Year 3, Month 2, Day 2: By The Time The Jackfruit Trees Are Fully Grown, It’ll Be Too Hot

The Chicago Sun-Times is one of many papers noting the USDA’s new map of hardiness zones:

WASHINGTON — Global warming is hitting not just home, but garden. The color-coded map of planting zones often seen on the back of seed packets is being updated by the government, illustrating a hotter 21st century.

It’s the first time since 1990 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised the official guide for the nation’s 80 million gardeners, and much has changed. Nearly entire states, such as Ohio, Nebraska and Texas, are in warmer zones.

The new guide, unveiled Wednesday at the National Arboretum, arrives just as many home gardeners are receiving their seed catalogs and dreaming of lush flower beds in the spring.

It reflects a new reality: The coldest day of the year isn’t as cold as it used to be, so some plants and trees can now survive farther north.

Short-term and long-term. Long-term and short-term. Yick. Sent January 27:

While gardeners in Northern parts of the country will welcome the USDA’ revised map of hardiness zones, the fact remains that any benefits from a changing climate are temporary. As the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs gigatonnes of carbon dioxide from our civilization’s consumption of fossil-fuel, the greenhouse effect will intensify, with potentially catastrophic effects for all of us.

Sure, growing figs in Boston will be fun (and tasty!). But as we smack our lips over the new local availability of produce that formerly traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to reach our stores, let’s remember: a rapidly warming planet is going to wreak havoc on our agricultural infrastructure; the monocropped farms providing much of America’s corn and wheat are vulnerable to the rapid temperature shifts and anomalous storms which global climate change will bring. The USDA map confirms that in the long run, we’re likely to reap a harvest of disaster.

Warren Senders

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