“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”
Climate change means not only an increase in global average temperatures. It means that some parts of the world may become warmer than usual, and some may become cooler. The global average is what’s increasing, not every little pocket of the planet.
Likewise, the distribution of water changes. Some areas can experience severe flooding, while others can experience significant droughts. Everything is changing, and it’s difficult to precisely predict how different regions will react to the changes.
One thing is for sure: the continental US is experiencing unprecedented record-breaking temperatures, and severe drought in 2012. The problem is so bad that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated counties all over the country as disaster areas. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has had to act quickly to offer farmers some much-needed relief. He’s offered nearly four million acres of conservation land to provide haying and grazing, and he also announced that crop insurance companies will provide a grace period on insurance premiums, giving farmers an additional month to make payments without penalty on their unpaid premiums.
All told, slightly more than half of all counties in the US have been designated disaster areas by the USDA. As of their last report, here were some of the startling statistics:
- 1,584 counties over 32 states are designated disaster areas, with the vast majority affected by drought
- 66 percent of the country’s haying acreage is designated disaster areas
- 73 percent of the country’s cattle acreage is designated disaster areas
- 37 percent of soybean crops are rated very poor to poor
- 48 percent of corn crops are rated very poor to poor
- 57 percent of pastures and rangeland are rated very poor to poor
- these results are matching 1988, the worst drought in the last 25 years
Sadly, given the trends observed over the last few decades, I’m forced to agree.