dates in the past. Since the mid-1700s, sightings have been made by full-time biologists and part-time enthusiasts. Systematic recording of flowering times began in the UK in 1875 by the Royal Meteorological Society. However, many sets of records are short-term, fragmented or focus on just one species. Amano 2010 developed a technique for blending fragmented records in a way that takes into account where the records came from, what length of time they cover and the differences between the flowering times of different species. This enabled them to develop a kind of nationwide, year-long, species-wide average.

Figure 1:  Average (red line) and 95% uncertainty range (grey area) of the estimated first flowering index index (day of the year). The black
line indicates the average for every 25 years and the dotted line for the most recent 25 years (
Amano 2010). 

There's been a clear advance in the time of first flowering in recent decades. The average first flowering date has been earlier in the last 25 years than in any other period since 1760. The next step in this research is to see whether the same techniques can be employed on a larger scale, to give a regional or global picture of nature's response to temperature change.

Note: thanks to Anders Svensson for the heads-up re this article and to Richard Smithers, co-author of the paper, who pointed me in the direction of the full paper. Apparently, the full paper is only available for download until Wednesday so act now while stocks last!

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 123:

  1. Just to make it clear Leo, a collapse of key components of our logistical networks (food distribution, medical services, trade) will have profound and devastating effect.

    This is why the US military, NSA and other American intelligence agencies are taking the issue very seriously:

    This is not a green/left/right wing issue. It's a civilizational challenge.
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  2. HumanityRules, you state that your personal views on biodiversity are 'more pragmatic' : what does that mean ?

    As for the 'Natural England' report, I did not state it to be a 'report about climate change' but, rather, a pointer as to how climate change will affect species in this country.
    The web summary may not have mentioned the words 'climate change' but the report certainly does and has a graph (Figure 5 : The most significant threats faced by BAP priority species in 2008) which has climate change as a midway serious threat - below land-use changes but above pollution. It also has a whole section (Species losing their English ‘climate space’) which gives more prominence to climate change.

    Would you disregard all that or disbelieve it for some reason, or do you think it's all hyperbole ? How does your pragmatism allow you to belittle the threat ?

    And again (as you have asserted previously with regard to 'catastrophe peddlers'), you blithely reckon that 'conservationists are begin[ning] to suggest that the focus on climate change is a distraction from issues associated with an expanding global human population'.

    So, again, I ask for back-up and references for those 'conservationists' (on top of the request for the 'catastrophe peddlers').

    Instead of making assertions, how about naming names ?
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  3. Conservationists-or contrarians-who claim that dealing with climate change is "distracting us" from dealing with other environmental issues clearly have little faith in humanity's ability to multi-task. Last I checked we had the ability to walk & chew gum at the same time. The fact is that one great way to reduce CO2 emissions is to conserve more existing forest, & to grow more trees where possible-this will increase biodiversity, reduce soil & catchment degradation & save many species from extinction-so this is just one example of where tackling climate change dovetails nicely with saving the environment more generally. There are other examples, but this is the most obvious. Of course, most of the contrarians who make these kinds of claims couldn't give two hoots about any other environmental issues-& would happily promote environmental degradation if it boosted the bottom line!
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  4. I'm glad that this paper was available only untill Wednesday, but it might have been better if it was not made available at all.

    Imagine that I have "derived an index" to describe the weight of annual crops of apples AND oranges that are grown in Somerset.
    What would the mean and standard error of the mean actually signify when I apply it to this index?

    You don't like that there are few oranges grown in somerset and you might ge t an n=0 in the data?
    Thats OK. Just "derive an index" for apples AND pairs instead

    Better still, "derive an index" that describes the date of the first Cuckoo-call (as reported in The Times) AND the date of arrival of the first Swallow that doesn't make make a Summer (an unladen Swallow, of course). Now do some statistics on this index and make a plot with overlapping error bars.

    C'mon, people.
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  5. Leo G:

    How are humans not natural?

