“If you go by what the old-timers say, we should have had nothing,”
June 1, 2017 9:35 AM   Subscribe

The South Faces a Summer With Fewer Peaches [The New York Times] “Peaches are such a part of Georgia’s identity that schools, streets and health care plans are named after them. Even the sticker you get when you vote is in the shape of the fruit. South Carolina, one state over, grows more peaches than Georgia. A giant statue of a peach is its most famous roadside attraction. For almost all Southerners, a summer without a seemingly endless supply of peaches is unthinkable. But growers say the unthinkable is about to happen in America’s cobbler belt. A double punch of unseasonably warm winter weather and an ill-timed freeze has devastated the peach crop.”
posted by Fizz (35 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
*cancels move to the country*
posted by jonmc at 9:49 AM on June 1, 2017 [49 favorites]


Don't worry, God will step in and make sure everyone has enough peaches.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2017 [25 favorites]


If only there were some kind of international pact that could mitigate these shifts in the weather
posted by saturday_morning at 9:58 AM on June 1, 2017 [75 favorites]


Don't worry, God Ontario will step in and make sure everyone has enough peaches.

Fixed.
posted by Fizz at 9:58 AM on June 1, 2017 [8 favorites]


Happened last year with VA/MD/PA/OH peaches -- very warm spell got peaches/cherries out in blossom, then a hard frost a bit later.
posted by k5.user at 10:01 AM on June 1, 2017


*cancels move to the country*

I see what you did there.
posted by Splunge at 10:01 AM on June 1, 2017 [6 favorites]


It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature, because then where else are you going to get your damn peaches and your ag economy?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:05 AM on June 1, 2017


God never gives you a burden you can't handle...

...through geoengineering!
posted by radicalawyer at 10:08 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Colorado peach crop this year is fine, and peaches from anywhere else are just weird fuzzy orbs.
posted by heurtebise at 10:13 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


k5.user -- that same frost also destroyed New England's stone fruit crop last year. I normally make an Old Man's Jam that is basically a fun project where my wife and I will take a chunk of what we pick up at the farmer's market, macerate it with sugar then immerse in a jar with brandy. Every week a new layer with new fruit and more brandy gets added.

It's a slice of the summer fruit harvest preserved in alcohol to be opened in winter as a reminder of the glories of warm weather at a time when all that one has for fresh produce are potatoes and parsnips. Last year's batch was just raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, strawberry, then pears. Like peaches, cherries, apricots went extinct all of a sudden.
posted by bl1nk at 10:13 AM on June 1, 2017 [12 favorites]


*knock knock*

"who's there?"

"Glo--"

"Shut the Hell up, you Goddamn Librul!"
posted by jamjam at 10:17 AM on June 1, 2017 [6 favorites]


I study climatology as part of my job, and I frequently end up thinking about the psychological defenses of people who don't think climate change is a really a thing, or that it's real but not a threat.

Climate change is one of the most dangerous threats that humanity faces because we are not evolutionarily equipped to accurately gauge its risks. We are short term thinkers and doers. Our amygdalas are still wired for the savanna. We are equipped to deal with the immediate, the cataclysmic, the obvious. We take the easy energy that comes from burning coal, because we intuitively grasp the short term benefits of burning coal versus the short term expenses of setting up a more carbon-neutral energy source, while ignoring the long-term expenses of burning coal.

I get a kick out of the movie 'The Day After Tomorrow' because Roland Emmerich, fresh from Independence Day and Godzilla, took on the quixotic task of making climate change into his next monster of the week. And he failed. It was a ludicrous movie! You can't turn climate change into a monster of the week that fits into an action movie, even though it's a hell of a lot realer than Godzilla or aliens blowing up the White House. For that matter, the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs is the ONLY mass extinction killswitch that most people are familiar with, even though other mass extinctions have been more catastrophic. That's because an asteroid impact can be understood viscerally as an immediate, KABOOMing form of destruction (see also: Deep Impact). By comparison, loading our atmosphere and oceans with greenhouse gases is a silent, diffuse, and nebulous threat -- even though we are doing it in a geological instant, so rapidly that nature has never devised a more efficient way of accomplishing it.

The effects of climate change play out as a drip-drip-drip-drip of individual events. The fundamental problem with accepting the effects of climate change is that each individual event can be tossed into that little psychic broom closet of 'plausible deniability.' Sometimes crops fail! Sometimes the weather is shit! Sometimes a big damn hurricane kills a bunch of people! That's always been the case! But you have to look at the whole system, in aggregate, with an eye to statistical frequencies and probabilities, to see if this is part of a deviation from the norm. And again, we are really bad at assessing threats in that way.

So when a state's beloved peach crops fail, I wonder if this is the single drip that will change someone's mind. I wonder how many Georgians and South Carolinians will start to wonder. And then I wonder, how many more drips will it take? And will the drips start to turn into a flood some time soon? What will it take for, say, Ted Cruz or Rick Scott to publicly acknowledge that this is really happening? I suspect, sadly, that it will take a single cataclysmic event that fucks up their own back yard, e.g. a 500-year hurricane that destroys Houston or Miami. And even then, these guys might still have a lot of room to spare in their mental broom closets of plausible deniability.

