Thursday, July 26, 2012

The corn belt drought (update)

New Rule: After this summer, anyone who can still believe that climate change is a hoax should be prevented from voting.

Of course, it's a damn shame we couldn't have started solving this problem in 1987 when James Hansen testified before the Senate that this subject was beyond reasonable debate.  This problem will take probably 50 years to solve once we get going and this summer shows those will be some seriously ugly years. And an interesting question is: Will the distressed populations turn on the paid liars of climate change denialism, and if so, will they turn violent?

JULY 24, 2012
Climate Change and the Next American Revolution

The Unbearable Waves of Heat


The U.S. heat wave is slowly shaking the foundations of American politics. It may take years for the deep rumble to evolve into an above ground, institution-shattering earthquake, but U.S. society has changed for good.

The heat wave has helped convince tens of millions of Americans that climate change is real, overpowering the fake science and right-wing media – funded by corporate cash – to convince Americans otherwise.

Republicans and Democrats alike also erect roadblocks to understanding climate change. By the politicians’ complete lack of action towards addressing the issue, the “climate change is fake” movement was strengthened, since Americans presumed that any sane government would be actively trying to address an issue that had the potential to destroy civilization.

But working people have finally made up their mind. A recent poll showed that 70 percent of Americans now believe that climate change is real, up from 52 percent in 2010. And a growing number of people are recognizing that the warming of the planet is caused by human activity.

Business Week explains: “A record heat wave, drought and catastrophic wildfires are accomplishing what climate scientists could not: convincing a wide swath of Americans that global temperatures are rising.”

This means that working class families throughout the Midwest and southern states simply don’t believe what their media and politicians are telling them.

It also implies that these millions of Americans are being further politicized in a deeper sense.

Believing that climate change exists implies that you are somewhat aware about the massive consequences to humanity if the global economy doesn’t drastically change, and fast.

This awareness has revolutionary implications. As millions of Americans watch the environment destroyed – for their grandchildren or themselves – while politicians do absolutely nothing in response, or make tiny token gestures – a growing number of Americans will demand political alternatives, and fight to see them created. The American political system as it exists today cannot cope with this inevitable happening. more
From the Minneapolis Tribune, a recognition of how bad things have become.  These folks have been damn near brain dead on climate change so this is something of a breakthrough.  They are waking up probably because the boys at Cargill are "concerned."  Of course when food prices double and food riots break out around the world, someone will be making a killing.  Cargill is better positioned to make that killing than anyone I can imagine.

Withering drought choking Wisconsin

Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
July 25, 2012
Much of Midwest is suffering through driest season in years.

COCHRANE, WIS. -- Rain finally fell on Wisconsin's bluff country this week, but for much of the corn on Keith Greshik's 900-acre farm, it was too little too late.

Stalks that should be lush, green and 10 feet tall are brown and crisp and barely as high as the bill on Greshik's cap. Fields that only a month ago held potential for substantial yields are now nearly a total loss, withered by five weeks of stifling heat and dry weather the likes of which southwestern Wisconsin hasn't seen in decades.

"This stuff isn't going to amount to anything," a discouraged Greshik, 43, said the other day as he inspected his battered corn. "It's done."

As bad as the drought is here in Buffalo County, it pales compared to what has gripped other parts of the state and much of the Upper Midwest, which is suffering through one of the driest growing seasons in nearly 50 years.

More than two-thirds of the nation's bread basket -- from Kansas to Indiana -- has gone without rain for much of the summer, damaging or destroying corn, soybean and alfalfa fields and costing farmers millions of dollars in lost yields.

As of Friday, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that more than half of the Midwest, which produces most of the nation's corn and soybeans, was suffering from "severe" to "extreme" drought.

Southern Wisconsin, from the Mississippi River east to Lake Michigan, was so desperate that, late last week, Gov. Scott Walker sought federal disaster assistance for 23 counties. More could be added to the list if rain doesn't fall soon -- and steadily.

"It's kind of a crapshoot, and it's part of farming," Greshik said, trying to stay optimistic. "You don't get to do well every year."

But, he added, "if it doesn't rain, we're going to be in real trouble. I mean really in trouble."

By late Tuesday, as much as 2 inches of rain had fallen across some of the driest stretches of southern Wisconsin. But for many farmers, it brought little relief.

"Right now, that doesn't do much for them," said Tom Stangeland of the National Weather Service in La Crosse. "It keeps the fire danger down, and lawns perk up a little bit. But for some of those people, like the corn growers, the crop is gone now."

Ed Hopkins, assistant state climatologist in Madison, said the drought could be the worst "going back to the 1930s."

As of Monday, more than half the state remained "abnormally dry" or worse. Three-fourths of the state's farmland was "short" or "very short" of moisture, according to the state's weekly crop report.

It's just as bad in parts of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

Most of Iowa, the country's top corn and soybean grower, is suffering from severe drought.

Two thirds of Kansas is extremely to exceptionally dry. Parts of southwestern and northwestern Minnesota are moderately dry, but for the most part, the state is faring better than Wisconsin. more

1 comment:

  1. Anecdotally this is the worst drought of my lifetime, and it is scary being in the midst of it because frankly I haven't seen more corrupted American institutions (corporate, governmental, financial) in my lifetime either. It gives me little hope that any long-term planning has been put into place to help us ride out this lost growing season.

    You mention Cargill, but even they can't make money from nothing. Maybe due to its secure place as an approved monopoly business and family-held instead of corporate may mean it can help float all the bankrupt farming-related businesses that will result from this drought.

    State gov't budgets are trottled by requirements to be balanced and years of tax-revolt; even the Federal gov't which can run deficits has been hampered by full-throated ideologues unable to think beyond their TV sets.

    This is going to wake up a lot of people to the error of their ways...entire generations at a time. People can ignore and deny logic and stats and even sensible advice, but they can't deny this reality as it snuffs out their little happy place they've been hiding in.

    What is the old Chinese 'proverb'...may you live in interesting times.