“. . Olive trees are hardy survivors. In the Bible, a dove brings an olive leaf to Noah on the ark, a sign that the world is not entirely destroyed. Olive oil is central to food and folklore across the Mediterranean. And its health benefits have been so extolled that global demand for extra virgin olive oil has surged.
Now, a changing climate is turning olive oil into an increasingly risky business — at least in the Mediterranean, the land of its birth.
Harvests have been bad three of the last five years, subject to what Vito Martielli, an analyst with Rabobank, based in Utrecht, the Netherlands, called weather-related “shocks.” And with growing demand, wholesale prices have gone up.
No one will go hungry if there’s not enough olive oil on the market. But the impact of climate change on such a hardy and high-end product is a measure of how global warming is beginning to challenge how we grow food.”
“. . . Between June and August this year, it was exceptionally hot and dry across southern Europe. In Spain, temperatures soared above 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in July. In Italy, rainfall was 30 percent below normal levels — and in parts of the country, much lower still.
Scientists with the World Weather Attribution program, a group dedicated to the study of extreme weather, concluded last month that the “the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017” had increased tenfold since the early 1900s, and the chances of a heat wave like the one that hit the region for three days in August, nicknamed Lucifer, had risen by four times.
“We found a very clear global warming fossil fuel fingerprint,” said Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who heads the program.Ask Italian olive growers about the weather this year and you hear a wide range of answers. It rained on one hill. It didn’t rain on the neighboring one. One olive variety made it through the heat; another didn’t. Even in one orchard, one tree hung heavy with fruit; another barely had any.”
PhotoExtracting extra virgin olive oil at a mill in Carmignano, near Prato, owned by Capezzana. Credit Massimo Berruti for The New York TimesPhotoOlives pouring into a chute in Trevi at the beginning of the extraction process. Credit Massimo Berruti for The New York Times