August 2012


The unstable weather patterns created by Global Warming means that there will be drought and flooding somewhere in the world, more or less at the same time. So this impending hurricane just pushes the drought out of its way for a while but it will come back.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/30/us-usa-drought-idINBRE87T0Z620120830

Drought eases in U.S. Midwest, worsens in northern Plains

By Karl Plume

Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:30pm IST

(Reuters) – The worst U.S. drought in a half century loosened its grip on the Midwest in the past week, helped by rain and cooler temperatures, but the drought grew more dire in the northern Plains, a report from climate experts said on Thursday.

But the improved Midwest weather arrived too late for crops in major farm states such as Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, where severe corn and soybean yield losses have already been realized.

The portion of the contiguous United States suffering from at least “severe” drought fell to 42.34 percent from 44.03 percent over the prior week, according to the Drought Monitor, a weekly synthesis representing a consensus climatologists.

The percentage of the Midwest in that category slipped to 49.96 from 51.06 the previous week, with the most notable improvement in Indiana, 64.07 percent of which was under severe drought or worse, down from 81.48 percent a week ago.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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But the damage has already been done. The next question is what about next year. First, the seed corn was a total wash this year so right now they are trying to grow enough in Brazil to even get us going next year. But then the next question is when to plant and where. If anybody was a good enough predictor to get in during or right after the late frost then your corn would be fine and you would be sitting on a gold mine. This is contingent on us getting some moisture over the winter. If we don’t get enough moisture well then next year looks bleak.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/30/iowa-corn-crop-drought-farmers-prices?newsfeed=true

Rain comes too late for Iowa’s corn crop as drought weighs on midwest minds

Farmers hope for better next year after summer of record drought leads to rising prices and brings tensions to the surface

Thursday 30 August 2012 10.44 EDT

Flying into Des Moines, the corn fields look surprisingly green. America’s midwest produces half the world’s corn and Iowa its largest harvest, yet amid the worst drought in living memory all the untrained eye can see is the occasional brown mark, like a cigarette burn on the baize of a pool table.

But appearances can be deceptive.

In Boone, Iowa, 30 miles away from the state capital, traffic backs up for miles bringing 200,000 people to Farm Progress, the US’s largest agricultural show one. Here, all the talk is of the drought.

Pam Johnson, first vice-president of the National Corn Growers Association, says she can’t remember one as bad as this in her 40 years of farming. “My parents say you have to go back to the 1930s for anything comparable,” she says. In June, her farm in northern Iowa got an inch and a half of rain. “We usually get that a week. In July we got seven-tenths of an inch, for the month.” Rain may be coming soon, thanks to hurricane Isaac, but it’s too late for America’s corn crop.

The US planted 97m acres of corn for this year’s crop – the most since 1937. If everything had gone according to plan, this year’s harvest would have produced a new record, at close to 15bn bushels of corn (a bushel is 24 million metric tonnes). It’s too early to say what the final tally will be, but the US department of agriculture has slashed its forecast to 10.8bn. Dan Basse, president of AgResources, an independent agriculture analyst, says that figure is likely to come down. “We’ve lost 4bn bushels of corn. That’s the largest loss in history, and we could lose another,” he says. The USDA has declared counties in 38 states to be “disaster areas”. About 72% of cattle areas are experiencing drought.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Water is a utility issue, an environmental issue, an energy issue and a residential issue. So it makes sense to cover it here. Next week I turn to the energy policies of the Presidential candidates.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2019013218_apusdroughtwellwitchers.html

Originally published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 5:14 AM

In drought, drillers offering even water witching

Well driller Randy Gebke usually uses a geology database and other high-tech tools to figure out where to sink new water wells for clients. But if asked, he’ll grab two wires, walk across the property, waiting for the wires to cross to find a place to drill.

By DAVID MERCER

Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —

Well driller Randy Gebke usually uses a geology database and other high-tech tools to figure out where to sink new water wells for clients. But if asked, he’ll grab two wires, walk across the property, waiting for the wires to cross to find a place to drill.

Gebke is water witching, using an ancient method with a greater connection to superstition than science.

Thousands of wells have gone dry this summer in the worst drought the nation has experienced in decades. Some homeowners are spending as much as $30,000 to have new ones drilled, and Gebke said most potential customers in his area expect water witching to be part the deal.

“Over 50 percent of the time in that conversation, they ask do we have a witcher on the crew,” he said. “And my response is, `We have a witcher on every crew.'”

