Climate change may alter wine-growing regions

As the world climate warms up, vineyards are feeling the heat: harvests are earlier, wines are coarser and have a higher alcohol content and lower acidity. Why would that be any big deal, you ask? Well, for one, wine as we know it would change — especially the finer ones.

Former Vice President Al Gore addressed wine experts at the Second International Congress on Wine and Climate Change, arguing that “if the temperature rises two or three degrees (Centigrade), we could manage to see Bordeaux remain as Bordeaux, Rioja as Rioja, Burgundy as Burgundy. But if it goes up five or six degrees, we must face up to huge problems, and the changes will be hard.”

Some of the changes we’re likely to see if that temperature rise occurs are the types of wines grown in specific regions — think Champagne in the Champagne region in France. French Champagne producers have reportedly bought land in Sussex and Kent, England in preparation for warmer temperatures (does that mean we’ll have to start calling French Champagne “Sussex”?).

The conference-goers’ expert verdicts on wines affected by climate change should be out soon. Until then, enjoy that Bordeaux while it lasts.

Eco-Travel Toolkit

Now that green is hip and cool, eco-friendly travel has appropriately transformed itself from hippy yurt farms to eco-luxury resorts that help save the planet while also coddling guests with comfort and style.

But that’s not all. Sustainable travel now encompasses the entire travel industry. This is hardly a surprise; those that express an interest in seeing the greater world, tend to also possess the desire to help protect it.

One of the better resources I’ve come across recently to help conscientious travelers seek out the greenest and healthiest travel alternatives is the Eco-Travel Toolkit published in Plenty Magazine (tagline: It’s easy being green).

The Eco-Travel Toolkit breaks green travel down into six categories; Where to Stay, Green Getaways, Up & Coming Destinations, Where NOT to Go, Getting There, and Seals of Approval. Each category is loaded with a bevy of links pointing green travelers in the right “Al Gore” direction–such as towards the very “first five-star green lodge” near Petra, Jordan (due to open in 2009).

While green travel isn’t for everyone, there will come the day that travelers may accidentally find themselves staying in a green lodge without actually knowing it. In the meantime, you may want to check out the Eco-Travel Toolkit and help edge things along.

Welcome to Tulip Island

The threat of rising sea-levels is getting a few people excited as they plan and plot new artificial islands. Then again it could just be canny developers with an eye on making megabucks.

The go-ahead Arab supercity of Dubai is leading the pack with developments like the Palms and the World, but now the idea is taking hold in perennially low-lying countries like the Netherlands.

A new island is being planned off the Dutch coast which will be in the shape of a tulip. I guess they could have plumped for a giant windmill or a huge bottle of Heineken, but a tulip is still undeniably Dutch.

What’s next? A giant kangaroo off the coast of Aussie’s Great Barrier Reef, or a yellow taxi with room for tens of thousands of passengers flagged down in the Hudson River?

Thanks to Marshall Astor on Flickr for the pic.

How many New Yorkers does it take change a light bulb?

Probably more than one if we’re talking about the the new energy efficient bulbs being installed on the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s estimated that the new bulbs will save a whopping 24 tons of greenhouse gases per year.

Not to be outdone, the Rockerfeller Center Christmas tree this year will be illuminated with30,000 sparkling LEDs (that’s Light Emitting Diodes if you were away from school that day…).

This is all worhy stuff, but I hope it doesn’t lead to a general decline of glamourous lights in Gotham. Forget the great works of art and literarure. I seriously reckon that a zenith of our species’ time so far on this terrestrial rock is the Manhattan skyline after dark.

India Also Celebrates Nobel Peace Prize Victory

India doesn’t have it’s international public relations committee on fire like Al Gore’s, but as the world focuses on congratulating Gore for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, India is celebrating with environmentalist Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and shares the award with the former US Vice President.

Diverging a little: for all those wondering what climate change has to do with world peace, the official Nobel Peace Prize website explains: “Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth’s resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world’s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.”

Right, a bit twisted, but it all makes sense now.

Anyway, other than Mother Teresa, Dr. Pachauri is the only other Indian to be associated with receiving the peace laureate, (even Mahatma Gandhi didn’t get it!) I therefore feel that it’s my moral duty to shed a bit of light on my fellow countryman.

NDTV reports the teleconversation between Pachauri and Gore: “This is Pachy. I am so delighted and so privileged to have the IPCC share with you. I will be your follower and you will be my leader.”

All this is great, but leaves me with the pondering thought: now India has strong ties with the US and is following its lead for both climate change as well as nuclear power. What should be made of that!?