MAP OF THE DAY: California’s Rangeland Is Disappearing

For a clear example of how climate change will affect goods we consume every day, check out these projections regarding the future of the California cattle industry (via Felicity Barringer of The New York Times).

A team of researchers from Duke University and the Environmental defence Fund looked at projected changes in forage production (the production of natural vegetation for cattle) based on two different climate change scenarios: in one instance the climate becomes warmer and wetter and in another, warmer and drier. 

The Times explains:

Significant amounts of forage — nature’s free “service” to the cattlemen — will either be dessicated (under the warmer and drier projection) as the arid conditions in southeastern California inch northward or will be replaced by less-digestible scrub and brush (under the warmer and wetter projection), the study projects.

The loss will cost California ranchers tens of millions of dollars annually if it is warmer and wetter over the next 60 years or so, and $123 million to $209 million a year if it is warmer and drier, the article suggests.

The graphic below illustrates the estimated loss of different types of vegetation by 2099, where yellow represents California’s rangeland. 


Fortunately, scientists are already working on lab-grown meat as a sustainable alternative to livestock production.