Will Global Warming Slow Molasses?

Published April 11, 2008

If it’s spring, then it’s time for the annual Global Warming Alarm to sound on the outlook for the maple syrup sap runs in New England.

In 2004, the Associated Press created a sensation by reporting that global warming had accelerated the maple syrup run by several weeks, and sap was pouring out of the trees. The report, carried through the world, was based on anecdotal reporting of New Englanders’ memories.

But 2005 saw the slowest running of syrup in decades as New England temperatures stubbornly refused to cooperate with dire predictions of global warming and rising sea levels.

This year, the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press reports, New England maple trees still are wallowing in the winter blahs–and global warming remains the culprit of choice, according to the news reports.

Can global warming be responsible for the fast-running sap as well as the slow?

Not likely, says climatologist Patrick Michaels, Ph.D., a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute.

“Since 1979, satellites have been measuring lower atmospheric temperatures around the globe,” Michaels reports in the May issue of Environment & Climate News. “In the past 12 months, they show the Earth’s mean temperature has dropped by 1.13 degrees. The rate of planetary warming is falling in line with the low end of predictions made by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Michael advises maple syrup lovers just to go with the flow.