By James Taylor
This article originally appeared in Townhall
February is the peak of maple syrup production season, which means climate activists and their media allies are once again claiming climate change is ravaging maple syrup production. The media peddle this story every year, and every year maple syrup production thoroughly debunks the claim. The objective fact – backed by undisputed scientific data – is maple syrup production sets new records on a frequent basis.
At the top of its search results this week for climate change, Google News links to a Feb. 16 Boston Globe article claiming, “Welcome to the new normal for New England winters, where increasingly, maple syrup producers are tapping trees over a month early” to try to salvage production in the climate crisis. The headline of a Feb. 11 Bloomberg article, also promoted by Google News, claims, “Maple Syrup’s $1.5 Billion Industry Splinters as Winters Get Warmer.”
Dozens of media outlets promote the maple syrup climate scare each winter and spring. Here are just a few examples from last year: On May 30, 2022, Global News Canada published an article titled, “Climate Change Threatening Maple Syrup Industry, Producers Say.” USA Today published a May 16, 2022 article titled, “Climate Change Means Uncertain Future for Northeast Maple Trees, Syrup Season.” Gothamist published an April 6, 2022 article titled, “How Climate Change Is Making Maple Syrup Less Sweet – and Sapping Production in NY, NJ.”
There are two points of misinformation peddled in the maple syrup scare stories. First is that warming winters are altering and shortening the late winter maple syrup production season, which is ravaging maple syrup production. Second is that hotter, dryer summers reduce the amount of photosynthesis in sugar maples. Less photosynthesis results in less sugar production, causing sugar maple sap to be less sweet.
Regarding the first point, scientists have found that maple sap production season advances merely four days for every 1 degree Celsius in temperature. That means over the past century or so, sap production season has advanced by just four days. That is not very much of a change.
Also regarding the first point, the miniscule change in the maple sap production season has not caused any decline in sap production. To the contrary, maple syrup production sets new records on a regular basis. The website Statista documents that 2022 was the best season ever for U.S. maple syrup production, smashing the previous record by nearly 20 percent.
Every one of the top seven all-time sap production years has occurred during the past seven years. Maple syrup production in Canada shows a similar dramatic upward trend.
Regarding the second point, the claim that climate change is making maple syrup less sweet, relies on conjecture that global warming is stunting photosynthesis by maple trees. Maple trees produce sugar when their leaves collect sunlight and turn it into sugar. Climate activists argue that a summer with more environmental stress – such as a climate with drier summers and more drought – will inhibit leaf growth, inhibit the efficiency of photosynthesis, and inhibit the tree’s ability to turn sunlight into sugar.
In reality, climate change is not inhibiting photosynthesis and tree health. NASA satellite measurements show that global leaf intensity has increased dramatically during the past 40 years, due mostly to more atmospheric carbon dioxide. This is particularly the case in New England and southern Canada, where a majority of the world’s sugar maples are.
Moreover, the asserted increase in hot, dry summers is not occurring. Vermont is by far the state with the most maple syrup production. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) “State Climate Summaries 2022: Vermont” documents there is no trend in Vermont in the number of hot summer days. 1954 was the year with the most hot summer days and 1975-1979 was the five-year period with the most hot summer days. Also, the NOAA summary reports, “Average annual precipitation has generally been above the long-term average since 1970.” So much for the conjecture that climate change is putting harmful summer stress on maple trees via more heat and drought. Of course, we already know there is less stress and more photosynthesis in Vermont maple trees from the NASA satellite images showing stunning growth in Vermont’s leaf intensity.
As is the case with so many fictitious climate scares, ignore the media alarmism and treat yourself to a second helping of delicious maple syrup!
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.
Those greenies are a bunch of saps
Plus fruits and nuts.
Thanks for that!
Good article. There is a sugar maple sap collection system just up the road from me. They are doing very well, and in the last few years have probably worn out what was a brand new pickup truck hauling the sap to their sugarhouse.
