Climate change causing drought in states that don’t believe in climate change

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

First, from Salon:

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

Then there’s the Colorado River:

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.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • http://twitter.com/nilbud Sean O’Nilbud

    Hilarious, they believe in big magic sky demons but not clouds.

  • klem

    I think you meant flap my fingers, didn’t you Mr. Applewhite?

  • A reader in Colorado

    I’m always amused at the bizarre references people come up with when they really don’t have anything substantive to say. Clearly, religious suicide cults are on your mind and you seem to want to talk about them with me for some strange reason.

    But what I was talking about was building great cities and not laying down as a species to die, which is what will happen if we continue to spread over every inch of available land, consuming everything like a plague of locusts.

  • UncleBucky

    How many liters of water would 20 showers per week take?

    Then per year, etc.

    And then consider how much water you flush? And down the bathroom sink drain? And through the dishwasher? And on the lawn that never seems to get green enough? And posies? And the car? And the window? And the water for all the food you eat (beef taking the most water, and on down to certain drought tolerant grains)? :)

  • klem

    Um, the oil barons won’t lose 3 cents in profits, they simply pass it on to consumers. it is we who lose the 3 cents.

  • klem

    20?

  • klem

    No no, by anthropogenic climate change. The ‘diversions’ explanation is so 1999.

  • klem

    And don’t forget to sign up for a subscription.

  • klem

    And you can get a high paying job there.

  • klem

    Wow, you speak like Marshall Applewhite, the leader of the Heaven’s Gate religion. Great work.

  • klem

    Nor do they go away because people watch MSNBC propaganda.

  • A reader in Colorado

    Okay. the thing is, the science is sound. But, to effectively combat the climate effects of greenhouse gas emissions is going to take more energy, not less. And we’re going to have to do sensible things about the human population, in terms of exercising population control and aggregating people into compact mega-cities where it’s possible to reduce transportation costs and to more easily contain and recycle effluents and waste. We need be able to WALK to our stores and jobs, or the next best thing as walking

    I hear people arguing things to the effect of, because of greenhouse gases, we have to revert to a pretechhnological civilization and let millions of people die. Or stop using fossil fuels IMMEDIATELY and put up with the mass panic and massive destruction.

    The solution is not simply technological or environment or social. It’s all three.

    We have to reduce the human footprint on the earth. We have to recycle everything. We have to put people within easy reach of resources without making them drive or wander hundreds of miles. We have to have ecological control over the environments in which humans are a large concern. We have to return the land largely to the earth, and make human beings a tourist on 90% of mother earth.

    We have to recycle water, waste, food. We have to stop abusing the land, and poisoning the water. We have to stop pumping effluents into the sea, and stop using the atmosphere as our toilet.

    We CAN do that. But what it takes is semi-closed systems. Closed CITIES – and what I mean by that is cities where every resource is consumed and reused. Again, and again and again. Where the waste is reduced by a factor of a hundred. Or a thousand. That takes energy. The very thing that fossil fuels are costing us.

    But it takes a massive sociological economic and environmental engineering commitment. We have to put not millions but billions of people into conurbs. Self sustaining environmentally recycliing cities of millions or billions, where most – say, more than 90% of the earth, is left to mother nature..

    That will take not only renewable, but nuclear, power. Specifically, thorium based nuclear power.

    Remember, to recycle everything, you have to use MORE power, not LESS. You have to recycle food, fuel, water, air, everything.

    And there is a safe way to get and use more power. And that way is thorium. It can’t melt down. The waste is 100 times less radioactive. It can’t be used to make nuclear weapons.

    Sadly, we’re passing into an era of mankind where we have to start engineering our environments, a little bit before we’re ready. We’re going to have to start treating our demesnes on the earth as little spaceships. The bottleneck is power. And these habitats, they can be made livable. even wonderful.

    But we can’t have the whole earth for humans anymore. We’re going to have to pack up and move.

    And over time, one possible hope is to undo the carbon we’ve poured into the atmosphere. But first, we cannot be living, as we have lived. We have to abandon the earth, on the earth itself, to let the earth heal.

  • A reader in Colorado

    Time to start building ten thousand acre mega greenhouses.

  • theoracle

    The earth’s atmosphere has a fever, rising, and the earth’s weather systems are convulsing due to the rising fever of the earth’s atmosphere. And the ice packs that usually mitigate the earth’s atmospheric fever are melting, faster than predicted. Will the earth’s circulation be next to go, you know, the ocean currents, disrupted, altering, further exacerbating the fever that climate change deniers say either isn’t happening or isn’t man-made. Is there a doctor in the house?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Its been a long time, but thank you. :)

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    50 ways to lose your innocence in a red state. You can move to the Bay area and we will give you plenty of water. Welcome.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I’ll believe it when I rise from my urn and sit at the right hand of my Dad.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Then there’s the death of The Colorado River by a thousand paper cuts, called diversions.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Not to worry, many of them have beach condos in Florida.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Yep, they do loves them some hell.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Drought from below and tar sands from above: KARMA!

