From Australia we hear the latest and most devastating news yet about climate. No, not tidal waves, the moon going dark or a beast with seven heads and ten horns (by the way is it ten per head for 70 total, or an odd mix of single and doubles?). Or giant jellyfish, stray cats (and worse) and kidney stones. No. This one is serious. We’re talking smaller strawberries that will cost more to buy. Except if it lowers the price. Whichever happens we’ll blame climate change and say it’s bad.
It’s easy to laugh. So go right ahead. Because the story really does claim that “Being able to eat large, succulent strawberries may become a pleasure of the past, as the popular fruit is the latest victim of a changing climate. It’s not cold weather causing the strawberries to shrink, but rather warmer temperatures. And as smaller strawberries take longer to pick, production costs are rising along with temperatures — which means lower returns for farmers and could lead to a price hike at the checkout for consumers.”
Of course. Just as more CO2 might make plants grow bigger, faster, but something will be wrong with them, so more warmth will hurt strawberries. News to anyone who thought it better to plant them in late spring than late fall, or heated their greenhouses. But not to the experts who say.
In this case, “The principal horticulturist at Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Christopher Menzel, said field tests at the Nambour research centre showed that as air temperatures rose the size of the fruit dropped.” And as you know, wherever a given alarmist happens to be is being hit harder by climate change than anywhere else. But in this case it was also hit sooner. Thus we find that poor Nambour is not just roasting, it has been for decades: Menzel claims that “With [climate change] even here at Nambour the records show the night temperatures have gone up by about 3 degrees over the past 50 to 60 years, which is quite significant.”
You ain’t fooling, buddy. You’re saying it hit you starting in 1970, or perhaps 1980 and the rest of us had to wait 20 more years? Unfair.
Funnily enough, the article went on to quote a real expert, that is, someone who sells strawberries, not noticing that she said the opposite about the impact on consumers. “The strawberry sales manager at the Brisbane wholesale markets outlet Fabco, Katrina Carpenter, said it was an issue they were already seeing. ‘It does impact the price, it makes it a bit lower, which is good for the consumer if they don’t mind a smaller strawberry,’ she said. ‘Because [strawberries that are] mediums are generally half the price of an extra-large, you get a lot more medium fruit, so you sell a lot more of that.’” Uh, that’s more strawberries at a lower price, isn’t it? Sort of win-win?
No. Of course not. With climate change it never is. So never mind all those baskets of delicious fruit. The point is, we’re all going to be reduced to pitiful shadows of our former selves, hollow-eyed and gaunt, gnawing two smaller strawberries while grampa talks about how in the good old days he could just eat one big one.
And thus we see demonstrated yet again the fundamental maxim of climate science: if it's nasty it's climate change, if it's nice it's just natural variation.