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“Live Fast, Die Young”: USDA Shifts Plant Hardiness Zones

“Live Fast, Die Young”: USDA Shifts Plant Hardiness Zones

Draft script:

Here’s the final sentence of the first paragraph in an article released by yahoo.com on 14 February 2024: “The USDA just updated its plant hardiness zone map for the first time since 2012, and there have been some major changes.” In other words, the United States Department of Agriculture has altered their map of plant hardiness zones for the first time in more than a decade. Plant hardiness zones have been described since 1927, initially with eight zones, and now with 13 zones. Although the article at yahoo.com focuses on gardening, the implications for all ecosystems on Earth are clear.

This new map of plant hardiness zones was released in November 2023. According to the new map, about half of the United States has shifted to a new hardiness zone. The article at yahoo.com expresses the issue in this manner: “That’s really big news if you consider 80 million Americans use this map to decide on what and when to grow! Simply put, the types of plants that are able to grow successfully has changed for 50 percent of the country, according to data collected by over 13,000 weather stations across the U.S.” Obviously, this finding has implications well beyond gardening. If the physical characteristics of the Northern Hemisphere have changed, then the ability of organisms to keep up with those characteristics is an important consideration. As I have repeatedly pointed out, the rate of environmental change is critically important to the continued existence of species and populations.

A related article was published at Phys.org on 16 February 2024: ‘Live fast, die young’: Agriculture is transforming entire ecosystems. Here’s the opening paragraph: “A research team has investigated the effects of agricultural grassland use on communities of organisms…

…click on the link above to read the rest of the article…

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