Sunday, March 05, 2006

Dust Bowl/Firestorm Drought Grips Midwest


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Americans don't want to fix the global warming stuff so we get to suffer. The latest news doesn't surprise me. Terrible heat/drought is going to devastate the Midwest this year and for several years to come. This does affect me here on my own mountain. It is way too dry. And it is March. Hurricane Rita couldn't even penetrate Houston but was driven up the Mississippi due to the long term high over the Colorado Rockies.

From the Morris Daily Herald:
Accu-Weather.com meteorologists have warned oceanic conditions similar to those that triggered the ruinous "Dust Bowl" drought again appear to be in place.

The exceptionally warm Atlantic waters that played a major role in the record-breaking 2005 hurricane season, coupled with cooler-than-normal Pacific waters, are weakening and changing the course of a low-level jet stream that normally channels moisture into the Great Plains.

Effects are starting to be felt in "America's breadbasket," as the southern Great Plains region is already suffering from higher temperatures and a prolonged lack of precipitation.
Never in my life did I see firestorms sweeping the plains in the middle of winter. Absolutely never.

The fantasy that we can grow stuff like switchgrass and continue to tool around in big SUVs forever is plainly silly. The reason the dust bowl happened was because the harvest failed. Cows were turned loose to graze on the stubs of the wheat fields because there was no more grass to graze, the land was plowed up and dust storms started.

Today, there isn't dust storms. There are firestorms! Is this an improvement? When the fire sweeps through, usually in nature, this happens ONLY during thunderstorms, it rains and the grass regenerates only these fires are manmade and happen when it is bone dry and no rain on the horizon.

Already, shipping on the tributaries of the Mississippi valley system are drying up so badly, farmers are being told they can't irrigate using these waters. Even so, boats are grounding. The Mississippi itself is still going strong thanks to the snow and rain that has pulled us out of the summer drought last year, barely. Thanks to some pretty big hurricanes. We got over 7" of rain in one day, here, an amazing amount, so the stats look OK for the year but it was definitely a bone dry/soaking wet year, not a good thing, not at all.

The ideal is rain or snow at least once a week!
The Dust Bowl, which lasted from 1931-1939, was a severe drought that struck a wide swath of the Great Plains.

It was a catastrophic blow to the U.S. economy, which was already staggering under the weight of the Great Depression.

The Dust Bowl was the worst drought in U.S. history, eventually covering more than 75 percent of the country.
And some of the worst hurricanes, thanks to the warm water! And many people forget, our country's problems began when the Mississippi had the Great Flood. That and hurricanes flattening Florida hammered the economy of "the little people" and despite the housing/stock bubbles, regular people couldn't pay their mortgages and loans in the Midwest and the drought finished off the survivors who weren't hit by the floods and voila, total bank failures compounded, coast to coast.

Already, the Midwest reels from the blows from Mother Nature. The coast isn't nearly so bad off thanks to huge infusions of futile government funds but this isn't working since Mother Nature's belly already swells with the embryoes of a whole lot of hurricanes. Eventually the government program of encouraging and lavishing funds on futile pleasure housing in places Nature intends to put under water will fail, after bankrupting the government, of course.
"The agricultural practices at the time, combined with a long period of drought, caused severe damage to farmland in the region. Eventually the topsoil dried up to the point where it was swept away as great clouds of choking dust that stretched for miles."

Continued Mohler, "Today's agricultural practices, such as crop rotation and improved irrigation, as well as drought-resistant hybrid crops, would likely prevent the landscape from being as ruined as it was during the 1930s.

For example, Illinois endured a terrible drought in 2005, but the state's corn yield was close to normal. However, a multiyear drought in the Great Plains would still be devastating for the nation."
The first two years of a drought, the soil still has moisture. It is when year three and four come into play that the drying out means reduction of harvests. And crop rotation? What is that? I see little of that, most simply use fertilizer to keep the money flowing, if you let fields go fallow, the money drops off and no one wants that, it used to be, the government paid farmers to rotate crops thanks to the Dust Bowl lessons but hark, what happened?

OH! The GOP ended this program and said, "Freedom to farm as you wish!" and so of course, there is no crop rotation anymore.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has an obvious problem, termites. From Reuters:
An emptied New Orleans is seeing the return of one long-time resident it could do without: the termite.

Scientists had predicted the dirty salt water that flooded New Orleans in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina would spell the demise of the voracious Formosan subterranean termites that have plagued the city for more than 50 years.

But Formosans, unlike native termites, can establish colonies in trees or buildings and probably fled to higher ground when Katrina's rains started, insect experts said.
I was told by the Tohono O'odham at Kitt Peak that if you suddenly notice all the ants running around frantically, this means the Thunder Gods are near. Ants and termites can sense barometric changes with esquisite ease. And they act, frantically, on the information. They are very vulnerable to flooding.

Anyone who thinks floods will eliminate them is nuts. They are the Elder Ones, been around since...land was colonized and they survived the disaster of the Permian extinction, too! Something that killed of 90% of all living things couldn't kill them, nor cockroaches. If we nuke the world these three insect families will do just fine, thank you!

Termites love wet wood that dries out. They don't like wet wood that is wet, makes for a nasty home, the best is wood that is weak which they can chew up and digest easily and tunnel inside. This is why you only see them when they fly off to mate. I see them when people ask why a beam is weak and I poke a hole in it and see the buggers crawling around, inside.

New Orleans' flooded houses are doomed. Even if one strips the walls, the wood has been wet for some time and is now sauteed to the delight of these little bugs. Poisoning the wood might keep them temporarily at bay but they evolve rapidly, remember, they survived the Permian extinction! All the trees were poisoned by the salt water and the oil pollution. The salt didn't penetrate the deep wood of the trees, just the roots. So these trees are now totally yummy for the bugs and they will turn the entire ecosystem into pulp. Sort of human in their industry, no?

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