Red State Blues: In 2012 Nebraska Saw Its Hottest, Driest Year On Record — And The Republican River Ran Dry!

Republican River at zero flow (via US Geological Survey)

Irony can be so ironic.

Last week, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) approved a revised route for the Keystone XL pipeline through his state. The math is simple: “Keystone XL Pipeline = Tar Sands Expansion = Accelerated Climate Change.” And that equals a hotter and drier Great Plains, especially in the summer and fall.

So if Obama were to actually defy my prediction and approve the pipeline, then Nebraska would be giving new meaning to the phrase “red state” — since its current brutal drought would be on track to become its normal climate in the coming decades:

On January 3, 2012, none of the state was in extreme or exceptional drought (and less than 1% was in moderate or severe drought).  By January 2013, over 96% of the state was experiencing extreme or exceptional drought – and most of that (over 77%) was exceptional drought.

What happened? Just the hottest and driest year in Nebraska’s recorded history.

Here is a graph of more than a century’s worth of precipitation data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center:

And here’s a graph of the temperature data from NCDC:

While I’m not one to believe in omens, I am one to believe in irony and metaphors.

As the picture at the top shows, last year, the Republican River – which runs from Nebraska into Kansas – ran dry.  The discharge for the Republican River in September was 0.00 cubic feet per second.  Same for October.  Not until after the election did the rate start rising, but even so, the Republican River is still flowing “much below normal.”

In the no doubt purely coincidental words of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal last week, the GOP “must stop being the stupid party.”

h/t N. Sundt

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18 Responses to Red State Blues: In 2012 Nebraska Saw Its Hottest, Driest Year On Record — And The Republican River Ran Dry!

  1. Leif says:

    One river the Keystone XL can no longer pollute. Interesting solution for sure.

  2. How can the Republicans stop being the “stupid party” when their stated policy is to actively reject scientific evidence?

  3. kelly anspaugh says:

    Republican river, take my mind
    And don’t let Obama torture me
    Republican river, don’t run dry
    You’re all I’ve got, take care of me!

  4. “While I’m not one to believe in omens, I am one to believe in irony and metaphors.”

    Do you believe in “Oh-Mans,” as in “Oh-Man” the drought in Nebraska is trying to tell us something?

  5. Daniel Coffey says:

    Interesting. I wrote a piece entitled “Once Upon a Crystal River” about the loss of a beloved river which will befall me in coming years due to drought. But it also challenges the environmental community to get on with large scale transformation of our energy and transportation systems via large scale deployment of wind and solar PV, along with electrifying transportation to the maximum extent possible.

    We find ourselves pinned between the Republicans [River] and impractical environmentalists trying to remake society instead of focusing on the real solutions.

    We have already run out of time due to delays created by environmentalist on one side and Republicans on the other, each supporting the status quo by employing delay in their own special ways.

  6. Zimzone says:

    Unfortunately, that ‘river of money’ from corporatists isn’t running dry.

    America’s right wing has, thanks to corporate free speech, all the money they’ll ever need.

    The fact that money doesn’t equate with conscience is the problem.

  7. Joan Savage says:

    2013 USDA crop insurance premiums for Nebraska are on average less than for 2012. Go figure.

    The linked article has a map of shifts in crop insurance costs.

    “Corn rates will increase in some other states, however: a 15% spike in South Dakota; 11 percent in North Dakota; 4% in Kansas; and 1% higher premiums in Missouri and Ohio.

    Murphy points out, however, that these are just state averages, and rates and premiums play out differently at the county level. Texas, for instance, will see no change in corn crop insurance premiums overall, but in some counties, premiums will be 10% to 12% lower, but 10% to 12% higher in others, based on loss history. That’s true of other states, too.”

  8. M Tucker says:

    Jindal is not talking about science. He is referring to stupid talk about rape and immigration. But Republicans can’t help themselves. They became the party of stupid by decision. They courted the ultra-wacko conservative nut jobs, they embraced the ultra-wacko conservative nut jobs, and they became the party of ultra-wacko conservative nut jobs. To the chagrin of much better educated, informed, and reasonable Republicans, the party is now controlled by ultra-wacko conservative nut jobs. The red states even codified it by gerrymandering districts so that ultra-wacko conservative nut jobs would stay in control by challenging anyone who might consider compromise of any kind. That is why they will speak openly about ending a woman’s right to choose. That is why they want to close down family planning. They feel the power.

