Michael Scott, a scientist at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington is warning farmers to brace for the impacts of climate change. Scott’s work is helpful because he quanitifies the damages that may be in the offing.
By studying climate models and the impacts of past droughts, Scott cautions that a warming trend of just 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit could precipitate crop losses of $92 to $163 million. Yakima Valley, Washington’s fruit basket and agricultural powerhouse, would receive 20 to 40 percent less water, a potentially catastrophic loss if farmers don’t start changing their practices.
One thing agriculturalists can do is switch from thirsty apple orchards to grapes and vineyards, which do well with less water.