Climate-change-induced drought is wreaking serious havoc across portions of America that don’t believe in climate change. But they sure do believe in the federal government spending billions of dollars to bail them out of climate change’s ill-effects.
One out of Three US Counties is a Drought Disaster Area
Dust bowl, here we come? The worst drought in the United States in 50 years is still looking for more records to break. On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared another 39 counties in eight states disaster areas, bringing the current total to 1,297 counties in 29 states — or one out of every three counties in the country. According to the Drought Monitor, 61 percent of the continental United States is currently experiencing“moderate to exceptional drought.” The situation is most extreme in Iowa and Illinois — two states responsible for a third of the U.S. corn production.
The Mississippi is Drying Up
Next, there’s the disaster that’s become the Mississippi River, which we’ve written about before:
Mississippi River barge traffic is slowing as the worst drought in five decades combines with a seasonal dry period to push water levels to a near-record low, prompting shippers including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) to seek alternatives. Computer models suggest that without more rain, navigating the Mississippi will start to be affected Dec. 11 and the river will reach a record low Dec. 22, Corps spokesman Bob Anderson, based in Vicksburg, Mississippi, said.
More on the Mississippi from the Christian Science Monitor:
As drought conditions persist across the South, hitting farmers and ranchers, parts of the Mississippi River are on the verge of becoming unnavigable. The potential costs are large.
Less than 18 months after the US Army Corps of Engineers blasted gaps in a levee on the Mississippi River to cope with a record flood, it’s getting ready to detonate explosives for the opposite reason – to clear rock outcroppings on the bottom of the drought-depleted waterway so cargo can keep moving.
“From one extreme to another in just the space of 12, 15, 16 months? It’s just incredible,” says Richard Heim, a drought specialist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
Kansas is Drying Up
It calls for building a pipeline from the Missouri River to Denver, nearly 600 miles to the west. Water would be doled out as needed along the route in Kansas, with the rest ultimately stored in reservoirs in the Denver area.
Experts say the plan is reminiscent of those proposed in the middle of the last century, when grand and exorbitant federal water projects were commonplace — and not, with the benefit of hindsight, always advisable.
The fact that the Missouri River pipeline idea made the final draft, water experts say, shows how serious the problem has become for the states of the Colorado River basin.
Texas is Drying Up
And how about the 2011 Texas drought? Yep, climate change:
They tested it on several extreme events in 2011 — a strong La Nina year — and, in the case of the record Texas drought, concluded that such severe dry spells are 20 more times likely during a La Nina year today than a La Nina in the 1960s, before greenhouse gas emissions jumped.
“Conditions leading to droughts such as the one that occurred in Texas in 2011 are, at least in the case of temperature, distinctly more probable than they were 40-50 years ago,” researchers concluded in a new study.
That would be Texas, the state that keeps talking about seceding (and don’t let us stop you, but first we’d like our billions back), while it keeps sucking at the federal teet for disaster aid over and over again.
Enough is Enough
How often is the federal government going to keep coming to the rescue of groups, states, and regions (read: the South, but not exclusively – other red states are involved here too), that year after year, along with their lapdogs at Fox and the rest of the GOP, all sing the chorus of how worthless the federal government is. Enough is enough.
Following a year of two extreme weather events that are directly linked to climate change, we can’t afford to keep giving a free pass to the climate change deniers, their political party, or their propaganda organ.
They need to be held accountable for their actions and beliefs that are costing us all. Organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce have actively campaigned against addressing climate change, forcing companies like Apple to pull out of the Chamber entirely. Nike pulled out as well.
Yet the Chamber of Commerce is at the front of the line demanding federal dollars to fix the problems caused by – wait for it – climate change and its deniers at – wait for it – the Chamber of Commerce.
As expensive as Hurricane Sandy relief will be – current estimates are at least $75 billion – the severe drought in the US is expected to be even greater.
How long are we going to continue ignoring the root cause of these problems, while throwing billions of dollars at the symptoms?
Until these organizations, states, and regions are openly called out on their ignorance, and forced to admit their responsibility in helping to create this disaster, they will only be too happy to keep playing the same game – ignoring the root cause of the drought, while wanting lots of our money keep patching it up.
Of course, with climate change, extreme weather conditions will keep becoming more common, as Al Gore had predicted. What happened in New York City during Hurricane Sandy was only the beginning. Unless action is taken quickly, things will only get worse. The big question is whether it’s already too late.
Boehner Appoints Enemies of the Environment to Key Committees
And don’t look to Republicans in Congress for help. GOP House Speaker Boehner just appointed a whole slew of House Republicans to key committees on the environment who are enemies of the environment:
On November 27th, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced the new and returning House committee chairmen (and yes, they are all men). Some of these congressmen will run committees with jurisdiction over federal climate, energy, and environmental programs. This includes funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Clean Air Act, balancing the use of our public lands between energy production and recreation, and determining the infrastructure needs of a nation that now faces unpredictable extreme weather threats linked to climate change.
The vast majority of these chairmen voted for legislation that would dismantle EPA’s ability to limit industrial carbon pollution, and for retention of special tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas, coal, and electric utility companies have cozied up to many of these chairmen, giving them roughly $3.8 million in campaign contributions over the course of their careers.
Meanwhile, many climate-related extreme weather events have severely afflicted Americans over the past two years, including in their home states. Record-breaking drought and heat waves, severe floods, and heavy storms wreaked havoc for the families living in the chairmens’ backyards. Scientists predict that these weather events will become more frequent and/or severe if the industrial carbon pollution responsible for climate change remains unchecked.
Time to Push the Climate Change Deniers Over a Fiscal Cliff
With all the talk of all the programs we have to cut in order to stop the dreaded “fiscal cliff,” maybe it’s time we took Mitt Romney’s advice and start by cutting federal disaster aid.
We can begin with all the disasters caused by climate change in states that deny the existence of climate change. After all, they wouldn’t want us spending Amurika’s hard-earned tax dollars on something that wasn’t real.
If we can’t let Texas and the rest of the South secede, we can at least push them off a fiscal cliff and bid good riddance once and for all.