Climate crisis? Nope. Carry on.
The green blob really likes running stories of impending crop failures, which always coincide with record production of that product. “But the Models predict otherwise!”
Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story.
Sorry, but I can’t resist: I want my MAYPO!
And I want pancakes cooked on a gas griddle with real butter and maple syrup!
Bob ==> You’re in luck — they still make Maypo.
Years ago in Quebec the producers thought it was a good thing to support the “acid rain” story to drive up prices. The result was people stopped buying and switched to artificial syrups – after all, it was only a matter of time until there was no more syrup. Producers had to deal with unsold surplus.
Fran ==> And Quebec still maintains a Strategic Reserve to keep supply and prices steady.
Maple syrup production up, climate activists: “It’s evidence of climate change!”
Maple syrup production down, climate activists: “It’s evidence of climate change!”
Time for another flagon of Aunt Jemima’s to pour over the pancakes and waffles.
That is not maple syrup.
Read the label!
It started as a pancake mix. 1966, they introduced pancake syrup. Years ago, that brand had (I think) 2% maple syrup.
The company has been rebranded.
I thought she was canceled.
saw this the other day
sorry the pic itself wont appear here
but I found it damned funny
Racist for mentioning Aunt Jemima. Some white CEO fired her. Same guy got rid of the fair Indian maid on the butter.
Well, if she was a “fair” Indian Maid… she was a dangerous whitie.
Same BS back in 2012….
‘climate change is poised to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry’ – Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
… just follow the science folks!!
What amazes me is that despite being thoroughly debunked, such stories crop up again and again—in this case, annually. Every time the GBR naturally bleaches because of an ocean oscillation, it is dying because of climate change. Every time the American Southwest goes dry, it’s because of climate change even though we have two thousand years of history at places like Chaco Canyon saying such periods have always recurred with some frequency.
Some of the repetition is because of new faux reporters eager to publish climate alarmist demonization articles.
The rest are guilty of very short memory retention.
They may remember publishing an alarmist maple syrup article what back when, they do not remember what they or whomever they got the article from, wrote.
I think they are just lazy and stupid and they have reminders set in their calendars that it’s time for maple syrup disaster stories.
But it does play well with Bernie Sanders and other low information Vermonters.
For them Vermonteers, who elected the socialist, we should propose a five year moratorium on harvesting sap to give the maples time to adapt and recover from climate change.
Thanks, James, clear and well written.
We have to find a way to hold these liars and cheats responsible.
Well the spin here is more is less. The story on June 10, 2022 from the State of Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets “Vermont Sugar Season Sweet Success. https://agriculture.vermont.gov/agency-agriculture-food-markets-news/vermont-sugar-season-sweet-success – record production –
More CO₂ means more carbon bound up in sugars, starches and protein.
“Regarding the first point, scientists have found that maple sap production season advances merely four days for every 1 degree Celsius in temperature. That means over the past century or so, sap production season has advanced by just four days. That is not very much of a change.”
That’s assuming temperature has increased everywhere over the last century. Clearly it hasn’t. So, bad assumption.
Washington State is now in the push to take advantage of the commercial product.
They are so lucky that they are receiving grants to help owners set up to produce syrup.
The syrup is 4 to 5 times the cost of “regular” maple syrup from the east coast.
Another big win for the academic crowd.
As the owner of two real sugar maples, let me say that I have no intention of exploiting them. My brother, on the other hand, tapped a bunch of his silver maples and made syrup. It was maple syrup, but it had this really woody undertaste. He’s left them unmolested ever since.
There’s a dirty joke in there but I’m stumped.
For those not steeped in the lore of maple syrup production, it takes roughly 30 gallons of sap (the liquid that comes from the tree) to create 1 gallon of syrup (the result after the sap is boiled down to syrup).
If there were anything to the complaints, we’d be hearing headlines like “sap production is down”. We aren’t because it isn’t.