We've already experienced Katrina and Sandy, two of the costliest disasters ever to strike the United States. But even there, the death tolls were not cataclysmic. At what point will we get a Super-Sandy that kills tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people? And even then, will enough people be psychologically immune to the drip-drip-drip that we as a society never actually get off our asses?
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 10:37 AM on June 1, 2017 [57 favorites]


I see what you did there.

You saw wrong.

Although, when I sang that POTUS song to myself as a teen, my dad thought I had somehow come to to be a 13 year old John Prine fan.
posted by sideshow at 10:40 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


You can't turn climate change into a monster of the week that fits into an action movie, even though it's a hell of a lot realer than Godzilla or aliens blowing up the White House

This kind of reminds me of children, who are terrified of harmless or imaginary things (the dark, bed and closet monsters), but who cheerfully and eagerly seek out dangers that will actually kill them graveyard dead (playing in the street, drinking Drano, etc). And so with people who divert themselves with paranoid fantasies about the Clash of Civilizations or the like, while we slowly head for the brink of actual human civilization ending via sea level rise, drought, famine, resource wars, mass refugee crises, etc.
posted by thelonius at 10:50 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


I happen to love both songs.
posted by jonmc at 10:51 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


Don need no peaches, got meth
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


So when a state's beloved peach crops fail, I wonder if this is the single drip that will change someone's mind. I wonder how many Georgians and South Carolinians will start to wonder.

You said this much more politely than I could have.

I was born in Georgia, now in South Carolina, and good god if there's a skill you learn at birth here, it's how to deny something that's happening right in front of you.

Our winters were never consistently brutal, but now they've practically vanished. Shorts and short-sleeves are normal January-wear. The Christmas tree survives longer in the living room since the a/c running nonstop keeps it from drying out. Nobody is quite sure how to manage their flowerbeds and tree plantings anymore. But that's not convincing. You talk to old people who have had sixty or seventy years of more or less stable seasons, and it's like they don't notice the change, they're rolling with the punches, they're adapting right away and not seeing the problem.

The beach we go every summer has become practically unusable, although it's fun to watch the sand being dredged and pumped onto the shore to try to build it back up after the hurricanes.

But the peaches? You would think that would break through the denial. I can't stand peaches, and yet they've been a constant in my life, forever. Someone threatened to buy peach ice cream the other day, and I launched into a long lecture about how when I was a kid, even if I wanted chocolate or vanilla or some interesting flavor when we got the ice cream churn out, nope, wasn't going to happen, because we had a basket of peaches that needed using up, and they'd go into the churn.

But the loss of them isn't going to get through to anyone, not yet. You can still get (some) peaches (from elsewhere) at the store. You can still find them from the guys who sell produce out of their trucks. We'll gripe a little that they are more expensive, or that they don't taste as good as they used to, and then we'll get right back to denying.

We haven't learned from the mistakes we made centuries ago, so I don't expect us to start agitating for carbon control schemes anytime soon.
posted by mittens at 11:00 AM on June 1, 2017 [20 favorites]


Is this the crop report before or after Beeks was taped into a gorilla suit?
posted by Fezboy! at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


As someone from the South who can eat my weight in peaches if given the opportunity, this is the worst thing ever and good God almighty I hope this is the thing that finally makes people realize climate change is real, though I'm not holding my breath.

Also, derail but surely this is South Carolina's most famous roadside attraction? Though I'd be happy to be proven wrong since that place is... problematic.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:26 AM on June 1, 2017 [7 favorites]


But the peaches? You would think that would break through the denial. I can't stand peaches, and yet they've been a constant in my life, forever. ...

But the loss of them isn't going to get through to anyone, not yet. You can still get (some) peaches (from elsewhere) at the store. You can still find them from the guys who sell produce out of their trucks. We'll gripe a little that they are more expensive, or that they don't taste as good as they used to, and then we'll get right back to denying.


Having grown up in Georgia, and though I don't hate peaches, I can wholeheartedly cosign this. Peaches could disappear from Georgia and an inordinate number of people would still deny that the ever-increasing number of days with temperatures above 30C meant a damn thing.

And everybody else in the state would be staring at them, slack-jawed and melting going "WHATtheFUCK" and it still wouldn't do anything.

Okay, maybe its not just a Southern thing, but.
posted by anem0ne at 11:37 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


Climate change is one of the most dangerous threats that humanity faces because we are not evolutionarily equipped to accurately gauge its risks.

I don't think that you can understate the politicization of the issue, though - which is clear if you look at the breakdown of climate change deniers by country and political affiliation. We're really terrible at weighing short term benefits versus long term risks, but not as terrible as the situation in the US would have you believe.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:41 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


Also, derail but surely this is South Carolina's most famous roadside attraction? Though I'd be happy to be proven wrong since that place is... problematic.