    It's called "language". It's a distinction in language that goes back centuries, and everyone knows of the distinction, even if they want to play word games to derail discussion.

    Here are some dictionary definitions that might be of use:

    1. the material world, esp. as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities.

    2. the natural world as it exists without human beings or civilization.

    3. the elements of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers.

    Now that the context has been set, perhaps the conversation can go forward without such needless diversions such as questioning the definition of common English words?
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  6. HumanityRules #43

    Thanks for pointing it out. I thought this map from the AR4 was based on Parmesan 2003. Actually, it's based on 75 different studies.

    Research is still much more intense in the Northern Hemisphere, but you can see the change in biological patterns in all continents point to warming, much like the thermometers.
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  7. The thing is here in Central Europe we have chronicles going back to a thousand years and more. This way we don't really need proxies to reconstruct past climate, it is enough to be able to read. Latin, of course, for at that time it was the language of law, science and history.

    This is how we know fruit trees were blooming in January, 1182. According to Julian calendar of course, because present day Gregorian calendar was not invented yet. So it might have been early February.

    Anyway, this year we had heavy snow until mid March with not a single bud. And no blooming has ever occurred in living memory as early as described by the old folks.
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  8. Berényi Péter, could you give any links to those 'chronicles' or those old folks' descriptions, please ?
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  9. Whilst changes to the timing of plants flowering might be taking place when measured against the calender, being temperature driven, all other related natural activities in the ecosystem will be similarly driven by the same processes rather than by the calender as the article seems to suggest. Anyone who has any knowledge of agriculture knows that the beginning and the ending of a growing season can vary widely, and if allowed, the breeding cycle of livestock will adjust accordingly. But still there are many owners who will try to breed or plant according to the the calender irrespective of how the season is evolving. Animals in the wild respond to the conditions rather than the calender the same as the plants do. Surely humans can do likewise without too much drama.
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  10. Actually JohnD you're wrong in saying that plants are decoupled from our calendar.

    Different organisms take their cues from different things. Some plant and animal behaviors are dominated by temperature, others by photoperiod. Our calendar of course is descriptive of photoperiod so in fact we find that many plants do follow the calendar, or try to.

    By exerting our imaginations a little bit, we can hypothesize that if plants that are dominated by the calendar attempt to perform in their normal way when the temperature regime they inhabit is no longer appropriate, they'll perform differently. Maybe better, maybe worse, but not the same.
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  11. Please add a section to the "Climate Alarmist" section.

    If a study shows something is happening in the UK, it must be a world-wide phenomenon.

    Ha ha.
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  12. Karl_from_Wylie, you seem to have missed this bit, right at the end of the article above :

    The next step in this research is to see whether the same techniques can be employed on a larger scale, to give a regional or global picture of nature's response to temperature change.

    It was at the end, so perhaps you didn't get that far ?
    Ho hum.
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  13. Karl_from_Wylie you should take a moment to read some of the comments here that are less flippant than yours. I'd also suggest using Google Scholar w/the search term "phenology climate change."

    It's worth remembering, we've only got one reputation per login, may as well make 'em last.
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  14. Karl_from_Wylie

    Maybe you´d like to take a look at my comment #57 above.

    To claim that there´s no evidence, one has to at least try to look at the evidence.
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  15. #64 doug_bostrom

    1. All previous posts were read prior to my post.

    2. I'd suggest you google the term "ad hominem" comments. Additionally if we want to start exchanging personal advice, I've got a bunch for you.

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  16. #63 JMurphy

    I did read that, and supports my comments.

    Headline reads, "Flowers blooming earlier now than any time in last 250 years"

    It would have been more appropriate to say, "UK Flowers blooming earlier now..." But that wouldn't be as alarming would it?
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  17. #57.Alexandre

    You are presenting a "Straw Man" argument.

    I didn't say there was no evidence. I pointed out the limitation of this study.

