Dr Richard Smart is an Australian viticultural scientist with 57 years in the grape and wine industry, and a grandfather of four. His professional experience has been in environmental physiology, canopy management and climate effects on grapevines and wine. His work has been as researcher and teacher, and more recently as international consultant. Dr Smart has visited over 30 countries and their wine regions while giving lectures and consulting.
Richard’s interest in matters to do with climate change was in the 1960’s, using an infrared gas analyser to measure carbon dioxide in air, and hence photosynthesis. In 1970 during PhD studies at Cornell University he heard that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere would result in global warming, due to infrared absorption. He has studied and lectured and written about the impact of global warming on the grape and wine sector, and was the first to raise this issue at OIV General Assembly in the 1980s.
Richard’s scientific background and travels have given him a perspective on the climate crisis and the future of the world wine industry. Because of the very strong variety by regional climate interaction affecting wine quality, this sector will be one of the agricultural industries most affected by climate change. Yet, despite this, action the climate crisis on wine is not widespread; further the limited interest that exists extends mostly to adaptation. The more ethical and relevant issue of mitigation is barely discussed. Continuing use of 3 century-old packaging, and release of fermentation CO2 to the atmosphere characterise the sector.
The Australian and New Zealand wine industries have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050. Where are the others?