When greed’s involved, it’s very, very difficult to get people to pay attention to facts, much less do the right thing — even when it’s in their own long-term best interest. And so a massive climate-change induced drought continues unabated and with almost zero hint of pursuing the only realistic climate solution — reducing fossil fuel emissions — from the nation’s or the world’s major governing bodies.
As of Tuesday December 11, 2012, more than 62 percent of the continental US continued to suffer from a drought that emerged more than 10 months ago. This year’s summer crops were hard hit, causing rising prices in world grain markets and sparking growing concerns about world food prices. Now US winter crops are also under the gun with Plains States showing between 40 and 65 percent of their respective crops in poor or very poor condition.
Around the world, crops are also being influenced by extreme weather resulting from climate change. Serbia is suffering major crop damage from drought and 30% of UK croplands went unplanted as a result of severe weather. These added impacts come on the back of poor Russian harvests (drought-related) and crop disruptions in India due to irregularities in the monsoonal season.
Back in the US, conventional forecasts show wide-ranging drought persisting until at least March. The result is that US winter crops will almost certainly also suffer losses, further worsening the world’s already bad food situation.
The problem doesn’t fully resolve, though, until we take a look at the long-range climate models which show US drought conditions continuing to worsen as fossil fuel emissions ramp up and global warming feedbacks kick in throughout this coming century. In the end, the desert southwest gobbles up the breadbasket.
One would think a wholesale drying out of the nation’s heartland over the next few decades would be something that would spur a rush to reducing fossil fuel use. One would think this, especially, after a global warming enhanced Sandy ravaged the US East Coast about a month and a half ago. But this demonstration as prelude to how vulnerable our extremely valuable coastal cities have become to global warming induced sea rise and storms seems to have fallen on mostly deaf ears.
Though a few valiant democrats have repeated the call of this blog and others to observe the real threat — The Climate Cliff — and not posture over a contrived threat — The Fiscal Cliff — intransigence among the vast body of government and media remain. Just today, a ridiculous New York Times op-ed heralded a new age of US prosperity through increasing oil production. The article, entitled American Bull, describes how a new US National Intelligence Council (NIC) report shows the US will enter new age of prosperity by extracting more oil and gas. The article’s author, Roger Cohen, unfortunately fails to mention that the NIC report also showed an extreme risk for powerful climate change impacts. Neither Cohen nor the NIC report directly link fossil fuel emissions and ever-increasing damage to the climate. A somewhat vast oversight when your farmland is currently withering and when your cities are teetering at the brink of a rising and increasingly stormy ocean. Cohen, in his postulation for American prosperity in the face of such events may as well have entitled his piece American BS.
New oil and gas resources might be cause for some optimism if climate change were a non-issue (as oil special interests and people with their heads in the sand continue to pretend) and if the extraction of such resources weren’t so darn expensive. Marginal oil in the US is now 90 dollars per barrel and rising. Marginal gas is 5 dollars per unit. Huge numbers of drilling rigs are required to get at the Earth-baking stuff. Ten billion dollars in subsidy support in the US and more than 500 billion worldwide goes to ensuring that the hard to reach carbon keeps flowing out of the ground and into the atmosphere (In contrast, less than 90 billion dollars goes to funding solutions to climate change — wind, solar, energy storage and electric vehicles). Now, oil companies are calling for, multi-trillion dollar, geoengineering and climate change adaptation adventures to help defend against the increasing damage caused by global warming. How can anyone talk about prosperity in the face of these rising costs? When will someone wake up and realize that maintaining fossil fuel addiction is just too darn dangerous and expensive?
As these special interest mad hatters continue their Alice in Wonderland tea party at the brink of disaster, the heartland continues to dry, the northern ice cap continues to rapidly melt, the seas continue to rise at an increasing rate, the storms continue to intensify, and the world’s food situation grows worse. The simple solution is this: ignore the greedy, cut fossil fuel emissions, move to safer technologies. Stop being stupid.