Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

No More Pancake Syrup? Climate Change Could Bring an End To Sugar Maples (sciencemag.org) 363

An anonymous reader shares a research report: Savor that sticky, slightly nutty sweetness drenching your Sunday morning pancakes now. The trees that make maple syrup will struggle to survive climate change, a new study reveals. Researchers had thought that pollution from cars, factories, and agriculture might buffer sugar maples against an increasingly warm and dry climate by supplying soils with fertilizing nitrogen. But the new analysis, which examined 20 years of tree and soil data in four Michigan locations, finds that extra boost of nitrogen won't be enough. Instead, the researchers report today in Ecology, a lack of water will stunt the trees' growth.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

No More Pancake Syrup? Climate Change Could Bring an End To Sugar Maples

Comments Filter:
  • by disgruntledlurker ( 672182 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:15PM (#55953107)
    For the love of God, won't somebody please think of the pancakes?!?
    • For the love of God, won't somebody please think of the CANADIANS?!?

      Fixed that for you.

    • For the love of God, won't somebody please think of the pancakes?!?

      I am! Please leave the maple syrup off it!

      There is something about Maple Syrup that is really off-putting to me. I can't stand to be in the same room as anyone who is using it. Vinegar has a similar reaction to me. Something about being in a room with someone pouring vinegar on their chips, or maple syrup on their pancakes makes my stomach churn and completely kills my appetite. I'm not a picky eater- but anything with either of those smells is going to turn my stomach.

      Maple Syrup to me smells like a m

      • For the love of God, won't somebody please think of the pancakes?!?

        I am! Please leave the maple syrup off it!

        There is something about Maple Syrup that is really off-putting to me. I can't stand to be in the same room as anyone who is using it.

        Tase and smell being related, have some wide variations. I have never heard of maple syrup issues, but if you have a problem, it's real. I have a sharp sense of smell, but I cannot smell bayberries. I also can smell distinct differences between males and females that others don't seem to notice. Just to be certain, I'm talking about clean and unperfurmed of either. Some times I think people react by way of their sexual preferences even if they aren't concious of it.

        I can't see how anyone can put that in their mouth... but we're all different. There are even some weirdos out there that don't like pineapple on pizza.

        It's sort of unfortunate, because for m

      • There is something about Maple Syrup that is really off-putting to me. I can't stand to be in the same room as anyone who is using it. Vinegar has a similar reaction to me. Something about being in a room with someone pouring vinegar on their chips, or maple syrup on their pancakes makes my stomach churn and completely kills my appetite

        To each their own but you understand that this is very weird? We're talking six standard deviations from normal here. Not being judgemental - I have some foods I can't stand in certain preparations. But that sounds like you have something wildly unusual about your taste/smell receptors.

        I'm not a picky eater- but anything with either of those smells is going to turn my stomach.

        Based on your previous statement I gently disagree about you claiming to not be being a picky eater.

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @01:26PM (#55953785) Journal
      If this article is anything to go by it got a lot less real. What all these sorts of articles (there was one about coffee being wiped out a year or so ago) completely fail to take account of is that if one area is becoming less hospitable to a particular plant another area is almost certainly becoming more hospitable. The regions where certain crops will grow changes over time even without human-made climate change: the Romans used to have vineyards in the UK, something which is only recently again becoming feasible with rising temperatures.

      Having to move to another region will be disruptive but that is nowhere near the same as claiming that maple production will be wiped out. It will just move further north to colder, wetter climes. Human-induced climate change is a serious problem and we have to act to curb it but I do wish we could "keep it real" when discussing the problems it will cause: these are bad enough without stupid articles like this gratuitously inflating them and making it easier for the deniers to ignore all warnings because some are so ridiculously wrong.
  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:16PM (#55953117)
    Don't worry, we will soon invent the replicator and you can make all you want. Of course, it will be powered by a coal fired electrical plant.
  • A lot less calories and I like the taste better. It's a pain to find the ones that are more fruit than cane sugar though.
    • A lot less calories and I like the taste better. It's a pain to find the ones that are more fruit than cane sugar though.

      To each their own, but there's nothing quite like fresh maple syrup. My dad has several trees up on the farm that he taps to make his own. If you have time & patience, it's free, and you know there's no cane sugar in it. ;-)

      • This is truth right here.

