by Paige Donner
What do panda bears and wine have to do one another? Now that’s a question I never imagined I’d be posing here on my Local Food And Wine blog. But, according to the recently released (April 8th, 2013) study from the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences (Lee Hannah, lead scientist) panda bears will be one more species that is affected by adaptations humans will likely undertake in response to global climate change impacting wine-producing regions.
Let me explain…
In the PNAS.org study of 4/8/’13, Wine, Climate Change and Conservation, several scenarios are outlined as to how our current trajectory of global warming i.e. climate change is impacting the earth’s wine regions by 2050. In one scenario they state that the,
Area suitable for viticulture decreases 25% to 73% in major wine producing regions by 2050.
Alarming? They seem to think so. The 6-page report further reports that the areas most affected will be wine regions in a Mediterranean or Mediterranean-like climate zone. That means parts of southern Europe, Australia, parts of Chile and Northern California. The study does state that the areas that will suffer least, at least by 2050, will be higher elevation zones, coastal zones, and more Northern latitude areas – areas like New Zealand, Northern Europe and Canada’s British Columbia.
OK… so what about the Panda Bears?
This PNAS report includes discussion of how adaptation can mitigate some of these climate change effects on wine regions. Adaptation can take the form of tailored viticultural practices, adaptive irrigation techniques, and also planting at higher elevations to name a few.
In China, where viticulture and the planting of vineyards are firmly in a development phase, this could mean rapid adaptation so as to anticipate regional climate change. In plain English what this means is that some of the areas that are most suitable for high-quality wine grape cultivation in China are the same areas that are the natural habitat for giant panda bears.
… China is not known for its European-style wines, but it is among the fastest growing wine-producing regions in the world. It has significant areas suitable for viticulture (Fig. 1), and these areas are in the same mountains that are habitat for the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Future conservation efforts for the giant panda need to incorporate consideration of viticulture as a potential land use and viticultural suitability trends in response to climate change. – PNAS.org April 8, ’13 Hannah
It seems that we may be seeing pictures of Panda Bears popping up everywhere in the coming decades as the new poster child of climate change, just as we’ve seen polar bears and melting ice caps in the past decade.