    Your post from the IPCC was enlighting. I'm glad that the IPCC doesn't have credibilty issues.
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  18. Karl, I know, I use too many commas, but, thanks.
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  19. doug_bostrom at 03:27 AM , I think all plants respond to soil temperature and soil moisture. Soil temperature will bear some form of relationship to photoperiod, but as can be seen now in Victoria, growing conditions for plants, and those animals that live on them, are more spring like than autumn like, at least until soil temperatures begin to fall below optimum.
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  20. Karl_from_Wylie, you state that you read the last sentence in the last paragraph from this article (which calls for more study to determine regional and global results), and yet then claim that it supports your comments in your first post.
    Since the 'comments' in that first post of yours consisted of just three sentences, perhaps you could show which ones are supported :

    Was it "Please add a section to the "Climate Alarmist" section." ? Can't see how but await your explanation.

    Was it "If a study shows something is happening in the UK, it must be a world-wide phenomenon." ? Reading that last sentence from the article again, I can't see how.

    Was it "Ha ha." ? Hmmm...

    Perhaps you read a lot into headlines, since you spent most of your response to me, detailing how 'alarming' the headline on this article is because it doesn't mention the word 'UK' ?
    Don't you think that the article is more important (the article that mentions the 'UK' and 'British' in the first paragraph), or do you believe that headlines matter most.
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  21. #71 JMurphy

    "....Was it "Please add a section to the "Climate Alarmist" section." ?

    Bingo! Headline reads, "Flowers blooming earlier now than any time in last 250 years"

    But when read, the article is only about the UK.


    Headline - "Worldwide, men are dying at a high rate"

    Story - Men over the age of 90 years old are dying at a rate higher than the general population. Studies are suggested for other age groups to be studied.
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  22. To be frank, Karl's posts are full of non sequiturs and logical fallacies.

    Your analogy is a poor one: what did you hypothetical men die off? Could they have lived to 100+ Was it cancers? What % of the population does that demographic apply to. What is the average life span? 40 years? 50? 90?

    Hence, it does not follow that it is an appropriate analogy.

    Re IPCC credibility and the so called "scandals" - those arguments won't fly here.

    Climategate investigation: no proof of fraud, better disclosure called for

    Mann, Jones cleared of all wrong doing.
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  23. Ah, Karl_from_Wylie, you DO think headlines are the most important part of an article.

    OK, we disagree then : I will stick to the contents of the articles themselves and will treat them as more important than the headlines above them. In fact, I only really scan headlines before moving onto the detail contained in the articles, but that's me.
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  24. #68 Karl_from_Wylie

    The IPCC is doing a great job gathering the available science on this issue. I recommend Rahmstorf 2007 as a reference of how their projections are doing compared to observations.

    But even if you don't like this panel: I'm sure you're aware of the fact that the IPCC does not produce science itself. It just gathers it in a report. The evidence in this case, therefore, is not the AR4, but the underlying 75 peer reviewed papers.

    Try to find something as comprehensive showing cooling, or insensitivity of ecosystems to temperature, or whatever your working hypothesis is.
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  25. #74 Alexandre

    "Try to find something as comprehensive showing cooling, or insensitivity of ecosystems to temperature, or whatever your working hypothesis is. "

    I don't have a "belief" to defend. I am not a denier.

    But I am skeptical of things that are presented as fact, when discovered that the underlying methodologies are flawed, or when people don't follow the rules they set for themselves.
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  26. To Karl_from_Wylie and Et al
    I also thought about the fact that the UK is not the entire planet, but then had musings along the lines of doug_bostrom's comment, "we've only got one reputation per login", and abstained thinking it wasnt worth bringing up. After reading your last comment about flawed methodologies, I would add that natural selection would likely have an affect on the timing of seeds over the course of 200 years. In other words, a seed produced in the year 1800 is not the same as a seed planted in 2000, especially as affected by an urban heat island.
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  27. Somewhere in the area from around comment #56 to #71, a comment must have been deleted, because the references are off by one. This could be confusing. So, if comments are deleted for reasons, numbers should be revised within the afffected area. Alternatively, some people seem to know how to reference a comment with a hyperlink. Please tell us how you do that!
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  28. Argus, right click on the red time and date next to someone's name, copy the shortcut (or left click on it and copy what's showing in the Address bar), and paste it into the Comment box. Then use the (a href="") (/a) tags - with the correct brackets, of course.
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  29. JMurphy #78
    I wish it were easier than that, but thank you!
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  30. Karl_from_Wylie #75

    That's reasonable.

