Global Warming is something we all hear about. We hear mention of it on the news, we see protests regarding it on college campuses, and we receive messages about it in our email in-boxes. But, most of us don’t really understand what it is, or we choose to ignore it. However, for those of us who are wine drinkers, Global Warming is knocking so hard we are about to have no choice but to open the cellar door.

Guide to Global Warming

In a nutshell, Global Warming is the gradual increase of the temperature of the earth’s lower atmosphere. This warming has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution, with the prevalence of greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases trap more heat near the earth, increasing global temperatures.

Though Global Warming doesn’t sound that bad, with many people’s image of it being that of a globe wrapped snuggly in a warm blanket, it’s something that needs to be taken seriously and it’s something that could greatly hinder, and destroy, the future. The feared long term impacts include melting of polar ice, causing coastal flooding and a rise in sea level; a disruption in the drinking supply, with much of the water supply becoming contingent on snow melts; vast changes of agriculture and farming, causing havoc among the world’s crop supplies; extinction of certain species; and an increase in both tropical storms and tropical diseases.

And, in regards to wine, Global Warming could lead to the destruction of many of the vineyards across the nation by the end of the century.

Affect on Wine

A new computerized climate study recently released in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicted that an increase in the number of days hotter than 95 degrees during the growing season could sharply reduce the amount of areas able to produce vintage wine-grape production. This would also cause the elimination of vineyards nationwide and cause the vineyards capable of producing the most expensive premium wines to be cut in half.

This study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, Purdue University, and NASA, took supercomputer calculations over a span of five months, calculating daily temperature swings contingent on climate-change situations, under the assumption that carbon dioxide levels would continue as outlined in the standard Global Warming scenarios (levels that warn gases will rise to over twice their current levels by 2100).

Because the production of quality grapes is reliant on a balance of the yin and yang of mother-nature, with an easily disturbed equilibrium of hot and cold being a major factor, the change in climate from Global Warming could be detrimental to the ability to make quality wine. And, if the equilibrium was weighed too heavily on one side - with weather that was too hot or too cold - the ability to make grapes could disappear altogether.

Why it Matters

No one wants to be credited as “that guy” or “that girl” who helped destroy the earth, unleashing diseases and viruses on the masses. And, no one wants to be credited as helping to destroy wine vineyards, picking grapes off their vines and stomping them into oblivion.

Global Warming, like so many environmental threats, is easy to ignore: the fall out from it probably won’t be directly felt in our lifetime. However, it will be felt in the lifetime of our children and our grandchildren. While some people shrug their shoulders at this notion, we must take into account this reality: if our grandparents left us with a destroyed world, we’d be pretty ticked off. And nothing, not even a hefty inheritance, could make up for it.

What Can be Done

There is no quick fix to stopping Global Warming, pulling the plug on it is a lengthy process, made up of extension cord after extension cord. However, there are a few things that can be done to help slow the process, and eventually stop it altogether.

  • Drive a Hybrid car, one that runs on both gasoline and electricity. Not only will they save you money for their fuel-efficiency, but they just might save the earth in the process
  • Buy energy efficient appliances. These are things such as energy saving refrigerators, dishwashers and air conditioners.
  • Replace light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. According to the EPA, if every household in America replaced their light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs, it would be the energy saving equivalent to taking 8 million cars off the road.

Overall, Global Warming is a serious threat. It’s threatening our oceans, our coasts, our crops, and our wine. It’s causing us to look at things we take for granted, things like a good bottle of wine, and savor each drop. While it sometimes seems inevitable, or irreversible, things can be done to put a cork in it; if everyone puts in a little effort, chances are our grandkids will still be able to celebrate their 21st birthday by ordering a nice glass of wine, topped off by another.