    Jindal is just trying to change the ‘tone;’ soften the harsh rhetoric; trying to fool a few more folks into voting for the nut jobs. He is not talking about changing any of the Republican policy positions.

  9. john atcheson says:

    “Irony can be so ironic.” Perfect. The Republican River runs out of water. You can’t make this stuff up.

  10. wial says:

    Reducing GHG emissions is necessary but no longer enough. We have to find a way to get the global community to realize we have to use one of the many thought-through solar radiation management geoengineering solutions. As benign as possible, as transparent as possible, but as quick and effective as possible too. Even carbon removal is no longer enough, we need to block solar radiation. Personally I think we should go with the British Royal Society’s plan of piping carefully designed particles into the stratosphere by way of high altitude balloons, since it’s cheap, possibly less than a billion dollars total. That alone could buy us enough time to reduce emissions and population to manageable levels, and would save thousands of species in the meantime. I just don’t think we have the luxury of activism as usual anymore. Compost heaps and Priuses (I own one, don’t get me wrong) and even carbon divestment campaigns are all too late to help in the immediate scenario. We need to put our shoulders to the task of achieving enough global consensus for geoengineering to be done fairly, and without starting a war. It’s probably all there is between us and the deaths of billions of people and the extinctions of thousands of species.

  11. Bleekerstreet says:

    Here in southern Louisiana we are losing the marshes on our coastline at an alarming rate. The rising sea level is one of the factors in this loss. Our congressional delegation made the case to the U.S. Congress that we should receive money to save these marshes. What was their selling point? What was the compelling national importance of these marshes? “That’s where so much of the nation’s oil and gas originates,” was their reply. Irony shrouds these discussions.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Simply redefine, by edict, ‘stupidity’. The triumph of the Will.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You may very well be correct, but the chances of global co-operation are nil, because the God-blessed West, led by the USA, trailing glory and Manifest Destiny as she comes, don’t do shared sacrifice or collaboration. Their strong suit, honed to a razor’s edge over 500 years, is diktat, coercion and intimidation. This will end as weather warfare. I’d prefer albedo restoration by painting surfaces white. But I imagine that would be poo-poohed as too slow, or too low-tech or something. Pumping particulates into the upper atmosphere is really the last throw of the dice, and if it did bring a hiatus in rising temperatures, I would bet that the fossil fuel genocidaires would use that as an excuse to burn just another ‘wafer-thin’ slice of our hydrocarbon resources.

  14. John McCormick says:

    M Tucker, difference between our whack-job rethug fundamentalists, women oppressors and the taliban is our whack-jobs are white folk.

  15. M Tucker says:

    Please don’t sell the nut job Republicans short John. What is Jindal’s heritage? What was that law that Jindal signed that allows creationism equal status with evolution in public schools? How is women’s rights fairing in the bright red state of Louisiana? What was it that Marco Rubio said the other day about the age of the Earth? He had to go through a little political reeducation before he walked that back but his beliefs can only be hidden, not changed. Let’s not forget about Allen West. He was a loser but he sure gave it a good try. The Republicans might have courted the deep South vote, they might have provided a home for George Wallace and Pat Buchanan, they might have vacuumed up the fundamentalist Christian community, they might oppose women’s rights, but they have enough of a diverse face to not really be called a white folk party.

  16. kermit says:

    It may reach the point where this may be seen as part of the solution, but it doesn’t directly address the problem of too many green house gases in the atmosphere. The ocean, for one example, would continue to acidify.

    While band-aids like this may yet be tried, better responses would include immediate transition to sustainable energy production, and CO2 recovery, such as biochar sequestration.

  17. wili says:

    So Nebraska has just seen it’s hottest and driest season on record.

    How long till the Sand Hills that dominate much of the western half of the state destabilize and revert to being the Sahara-like giant sand dunes they used to be–moving freely up and down the Great Planes, devastating everything in their path?