July 30 News: As Devastating Midwest Drought Continues, Food Processors Feel The Heat

A round-up of the top climate and energy news.

As the Midwest bakes amid an unrelenting drought, farmers aren’t the only ones sweating.[Wall Street Journal]

Companies that rely on a big U.S. corn crop, such as grain exporter and ethanol producer Archer Daniels Midland Co. have watched their share prices tumble the past several weeks as the prospect of ample supplies has shriveled and corn prices have skyrocketed to record highs.

Investors will get a glimpse into ADM’s challenges, and broader repercussions for the agribusiness sector, when the company reports fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday.

ADM Chief Executive Patricia Woertz warned investors at a mid-June conference that ethanol losses were mounting and its grain-handling business was underperforming previous forecasts. That was before crops started to feel the full effects of the worst U.S. drought in decades. ADM shares are down 15% in the past seven weeks.

State and county fairs in the sweltering and drought-stricken Midwest may see some skinnier pigs and smaller squash this year. The dozen pigs Greg Marzahl and his 15-year-old daughter are bringing to the Wisconsin State Fair are smaller than those he’d normally show. Marzahl, who had three grand champion pigs last year, said his pigs are around about 15 pounds smaller than the normal 275 pounds. The heat is affecting their virility and appetites, he said. [Huffington Post]

The best aircraft to fight the growing number of Western wildfires would be dozens of modern “scooper” planes that fill their bellies with water skimmed in seconds from a lake or river, and not the slower helicopters and tankers now in use, according to a study released on Monday by the RAND Corporation. But the chief of the federal Forest Service, which commissioned the study, has rejected its central finding.[The New York Times]

Enbridge, a beleaguered Canadian oil pipeline company, has spilled more than 50,000 gallons of light crude oil in rural Wisconsin —  shortly after the company said it had implemented safety reforms after a massive 2010 spill in Michigan. [LA Times]

Even though research clearly shows that present electric cars can satisfy the requirements of 95 percent of all trips made in the U.S., many car buyers say electric cars need to travel further per charge before they’ll consider buying one.[Christian Science Monitor]

China’s Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world’s highest rail system, is being threatened by desertification on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as a result of global warming, experts concluded after conducting a probe.About 443 kilometers of the 1,956-km railway are in areas affected by desertification, including 103 km that lie in seriously desertified areas, Wang Jinchang, a senior engineer with the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company, told Xinhua Monday.Wang cited research showing that the threat of soil erosion has grown very fast in recent years, mostly near rivers and wetlands from Golmud and Lhasa, and the amount of affected rail tracks almost doubled from 2003 to 2009. [Global Times]

–Max Frankel

4 Responses to July 30 News: As Devastating Midwest Drought Continues, Food Processors Feel The Heat

  1. It is fascinating that wildland fire-fighting by aerial means is at such a scientifically primitive state that the sweeping disagreements and uncertainties described in the NYT article remain typical of the field.

    Many other, less dramatic aspects of forest management in the U.S. also remain remarkably primitive.

    I suspect fundamental cultural reforms in US land management agencies, as well as normal generational turnover, will be needed before the traditional thinking of the timber beasts can be upgraded based on accurate research and the broad public interest.

    Thanks for including this story. The climate tie-ins are myriad.

  2. afayol says:

    your photo shows a nice maize field down there in your so called USA made drought, sorry USA drought, I presume?

    Please, note that US maize seeds grown in Africa can become much worse than you nice photo of none-drought!
    There, I evaluated some programmes in Swaziland, Malawi and Zimbabwe and I can assure you that the US maize seeds (i.e. of big firms) supposed to produce the Africa so-called green revolution, …. actually these the US maize seeds end in near zero-graining, resulting in Swazis being forced to import 40% of their human feed, i.e. maize, from the EU!
    To make matter worse, these African need to rebuy every year your US firms maize seeds (GMOs and/or hybrid varieties: can’t reproduce them locally these stuff)!

    And please do not tell me that the beautiful mountains of Swaziland are a hot dry desert!

    God bless Life, not the smoking devils (carbon and radioactive)

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    True, but the real purpose, the domination of global food supplies by a handful of US multi-nationals, is achieved. To paraphrase many a geostrategist, ‘Once you have them by the belly, their ‘Hearts and Minds’ follow closely’.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    India hit by second huge power outage, this one larger than before

    New Delhi (CNN) — India suffered its second huge, crippling power failure in two days Tuesday, depriving as much as half of the vast and populous country, or up to 600 million people, of electricity and disrupting transport networks.

    The first power grid collapse, on Monday, was the country’s worst blackout in a decade. It affected seven states in northern India that are home to more than 350 million people.

    Monday’s grid failure struck in the early morning. Residents spent the rest of the night drenched in sweat amid humid weather, and many backup power systems had run out by daybreak.