"With No End in Sight for Texas Drought, ABC News Explains: “Every Farmer in the World Will Be Affected by Climate Change”"
The driest 10-month period on record for Texas has devastated the state and its crops. The National Weather Service warned Monday:
THERE IS LITTLE TO SUGGEST ANY END TO THE DROUGHT
Every state — along with much of Asia — has been hit by record temperatures this summer. And thanks in large part to extreme weather around the globe, food prices are stuck at record levels, causing hardship for tens of millions:
Dr. Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, emailed TP Green, that while Gov. Perry may deny climate science:
There are dozens of credible atmospheric scientists in Texas at institutions like Rice, UT, and Texas A&M, and I can confidently say that none agree with Gov. Perry’s views on the science of climate change. This is a particularly unfortunate situation given the hellish drought that Texas is now experiencing, and which climate change is almost certainly making worse.
Global warming is certainly making the drought hotter, which creates a vicious cycle, since the higher temps dry out the earth, but the drier it gets, the hotter its gets, as the NWS explains below.
Yet, the dots aren’t being connected for the public by and large. “In Coverage of Extreme Weather, Media Downplay Climate Change” as a Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting analysis recently concluded.
Indeed, I just saw NBC Evening News tonight, which explained that we are seeing record food prices and that extreme weather is a major contributor, but had no mention whatsoever of climate change.
The dividing line between good climate reporting and bad climate reporting is almost always whether the reporter talked to real climate scientists. Typically, the more a reporter talks to, the better the story.
That’s a key reason why ABC News has been one of the few major media outlets to explain the connection between extreme weather and global warming (see links below). And they did so last night. Indeed, they went beyond the connection between global warming and extreme weather to the key climate impact on crops and food prices:
DIANE SAWYER: And tonight, the weather gone wild. Winds that come out of nowhere. Floods swelling streets. Heat breaking records in all 50 states. Snow where it hasn’t fallen in decades. Something strange going on around the globe.
SAWYER: As we begin this week, the weather across America has forecasters ripping up the record books. Stunning extremes tonight from coast to coast. And we are going to tell you what we have learned today about the freakish wind that hit the Indiana state fair. The wind that did not even show up on radar. More on that in a moment. But is it related to the heat around the globe? The heat so powerful, the Arctic sea ice is melting away, leaving the smallest amount of July ice at the pole since they started keeping track more than 30 years ago. To begin it all tonight, here’s ABC’s Jim Avila.
JIM AVILA: From the mid-Atlantic to New England, buckets of rain, a record ten inches fell on New York’s Long Island yesterday.
MAN: It’s been wicked. We’ve been trying to get around all day. You can’t get nowhere.
AVILA: If this was January, that storm would have dumped nine feet of snow. Instead, the north east flooding.
SECOND MAN: We’ve had rain. We’ve had flooding, but never anything that looks like this, no.
AVILA: Never had anything like this heat either. Triple digits across Texas again today. Halfway through August, 5,000 heat records have been broken across the country. Every state in the U.S. set a heat record, all 50. Waco hit 100 for the 63rd time this year, tying an all-time record. It was nature from another angle in Indianapolis over the weekend, straight-line winds, unseen on radar, out of nowhere, hit 70 miles per hour, knocked down the concert stage, killing five.
THIRD MAN: That is a monster tornado.
AVILA: A summer of extremes. Tornadoes in Massachusetts. Dust storms in Phoenix. And this weekend, Wellington, New Zealand, of all places, got its first snowfall in 35 years. What is going on?
HEIDI CULLEN (Climatologist): When you crank up the heat, when you globally warm the planet, you’re going to see more extreme events.
AVILA: How is this for extreme? The arctic sea ice is at its smallest ever. While globally, July was the seventh warmest ever. Making the drought in Texas easier to explain. 75 percent of America’s second largest state, bone dry. Kemp, Texas’ water tanks ran dry for days and farmers all across the southern tier are suffering. Crops from corn to soybeans are dying on the vine. And soon prices on vegetables and beef are expected to climb.
GERALD NELSON (International Food Policy Research Institute): Every farmer in the world will be affected by climate change one way or the other.