The argument that the sap is less sweet is a new one on me, but equally false. If there were anything to it would be seeing headlines like “despite high sap volume the syrup production is down”. We aren’t because it isn’t.
The chart in the post reflects syrup which would be down if either one of the claims were true but it’s not down it’s up.
It might be worth checking to study what percentage of maple trees are tapped. The price of syrup has skyrocketed so I speculate that there is increased interest in tapping trees. While the photo of the tap in the picture is a real example of a tap and pail, and these are still use they are largely used by mom-and-pop operations. Most producers including many mom-and-pop operations connect the tap to plastic hose which collects in a large tank.
I have fond memories of maple sugaring, both at my home in Maine and at a girlfriend in Vermont, although most of it comes from Canada these days.
It must take a large amount of natural gas to heat the 30 gallons of sap down to 1 gallon of syrup. Imagine the amounts of CO2 produced! Horrors!
My maple syrup comes from my neighbors, haven’t had to buy any in decades…
And when you get it warm from the evaporator, it’s heaven.
I can’t help but think that these stories are being generated as marketing.
Maple Trees are “sugar batteries”. Truthfully, most deciduous trees are similar, but the sugar maple is the best.
The sugar produced by the tree — its fuel — is drawn down into the root system in the fall months, and stored there over the winter. When the spring days start to become warmer, above freezing, the sugary sap rises in the trunk, fueling leaf bud growth and eventually leaves at the tips of branches.
The best sugaring time is when the days are above freezing and the nights below freezing.
Two of my sons have been sugarers over the years, my youngest still taps his trees and makes syrup every spring — his biggest problem is often too much sap to process with his minimal equipment.
Modern equipment consists of taps and long thin tubes which run downhill to large barrels which hold the sap of many many trees, rather than the small buckets hung on a wire loop below each tap.
As with all natural processes, some years are better than others.
A combination of at least three production related issues have increased the maple syrup yield.
1. High prices, which encourages production.
2. Inexpensive food grade tubing and collection systems, which improve collection efficiency.
3. The deployment of reverse osmosis syrup concentrators which cut energy consumption per unit of syrup produced by an order of magnitude.
The increase in production is so decoupled from any potentially negative “climate change” effects, or positive CO2 fertilization effects as to make any inferences impossible.
The tubing actually creates a natural vacuum in the line and greatly increases flow.
Some add vacuum pumps, but that requires electricity at the collecting tank.
BTW, the trees are much healthier because of the taps.
“1954 was the year with the most hot summer days and 1975-1979 was the five-year period with the most hot summer days.”
Wasn’t that the time frame of “the coming ice age”?
I know for a fact maple trees here in western PA are sapping hard, been trimming stuff for people because the weather has been good. These greentards are screwed in the head with their anti-human religion.
In my first visit to an Aldi’s food store today, there were very reasonable prices and that included 100% maple syrup (12.5 ounces for $6.49). Which the wife claims tasted good.
Everything at that store is about 20% less expensive than our current Meijer’s supermarket, which is already about 20% less than Kroger.
Highly recommended to beat inflation, even though they charge you 25 cents to get a cart, and then you get your 25 cents back when you return it. And they don’t provide bags but you can grab a cardboard box off any shelf.
Maple Bacon — now ya talkin’. This is what we get in OZ in the large supermarkets..
Maple syrup is itself per se racist. It is mostly harvested in the cold northlands, to where I moved. It takes hard hard work, first to cut wood for the evaporator, then to haul 40 gallons of sap (40 x 8 =) 320# to make one gallon of syrup that someone must sit with night and day through the season – for us about St. Patrick’s Day, freezing nights and Spring days.
The ‘Auntie Jemimas’ made cane syrup with donkeys driving the presses and burning the bagasse to cook the 40:1 syrup.
Journalism for many outlets has become the place where truth dies of neglect.
Funny, sugar maple on my lot is fine.