  • http://www.facebook.com/damiano.iocovozzi Damiano Iocovozzi

    Thanks for the article, Chris in Paris! It seems that few really understand the science of what’s involved. At 0,8 degrees Celsius increase from pre-industrial mean temperatures, the effects of positive feedback loops are already being felt by human & non-human species. The US midwest drought is one example, super storms, surges, the disappearance of island nations & phenomenal glacial & Arctic melts are other examples. The Doha conferences were largely disappointing as most agreed that a 2 degree C increase is acceptable. It is a horrible goal. Between 1-2 degrees C increase, these positive feedback loops will be unstoppable: increased albedo effects in the North Pole will ensure there will be no future ice to reflect the sunlight. Rather, the sunlight will be absorbed, raising the temperatures & damaging the ecosystem forever. Permafrost zones are also disappearing. They previously locking in methane greenhouse gases & C02. With a melt, tons of methane & C02 get released, increasing temperatures even more. The largest glacier systems in Tibet & Nepal & Switzerland also are melting in an accelerated way, causing the great rivers of India & China to narrow & eventually disappear. Imagine the famines, political strife & climate refugees as billions walk for fuel, water & food. Whole nations like Pakistan & India may not be able to control their populations. Between 1-2 degrees C increase, stressed & dried out trees emit more C02 than 02 and have a very high potential to burn off. Imagine the C02 & carbon released if Siberian, American, Canadian & Amazon forests begin to burn? Between 1-2 degrees C increase, summers will be so extreme that whole populations may be uprooted & head north for cooler temperatures, water & food. There are no silver linings with the positive feedback loops, just devastation on a grand scale for human & non-humans. Please visit YouTube National Geographic Global Warming 1-6 Degrees in 3 parts or Global Warming: Our Future.

  • GeorgeMokray

    How long are we going to continue trying to convince people whose jobs are dependent upon denial of climate change? They ain’t gonna change their minds until we pay them more they are getting from their present employers.

    The environmental community used to talk, weakly, about a “no regrets” strategy, doing things that make sense and save money whatever your beliefs in climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. They never pushed it very hard and the term seems to have dropped from consciousness. However, it is a strategy that avoids the head butting and can get real things done. I’d start with Solar IS Civil Defense: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0mjqjgZ64E

    Too bad WE are as wedded to conflict as THEY are.

  • Dave of the Jungle

    The Laws of Physics don’t go away because people watch Fox Propaganda.

  • Butch1

    Perhaps, that will make believers of them.

  • Hue-Man

    Don’t forget the potential diversion of Great Lakes water southward and westward. The International Joint Commission report of February, 2000, discounted the possibility, then in the next sentence said:

    “Barring significant climate change, an overcoming of engineering problems and of numerous economic and social issues, and an abandonment of national environmental ethics, the call for such diversions and transfers will not return.” http://www.ijc.org/php/publications/html/finalreport.html

    (Willard wouldn’t have seen a problem with any of these issues if his TeaParty client states were thirsty!)

    The Great Lakes have a low water problem of their own. From August: “The International Joint Commission is deciding what — if anything — should be done about the reduction in water levels in Huron and Superior.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/story/2012/08/10/sby-joint-commission-public-input.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001426939279 Carl Kerstann

    There are casualties in any war.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    Time to strand the GOP leadership on a tiny little island, inches above sea-level.

    Being climate-change deniers, they shouldn’t be worried at all.

  • UncleBucky

    BINGO. ;O)

    Silence = Thirst

  • UncleBucky

    How many showers does a person take per week? THIИK.

  • A_nonymoose

    Fuck you very much. :)

  • ComradeRutherford

    There is no drought because climate change/global warming doesn’t exist! Hurricane Sandy never happened because climate change doesn’t exist. It’s simple and easy, just like Christianity, just deny reality exists!

    Who are you going to believe, the oil barons (who stand to lose 3 cents in profits in doing something about climate change), or your own lying eyes?

  • ComradeRutherford

    So called ‘christians’ will see that as proof that they are not anti-Jesus enough, and it justifies becoming even more radically inhumane. God will only send rain when they are like the Taliban, stoning women to death in the street for wearing a skirt that revealed her ankles.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Will 50 righteous save the city?

  • caphillprof

    If you would throw conniption fits in the public square like the Teabaggers, then may be we’d need to reconsider cutting you off, too. You are enabling these folk by your quiesence.

  • Timothy

    Collateral damage.

  • A_nonymoose

    I’ve been following politics since the Nixon/Kennedy debates. I’ve been voting for Democrats since McGovern. I’ve been active in local politics off and on since the 70′s. Unfortunately, I live in a red state. Are you going to cut me off, too?

  • FLL

    Look at that thumbnail drought map, and look at the areas that are colored in red. These are some of the most notoriously fundamentalist Christian areas in the country. Karma in action.

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