Happy Thanksgiving? Not if climate change has anything to say about it

Climate change could change Norman Rockwell's classic "Freedom from Want" into anything but

Freedom from Want? With climate change, Thanksgiving could be anything but

As families attempt to reunite for the holidays, we are awash in bad weather across the US.  And while we are enjoying wonderful weather down here in Texas at the moment, the rest of the country is not so fortunate.  My friends in the Pacific Northwest are dealing with snow and ice, and the same storm is causing blizzard conditions from Reno to Denver.  One of my friends in Utah referred to their blizzard as the “Snowpocalypse.”  Much of the Midwest is faring as badly, with delays at some of our biggest hub airports– Chicago, Denver, and Atlanta, etc– because of weather.

Wait, wait– I thought we were talking about “global warming”– you know? Shouldn’t that mean that that in Seattle and Portland they should be wearing shorts and sipping frozen beverages instead of battling frozen roads?  Au contraire, mon frere.  A warming Arctic has pushed colder air south to the US and Europe, and warmer oceans are putting more water vapor into the atmosphere, causing more extreme weather.

And to add insult to injury, according to an article at Discovery.com, climate change is likely to affect the price, quality and availability of the foods in your Thanksgiving feast, especially the pièce de résistance of most holiday meal gatherings: Meleagris gallopavo, or the American domesticated turkey.

Pasty, dry turkey meat along with expensive fruits, vegetables and potatoes could be on the horizon if more variable extremes in regional weather patterns continue as a likely result of climate change, indicates author Neville Gregory.

The usual star of the Thanksgiving Day feast, roast turkey, could suffer in quality as a result.

“Climate change could affect meat quality in two ways,” Gregory, a professor in animal welfare physiology at the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College, explains. “First, there are direct effects on organ and muscle metabolism during heat exposure which can persist after slaughter.”

Prior studies have demonstrated that heat stress can increase the risks of what’s known as “pale, soft, exudative” (PSE) meat. According to Purdue University Animal Sciences, PSE meat “is characterized by its pale color, lack of firmness, and fluid dripping from its cut surfaces. When cooked, this meat lacks the juiciness of normal meat.”

It’s already so hard to find a great turkey these days, and now you’re telling me because of climate change it’s just not going to be as good in coming years?  And then truly, nostalgia will have taken over the Wilson family holidays.  “Why, back in my day, before climate change, turkey used to taste so good! You didn’t need gravy…”

So, enjoy while we can, and during your post-meal repose, take some time to think about preserving these kinds of things for our children and grandchildren, how we can kick the carbon habit, be more efficient and use less energy to do the things we already do, creating new green jobs and a new economic expansion.  These are things worth conserving, as much as any natural resource.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.