    Do check data presented as facts, and try to understand the methodology. Apply the same standards when you see a denier claim, too.
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  31. A lot of temperate tree crops (apples, peaches, walnuts, grapes, cherries, kiwis, pears) require a certain number of cold hours in the winter or they will not flower. This article
    gives data on climate changes in California causing the failure of tree and fruit crops. It points out that for walnut trees, the orchards take many years to come into production. If the climate changes, the farmers lose their harvest. Since tree farmers have a long outlook on production, they may not invest in new orchards. As climate continues to warm, the area where these trees can be planted shrinks.

    This addresses two denier issues that have been raised in this thread:
    1) The data is from California, not the UK. They have long term, systematic observations. This is a Global issue.
    2) These trees are not able to adapt to changes that fall out of their range of chill hours, they stop production. Native trees like pecans, hickory and wild apples (here in the US) will stop producing seeds as it gets hotter and eventually die. New cultivars can be produced for a while but that is expensive, and the orchard is still at risk of future change.

    I would suggest that if you don't know what chill hours are for tree crops, and you think global warming will not cause any problems, you need to learn more about farming. Of course, seed crops like corn and wheat are also susceptible to climate change, but these trees are affected NOW.
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  32. michael sweet at 02:53 AM. With regards to the tree crops you mentioned, apples in particular. It may be of interest as well as relevant, that apples were introduced into Indonesia by the Dutch more than a century ago, and not only have they adapted to the conditions there, but they are flourishing with significant areas being planted and production, constantly increasing, particularly in recent decades. Indeed it has been Indonesian farmers who have devised techniques that have allowed year-round production to be achieved, all this very close to the equator. Who would have thought that, in the tropics and with climate change and all that supposedly entails? As you noted, people do need to learn more about farming, and perhaps think outside the confines of tightly held beliefs.
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  33. RE# johnd 83

    I never thought my favourite Fuji could be so interesting! This is an interesting paper I just found about apples in Java, albeit slightly dated. (Rosmahani et al. 1988)
    And if I quote from parts of it

    “...The first successful cultivation of apples in Java was recorded in 1934 (Rosmahani et al., 1988), but it took more than 40 years for research in apple culture to achieve its present development. One of the challenges in growing temperate fruit in the tropics is simulating mechanisms that prevent bud dormancy in the absence of temperature and daylength variation.... Like most exotic species from temperate origins, in the tropics apple trees are vulnerable to pests and diseases. The high humidity of tropical mountains allows for the growth of certain fungal diseases that destroyed most of the apple trees in Java during the 1970s. Present cultivation of apple trees relies on the frequent application of heavy doses of pesticides and

    So yes I agree it is quite marvellous that the farmers have developed techniques, I am not share your optimism about the suitability of the land use overall for these particular crops, as the paper concludes:

    ...Instead of developing into a system with a high biological diversity that requires low inputs, apple-based farming systems are increasingly simplified, allowing only a limited choice of intercrops. The system also relies heavily on chemical inputs...
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  34. JohnD. It is certainly possible for new methods to be developed. As I mentioned, new cultivars can be developed. I have 4 peach trees here in Florida for example. However, it is expensive and risky to have to develop new culltivars constantly to keep the produce coming. What will these changes cost? Are the new varieties as good as the old ones? Are farmers willing to take on the risk? Some changes cannot be managed: cherries need a lot of chill and I have not seen low chill varieties. Natural forests do not have the option of developing new trees. The old trees will die off and be replaced by trees adapted to the new conditions-- if the new conditions last long enough for them to grow. It seems to me that a better approach is to minimize change to minimize adaption expense. It may be more costly to adapt than to reduce carbon emmisions.
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  35. Cornell University (Wolfe 2004) study describes an advance of spring Phenology from 2 to 8 days over 1965 to 2001 for observed perennials in the northeast USA.

