August 16 News: Drought Creates Toxic Feed Problem In Texas; Ranchers Struggle To Maintain Herds In Hawaii

The worst U.S. drought in five decades has parched the land and decimated crops. It now threatens to deal a second blow to farmers, who may have to throw out tonnes of toxic feed. [Reuters]

Growers are rushing to check the nitrate levels of that silage, the stalks and leaves that corn farmers often harvest to feed to locally raised cattle or hogs.

Agriculture groups are warning farmers that drought-hit plants may have failed to process nitrogen fertilizer due to stunted growth, making them poisonous to livestock.

Exceptionally early spring planting has caused a crush of early summer requests for the tests. Farmers are also expected to chop down a near-record swathe of their fields for silage to make up for this year’s poor yields.

Extremely dry conditions in parts of Hawaii are forcing some ranchers to reduce their herds as they struggle to grow grass to feed cattle. Thirsty invasive axis deer are encroaching on crops as they seek water. [Washington Post]

China-based Suntech Power Holdings Co., the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer by output, surprised analysts by announcing that its founder would step down as chief executive, and naming a non-Chinese national who has been with the company for less than 16 months as CEO. [Wall Street Journal]

Teachers in Maryland are about to get new help and encouragement to talk about the touchy topic of global warming in their classrooms. The National Science Foundation announced Wednesday that it is awarding $5.8 million for improving climate-change education in Maryland and Delaware through a partnership including universities and school systems from both states. [Baltimore Sun]

A climate skeptic group that drew widespread criticism — and lost some corporate funding — by comparing belief in global warming to the Unabomber’s views is trying to regain momentum in its battle against carbon controls. [The Hill]

July was the fourth-warmest such month on record globally, and the 329th consecutive month with a global-average surface temperature above the 20th-century average, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). [Climate Central]

Lower temperatures and rain forecast for parts of the Midwest won’t be enough to reverse the drought that has pushed crop prices up for months. [Bloomberg]

Australia’s opposition Liberal party climate spokesman Greg Hunt on Thursday gave his “in principle” backing to signing up for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, making it easier for the under-fire government to sign the U.N. climate treaty. [Reuters]

Facing environmental and economic challenges posed by global climate change, Tanzania’s Zanzibar Island need to take steps to minimize the impact which could hinder the region’s future development, a report said Tuesday. []

14 Responses to August 16 News: Drought Creates Toxic Feed Problem In Texas; Ranchers Struggle To Maintain Herds In Hawaii

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Tropical storm heads towards China
    Typhoon Kai-Tak sweeps across the South China Sea after devastating parts of Philippines.

  2. fj says:

    A wonderful chronicle of one city’s early fits and starts leading to the great scary beautiful transition driven by extraordinary intelligence, compassion, and survival instincts from a skulking fossil fuel civilization pivoting on human mobility preparing for the starts.

  3. fj says:

    preparing for the stars.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    NASA goes green: NASA selects green propellant technology demonstration mission August 16, 2012 NASA has selected a team led by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation of Boulder, Colo., for a technology demonstration of a high performance “green” propellant alternative to the highly toxic fuel hydrazine. With this award, NASA opens a new era of innovative and non-toxic green fuels that are less harmful to our environment, have fewer operational hazards, and decrease the complexity and cost of launch processing.

    Read more at:

  5. prokaryotes says:

    To Fight West Nile, Dallas Plans An Aerial Defense

    DALLAS (AP) — The last time Dallas used aerial spraying to curb the mosquito population, Texas’ Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, Mission Control in Houston was launching Gemini missions and encephalitis was blamed for more than a dozen deaths.

    But for the first time in more than 45 years, the city and county planned Thursday to resume dropping insecticide from the air to combat the nation’s worst outbreak of West Nile virus, which has killed 10 people and caused at least 200 others to fall ill.

    A national spraying company called Clarke was set to deploy two to five Beechcraft King Air twin-engine planes late Thursday night for three hours of spraying. One county-wide application costs about $1 million. A second application is possible if the first attempt does not kill enough mosquitoes.

    Critics have also questioned whether the approach is scientifically proven to reduce West Nile cases. But at least one study in California concluded that the odds of infection are about six times lower in treated areas than those that are untreated.

    Still, some residents fear the chemicals could harm their children, pets and useful insects such as honeybees and ladybugs.

    The chemical released from the planes, synthetic pyrethroid, mimics a naturally occurring substance found in chrysanthemums. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that pyrethroids do not pose a significant risk to wildlife or the environment, though no pesticide is 100 percent safe.

    About eight-tenths of an ounce of chemical is applied per acre, said Laura McGowan, a Clarke spokeswoman.

    The insecticide’s common name is Duet Dual-Action Adulticide. The label says it’s toxic to fish and other types of aquatic life, and it contains distilled petroleum.

  6. prokaryotes says:

    Comparing the 2012 drought to the Dust Bowl droughts of the 1930s

    The great U.S. drought of 2012 remained about the same size and intensity over the past week, said NOAA in their weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report issued Thursday, August 16. The area of the contiguous U.S. covered by drought remained constant at 62%, and the area covered by severe or greater drought also remained constant at 46%. However, the area covered by the highest level of drought–exceptional–increased by 50%, from 4% to 6%. Large expansions of exceptional drought occurred over the heart of America’s grain producing areas, in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Missouri. The new NOAA State of the Climate Drought report for July 2012 shows that the 2012 drought is 5th greatest in U.S. history, and the worst in 56 years. The top five years for area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought:

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Global loss of life from landslides is poorly quantified. A global data set of fatalities from nonseismically triggered landslides that resulted in loss of life between A.D. 2004 and 2010 permits for the first time proper quantification of impacts and spatial distributions. In total, 2620 fatal landslides were recorded worldwide during the 7 yr period of the study, causing a total of 32,322 recorded fatalities. These total numbers of landslides and victims are an order of magnitude greater than other data sets have indicated, but analysis of the data suggests that it may still slightly underestimate the true human costs.