Global warming may doom the Napa Valley, CBS News warned its July 12 "Evening News" audience. Yet correspondent John Blackstone excluded any scientists, including those who otherwise believe in man-made global warming, who warn that new computer models are conclusive or don't match up against recorded climate patterns. "New research says global warming threatens to make the Napa Valley too hot to make fine wine," Blackstone warned. A new study by Purdue University's Noah Diffenbaugh, Blackstone added, predicts that "across the country global warming could destroy more than 80 percent of the best vineyards."
But scientists who had a skeptical take on Diffenbaugh's conclusions were missing from Blackstone's report. In a July 11 article on Diffenbaugh's study, San Francisco Chronicle environment reporter Jane Kay cited University of Alabama's John Christy and the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) Kenneth Trenberth as skeptics of Diffenbaugh's conclusions. Christy found "that using a model to reproduce past observations" was not "successful for the years 1910-2003" when calculating central California climate changes for a recent study published in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, Kay reported.
"I would not base economic decisions on the output of regional predictions from these models," Christy told the Chronicle. "As Alabama's state climatologist, I've watched agriculture closely during these past 20 years, and I've seen how farmers have applied clever adaptations to overcome many negative impacts on their produce, including those from climate variations."
"Models are not good enough for this purpose in my view," agreed NCAR climate analyst Kevin E. Trenberth, who is no global warming skeptic. Kay added that most of Trenberth's colleagues "don't yet accept predictions of future effects on crops," even though they believe in melting glaciers producing "rising sea levels."
Blackstone also left out a key fact reported by the CBS Web site: historically, climate change devastated grape growing well before the industrialization which many environmentalists blame for today's climate change. "A thousand years ago when Viking explorers arrived on the coasts of eastern Canada and New England, they named the region Vinland, a designation that has perplexed many historians since grapes are uncommon there now," CBS News and the Associated Press reported in a July 12 article available on CBSNews.com.
The CBS/AP article even cited Diffenbaugh noting that English vineyards - now resurging from warmer weather - got a chilly reception in "the Little Ice Age" that begin in the Middle Ages.
The report might also have noted that modern grape varieties even grow in the tropics (e.g. in the Australian city of Townsville) and it will be a long time before the Napa valley is as hot as the topics. The tropical grapes in fact grow faster so are valued as providing fresh table grapes long before the harvest in cooler latitudes takes place
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