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Maple Syrup: Climate Change Takes another Victim

Maple Syrup: Climate Change Takes another Victim

Climate change is bringing the fight to one of the sacred places of American culture — the breakfast table, or more specifically to maple syrup. Pancakes, waffles, and French toast are all at the mercy of the climate changes that are altering the amount and way maple syrup — the only, proper topping for these delicious breakfast staples — is collected throughout America’s northeastern forests.

A new report from the USDA shows that maple syrup production in New York has fallen more than 100,000 gallons over the past year — down a whopping 29% from 2009 levels.

Growing up, I have fond memories of helping my dad collect maple sap from local trees around our house south of Pittsburgh. Some days, the gallon jugs tied to the taps were overflowing, spilling onto the ground. Other days, the production was so little that it wasn’t even worth adding to the larger collection buckets.

According to a reliable source (my dad), maple trees need cold nights (20 degrees) and warm days (40 degrees, give or take) to really get the sap running. In Pittsburgh this means that primetime for maple syrup is late February into early March.

Without those temperature swings, the sap doesn’t run as prodigiously — and it takes a lot of sap to make the sweet, delicious maple syrup that tops the nation’s waffles and pancakes. More than 20 gallons of the watery sap went into every gallon of maple syrup that was boiled down in my family’s kitchen (which made for a muggy, nearly tropical experience in the dead of Pittsburgh winter).

But as the planet warms, and seasons become less predictably cold, the winter temps that are needed to produce the forest nectar simply aren’t happening.

The culprits are the same as they’ve been for decades — unregulated greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere from dirty fuels like coal, oil, and even natural gas. We are still experiencing the effects of carbon pollution from the Industrial Revolution — it is now even more critical to put a lid on the greenhouse gas pollution that is threatening our lands, our communities, and our breakfast tables.

This post first appeared on the blog of The Wilderness Society.  Neil Shader is

a Communications Manager for the Wilderness Society.  

Read more: , , , , ,

by r_gallant via flickr/creative commons
By Neil Shader

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56 comments

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7:54PM PST on Dec 7, 2013

Thank you.

7:54PM PST on Dec 7, 2013

Thank you.

7:53PM PST on Dec 7, 2013

Thank you.

7:52PM PST on Dec 7, 2013

Thank you.

9:20PM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

I actually prefur the taste of fake maple syrups made with maple flavored corn syrup. Last I saw, real maple was like $40 a gallon & it's too sweet.

1:53AM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

thanks

9:09PM PDT on Jul 22, 2010

thanks

10:08PM PDT on Jun 28, 2010

i hardly buy maple syrup, but it would be a big loss if it were gone

6:57AM PDT on Jun 28, 2010

WAAAAHHH!!! not my maple syrup! hopefully scientists (or psychics who talk to trees) can help us figure out a way to regenerate a delicious new flow of sugary liquid gold moving forward....

8:39AM PDT on Jun 26, 2010

I've cut my 'carbon emissions' down to the minimum I can bear: I turn off lights and appliances when not in use; I don't buy much anymore; I source local or second-hand wherever possible; recycle, and go for 1 to 2 months on one tank of petrol.

But I use electricity and depend on it. Life without it is distressingly cold, or hot; boring, isolated and barely worth living. And if there is no more maple syrup, life definitely would not be worth living.

But what can I do? Those who are not thinking, not cutting back, not recycling, and not giving a damn- how do we reach them? Will the threat of a world without maple syrup do it? If the threat of summers exceeding 50 degrees celsius doesn't do it, I doubt it.

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