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Cruel irony: Climate-change denialism is strongest where drought conditions are worst

If it weren’t for the seriousness of the matter, I would feel a delicious sense of schadenfreude about THIS:

If the latest news reports are any indication, the droughts that have wracked a large portion of the contiguous United States continued piling on the damage in Texas and Oklahoma through 2012. The effects will reverberate for years — and global warming will make such brutal droughts (or worse) the region’s normal climateif we keep listening to the deniers’ call to inaction.

It’s a particular bitter irony, given that the political and media cultures of both states, with Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)leading the charge, have been contributing enthusiastically to climate change denialism.

The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration recently determined that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the lower 48 states, and research by NOAA and other institutions has linkedextreme events like Texas and Oklahoma’s drought to climate change. As of December 2012, more than 42% percent of the lower 48 states were experiencing“severe” drought conditions, and 63% of the United States’ new winter wheat crop is in the drought-hit areas.

(Snip)

Climate change and global warming exacerbatethe cycles that lead to more frequent and severe droughts: Precipitation patterns shift to dry spells interspersed with deluges, rather than a more even distribution, and snow melts occur earlier. The overall result is less well-watered soil, which then evaporates more rapidly under global warming’s higher temperatures. That means less moisture in the air, meaning even less precipitation, while the drier ground is left to bake — thus driving air temperatures even higher.

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9 Comments

  1. Its funny the picture shows a cow. This nations love of eating meat isn’t helping the global warming issue.

  2. Could it be that these people have lived through severe drought conditions well before there was any possibility of man made global warming?

  3. Craig Knauss

    doc,

    Maybe you’d like to tell us just how extensive and prolonged those previous droughts were? This year’s drought was massive in its coverage and duration.

    And FYI, in case you were planning to bring up the Dust Bowl years, bear in mind that that was caused by poorly managed farming practices that were encouraged by the government. The same government that provided water which enabled farmers in Texas and Oklahoma to farm in traditional drought areas in those states and this year couldn’t provide the needed water.

  4. http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/15/us/drought-by-the-numbers/index.html

    The impact of the drought currently gripping the United States is real and tangible, as millions can attest. But the depth of the pain still falls short of that experienced by many in the Great Plains and beyond during the so-called Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.

    Here is a look — by the numbers — comparing what happened then and what’s happening now, both times due to pervasive and historic droughts.

  5. http://www.weather.com/news/drought-disaster-new-data-20120715

    The 2012 drought disaster is now the largest in over 50 years, and among the ten largest of the past century, according to a new report released by the National Climatic Data Center today.

    As The Weather Channel reported in an exclusive preview of the report Sunday, data computed from the Palmer Drought Severity Index shows that 54.6 percent of the contiguous 48 states was in drought at the end of June, the highest percentage since December 1956, and the sixth-highest peak percentage on record.

    The June State of the Climate drought report from NCDC, released today, shows that in records dating to 1895, only the extraordinary droughts of the 1930s and 1950s have covered more land area than the current drought.

    And by a slight margin, the current drought actually covers more area than the famous 1936 drought, though other droughts in the Dust Bowl years – particularly the extreme drought of 1934 – still rank higher.

    However, when excluding areas in “moderate” drought, the historical rankings change a bit. Some historical droughts were extremely intense, but more focused on specific regions rather than sprawling across large swaths of the country.

    For example, infamous droughts in 1988, 2000, and 2002 each included over 35% of the country in the “severe” to “extreme” drought categories on the Palmer drought scale. By comparison, severe to extreme drought covers 32.7% in June 2012.

    In short, the overall 2012 drought now covers more territory than any drought since the 1950s; but the more severe drought categories don’t cover quite as much land now as did the droughts of 1988 and the early 2000s.

    That being said, the 2012 drought still ranks as the 10th-largest severe drought since 1895, even by that stricter definition.

  6. Maybe expdoc’d indicated 7 years of drought suffered by Egypt.

    One thing I don’t follow in the clipping… Deluges -> over-watered soil -> more evaporation -> LESS moisture in the air…??

  7. Craig Knauss

    I suspect that part of the concern over last year’s drought wasn’t just how much area was covered but the nature of those areas.

    In the past, there were always areas that had seasonal droughts. (I live in an area that’s officially “arid”.) However, we now have significant irrigation. Prior to that, certain crops and livestock were not raised here because they had little chance for survival. With irrigation, that changed. Before if drought killed your corn, “oh, well, it was expected”. Wise farmers didn’t plant corn. Now it’s not expected and corn is planted. Using the term “drought” in the Gobi Desert is meaningless. It’s always drought there. However, using it in central Illinois, where crops normally have sufficient water does have meaning.

    I suspect a lot of what happened was people exploiting the availability of irrigation water to grow things that were not previously viable. Due to the intensity of last year’s drought, those new crops, etc. perished and the farmers and the people who relied on their products suffered because of it.

  8. Milton Waddams

    And we paid for it through government subsidized crop insurance.

  9. Craig Knauss

    Yep. And government subsidized irrigation water. The huge dams, such as Grand Coulee, that are supplying irrigation water weren’t built by the states where they are located. They were usually built by the Bureau of Reclamation with federal tax dollars. So while Midwest crops were drying to a crisp, farmers in some parts of the West were still getting irrigation water (while they were whining about “excessive” government spending).

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