We are no longer in transition. The climate change future is here for food, ag and nature

During a keynote address at GreenBiz 23 in Scottsdale, Patricia Zurita, CEO of BirdLife International, asked the crowd of sustainability professionals, "Why do birds matter for your business?" The answer, "Birds tell us what is happening with the planet. They are the proverbial canary in the coal mine for climate change." And 49 percent of bird species are in decline, an ominous sign for the planet. 

During the other panels and talks throughout the week, there were repeated sentiments that we are living in the climate future we were warned about years ago. During a session on the Arizona water crisis, Will Thelander, a farmer in central Arizona, relayed that his annual water allocation from the Colorado River had been cut due to the shrinking reservoir, creating national headlines.

"I knew the cuts were coming," Thelander said, "but I thought it was going to come in 10 years from now. And once the water’s gone, I know it’s not coming back." 

Thelander doesn’t stay up nights hoping for a big snowpack to reestablish his previous water source. He is living in the climate crisis now, even if other farmers who still have their allocations are not.  

On the forestry side, climate change has quickly and drastically changed the No. 1 issue for the reforesting pipeline — seed shortages.

"This problem came out of nowhere," said Austin Rempel, director of Forest Restoration at American Forests during a session on reforestation. "Three years ago, only nurseries in the Southwest, states like Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, that are on the forefront of climate change were saying [seed shortage] was a problem."

Ponderosa pine, a common species used in reforestation projects in the west, already only produced seeds every 7 years. With droughts and heat, it’s become 14 years.

But now, according to him, seed shortages are at the top of the list of any nursery or reforestation project around the country. And climate change is partly to blame: The trees aren’t producing seeds at the level they used to. Ponderosa pine, a common species used in reforestation projects in the West, already only produced seeds every seven years. But with droughts and increases in heat, it’s become more like every 14 years, according to Rempel. 

So while the planet has already ma

Read More