SAWYER: So, Jim, you say soon the prices will begin to rise. How soon?
AVILA: Well, hit hardest is corn and soybean. That’s all the way from breakfast cereal to steaks. And that could start happening as soon as fall, certainly six months by now.
Great quote by climatologist Heidi Cullen, “When you crank up the heat, when you globally warm the planet, you’re going to see more extreme events.”
Governor Rick Perry, who failed to stop the drought with his prayer proclamation, yesterday dismissed any worries about the impact of the drought on Texas, saying “we’ll be fine. As my dad says, it’ll rain. It always does.” He is not only unaware of the recent climate studies warning of permanent drought in the region (see literature here), but also the stunning warning from National Weather Service that there is no end in sight to the drought:
OCTOBER 2010 TO JULY 2011 WAS THE DRIEST OF ANY 10-MONTH PERIOD ON
RECORD FOR TEXAS. (THE PREVIOUS RECORD WAS JUNE 1917 TO MARCH 1918.)
THE STATEWIDE EXTENT OF EXTREME (D3) AND EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT (D4) IS
CURRENTLY AT ALL-TIME RECORD LEVELS…THE STATEWIDE PRECIPITATION
TOTALS THIS GROWING SEASON ARE LESS THAN ANY DURING THE MULTI-YEAR
DROUGHT OF THE 1950S.
THE PARCHED EARTH HAS ALLOWED TEMPERATURES TO SOAR…RESULTING IN
ONE OF THE HOTTEST SUMMERS ON RECORD. JUNE AND JULY WERE BOTH THE
WARMEST ON RECORD FOR THE STATE. WACO RECORDED ITS LONGEST EVER
STREAK OF CONSECUTIVE TRIPLE-DIGIT HIGHS…AND DALLAS/FORT WORTH IS
ON PACE TO ECLIPSE THE HOTTEST SUMMER ON RECORD…1980.
ALL OF NORTH TEXAS IS NOW IN AT LEAST SEVERE DROUGHT (D2)…WITH THE
VAST MAJORITY OF THE REGION IN EXTREME OR EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT. WATER
RESOURCES HAVE DECREASED DRAMATICALLY THIS SUMMER…AND CROP LOSSES
WILL LIKELY SET RECORD DOLLAR AMOUNTS.
THE HEAT IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THE REMAINDER OF THE SUMMER…WITH
THE DROUGHT CONTINUING UNABATED WELL INTO THE UPCOMING AUTUMN. WITH
THE POTENTIAL FOR ANOTHER DRY LA NINA WINTER…THERE IS LITTLE TO
SUGGEST ANY END TO THE DROUGHT.
The NWS spells out the grim impacts on agriculture:
PASTURE AND RANGELAND CONDITIONS CONTINUE TO DETERIORATE ACROSS THE
STATE… WITH 94 PERCENT NOW RATED AS POOR OR VERY POOR. HAY
SUPPLEMENTATION IS WIDESPREAD… WITH NEARLY ALL HAY IMPORTED FROM
OTHER STATES. IN ADDITION TO ADEQUATE FORAGE… CATTLE REQUIRE
SEVERAL GALLONS OF DRINKING WATER A DAY. NOT SURPRISINGLY…HERDS
CONTINUE TO BE CULLED…WITH SOME RANCHERS REPORTING COMPLETE
LIQUIDATION. SOME CATTLE HAVE BEEN RELOCATED TO GREENER PASTURES AS
FAR AWAY AS WYOMING.
WARM SEASON CROPS CONTINUE TO SUFFER. STATEWIDE…ONLY 8 PERCENT OF
CORN IS IN GOOD CONDITION. IN THE IMPORTANT CORN-GROWING REGION OF
CENTRAL TEXAS…MOST CORN HAS FAILED. IN ADDITION…MOST OF THE
COTTON PLANTED IN TEXAS THIS YEAR HAS BEEN ABANDONED…AN ESTIMATED
LOSS IN EXCESS OF 2 BILLION DOLLARS. DROUGHT-TOLERANT SORGHUM WAS
MOSTLY IN FAIR CONDITION OR BETTER. FARMERS CONTINUE TO REPORT CROP
DAMAGE FROM FERAL HOGS AND OTHER ANIMALS. IN SEARCH OF WATER…
ANIMALS AND INSECTS ARE INCREASINGLY ENCROACHING ON URBAN AREAS AND
IRRIGATED LAND. STATEWIDE AGRICULTURAL LOSSES THIS YEAR MAY BE
DOUBLE THE PREVIOUS RECORD OF 4.1 BILLION DOLLARS IN 2006.
