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Drought in the U.S. is the worst since 1956!

Only after the last tree has been cut down,

Only after the last river has been poisoned,

Only after the last fish has been caught,

Only then will you find money cannot be eaten.

Cree Proverb

Oil, natural gas, and coal cannot be eaten, either. :-)

And poisoning groundwater to recover natural gas by fracking doesn’t help!

The National Climatic Data Center reported today that approximately 55% of the United States was in at least moderate short-term drought in June for the first time since December of 1956, what 58% of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought. June ranked as the third-driest month nationally in at least 118 years and made the problem even worse, driving up the portion of the U.S. experiencing EXTREME short-term drought conditions 23% the month before, to almost 33%. (You might want to look at what was HAPPENING in the U.S. 118 years ago, in 1894. It was a very different country, and world.)

You may speculate about the causes of the drought. One thing that I have (finally :-) ) learned in my years on this planet is not to argue with 1) the mentally ill, 2) the stupid (aka “intellectually challenged”), and 3) judgmental ideologues. If you don’t believe in climate change, you have not been paying attention or likely fall into one of the three categories above.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn called it a “natural disaster of epic proportions.”

“We’ve never see a drought like this and we have to make sure we do something about it,” he said, calling on Congress to expedite passage of the farm bill. Quinn said seven more counties will be designated Monday as disaster areas, in addition to 26 already on the list, and farmers can apply for federal relief funds.

The National Drought Mitigation Center reports that, in Arkansas, ranchers are hauling water since ponds have dried up and wells cannot keep up with the demand.

In all, 71% of the country was classified as abnormally dry or worse as of June, the climate agency said, citing data from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska.

That’s double one year ago, according to agency statistics. 

The drought is worst in the southern to central Rockies, the central Plains states, and the Ohio Valley, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Arkansas Department of Agriculture spokesperson, Zach Taylor, noted that ranchers have been selling off cattle so that they will not have to feed them and water them.

“It’s bad,” he said. “The week of July 4, we had 17,000 head of cattle sold. That may be a record.”

Water levels in the Mississippi River south of New Orleans have been dropping, letting saltwater work its way upstream, threatening water supplies.

Farmers in some parts of the country have had to approach their bankers to ask for more money for electricity to run pumps continually pumping groundwater. It seems quite ironic to me that incompetent bankers, who precipitated the worldwide financial crisis leading to the recent recession, should benefit from the drought.

CNN points out the effects of the 1956 drought, citing reports from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

“Crop yields in some areas dropped as much as 50%,” according to the agency. “Excessive temperatures and low rainfall scorched grasslands typically used for grazing. With grass scarce, hay prices became too costly, forcing some ranchers to feed their cattle a mixture of prickly pear cactus and molasses.”

Some 26 states have declared disasters from the current drought, and there have been a few orders for emergency conservation of water.

According to the report issued Monday <by the National Climatic Data Center>, June was also the fourth-warmest June globally since record-keeping began in 1880, and marked the 328th consecutive month that global temperatures have remained above the 20th century average. The last time the average global temperature dipped below that average was February 1985, the agency said.

My education was in the biological sciences, and, as I wrote earlier, I no longer argue with the mentally ill, the stupid, or with judgmental ideologues.

-Bill at

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