    Do you want these paywalled articles in the database?
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    Response: Definitely do submit any and all peer-reviewed papers into the database, whether paywalled or not. Even if it is paywalled, often a search on google scholar will find the full PDF floating around, particularly for papers more than a year or two old. And if you can't find the full PDF, I find emailing the author/s is usually fruitful, particularly if you start your email with a compliment about how interesting their research is :-)

    Also, I submitted your link to the database, thanks for the URL!
  36. johnd, I'm interested in the responses you have had to your post about apples in Indonesia. As far as I can tell, they export about 35 tonnes a year, as opposed to, say, France's 1.5 million tonnes; and they have to defoliate their trees by hand after every harvest, to get the trees to produce again.
    Do you really think that means that we have nothing to worry about and that apple production won't be affected by climate change ?
    I really am interested as to how you can be so relaxed about these things, so perhaps you could explain why you are, with reference to apple production - especially with regard to the replies from michael sweet and yocta
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  37. JMurphy at 02:39 AM, firstly I think posting export figures for a commodity that primarily satisfies domestic consumption is rather misleading. Indonesia has about 2 million apple trees and the annual production from the main growing region is about 200,000 tonnes annually, small by most standards, but certainly much bigger than your figure.

    I would not consider myself relaxed, but I am certainly not an alarmist. I feel that instead of constantly wringing our hands about halting climate change, whatever the reason for it, something I doubt can be achieved, it is better to concentrate on the efforts being made to adapt to a changing climate, and it was for that reason I mentioned Indonesia, it being only one amongst several where most people would not expect apples to be grown.

    Given commercial production on a large scale generally results in a loss of diversity amongst most food crop varieties, it is perhaps that lack of diversity that might be the biggest obstacle to being able to adapt to changing conditions in the worlds largest orchards. The migration of production of animals or plants is not a new phenomena, nor only forced by climate change. Discovery of new areas, or changing economics have perhaps forever forced production of one commodity to move from one part of the world to another, the fine wool Merino sheep being such an example.

    There are certainly large areas of the world that are suitable for apple production to transfer to if current areas fail to adapt, but it may that such changes will be forced more by economics than climate change given how fast the global economic environment is changing.
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  38. 52.JMurphy at 18:30 PM on 14 April, 2010

    These are your words.

    "why not have a read into how climate change is affecting British species"

    Not A pointer, "IS" affecting British species.

    The report IS essentially about hatitat loss the fact that the authors need to kneel at the alter of climate change is unfortunate.
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  39. johnd, why would economics force, say, apple production to move to areas not previously used for such production ?
    Also, could you provide the link for the figures you gave because I'm wondering if you are using figures for Wax apples, which are not the same.
    Can you provide a link because I can't find anything on the FAOSTAT site.

    HumanityRules, the fact that you suggest that any references to climate change (especially within a report that acknowledges climate change as a mitigating factor among many other mitigating factors, and which highlights how important it is among all those other factors) are political/conspiracy/whatever (that you alone can determine all by yourself, of course), says more about you and your outlook on the world than it does about anything else.

    I note also, unsurprisingly, that you have not given any names or links to those 'conservationists' you mentioned previously, or to any 'disaster-peddlers'. Why is that ?
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  40. JMurphy at 03:47 AM, is it not obvious why economics force moves in any form of production. Look at China, apart from manufacturing, now a major source of apples as well as an increasing amount of other foods that are displacing locally grown food on many of the worlds tables.
    In the case of apples, it is not so much the development of new cultivars of apples that has apples growing in various tropical countries, but the development of new "cultivars" of thinking by people who are not burdened by conventional group thinking, people who were not expert enough to "know" that apples could only be grown in certain locales under certain conditions.
    As fast a some people think climate change is occurring, these new "cultivars" of thinking and changing economics are changing at a much faster rate.
    With regards to my figures, much of my proof has been in the eating, having spent more than half of the last four decades there.
    A quick Google search throws up these pages, providing some reference, unofficial, but reflecting what is commonly known and accepted.

