Elizabeth Kolbert addresses the effect the current drought is having on crops in The Big Heat.
It is now corn-sex season across the Midwest, and everything is not going well. High commodity prices spurred farmers to sow more acres this year, and unseasonable warmth in March prompted many to plant corn early. Just a few months ago, the United States Department of Agriculture was projecting a record corn crop of 14.79 billion bushels. But then, in June and July, came broilingly high temperatures, combined with a persistent drought across much of the midsection of the country.
As reported earlier, "The National Climatic Data Center is reporting that over 70% of the country are experiencing "abnormally dry or worse conditions". There is no doubt that the majority of the country are experiencing warmer conditions now the data is proving that this could affect the food supply we depend upon.
The hot, dry weather has taken its toll on agriculture, with 30% of the corn planted in the leading 18-corn producing states reported in poor or very poor conditions as of last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Back to Elizabeth's comment because it's very important and needs to be spread far and wide.
Or, at least, what it looks like right now. One of the most salient—but also, unfortunately, most counterintuitive—aspects of global warming is that it operates on what amounts to a time delay. Behind this summer’s heat are greenhouse gases emitted decades ago. Before many effects of today’s emissions are felt, it will be time for the Summer Olympics of 2048. (Scientists refer to this as the “commitment to warming.”) What’s at stake is where things go from there. It is quite possible that by the end of the century we could, without even really trying, engineer the return of the sort of climate that hasn’t been seen on earth since the Eocene, some fifty million years ago.And that last part is what makes it so sad
And so, while farmers wait for rain and this season’s corn crop withers on the stalk, the familiar disconnect continues. There’s no discussion of what could be done to avert the worst effects of climate change, even as the insanity of doing nothing becomes increasingly obvious.