The NWS isn’t in the business of making the connection to global warming, but it noted that the devastating heat dome that often afflicts Texas, “TYPICALLY TAKES UP RESIDENCE ABOVE THE LONE STAR STATE AROUND THE SUMMER SOLSTICE…BUT THIS SUMMER…IT ARRIVED A FEW WEEKS EARLIER THAN NORMAL.”
Get used to that, Texas. After reading my post, “U.S. Sees Most Extreme July Climate, Oklahoma Sees Hottest Average Temperature of Any State on Record,” Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Texas Tech University Climate Science Center, emailed me :
In reference to your post on the hottest July — this summer is very similar to what is projected under a +2°C global mean temperature increase. We typically average 9 days per year > 100°F in Lubbock; this year we are at 43 and counting. My map of days > 100°F for +2°C GMT is attached.
Days above 100°F for warming of +2°C, which half the projected warming this century on our current emissions path.
In short, they ain’t seen nothing yet.
- Terrific ABC News story (1/14/11): “Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming”
“Scientists: Climate Change No Longer a Theory, It’s Happening”
The pictures today from around the world of dramatic rooftop rescues from raging waters, makes it seem as though natural disasters are becoming an everyday occurrence. But they’re not all that natural; climate scientists say man-made global warming is the sudden force behind the forces of nature.
- Another terrific ABC News story (1/24/11) — on the role global warming is playing in extreme winter weather
ABC news contacted 10 climate scientists to ask their take, if the extreme winter like the one we’re having is the way of the future. The consensus: global warming is playing a role by shifting weather patterns in unpredictable ways. Many say the forecast for the future calls for record-breaking precipitation and extreme temperatures year-round.
Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:
- Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)
Remarkable heat in Asia.
For the second consecutive summer, some of the hottest temperatures in Earth’s recorded history have scorched Asia. The six hottest (undisputed) temperatures ever measured in Asia have all occurred in during the past two summers:
1) 53.5°C (128.3°F) at Moenjodaro, Pakistan on May 26, 2010.
2) 53.3°C (127.9°F) at Mitrabah, Kuwait on August 3, 2011.
We all know how the heat wave broke in Pakistan last year. I would hate to see a repeat of that anywhere.
Paul Magnus · Top Commenter
I think climate chaos has arrived. If you review the past peaking trends of GW, we r in for this sort of extremarama in what appears to be a 3-7 year cycle. On top of this the temps are increasing, so driving more intense extremes.
Basically we r witnessing the collapse of civilization in the next 5-10yrs…
Paul Magnus · Top Commenter
Considering this, I can’t believe that societies rnt preparing for this. It’s pretty amazing how something like the collapse of order can happen so quickly and without most of us realizing it’s happeNing!
I live in Texas. Both my parents come from Texas farm families. It is hot here, and dry. I need a bumper sticker that says “CLIMATE!”
right on! We must align with Nature, not against it.
I’m in South Texas. Our stock tank is dry for first time. Seven months of hay left for the cattle and that’s already after sell-off of half our mamas in 2007 due to drought. No hay this spring and none growing for fall cutting.
Shayan Ghajar · Top Commenter · UVA
Lauren, if your ranch uses mob grazing and fast rotation, it will improve the drought resistance of your pastures as well as potentially maintaining your stocking rates per acre. Send me a message or something if you need links to organizations that can give you more information. Best wishes.
My experience of Texas in the summer was that I was in air-conditioned buildings almost the entire time I was there. I think that folks respond to their immediate environment which, here, is air-conditioned, with plenty of food at the supermarket and some fantasy fare on the TV. What threatens that for most Americans are economic issues from which one may loose their access to these comforts. While I don’t for one second doubt the climate science and see it unfolding as predicted, I think the average person doesn’t understand scientific method and they respond to their immediate need, which is economic.
