A round-up of the top climate and energy news.
The drought affecting much of the continental United States — not to mention the heat and dryness around the globe — has sent corn and wheat prices skyrocketing, scientists said today (July 25). And the current weather could be a taste of what to expect in future decades.[Live Science]
“Global warming helps make droughts hotter and drier than they would be without human influence,” said Heidi Cullen, the chief climatologist for Climate Central, a non-profit organization dedicated to communicating the science of climate change. Cullen and Stanford University food security expert David Lobell spoke to the media on Wednesday about the effect of the current drought on agriculture.
The price of corn has risen by 50 percent, to $8 a bushel, from where it was last month. And a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released today suggests that consumers can expect to see the price of meat and dairy products rise as feed for livestock becomes more expensive.
Kansas cattleman Ken Grecian sold 20 pairs of cows and calves a few weeks after drought had sucked his pastures dry and no rain was in the forecast. He sold 20 more pairs Friday. Other cattlemen throughout the middle and western part of the United States also are selling animals they can’t graze or afford to buy feed for. Beef from the animals now flooding livestock auctions will start showing up in grocery stores in November and December, temporarily driving down meat prices. But then prices are expected to rise sharply by January in the wake of dwindling supplies and smaller livestock herds. [Columbia Tribune]
Green technology is the answer to the declining fortunes of France’s auto industry, according to a new government plan to turn the sector around. Francois Hollande’s administration hopes France can carve out a space for its auto industry by driving hard into environmentally friendly cars — a sector the country’s automakers are already prominent in. The plan includes a variety of measures aimed at rewarding companies that invest in green technology and drivers who buy environmentally-friendly cars. [Washington Post]
From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation’s infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms. [New York Times]
The news that an unusually widespread melt occurred in Greenland during mid-July, when 97 percent of the Greenland ice sheet — including normally frigid high-elevation areas — experienced some degree of melting, has made international headlines, and for good reason. Such a widespread melt event has not occurred there since at least 1889, and may be yet another sign of the consequences of manmade climate change. [Climate Central]
The European Union moved to shore up the faltering price of carbon dioxide emissions on Wednesday, amid widespread concern that the current low price is failing to encourage companies to reduce their greenhouse gas output. [Guardian]
With monsoon rains late and lackluster, swaths of the India’s most fertile farmlands are parched, including areas in the south and west that grow sugarcane, corn and rice — and parts to the north that grow grain. Out of 36 meteorological subdivisions across India, 21 have received below-normal rains; rainfall for the country as a whole is 22% below average. Rain has been most plentiful on the coasts and in the hills, away from the farming heartland.[Wall Street Journal]