Holy crud, they have a wedding chapel at South of the Border? I felt squicked out just walking through there. It would have to be some kind of nuptial emergency or something.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:45 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't think that you can understate the politicization of the issue, though - which is clear if you look at the breakdown of climate change deniers by country and political affiliation. We're really terrible at weighing short term benefits versus long term risks, but not as terrible as the situation in the US would have you believe.

Yes, that's also true. The US is anomalous in terms of its public perception of climate change. Propaganda has played a critical role in shaping our public opinion.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:52 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


saturday_morning: "If only there were some kind of international pact that could mitigate these shifts in the weather"

A peach treaty, if you will
posted by chavenet at 12:09 PM on June 1, 2017 [33 favorites]


So when a state's beloved peach crops fail, I wonder if this is the single drip that will change someone's mind. I wonder how many Georgians and South Carolinians will start to wonder.

I've been listening to a number of podcasts that have brought up the issue of how to convince someone who does not believe in the science behind climate change and what is the best way to persuade someone.

I think so much of it comes down to making it personal. For many of these people, it's tough to grapple with these issues because they're far reaching and it involves a lot of scientists, politicians, etc.

But if you break it down and explain how this might impact the way someone eats. Or how it might impact their property or home. That's when they start to care and start to notice that this is a real thing. When it becomes something that directly impacts a person and their own self-interest is threatened in some way.

Having a conversation is a good thing. Making it personal so that people listen and are invested, even better.
posted by Fizz at 12:14 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


A peach treaty, if you will

I'm sure we could... cobble one together.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:23 PM on June 1, 2017 [14 favorites]


Its not like the problem isn't clearly labelled.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:25 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


"When it's peach pickin' time in Georgia,
Apple pickin' time in Tenne...

Hey, hold on a minute!"
posted by mr. digits at 1:06 PM on June 1, 2017


There's so much money in not doing anything about climate change; it makes inherent human inertia and lack of long term vision exponentially harder to overcome. Until it becomes more fiscally rewarding in the short term to combat climate change, i don't think there will be any real progress combating it. Unfortunately, by the time it's economically viable in the short term, i fear it will be too late to do naught but save the wealthiest.
posted by dazed_one at 1:13 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


They bought it.
posted by parmanparman at 2:56 PM on June 1, 2017


I always assumed that Georgia peaches were a long-gone tradition, like how Marylanders pretend their crab comes from Maryland.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:36 PM on June 1, 2017


> I always assumed that Georgia peaches were a long-gone tradition, like how Marylanders pretend their crab comes from Maryland.

What a strange assumption, where on earth would all of those mounds and mounds of fully-ripe peaches come from? I'm guessing you haven't travelled through the south in the summer. The entire economy of the US does not actually run on tourism and technology -- despite what the newspapers and pundits seems to believe -- and when a major cash crop gets hit, it's a BFD.

Also, Marylanders know where their crab comes from. First of all, some of it does come from Maryland, most definitely when you pull it out of your own crabpot. Secondly, we are well aware that the Chesapeake Bay stretches the length of three entire states, so even Chesapeake Bay bluecrab is not necessarily from Maryland. Thirdly, relevant to this post, much of our fresh crabmeat actually comes from South Carolina and Georgia. (We also know that Phillips and other big restaurants import crabmeat from Asia. It's okay, the texture is alright but it has less flavor.)
posted by desuetude at 9:34 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]


It's debatable that a giant peach is South Carolina's best known roadside attraction. South of the Border is heavily advertised with corny billboards in both Carolinas on I-95 and has been open for 40-50 years. The Gaffney water tower (the giant peach) is well known too, but it is often called "The Big Butt In The Sky" because of its uncanny resemblance to the human form, especially after its colors fade a bit after it latest repainting.
posted by Ausoleil at 9:17 AM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


There have been armadillos in middle Tennessee since at least 2012.

There used to be zero armadillos there because it wasn't warm enough throughout the year to sustain them. Now it is, they're everywhere, and they've become a major pest.

My elderly aunt, who lives in Nowhere, Tennessee just north of the Alabama border had one trying to get into her house one night last month. She did what any normal person would do: She called an exterminator shot it six times with her .22 rifle from her living room window until it gave up and rolled away. She said most or all of the bullets ricocheted off its scaly hide.

Side note: her neighbor came over to ask what in the world was going on. She told him she was shooting an armadillo. He said, "well, alright then" and went home. The next day, he suggested she upgrade to a bigger 30 aught 6 rifle. She said it was already loaded and ready for the next time. You just don't hear these stories in Indiana (or, I imagine, in Maryland.)

She couldn't understand why I was crying with laughter at her matter-of-fact recounting of her tale. Funny story aside, the fact remains that there shouldn't be any fucking armadillos anywhere in Tennessee.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:52 PM on June 2, 2017


Armadillo's hard to kill-o
When he makes his home in Tennessee
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:30 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


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