In a pigs-can-fly moment, the Department of Agriculture (DOA), together with other federal agencies and university scientists, has released a major, peer-reviewed report on what climate change means for the U.S. environment. The report, which surveys 1,000 previous studies on the subject, takes a particularly extensive look at the consequences for farming. It isn’t lengthy because of all the good news: In short, summed up by an excellent story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, over the next half century we can expect more crop failures, more weeds, more livestock deaths, more insect damage, more drought, and less effective herbicides. Who’s excited?
Although higher temperatures generally boost plant growth, even that turns out to be problematic. According to a DOA scientist quoted by the Des Moines Register,
“The fast growth can stunt the plants and harm them during critical periods, such as pollination.” Corn yields are likely to drop, since the crop is currently grown near the top of its temperature range. Oh, and there’s this: Because the planet’s already warming, these changes are likely regardless of any emissions reductions that are made.