      • it's what makes preserves... well... preserve. But cheap jellies that are mostly sugar end up tasking like cheap candy because, well, that's what they are.
      • My dad has several trees up on the farm that he taps to make his own. If you have time & patience, it's free, and you know there's no cane sugar in it. ;-)

        "Free"? Only if you don't count the cost of the fuel you'll burn reducing the sap down to syrup or assign any value to your time. There also is the cost of the taps, buckets, and other gear in the process which aren't expensive but not free either. The process of making the syrup from sap takes many many hours. It takes about 40 parts sap to make 1 part syrup. I suppose you could do it over a wood fire outdoors but that's harder to control and you still need a large supply of wood.

        All to get something

  • by e r ( 2847683 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:16PM (#55953127)
    Well no shit, Sherlock.
    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      The point is rather than if you plan for a commercial maple outfit, how many trees on what kind of acreage can you possibly water without (1) running out of that free water from the stream you'll be needing, (2) keeping the young trees watered long enough to become of a size you can squeeze for sap.

      Scale matters, you should get some.

  • by Fly Swatter ( 30498 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:24PM (#55953195) Homepage

    Most consumers will never notice, most of the pancake syrups in the supermarket are just manufactured sugar with some coloring.

    And well, another corporate cartel with price fixing experiences bad karma, let me shed a tear for you. As for the trees, I do feel bad for them.

    • Those of us who enjoy real maple syrup will. If you like chemicals, continue with your manufactured sugary crap.
      • by penandpaper ( 2463226 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:54PM (#55953461) Journal

        I do like chemicals. All kinds of chemicals. I ingest them all the time. What do you have against chemicals?

        Pro-tip, stay away from dihydrogen monoxide. It's a real killer! Nasty stuff.

    • I'd bet that more than 1/2 the people under the age of 30 have never had anything other than the corn syrup stuff.

    • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:41PM (#55953335)
      That's why I use High Fructose Bee Vomit.
      • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @01:00PM (#55953521)

        That's why I use High Fructose Bee Vomit.

        Same problem, manufactured sugar with some coloring.

        • I've not seen honey for sale, labeled as such, that wasn't honey when you look at the ingredient list. Are they lying/being fooled by suppliers?
          • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @04:49PM (#55955481)

            Most consumers will never notice, most of the pancake syrups in the supermarket are just manufactured sugar with some coloring.

            That's why I use High Fructose Bee Vomit.

            Same problem, manufactured sugar with some coloring.

            I've not seen honey for sale, labeled as such, that wasn't honey when you look at the ingredient list. Are they lying/being fooled by suppliers?

            Somebody finds my comment funny, but it wasn't meant to be. Counterfeit honey is a real problem and detecting it using sophisticated scientific methods is a growing business since the counterfeiters are getting extremely sophisticated at beating the quality assurance tests. A lot of cheap counterfeit honey comes from China and it is bankrupting natural honey producers around the globe in large numbers. There is a new documentary series on Netflix Called 'Rotten' that contains an excellent episode on the honey industry and the problem with fake honey.

      • +1 Funny from me, my good sir.

    • by Eloking ( 877834 )

      Most consumers will never notice, most of the pancake syrups in the supermarket are just manufactured sugar with some coloring.

      And well, another corporate cartel with price fixing experiences bad karma, let me shed a tear for you. As for the trees, I do feel bad for them.

      As a representant of the nicest country in the world, I call that this is utter nonsense! (Sorry about that)

      Talking about the trees... If the climate get hotter, couldn't we simply move the production more to the north? After all, It's not like we don't have space avalaible : http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/cen... [statcan.gc.ca]

      • Of all the comments so far, this one is at least addressing TFS, so thank you.

        If the climate get hotter, couldn't we simply move the production more to the north? After all, It's not like we don't have space available.

        Migrating trees can be done, but the questions is: can we also migrate the ecosystem that the trees upon which the trees depend?

        They have pretty strict requirements regarding sunlight, growing periods, seasonal air temperatures, and the soil must contain certain recipes of nutrients, temperatures, moisture, pH, and microbial activity.