I believe the term is ‘willful ignorance’:
A bad faith decision to avoid becoming informed about something so as to avoid having to make undesirable decisions that such information might prompt. It may also be shown as for a person to have no clue in a decision but still goes ahead in their decision
If there’s no water in the taps they’ll just drink BRAWDO!! It’s got electrolytes.
Jeffrey Davis · Top Commenter
Bill Goedecke, I call that “Death Before Discomfort” and I think it’s going to kill us all.
Thomas Jamison · Top Commenter
Could maybe this jolt Obama into making some progress on climate? Or even just a public speech? Something that explains the facts and the science even just a little bit to the average American voter?
All of the Repub candidates deny climate change, this seems like a great opportunity for the President to stand out as someone different from the other side, at a time when so many people are in a world of hurt and likely to pay attention to someone, anyone, who may have an explanation and possibly even a course of action.
Don’t hold your breath.
Prime Minister Gillard is taking some heat but its a courageous move. I like how she explains why she’s doing it:
Obama isn’t going to do or be allowed to do anything of importance, on any issue, by psychopathic Republicants. If some reason politicians were to be pressured by an ‘enlightened’ public, the situation will still not be resolved.
The economic interests which have a stranglehold on the political system will not allow anything meaningful to be done. Instead they will propagandize in support of any pseudo-solution that will keep them in power and money
This system is simply not geared towards the common good and it will never be. It is like a rusty bucket with a thousand holes. You don’t bother patching it up. You just get a new one.
Good video, and great story here. Glad one media organization is finally beginning to connect the dots. Its becoming very obvious something is terribly wrong with the climate. I wonder when NBC and CBS will begin to lose their yellow streak?
Every part of the nation is now be either baked, deluged upon, or hit with some weird climatic event. Perhaps we are only a few more years away when we begin to have a consensus by all, that we are in facing a very serious problem.
Thomas Jamison · Top Commenter
Yes, how many floods, tornadoes, droughts and heat waves do people have to endure before they start to pay attention to climate change? Do they need to see rivers and lakes turning into “blood”? Oh wait, that already happened.
- b040875 (signed in using Yahoo)
Don’t forget ABC News were the ones who put together the best mainstream media look at climate change in years:
I really wish they’d re-broadcast it, with updates to take into account the even more serious signs we’re seeing now.
Climate is just weather over time.
Does democracy effectively come to an end when the President will not even speak to a critical issue because telling the truth creates unacceptable political risks? Is he not talking about climate change because he’s conceding that nothing more can be done at this time? We’re spending billions of federal (and state) dollars dealing with extreme weather events influenced by excessive greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Seems like we ought to at least discuss our options even if the predicted political outcome appears to be “do nothing.”
Kudos to ABC news for having a pair. We should all be writing them and their sponsors to let them know they are a preferred news source.
Are the People going to wake up and stop believing the Repubs and the corporations.. Wkae Up People!
Paul Magnus · Top Commenter
The fury of nature is arriving…
Is it me or the price of food is strongly correlated with oil price?
Food is sugar, starch and fat, these are hydrocarbons created by plants and algea from the Sun. That you harvest them now or that you harvest the ones from 400 M years ago change nothing. Food is oil, oil is food. So as both are traded commodities, their prices are (must be) completely correlated … not to mentionned fertilizer and machinery, both of which use oil to do their “work”. No surprise, just basic physic.
In today’s world of agribusiness, the fields are fertilized (natural gas synthetics), tilled, planted and harvested by machines energized by oil. The plants are watered by pumps lifting water from aquifers or rivers. When the cost of all this energy goes up the cost of food goes up.
But because the U.S. food system processes so much of it, the raw food cost increase affects only about 12% of the processed food’s price. Imagine being in a developing or undeveloped country where raw food is ALL you buy; their food costs are going through the roof where food costs are already 1/3 or more of a family income! Many of those countries import food or when they grow their own, export it for the trade value, even when it punishes its own people.
