It's the first time since 1990 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated the map and much has changed. Nearly entire states, such as Ohio, Nebraska and Texas, are in warmer zones.That's Texas as in fake-macho, alleged-coyote-shooting, global-warming-denialist non-presidetial-candidate governor Rick Perry.
And the proof of the changes is in the pudding, if the pudding is figgy pudding of Christmas carol fame:
"People who grow plants are well aware of the fact that temperatures have gotten more mild throughout the year, particularly in the winter time," said Boston University biology professor Richard Primack. "There's a lot of things you can grow now that you couldn't grow before."Indeed.
He uses the giant fig tree in his suburban Boston yard as an example.
"People don't think of figs as a crop you can grow in the Boston area. You can do it now," he said.
Meanwhile, wingnuts are likely to accuse the government of propaganda or something.
The reality? If anything, the USDA is guilty of timidity and punch-pulling.
USDA spokeswoman Kim Kaplan, who was part of the map team, repeatedly tried to distance the new zones in the map from global warming issues. She said even though much of the country is in warmer zones, the map "is simply not a good instrument" to demonstrate climate change because it is based on just the coldest days of the year.
David W. Wolfe, professor of plant and soil ecology in Cornell University's Department of Horticulture said the USDA is being too cautious and disagrees with Kaplan about whether this reflects warming.I agree with Wolfe. Kaplan is being the usual government PR flak type. (Note: See "NASA" and "Arsenicgate" for recent examples. What does she think is making the changes, if not global warming? And, while the map may not be a great measurement instrument, it IS a good one.
Besides what CAN be grown further north, the flip side is what CAN'T be grown so close to the equator any more.
Example? Whether it's just a short-term La Nina issue or something bigger, the Agricultural Extension Service here in Tejas is warning of a poor peach crop because there's not enough cold weather this winter.
So, you Texas Hill Country wingnut types? Remember that.