    I checked your FAOSTAT link and notice their information on even major Indonesian crops seems to be merely estimates and unofficial figures, so clearly their information on Indonesia is somewhat limited and they haven't dug too deeply, though I would have thought apples should have been on their radar being much more than just a few trees in a few villages.
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  41. johnd, I think you have shown that economics can not force, say, apple production to move to areas not previously known for such production, by the examples of :
    Indonesia (which seems to be very labour-intensive and existent mainly at around 700m above sea level) - not a recipe for replacing lost production in more traditional areas as a result of climate change;
    China, which has the land, labour-force and climate which enabled it to massively increase production in areas well-suited to apple growing. Whether they would be able to increase production enough to replace areas lost to climate change, is debatable but I for one will not be too relaxed about it and will be hoping for policies that try to tackle the warming now, rather than wait and try to do something (if anything) once the changes are actually having an affect on things like apple production.
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  42. JMurphy at 09:09 AM, this is starting to get off subject a bit, but is still relevant to how some plants react to changing conditions.
    I think you are missing the point as to why economics can force any form of production to move into new areas. It is not necessarily forced there by push factors, but rather forced there by pull factors.
    There are many people in many parts of the world who have a strong desire, or are even desperate to improve their prospects and are constantly looking out for opportunities to use whatever resources they have available to give themselves an advantage. Very often this results in them trying something that everybody else says cannot be done, or has failed in the past. In the case of apples in Indonesia, it all started with one man successfully doing something he had most likely been told was not possible. I'm guessing that most readers of this thread would have held the opinion that apples could not be grown in Indonesia or any other equatorial region, and even after reading here will be looking for reasons why it is not sustainable or why it might fail, simply because it goes against long and tightly held beliefs that underpin their whole understanding of all things global.
    South America may be an area where the apple industry could possibly take off, however it is a long way from the major markets, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't land an apple on your table cheaper than a producer in closer proximity.

    The decline in apple production in the USA is well advanced. Apparently there is less than one quarter the number of trees that there were a century ago, but I guess that unit production may have made up for at least some of loss of trees.
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  43. doug bostrom @ 49 - " We're of nature but we don't act like nature."

    But Doug, the way we act is precisely as nature let us evolve. This is the main thrust of my point, because we have the ability to record, we have a past. Because we have an ability to think, we have a future. Why would this be considered to out of nature? If nature is as vast as this and maybe other universes, why do we as humans think that somehow we are special and stand outside of nature? The logic of this is not there.

    Studies on birds are starting to indicate that these fine feathered friends, at least some species, may have the ability to "guess" the future, and remeber the past.

    I agree that we may be the only species that has the ability to forsee what our actions might lead to, there fore we should be better stewards of this planet, but then we will have to go into the nature/nurture debate.
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  44. WTD @ 50

    "Climate change is a threat to our advanced, industrial civilisation. We want to mitigate the impact and the damage it could cause. Nothing more, nothing less."

    Totally agreed. But where we diverge paths is in the analysis of future events. Right now, with the knowledge that I have gained, I feel that the warming predicted to come is too high, and the effects will not be calamitous (sp?).

    I want the policy to be based on the best science available not on a semi-religous need to repent for mankinds sins against nature.

    The whole of the CS field is still quite young, and there are more mysteries popping up, i.e. Trenberth trying to decipher the "lost" energy in our system.
    Where I live, we have a carbon tax already. ANd it is about to go up again on July 1. I strongly support it. Not becoause I feel that CO2 is a danger, but because it is a user based tax. If I want to, I can decide to drive less, thus lowering my tax burden. Also, there is a lot more then just CO2 that comes out of the old tailpipe!

