From our community:
“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that”. Gus Speth
America’s chickens are coming home to roost when it comes to the impacts from human-caused climate change. In the western and mid-western red states, GOP voters turned out en masse in 2016 to vote for the climate-denying GOP and helped elect the most unqualified, ignorant and divisive POTUS this country has ever had the misfortune to experience. As a result of the GOP electoral success, all of us have descended into a race to the bottom on just about every critical issue that faces us. But when it comes to climate change, they have bitten themselves in the ass. Bigly!
Republican voters tend to be quite proud of their ignorance, their sense of superiority over the rest of us, their lack of empathy, and they make horrible decisions as a result. According to a new Gallup poll, a mind blowing 69% of Republicans are incapable of processing the basic threats from a changing climate to the detriment of us all. This, even as they experience the worsening effects from changing rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures in their vulnerable part of the world. It is stunning and depressing. Their ignorance has only gotten worse since “Dear Leader” was elected, wherein he immediately pulls out of the Paris Climate Agreement, appoints the vile opportunists Ryan Zinke, Jeff Sessions, Rick Perry and Scott Pruitt to be the nations top environmental caretakers, as well as scrubbing all references of climate and environmental science from government websites. You betcha I am pissed off!
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I think or what a GOP voter thinks. When it comes down to it, only the physics of climate change matters. It is a crying shame that fossil fuel interests have been successful in making science and reason a partisan issue.
Rant over. Story below.
Recently, the imaginary line that was drawn by American geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell in 1878 to differentiate between the dry conditions of the western US and the more humid conditions in the eastern states is in the news. The line, known as the 100th meridian, is moving east. The line “bisects the Great Plains and separates the arid western states from the more moister eastern states, may be shifting as a result of climate change, new studies say”.
Kevin Krajik of the Earth Institute at Columbia University writes:
Now, 140 years later, scientists are looking again at the 100th meridian. In two just-published papers, they examine how it has played out in history so far, and what the future may hold. They confirm that the divide has turned out to be very real, as reflected by population and agriculture on opposite sides. They say also that the line appears to be slowly moving eastward, due to climate change. They say it will almost certainly continue shifting in coming decades, expanding the arid climate of the western plains into what we think of as the Midwest. The implications for farming and other pursuits could be huge.
One can literally step over the meridian line on foot, but the boundary it represents is more gradual. In 1890, Powell wrote, “Passing from east to west across this belt a wonderful transformation is observed. On the east a luxuriant growth of grass is seen, and the gaudy flowers of the order Compositae make the prairie landscape beautiful. Passing westward, species after species of luxuriant grass and brilliant flowering plants disappear; the ground gradually becomes naked, with bunch grasses here and there; now and then a thorny cactus is seen, and the yucca plant thrusts out its sharp bayonets.” Today, his description would only partly apply; the “luxuriant grass” of the eastern prairie was long ago plowed under for corn, wheat and other crops, leaving only scraps of the original landscape. The scrubby growth of the thinly populated far western plains remains more intact.
Now, the researchers say, warming climate appears to be pushing the divide east. In the northern plains, rainfall has not changed much, but temperatures are going up, increasing evaporation from the soil. Further south, concurrent shifts in wind patterns are in fact causing less rain to fall. Either way, this tends to push western aridity eastward. Data collected since about 1980 suggests that the statistical divide between humid and arid has now shifted closer to the 98th meridian, some 140 miles east. (In Texas, this would move it roughly from Abilene to Fort Worth.) Seager says year-to-year weather variations may blur the data, and in any case the changes are still too small and gradual to yet affect land use over wide areas. But he is confident that aridity will perceptibly move eastward during the 21st century, and eventually effect large-scale changes.
Seager predicts that as drying progresses, farms further and further east will have to consolidate and become larger in order to remain viable. Unless farmers turn to irrigation or otherwise adapt, they will have to turn from corn to wheat or some other more suitable crop. Large expanses of cropland may fail altogether, and have to be converted to western-style grazing range. Water supplies could become a problem for urban areas.