        Humans can migrate and adjust to changes and adapt to life, perhaps, without maple syrup.

  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:25PM (#55953209)

    I believe that human caused climate change is occurring considering everything else we've changed on earth (we literally move mountains now) but I don't think it means the end of the world. Folks who are predicting the end of the world are likely being overly alarmist but that's not to say we should sit back and do nothing. I've seen increasingly worse local flooding in recent years and weather's becoming more unstable. The worry isn't so much that the world will end but that it is going to be more difficult to make a living as the things we've been use to (relatively stable climate and weather for close to a millennium) might be going away. Change is expensive.

    I live in Canada, I like maple syrup and it makes sense that if it warms on average that trees might not do so well. Trees are rooted and take decades to mature so I imagine to compensate it's going to take a few decades to move them north to more appropriate climates. So saying there's no more maple syrup seems silly, saying that there might be shortage and it'll get more expensive makes more sense.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      I don't think it means the end of the world.

      It certainly doesn't.

      Humans have shown that we can readily adapt to major disruptions in living space, food supplies, or other resource limitations by simply killing off enough of each other that whoever remains does okay, or even thrives.

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Unless we manage to cause a runaway greenhouse effect.

        • by dbialac ( 320955 )
          We haven't come close to a runaway greenhouse effect. During the Mesozoic, there was far more CO2 in the atmosphere than there is today, and the world was, as would be expected, more tropical. All that's going to happen is that we grow certain crops further north than we do currently. Things that can survive in the warmer conditions will flourish. Things that require very cold conditions are few and far between and will likely adapt through natural selection. Change isn't an end, it's a natural course.
    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:37PM (#55953297)

      Stop being reasonable. You're completely missing the point of the click-bait headlines.

    • If the average temperature does rise, that means more water in the atmosphere due to greater evaporation of the oceans. How anyone can make the claim there will be "less water" with absolutely zero data to back that up nor any historical precedent for changing climate zones, is beyond me,

      • by Shotgun ( 30919 )

        That's ok. We're also being told that an average increase of two degrees will both melt the ice caps AND make the tropics to hot to support human life.

    • by dbialac ( 320955 )
      Keep in mind, too, that a stable climate is incredibly unusual on earth. The climate usually is unstable. As for warming, when I was growing up, we were warned that the earth was due for an ice age. All that CO2 we released may have just staved off that experience and prevented Paris from becoming a glacier.
      • Climate has always changed on this planet. Correct. There's two caveats here, though: First, the change in temperature has never been that fast in any history we can somehow observe and second, a change in climate has NEVER been beneficial for the apex predator.

        Or any organism that didn't want to change a lot.

        In other words, our choice seems to be to either change our behaviour now to prevent or at least limit the change in the climate, or to change our behaviour later when the change in climate forces us t

    • Humans don't need maple syrup.

      There are many synthetic syrups on store shelves ...

      It's like a guy at work telling me that I would not want any of the pork sausage he just made.

      I tried it and he was right.

      I was raised on store-bought sausage and fresh sausage tastes nasty.

      OTOH, I love to shoot, clean, and fry me up a mess of rabbits and have since I was a kid.

      I cannot stomach tame rabbit.

      Humans will survive climate change, but it won't be pretty.

      A post above suggested moving the trees North.

      What if "North" (

  • by Aaden42 ( 198257 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:32PM (#55953265) Homepage

    Let's be clear on terminology. "Pancake syrup" contains little or no maple. Maybe distilled smoke extract from a tiny amount of maple wood, but probably not even that. It's high fructose corn syrup & caramel color.

    Only 100% pure maple syrup is made from actual tree sap. As a New Yorker living on the Vermont border, I can assure you there's a difference between the good stuff and that crap they put in the clear plastic bottles.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      Let's be clear:

      The name of the food is "Maple sirup". Alternatively, the word "sirup" may be spelled "syrup".

      - 21CFR168.140

      "Pancake syrup" is an alternate name for "Table sirup." If a sirup has <66% soluble maple solids (and <74% cane and sorghum), it's table sirup. If 66% or more, it's maple sirup. So, pancake syrup may contain quite a bit of maple.

