By James Taylor
At the top of today’s “climate change” search results promoted by Google News is an article by Axios claiming “Florida’s strawberry industry threatened by climate change.” The article uncritically parrots talking points from a paper published by the activist group Environment Defense Fund (EDF), which raises hundreds of millions of dollars each year promoting false climate scares. A look at objective data, however, shows strawberry production in Florida and nationwide set records almost every year as our planet modestly warms.
The Axios article asserts warmer temperatures are reducing the amount of time that Florida strawberries are experiencing ideal growing temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The article also claims global warming is causing more frequent and destructive hurricanes, allegedly harming strawberry production.
Notably, and typically for such climate-scare articles, neither EDF nor Axios present any objective data to support their claims of declining strawberry production. Instead, they rely merely on the conjecture and speculation of EDF activists who have a strong financial self-interest in promoting a climate scare.
Fortunately, we do have data regarding Florida and national strawberry harvests. As shown in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chart below, Florida’s strawberry harvests increased by nearly 50 percent between 2001 and 2019, from approximately 135 million pounds per year to 195 million pounds per year. The strawberry news is even better nationally. USDA reports California strawberry harvests increased by nearly 80 percent between 2001 and 2019, from approximately 1050 million pounds per year to 1820 million pounds per year. California (90 percent) and Florida (8 percent) account for 98 percent of America’s strawberry production.
So how do EDF and Axios get away with inducing people to believe global warming is harming strawberry production? They (1) make unsupported predictions related to climate change, (2) hide the objective and verifiable evidence that strawberry harvests are dramatically improving with modest warming, longer growing seasons, and fewer frost events, (3) hide the fact that EDF raises money by promoting climate scares, and (4) promote their self-serving and provably false speculation about strawberry harvests as scientific ‘findings.’
People with open minds and scientific curiosity, however, will investigate and follow the facts.
[Strawberries photo courtesy of Pixabay]
James Taylor is the President of the Heartland Institute. Taylor is also director of Heartland’s Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy.
Taylor is the former managing editor (2001-2014) of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism.