Friday, July 13, 2012

We got SOME rain today

It wasn't a lot but it was probably enough to save the local corn crop (for now).  But there are still vast parts of Minnesota's "fertile crescent" that are in drought conditions.  Whoever is left with a corn crop this fall might get as much as $20 per bushel—so I may have relocated into a little pocket of prosperity in a corn belt worth of hurt.  Farmers with extra income tend to spend first on capital improvements—so this will help the local equipment dealers and some construction crews.  Because this will be the third year of agricultural prosperity, this probably will not buy so many pickups—that happened a couple of years ago and even a farmer with too much money thinks a two-year-old pickup is almost new.

What the farmer SHOULD be investing in is a meaningful response to climate change. Great idea Larson, but what exactly would that be—besides burying the power lines to his operation and other methods of lessening his exposure to collective energy infrastructure?  If his crops cannot pollinate when the air is too hot, or when it needs rain at specific times, all his investment in the equipment to grow those crops has been reduced to glorified lawn ornaments.  If the whole farm must be redesigned to operate in the new climate, this guy is going to need a LOT of good years—something not likely to happen when the crops are failing.

New Scientist has an excellent opinion piece on the need to adapt to the new climate.  Adapting to new conditions is the other side of rebuilding the infrastructure so as to reduce carbon emissions in the first place.

As freak weather becomes the norm, we need to adapt

09 July 2012

Magazine issue 2872. Subscribe and save
For similar stories, visit the Editorials and Climate Change Topic Guides

IT HAS been yet another week of extraordinary weather. Torrential rainfall caused chaos across the UK. A record-breaking heatwave drifted across the US, broken by freak thunderstorms that left a trail of destruction from Chicago to Washington DC. Meanwhile, in India and Bangladesh more than 100 people were killed and half a million fled when the monsoon arrived with a vengeance.

We have become used to reports of extreme weather events playing down any connection with climate change. The refrain is usually along the lines of "you cannot attribute any single event to global warming". But increasingly this is no longer the case. The science of climate attribution - which makes causal connections between climate change and weather events - is advancing rapidly, and with it our understanding of what we can expect in years to come.

From killer heatwaves to destructive floods, the effects of global warming are becoming ever more obvious - and we ain't seen nothing yet. Our weather is not only becoming more extreme as a result of global warming, it is becoming even more extreme than climate scientists predicted.

Researchers now think they are starting to understand why (see "How global warming is driving our weather wild"). Human activity cannot be held solely responsible for all of these extreme events, but by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, we have loaded the climate dice. Only political leaders and corporate masters have the power to do anything about that - but they are doing little to help.

Those opposed to cutting emissions sometimes argue that we will simply adapt to a warming world. That is fast becoming a necessity, rather than a choice, but we are doing a lousy job of it. Take the recent devastating forest fires in Colorado. Recent weather conditions have been ideal for them, but they were worsened by forest-management practices that led to a build-up of combustible fuel (see "Humans and nature turn American West into a tinderbox"). Elsewhere in the US, subsidised insurance encourages development in coastal areas that are increasingly at risk from storms and flooding. more

See also: Updated: Climate Scientists Are Going There - The Link is Being Made

An update on crop conditions.
THU JUL 12, 2012

Drought Disaster Declared in 1016 Counties in 26 States by USDA

by FishOutofWater

Withering severe to extreme drought, covering most of the southern two-thirds of the United States, has led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make its largest disaster declaration ever. Extensive crop damage, triggered by months of drought and the hottest June in American history, is decimating the largest corn crop ever planted in the U.S. Every state in the southern half of the country, except for Virginia and West Virginia is affected by the drought declaration. The combination of the end of a two year La Nina event and global warming set the stage for dome of hot air to build up over the midcontinent this June, smashing all-time temperature records from Colorado to the Carolinas. The hot dry air literally sucked the moisture out of crops.

Food and commodity prices are rising in response to the drought.

A drought disaster hasn't been declared in Iowa, the largest corn producer, but this week's drought monitor shows that Iowa, too, is affected by the drought. The heat and drought has expanded into the central and northern midwest.

In the 18 primary corn-growing states, 30 percent of the crop is now in poor or very poor condition, up from 22 percent the previous week. In addition, fully half of the nation’s pastures and ranges are in poor or very poor condition, up from 28 percent in mid-June. The hot, dry conditions have also allowed for a dramatic increase in wildfire activity since mid-June. During the past 3 weeks, the year-to-date acreage burned by wildfires increased from 1.1 million to 3.1 million as of this writing.

This is what climate scientists told you was coming. more

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