The real impact of climate change

Pure maple syrup. Wisconsin producers are in the woods collecting sap and boiling it down like their European ancestors and the Algonquians before them. This process looks a little different today. Get in the woods and talk to any knowledgeable sugar shack owner and they’ll tell you the collecting seasons are getting shorter. The Proctor Maple Research Center reports the season ends an average of 11 days earlier than it used to 50 years ago. Shorter springs and warmer temperatures are the cause. We are also realizing the northward migration of our maple trees, which require a cooler climate.

Sugarmakers are full of ingenuity. They now use vacuum systems to collect from trees faster to compensate for the shorter season. Reverse osmosis is used to concentrate sap, which then requires less time and fuel to boil. Will this be enough?

Deforestation is still an issue in some places, although these days economic measures usually favor maple syrup over timber production. When you consider 2.5 acres of forest can hold 100 tons of carbon, there is no doubt maple trees are worth more alive than as lumber.

The sugar maple is unique to North America and maple syrup is not produced anywhere else in the world. The U.S. made over four million gallons of it in 2018. Between the U.S. and Canada, this is a billion dollar industry. In Wisconsin, the long term success of this unique local business depends on our action to mitigate climate change. Write your lawmaker. Let Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Ron Kind know: Conversations about climate change and its economic impact must include those who rely on the seasons for their livelihood.

Lang Jacobson

Eau Claire