    • We are hearing this from fans of "real maple syrup." Much like we hear from fans of craft beers or certain wines. Or audiophiles. I'm not able to opine on whether there is a difference or not. But, the vast majority of consumers don't seem able to tell. Or they prefer the HFCS version :(
      • by RedK ( 112790 )

        We are hearing this from fans of "real maple syrup." Much like we hear from fans of craft beers or certain wines.

        No. Coors is still Beer, no matter how much "fans of craft beers" hate to admit it. But, this :

        http://www.auntjemima.com/products/syrups/original [auntjemima.com]

        Is just not Maple Syrup. Why is there a distinction ? Look at the Ingredients :

        INGREDIENTS: CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE.

        I don't see Maple in there. If it doesn't have Sap from a maple tree, it's simply not Maple syrup. It has nothing to do with "fandoms".

      • I'm not able to opine on whether there is a difference or not.

        Then you've never actually tasted the real thing. The difference isn't subtle.

        But, the vast majority of consumers don't seem able to tell. Or they prefer the HFCS version :(

        They can tell the difference. The reason they buy the cheap crap is because it is cheap. You can buy a gallon of Ms Butterworth for less than $5. A gallon of real maple syrup will cost you $40-60. And yes it is worth the cost unless you are really tight for cash. And if you can't afford the real stuff you probably shouldn't be wasting money on crappy colored sugar sludge anyway.

        • by Shotgun ( 30919 )

          "Worth it" is a personal preference. I actually don't care that much for "the real thing", and would pay extra for Ms Butterworth; though, I have often mixed the two.

          Real maple syrup is too runny for my taste, and makes a soggy mess of the perfectly crispy edges of my pancakes.

  • Do you really believe that even now, anything natural goes into that shit anymore?

  • by stilrz ( 5232331 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:36PM (#55953293)
    I make maple syrup on a *very* small scale in a major city. This "scientific" article is all bunk. 1) First, large scale maple producers already know that watering the trees while tapping helps production. If global warming from politicians hot air continues towards long term winter droughts,, Maple bushes can be irrigated. 2) There are over 3000 variety of maples right now and the sugar industry is growing out hybrids that can produce close to a 10% sugar content sap ( normal is 2%) Nature will provide drought tolerant if needed. 3) no-one uses pails. Maple syrup production is hi-tech: reverse osmosis is amazing 4) North America has an over-abundance of maple trees and syrup production 5) What is not mentioned that is serious potential for maple blight like oak wilt to destroy a lot trees 6) Canada 's political socialized maple syrup production does more harm to producers that climate change ever will Sure I only make about 7 gallons a year but I know more than these blowhards
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:48PM (#55953393)

      As a Canadian, I completely agree with all of the sentiments you've expressed here. Every year the local farmers bring hundreds of gallons of freshly made pure maple syrup to the local markets, and trust me, if there's a production problem, they'll figure out how to fix it right quick.

      Even the local Mennonites who bring the syrup in horse-drawn buggies don't use pails anymore. You only see them in use at the "historical park" sites that school trips visit, on three or four of the trees, to show the kids "how it used to be done" - and then they point at the hoses and rigging on the other trees and tell them about modern collection methods.

      Also, the Canadian government's Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve(tm) (it's a real thing!) is intended to cover for exactly the type of (very temporary) shortage this would involve.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Strider- ( 39683 )

        Also, the Canadian government's Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve(tm) (it's a real thing!) is intended to cover for exactly the type of (very temporary) shortage this would involve.

        I hate to break it to you, but while the maple reserve does exist, it's not associated with the Canadian federal government, nor even the Quebec government. Instead, It's maintained by a federation of Quebec producers, and basically allows them to act as a Cartel when it comes to Maple Syrup.

      • Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve(tm) (it's a real thing!)

        It even made the rounds on /. some time back!

        Someone tried to steal it [slashdot.org]!

        Don't worry. It was found [slashdot.org].

    • No! You must submit to the catastrophic climate change narrative! You don't know anything! Shut up! 97%! We need to spend trillions of dollars!
  • Um (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:39PM (#55953313)

    The excerpt is somewhat less than explanatory.

    Michigan is literally surrounded by fresh water and that doesn't seem to be changing. If " that extra boost of nitrogen won't be enough" because water, then why do you think the trees won't have enough water?