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  45. dhogazza @ 55

    yes, language. At one time we thought the earth was only a few thousand years old, yet we were able to get beyond that. As our species, hopefully, keeps on progressing in maturing Dhogazza, I hope that eventually we will be able to come to terms that we are only a small part of the natural universe. When I get to thinking that I am so important, I like to go and lay out on the lawn and look at the vastness that surrounds us. This humbles me quite quickly, and reminds me that I am only a very small cog in web of nature.

    Sorry Dhogazza, we DO NOT stand outside "3. the elements of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers."

    Heard about that little volcanoe in Iceland?
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  46. JohnD @ 92 -

    "Very often this results in them trying something that everybody else says cannot be done, or has failed in the past"

    Very true! Back in the fifties, my uncle decided that he would grow blueberries on his chicken farm to help supplement his income. It had been tried before by others and they had failed. My uncle did not listen and went ahead and planted his patch.

    Now the Fraser Valley is one of the worlds leading blueberry producing areas.
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  47. That little volcano in Iceland is little indeed, ejecting a small fraction of what Pinatubo did, at a much lower altitude. The fact that it disturbed air travel so much is precisely because the ejected material failed to reach the stratosphere.

    Now imagine all the volcanoes in the world and their activity over a year. Multiply that by 150 (that'd be a lot of volcanic activity). That's how much CO2 humans release in the atmosphere in a year. Not exactly insignificant.

    Imagine how many years of natural processes it took for a couple thousand tons of coal to accumulate and fossilize. Imagine how much time it takes us to extract and burn a couple thousand tons of coal. Now scale that up to the worldwide yearly coal consumption. Insignificant?

    We are a small part of the natural universe indeed. The real success of Life is with bacteria. They are the dominant form of life by all accounts, everything else is just luxury and embellishment, unnecessary to the successful continuation of Life. What we do or don't do matters next to nothing to this planet and Life in the grand scheme of things. But it matters to us a great deal.

    Of course, each one of us, individually, is very small. Just like every individual strand of the brown algae that made our oxygen was.
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  48. Johnd:
    The subject of whether mitagation or adaptation is a cheaper/better strategy was not the point of this thread. Maybe John will have a thread on that topic at some time in the future (hopefully).

    Several posters suggested that advancing spring had only been observed in the UK. My response (and others) showed this has been observed worldwide.

    Other posters suggested that advancing spring had only positive attributes. While we can debate the possibilities of adaptation, it is clear there is a cost to the change in the arrival of spring. Not only apples are affected: my reference states that all temperate tree and vine crops have a chilling requirement. There is a cost for adaptation of each type of fruit. Of course we can all change to eating mangos and pineapples.

    The debate over whether the cost of mitagation or adaption is greater is long and complicated by value judgements. The science at the start of this thread clearly shows that spring is advancing and that has economic consequences.
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  49. Philippe @ 97 - yes!

    I was using the Iceland Volcanoe as a way of showing Dhogazza that we react/are part of nature. But you took it to a much higher level.

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  50. Leo G at 04:04 AM re "the way we act is precisely as nature let us evolve" is precisely my view also.
    Even to the extent of coaxing all living things to adapt to changed circumstances irrespective of how they come about.
    If man can achieve such change then it obviously was within the range of possibilities allowed by the genetic make-up, but man may have just sped up the process.

    It always amuses me the description of the fertiliser super phosphate as being artificial. Being basically bird poop, it comprises elements all found in the natural world, but combined in way not normally evident in nature.
    However I believe it is the birds who chose to strip the phosphorous from the natural environment in the first place and concentrate it in one area, the same as we concentrate dumping our waste in a confined area, that were changing the natural order given the importance of phosphorous in the growth of most life forms. Is what we are doing in redistributing the phosphorous back to where it is needed to enable plant growth not part of the natural processes?
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