Saturday, April 07, 2007


A benefit from global warming?

Amid increasingly disturbing news such as this:

Climate change is not a future problem but a present one that must be tackled now, concludes the latest chapter of a major climate report. The report details how different amounts of global warming, ranging from 0°C to 5°C will impact on human society. It also underlines that those who will be most affected are the poor people who are least responsible for increasing levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.


Looking into the future, the report predicts:

  • A 2°C rise from today's temperatures will cause the extinction of 30% of species
  • A 3°C warming will lead to widespread coral deaths
  • Water availability in the moist tropics and in the high latitudes will increase, but will drop in the semi-arid low latitudes
  • Between 2°C and 3°C warming will increase agricultural yields in the high latitudes, but yields will then decrease with higher global temperatures
  • A 1°C warming will decrease agricultural yields in the low-latitudes
...we have some excellent news indeed about climate change. It seems that global warming is increasing the growth of mushrooms!

Yes, as the climate warms, it seems that mushrooms reproduce like... well, like fungi:

Within just 50 years, many fungi have doubled the length of their breeding season from 33 days on average to 74, according to a survey of 315 species conducted by Alan Gange at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, and colleagues. Species now appear above ground in July, mainly as a result of warmer temperatures, and the scarcity of frosts means they keep breeding into December.

More significantly, many have also switched to reproducing twice a year, fruiting once in the British spring and again in the autumn, something unheard of before temperatures began to climb in the mid-1970s. “The most astonishing thing from our analysis is that 30% of the species we looked at now fruit in May as well,” says Gange.

Yow! Now, here's the thing: I love mushrooms! I love them in an omelet or a quiche, sautéed with zucchini or haricots verts, sliced raw in a salad, or just, especially for the gentler, rarer ones, set out on their own. My “wild mushroom” risotto is a thing of beauty.

I don't know. If global warming can give us a bumper crop of morels and chanterelles, well, I think I'm in favour of it. I've changed my mind; this is a good thing! Everyone go buy Hummers.

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