Climate Change Threatens Vermonts Sweetest Industry

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Climate changeThe Northeast Kingdom- The maple tapping industry is at risk due to man made climate change, and that could be mean a loss of millions of dollars for Vermont's economy. Right now, according to the University of Vermont's center for rural studies the maple tapping industry brings in between 317 and 330 million dollars in sales to the state per year.

Climate change is threading the stability of the transition between winter and spring, which is prime maple tapping season. Dahlia Dill, co-owner of chandler pond farm said,"sap doesn't come out of the tree unless its prefect conditions. So it has to be bellow freezing at night and above freezing long enough during the day for the trees to let go and start running." Michael johnson, owner of happy hill maple farm adds, "when you get like two to three 70 degree days... 60 to 70 degree days, your season is done."

According to dr. Janel hanrahan, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at nvu-lyndon said, "most studies now are starting to point to this idea of higher variable(of daily temperature changes) Under climate change. So that means that your going to have more extreme storms but your also going to have these big swings in temperature and perception types both year to year, month to month, and maybe even day to day." which makes it challenging for a maple tree to produce a constant and steady flow of sap.

Johnson said, "there are three big runs in the season and if you miss one of the big runs, your yield is not going ot be as good for the year." and according to climate central, the season is already shifting. "the tapping season in new england starts about 8 days earlier and ends 11 days earlier than 50 years ago." johnson mentioned that he has his pumps and taps ready to go around the christmas season just in case he can caught these early runs.

Climate central adds, "with no change in greenhouse gas emissions rates, tap season may start 30 days earlier by 2100, and that shifting ecological patterns after 2100 could mean fewer maple trees in new england and new york, possibly closing the tap on the industry."

Dr hanrahan stated, "in the past 150 years or so, we have increase from 280 pmm (carbon dioxide) To up over 410 ppm.(Parts per million) So we have managed  to increase the amount of carbon in about 100 years or so more so than happened naturally over a period of 10,000 years." to help someone understand how much energy that is, she adds, "4 hiroshima atomic booms pre second, thats how much extra energy we are accumulating  in our climate system every single second."

But with that being said Dr. Hanrahan continued, "we are causing this, we know what the problem is and we know how to fix it, and so that is pretty powerful because all we  need to do is take our foot off the gas pedal. Now thats easier said than done, but we can do it." So it appears up to us to make the right choices in time to protect what  makes living in vermont so sweet.