    Maybe there's a reason, but the excerpt provided does not give it or even hint at it. (And I won't break tradition by actually reading TFA.)

  • ... less maple syrup means more usage of corn syrup. Since corn-growing states tend to have a lot of climate change deniers, this will be viewed as a feature.
  • or, it 'could' cause them to proliferate to the point where there are way too many, and maple syrup becomes our main energy source.
  • The best maple syrup (due to a colder climate...) comes from eastern Canada, so I'd like to see a similar study done in Ontario and Quebec. This may just be another case of climate change preferentially destroying a US crop. Fortunately, it is produced mostly in blue states, so Real Americans can just keep pouring on that flavourless HFC-based slime.

    (BTW, I grew up in NH, so I'm not shilling for the Canadian co-ops...)

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      The best maple syrup (due to a colder climate...) comes from eastern Canada,

      I love how people often refer to Ontario and western Quebec as "Eastern Canada". Canada is a vast, vast, country, and Ontario, especially, is much closer to the middle than it is to the eastern side.

  • This is why we have a strategic maple syrup reserve in Canada:

    https://www.theglobeandmail.co... [theglobeandmail.com]

  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @12:53PM (#55953457)

    First off, Michigan? Really?! It's a maple tree. It declares its nationality with thousands and thousands of national flags on each and every tree. Maple trees were always just-visiting Michigan. If you want maple, know that they'll always be alive and well in their home country.

    Second, maple was always arbitrary. Personally, I enjoy the less-sweet, sharper taste of birch syrup even more. You'll find them combined quite often -- that's a good stepping-stone if you need such a device.

    Pfffff. Michigan maples. I mean, really. What are you thinking? What's next? British wine? Australian tea? I know: Texas tofu.

  • As if (Score:3, Informative)

    by jabberw0k ( 62554 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @01:00PM (#55953515) Homepage Journal
    Because the climate has been utterly static and changeless for millions of years until the evil oil companies snapped their fingers. Or maybe everything changes over time, and species adapt? It's almost as if the global warming climate alarmists disbelieve in natural selection, isn't it?
    • Range fragmentation. If a species is fine suffering disasters that don't quite effect its whole range, but you fragment it with development, now you have isolated pockets that can be wiped out that won't be recolonized as easily. If the pockets are isolated long enough, you may even induce speciation.
  • Are they just talking about the ones in Vermont or in Canada, too ?

    Are there places in Europe that produce maple syrup ?

  • Instead, the researchers report today in Ecology, a lack of water will stunt the trees' growth.

    So, life on the planet will become unbearable due to global warming/climate change causing the seas to rise, whilst simultaneously maple sugar trees will go away for lack of water?

    What's next, increased CO2 levels will lead to a mass extinction of all pigs, cutting off our only source of truly delicious bacon? (I do NOT consider so-called "Turkey Bacon" either delicious OR bacon.)

  • Other Sources (Score:3, Insightful)

    by f3ign ( 773479 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @02:45PM (#55954403)
    I am no scientist, but I am a hobby maple syrup producer. We make maple syrup from a variety of trees that are available locally to us Red, Silver, Norway and Sugar. The difference is Red and Silver have lower sugar content and subsequently take more energy to convert to syrup. According to the abstract, this study focused on Acer saccharum (Sugar maple). I wonder for the short-term (20-50 years) the other species might out last sugar and what you see is a spike in real maple syrup sales. Just my thoughts.
  • by Tighe_L ( 642122 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @03:30PM (#55954803) Homepage
    This is crap. The sugar maples are doing just fine, and every year the yield is different based on the spring melt.
  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @06:56PM (#55956419)

    This article shows a fundamental lack of understanding about maple sugaring. The reality is that maple sugar is produced over a broad season across a broad range of geographic areas and even with large variations on altitude and what side of the mountain your sugar bush is located on. On top of that, for millions of years the winters and springs have varied year to year and sugar maples still survive. This article is just scary fake news, FUD.

    If these people writing the scary FUD news would actually do the real work of maple sugaring they would understand this.

    Unfortunately fake news like this will get picked up in the press and spread around while the truth gets ignored.

    Fortunately, those of us who really do maple sugaring know better than to listen to idiots like this.

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken

Working...