The Confused Environmentalist

How do you like them apples?
by Jennifer Weiss -- May 27th, 2012

I love apple pie.  Actually, I love most pies – key lime, lemon meringue and a wonderful gem called chess pie here in the Carolinas.  My favorite pies, however, are fruit pies.  Apple, cherry, blueberry, strawberry.  I could go on and on, but I’m making myself hungry.

Last week, while sharing a slice of apple pie with a friend, I heard disturbing news that would make any fruit lover shudder.  Apparently the early spring that the entire Northeast has enjoyed is causing a shortage of …. apples.  And not just apples, but also cherries, blueberries and other fruit crops.  The reason for this shortage?  Well, fruit trees do not generally follow an internal calendar and instead rely on the warmth of the sun to determine when to sprout leaves and flowers that will eventually turn into the fruit that we all love.

Ordinarily, the natural ebb and flow of the seasons yield fruit crops that we all can enjoy.  But this year, spring came early.  The warmth in March caused fruit trees in orchards from Virginia to Michigan to stretch their limbs out and bloom early.  Which would have been wonderful for everyone except for the heavy frost that hit in April.  And killed the crops.  Literally.

Here’s one thing you don’t think of when you think of global climate change – apples.  Or cherries, or blueberries or even oranges.  We expect our fruit to follow the normal seasonal schedule and arrive in our grocery stores (or produce boxes!) on time and as yummy as ever.  But when nature does not follow the “normal” schedule, even the trees and plants become confused.  And unfortunately that means less tasty fruit for you and me. And even worse, less revenue for the fruit farmers.

I do not claim to be a climate change expert, but I do know that the rising amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere can (and do) cause disruptions to the natural rhythm of the seasons.  While the early spring encourages us to throw on our shorts and flip flops and enjoy the warm weather, it is easy to forget how the early warmth may be harming other parts of the ecosystem.  Other parts that we depend on for food, water and yes, even apples.

So what did I do after I learned the news about the shortage of apples?  I went home and mowed my lawn with my push mower powered entirely by carbon-free me – with a little help from that yummy apple pie.


  1. sue
    May 27, 2012

    Interesting! Aren’t you good to use the push mower–I’ve done that and it’s hard work! You’re a good role model–in many more ways than one…

  2. Tawnee
    May 28, 2012

    Great post, Jen! Since we both know how much I love apple pie (and cherry pie… and any kind of pie…), this news was particularly distressing. Your post does an excellent job drawing a connection that I might not have made otherwise.

    Okay. Off to go get another slice of apple pie while it’s still plentiful!

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