We are all in this together…
That is true, but a lot of Republicans don’t believe it.
The biographies of Rick Perry tell of an early childhood on a Texas dry-land cotton farm during the seven-year drought, 1950-1957. He, and perhaps other Texans, may not yet grasp the difference in severity between then and now. The NOAA summary of the 1950s drought includes low rainfall (as compared to no rainfall) and periods of high temperatures. A 50% drop in corn production was a notable record in the 1950s, as compared to the less than 8% in good condition report from the NWS.
Most reports I’ve read show that 2 degrees C worth of temperature increase beyond 2000 average temps severely hampers world food production and knocks out most of US farming. I don’t understand why this is not a concern. In 50 years, possibly less, we’re looking at the loss of US agriculture as we know it.
It is only a concern to/for those who BELIEVE it.
Wow – according to the comments it’s hitting 128′ F in Asia – I thought we had it bad. Can’t believe NWS is predicting there is little to suggest end of drought in Texas. No wonder Perry delusions sound good about this time.
We had our (dry for firs time ever) tank bulldozed and enlarged to hold more water. Hoping for a hurricane and/or mild flood to fill it. Last few years our significant rainfall usually comes in rare 6-inch doses – not good as regular rainfall as in the old days
you are spot on with the Asian heat. My son’s dad works in Doha, Qatar and it’s around that there.
Geeze – that’s too much. Atnthis point I hope the climate deniers are right – the future looks bleak if the deniers are wrong.
After the hottest July in history of all the states since the records were first recorded in 1895, here in OK we got a break. A short break as it is back in the triple digits. I keep wondering when food prices will rise. This winter? Next summer? Prices will surely rise since the crops have been failing here in OK and in TX. They were flooded in the mid-west all the way to LA. If we don’t have the crop yeilds then prices will rise. I do not grasp how the republicans, and their teaheads refuse to prepare for a future that isn’t looking so bright.
Food prices are already up here on the east coast, on some things by 20-30%
John McCormick · Top Commenter
Gosh, I wonder if there is any connection between Arctic ice melt back and Texas drought? Check this satellite image of the North Pole. Stay tuned.
Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)
If we fast forward a bit the media can film how tracks of people leave the state, people looting stores and shooting each other over water.
crazy tempura · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)
You know why this happens? Decades of conservatives repeatedly attacking the centrist media for being “liberal”, “leftist”, “biased”, etc. Mergers and acquisitions of media outlets, with board members serving on fossil fuel companies and other conservative-friendly big corporations. Fossil fuel companies giving huge amounts of cash to NPR and PBS to shut up their otherwise excellent news broadcasts.
And even now that the media avoids pissing off oil companies and conservatives, I can guarantee you that the attacks will continue.
Here’s the answer for the individual: Invest in food commodities, get rich and construct a survival enclave for you and your family in the far north.
Perhaps Hick Perry will dry and shrivel.
And here we have boiling frog alert: “I can’t speak for the people,” the county judge said. “But we have years of abundant rain, years of average rain, years when rain is short. I don’t think it’s global warming or God’s wrath. It’s just a cycle.” from: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7697219.html
More empty-headed “reporting.” The publishers, editors, and reporters of the Houston Chronicle ought to be ashamed of themselves. Another story that talks about the severity of the drought, but fails to connect it to the science of climate change. The only mention of global warming in the story is in a quotation of the opinion of a local inhabitant. Of course Roy Blair, who is not a scientist, thinks it’s a natural cycle. It’s hot and dry in Coke County just about all the time. The average annual rainfall in a normal year is only 20 inches. So as devastating as this most horrible of droughts is, it’s not a stretch for someone in a desert to think a drought is part of a natural cycle when the drought has been going on for months rather than years. It will take more than this one year to convince him–especially without any accura…See More
- Paul Magnus · Top Commenter
Food production affected by another whammy….
Hopes were food prices would stabilize and drop this summer. This has far reaching implications.
Timing is everything, I guess perry and bachmann don’t watch ABC news.
Aaand cue the economic death spiral in 3…2…1….you’re on.
Depressing for my friends in Texas…