Ninety-four percent of Texas is now abnormally dry, 54 percent is stuck in severe drought and 25 percent is mired in the extreme category, up 10 percent from one week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.
For now, one year after a record Texas drought caused $7.62 billion in agricultural losses, 6 million acres of winter wheat are the biggest concern. Forty to 45 percent of the crop is rated poor to very poor, a 15-point jump from last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported. [...]
The state is quickly catching up with this year's dire conditions in the High Plains, where 86 percent of the region is mired in severe drought and 27 percent is in exceptional drought, the most severe category.
Nationally, 76 percent of the contiguous United States is abnormally dry.
What do such severe dry conditions lead to? Lower crop yields. Shrinking reservoirs and aquifers. At some point the inevitable wildfires that have plagued the West and Southwest over the last decade.
The dry conditions across Texas concern fire managers who fought wildfires on nearly 4 million acres during the 2011 fire season, said Tom Spencer, head of the predictive services department for the Texas A&M Forest Service.
Climate change is already impacting the ability of our country to sustain itself. The cost of Hurricane Sandy is projected to be in the $50 billion or more range when all is said and done. Droughts and wildfires and crop losses lead to increased food prices. Disease vectors for malaria and other "sub-tropical illnesses" are likely to move northward.
We are witnessing deleterious changes to our planet predicted by climate models much, much sooner than previously anticipated. This is no hoax, no grand conspiracy. It's real. Just look out your window. Unfortunately, it is very likely the time to hope to reverse those effects has already passed, but we still have time to limit the damage that our past actions have caused. That is, if someone would actually provide the necessary political will and leadership we need to address this issue at both the national and international levels.
Yet the politicians and policy makers fiddle, while the earth burns, the seas rise, the storms crash upon our heavily populated shores. The reaction to the drought in Texas and elsewhere is a microcosm of what is being done - a lot of hand wringing, but little direct action to change the direction we need to be headed if we as a species are going to find a way to a future sustainable human civilization.
Even now in Congress and across many states, legislation is being prepared (mostly by conservative and fossil fuel industry funded organizations like ALEC) to eliminate government subsidies and investment in renewable, clean energy technologies. Intense lobbying is proceeding to allow more drilling for oil and gas, especially the environmentally dirty process of hydrofracking, as well as greater use of coal. Republicans are on the attack against both the Federal EPA and the State of California over regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
For all of you who believe that climate change is not real, remember when you were warned time and time again. Weird and extreme weather isn't weird anymore, it's become expected. Blinders serve no purpose. Get informed about what you can do, now.
Contact your representatives in Congress that you want climate change made a priority.
If you don't, who will?