Posts Tagged ‘2012 Drought in America’

Is the Drought a Perfect Storm for U.S. Beef?

In writing about climate change it’s hard to avoid the use of catch phrases and clichéd metaphors, as much we try to stop shooting silver bullets and keep all those pesky canaries out of our coal mines. At times, though, such oft-repeated words are used in paradoxical ways, jarring you into thinking about them a bit more deeply. This happened to me a few days ago when, in response to new Department of Agriculture data on the U.S. livestock industry, a beef producer referred to the impacts of the persistent drought as “a perfect storm.” Read More

Bookmark and Share

Drought Pits Big River against Big Ag

The ongoing Midwest drought has had many repercussions. They include the fact that the Mississippi River—sometimes called “The Big Muddy”—is muddier than usual this year, causing problems and massive anxiety about shipping on the river. Read More

Bookmark and Share

2013 Begins Without Respite from Drought

The latest map from the U.S. Drought Monitor and predictions from National Weather Service were released today. They show a grim picture of continuing drought for the foreseeable future for large swathes of the U.S. Read More

Bookmark and Share

The 2012 U.S. Drought and Our Future

It’s now nearly a month since we started our series of blog posts on the 2012 Drought in America, and during that time we’ve seen its effects spread more and more widely through the network of connections that make up our modern global society. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Will the 2012 U.S. Drought and Other Extreme Weather Events Trigger Another Global Food Crisis?

The impact of the 2012 drought on U.S. crops and livestock has been in the headlines for weeks now. Today the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released its monthly food price index, showing a sharp increase of 6 percent in July, which raises serious concerns that we might be on the brink of a global food crisis. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Land Sparing, Water Saving, and the 2012 U.S. Drought

The drought of 2012 has reminded us that water is a scarce resource, even though we pay fractions of a penny per gallon for it and expect that it’ll be there every time we turn on the tap. We depend on it not only for our drinking and washing and especially for the food we eat, but also for generating the electric power on which our economy depends. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Coping With Drought: How to Build a More Resilient Agricultural System

Although I live on the East Coast far from the current drought, I get periodic reports from the front lines from my sister, who lives with her husband in eastern Kansas on 70 acres of grass and woodland. When I visit them next week, I’ll see for myself the brown expanse of grass that used to be their lawn and the ever-lower water level in the catfish pond. They have harvested their hay field early and stored it to help feed their three horses, especially important now that local hay supplies are tight and prices are skyrocketing. Read More

Bookmark and Share

The Drought-Heat Tango: Why Dry Conditions Can Lead to Even Higher Temperatures

The 2012 Drought in America series so far has looked at the immense impacts of the drought on farmers and taxpayers, impacts to the energy sector, how the drought may reshape American agriculture, strategies for building resilience, and finally the longer-term climate implications for drought. I thought it may be useful to have a post that looks at some of the basic underlying mechanisms of the drought-heat dance that can be applied not only to our current drought, but those of past and future as well. Or as one paper states it, as soil moisture decreases, “hot days tend to get hotter to a greater degree than cool days get warmer.”

Read More

Categories: Global Warming  


Bookmark and Share

Biofuels Policy Flexible Enough to Weather the 2012 U.S. Drought

The drought parching the Midwest is raising serious questions about our agriculture and energy policies. Stocks of corn in storage were already low, and the intense dryness and heat means this year’s crop will be much smaller than was expected even a few months back. The share of the corn crop going to make ethanol has been rising, and was 40 percent last year, heightening tensions over how this year’s suddenly diminished harvest will be divvied up  (the principal uses are ethanol, animal feed, and exports). Read More

Bookmark and Share

Will the 2012 U.S. Drought Burst the Farmland Property Bubble?

The Midwest drought continues to intensify. As you can see in this animation of how the 2012 drought has spread and deepened over the past 12 weeks, we’re witnessing a major climate impact on our agricultural system that is leading to record corn and soybean prices, among other significant and costly consequences. Lately I’ve started considering the potential long-run impact of this drought on the region and on the entire structure of U.S. agriculture. Read More

Bookmark and Share