Thursday, August 24, 2006

US drought, Texas extreme drought continue with possible severe consequences

From Associated Press:

The U.S. National Weather Service's outlook through October saw persistent drought from eastern Montana to Minnesota and on down through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas -- the main spring-wheat and winter-wheat growing areas of the United States as well as its main cattle and beef production region.

The possible consequences are incredibly bad in scope:

Specifically, farmers fear the U.S. Plains is facing its limits as a world producer of wheat, beef, vegetable oils and other crops due to long-term water shortages.

"Farmers aren't going to be able to produce enough food to feed the world because there's a finite amount of water left in the world. There are many folks that will tell you the next war will not be over gold, silver or land, it will be over water," said Ed Burchfield, director of facilities for Valmont Industries, which makes irrigation equipment.

Extreme Drought in Texas

“This situation does not bode well for agricultural interests or firefighters in the state,” declared Spencer. “In recent history, there have been only two other years that the average state KBDI index reached this same level - 1998 and 2000. In both of these years, Texas experienced severe summer fire sieges.”

Wildfire responses in the state since June support the growing concern among firefighters. From June 1 through Aug. 20, Texas Forest Service fire personnel battled 578 wildfires that burned an estimated 101,774 acres across the state.

Texas Wildfires

Low humidity, dry earth and high winds could fuel wildfires in North Texas similar to weekend West Texas blazes that burned more than 100,000 acres, experts said.

[...]Palo Pinto County reported a blaze near Caddo that has burned 7,500 acres and was 40 percent contained. Another fire in Stephens County has burned 1,784 acres and was 70 percent contained. Firefighters also were close to dousing a wildfire in Shackelford County that has burned over 850 acres.

And more:

This is the worst year on record for Texas wildfires, which have already claimed more than 1.9 million acres across the state since January.

So...crops are failing, ranchers are struggling to keep their animals fed, millions of acres have burned, are burning, or will burn, and there's not enough ground water to go around. I think we have a problem.


Xanthippas said...

And that problem is much bigger than whether we'll be allowed to water our lawns or not.

No one can blame any of this on global warming. But events like these make it clear what continued global warming will look like; more of the same. If we allow it to get worse, we'll be facing the irony of not enough groundwater for farming while at the same time coastal cities are surrendered to the sea.

Nat-Wu said...

Yep, it's a wonderful future. Oh, I forgot to mention in my post that about 7 million acres have been burned in the West as a whole this year.