Even as extreme drought wreaks havoc on crops and communities across the Midwest, government officials are now confident that they can link recent bouts of extreme weather to man-made climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration underscored that point in early July when it released research conducted by 378 scientists from 48 countries that “provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on land, sea, ice and sky.”
Deputy NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan Ph.D. summed it up this way:
Every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment.
Just a day after NOAA released its findings, in coordination with the American Meteorological Society, Reuters’ Chuck Abbott reported on the Department of Agriculture’s dire forecast for this year’s corn crop:
The worst Midwest drought in a quarter century is doing more damage to U.S. crops than previously expected, with the government on Wednesday slashing its estimate for what was supposed to be a record harvest.
Climate change affects agriculture more directly and profoundly than most other economic sectors. The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer has pointed out that while it’s hard to pinpoint climate change by itself as the cause of any particular drought, it’s certainly a big factor in how severe it gets. Meanwhile the danger from climate change-fueled droughts will only increase as America dithers about and polluting special interests continually block solutions.
The Dangerously Counterproductive Industrial Agriculture Lobby
It’s a sad irony to recall that three short years ago, the industrial agriculture lobby and its patrons in Congress helped scuttle the nation’s first attempt at serious climate legislation -- the cap-and-trade proposal titled the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.