From roses to oyster dinners: The impacts of climate change on Valentine’s Day

13.02.19 By
This article is more than 3 years old

With January over, it is time to cast our attention forward to the beloved hallmark holiday that is Valentine’s Day.

We are sorry to burst your (heart-shaped) bubble, but climate change is already threatening many of the things which make Valentine’s Day special, as well as adding to the costs.

Are flowers your go-to? 

Time to empty the piggy bank and up your budget as climate change puts pressure on Australian-grown roses which will likely increase in price in the future. Longer summers and shorter winters are affecting harvesting and pruning timelines for local farmers. This combined with rising water bills due to increasing water stress means higher costs for locally grown blooms could become the norm.

Additionally, warmer weather is affecting pollination rates as changing temperatures are putting blooming flowers and the bees that pollinate them out of sync. Records dating back to 1848 suggest this is going to be an ever growing problem, affecting future yields of your Valentine’s bouquet as well as the food we put on the table.

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How about chocolate? 

Cacao trees, the magical chocolate producing plant, grow in a limited geographic region around the equator that has the perfect temperature and humidity for the crops to flourish. Intensifying climate change may see these regions’ temperatures increase, drastically affecting their ability to produce chocolate.

Mars, a global chocolate company which is making the switch to 100% clean, reliable, affordable renewable energy by 2040, has even hired a dedicated team of meteorologists to research possible impacts of climate change on its supply line.

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Perhaps a romantic brunch? 

Avocados are slow growing and temperature sensitive, making them extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Avocado trees die at temperatures above 38, so the recent heatwaves may have put some pressure on your brunch staple.  Across the ditch, New Zealand experienced an avocado crime wave in 2016 with many orchards raided as prices skyrocketed.

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Followed by a V Day caffeine hit? 

As temperatures rise and droughts intensify, a good cup of coffee is going to be harder to grow and more expensive to buy. A Fair-trade Australia commissioned study showed that regions suitable for growing coffee could decrease by up to 50% due to climate change, in a worst-case scenario. Concerns over coffee eradication are so severe that Arabica coffee gene-banks are being proposed to ensure genetic diversity in future coffee plantations.

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Fancy a candlelit oyster dinner? 

Warming temperatures mean increased dissolved carbon dioxide in oceans, leading to changes in ocean chemistry, which is known as ocean acidification. This phenomenon is already affecting shellfish industries globally and adding to future uncertainty.

Acidic seawater makes it harder for many types of shellfish to grow and maintain their calcium-based shells. Researchers from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that we can expect to see up to 70% of shellfish species at risk by 2050. In NSW, we’ve already seen a reduction in size and quality in many oyster hotspots. Outside of Australia, the USA’s oyster industry has already been hit with a loss of more than $110 million due to changing oceans.

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A nice wine to share?

Traditional wine growing regions in Australia as well as in France, Chile and Argentina are increasingly threatened by warming temperatures. Harvard research reveals that with global warming, vineyards are no longer going to be able to grow the same grapes they have in the past, meaning vino as we know it will change. As 80% of Australian wine comes from only 12 varieties of grapes, a major shakeup will be needed as temperatures change and old grape varieties can no longer survive the increasingly severe heatwave conditions.

Similar to roses, changes to the harvesting season are adding logistical pressure to wine makers. As harvests condense, farmers are under more pressure to get all the grapes off the vines before they over-ripen. Then, as only a set number of grapes can be processed at a time, infrastructure investments are needed to ensure grapes can be refrigerated until processed.

Ultimately, it may make your romantic glass of vino a little more pricey.  So this Valentine’s Day be sure to splurge on your favourite bottles, as they might not taste or cost the same next year.

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For information on renewable-powered Valentine’s Day food and beverages check out our “A Renewable Feast” report.