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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This drought is so severe that it will take more then a hurricane to end it.  Two or three hurricanes maybe, but this one no way.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/tropical-storm-isaac-could-bring-welcome-rain-to-midwest-but-unlikely-to-break-drought/2012/08/28/3066b0a4-f0e0-11e1-b74c-84ed55e0300b_story.html

Tropical Storm Isaac could bring welcome rain to Midwest but unlikely to break drought

By Associated Press,

OMAHA, Neb. — The remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac could bring welcome rain to some states in the Mississippi River valley this week, but experts say it’s unlikely to break the drought gripping the Midwest.

Along with the deluge of rain expected along the Gulf Coast when Isaac makes landfall, the National Weather Service predicts 2 to 6 inches of rain will fall in eastern Arkansas, southeast Missouri and southern Illinois.

Those areas are among those hard hit by the drought that stretches from the West Coast east into Kentucky and Ohio, with pockets in Georgia and Alabama. The rain that falls inland likely will ease but not eliminate drought, because those areas are so dry, said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Arkansas rancher Don Rodgers said his area is short 17 inches of rain this year. He said even a couple of inches from Isaac would make a significant difference because he would have water for his cattle and might be able to grow some forage for this winter.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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While I wrote about the higher output temperatures of power plant effluent (water) and the effects on the wild life and the surrounding environment. But the fact is, they have been dropping in production too. I mean if you can’t cool them, they will melt and for the most part that is a bad thing especially for the nukes. The President of PG&E was crowing about their nuke being cooled by sea water so “as to be not effected” by the drought and climate warming. He may want to rethink that.

http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20120815/nuclear-power-plants-energy-nrc-drought-weather-heat-water

Extreme Heat, Drought Show Vulnerability of Nuclear Power Plants

Reactor shutdown in Connecticut is latest sign that nuclear energy would face challenges from climate change.

Aug 15, 2012

Will 2012 go down as the year that left the idea of nuclear energy expansion in the hot, dry dust?

Nuclear energy might be an important weapon in the battle against climate change, some scientists have argued, because it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases. But separate of all the other issues with nuclear, that big plus would be moot if the plants couldn’t operate, or became too inefficient, because of global warming.

In June, InsideClimate News reported on the findings of Dennis Lettenmaier, a researcher at the University of Washington. His study found that nuclear and other power plants will see a 4 to 16 percent drop in production between 2031 and 2060 due to climate change-induced drought and heat.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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The real problems with all the “stop turning corn into liquid fuel” noise in the press is that the EPA only has the authority to wave some of it. The rest of the authority belongs to the Clean Air Act and in this respect ethanol is one of the best oxygenators for the fuel which cuts smog and ozone. Added to that ethanol is a cheaper oxygenator by about a buck a gallon so I doubt seriously if the gasoline refiners will give it up. Bottom line is it is a great way to pander to growers and livestock people who have been abandoned by the House of Representatives who could not get a Farm Bill passed. But is not going to free up a lot of corn and even then it will be expensive.

http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/Oil/6585987

Texas governor asks US waive ethanol mandate on drought impact

Washington (Platts)–24Aug2012/136 pm EDT/1736 GMT

Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday asked the US Environmental Protection Agency to waive its ethanol mandate as a severe drought shrivels this fall’s expected corn harvest.

His petition marked the fifth state to formally ask EPA to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard’s requirement for blending corn-based ethanol into gasoline supplies for 2012 and 2013.

It comes four years after EPA rejected a similar request by Perry. He said the ramifications of this year’s drought could be worse than the conditions he cited in the 2008 petition.

“The forecasts are dire, as crop yield and overall productions are projected to be lower than anticipated,” Perry said in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, adding that ethanol production and the corn market have changed considerably since 2008.

“Requirements for ethanol derived from corn starch have increased more than 60%; meanwhile, domestic corn production in 2012 will be less than in 2008, perhaps substantially so,” he added. “In the past two years, more corn has been devoted to ethanol production than used for feed grain.”

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Go there and read. More next week.

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First they destroy the Gulf of Mexico and now they are after your car. When these things happen, they always appear clueless. Really.

I was going to write about the drought today again, but there are some stories that you can not pass up.

http://consumerist.com/2012/08/bps-bad-gas-made-it-into-200-stations-in-chicago-area-affecting-at-least-7000-customers.html

BP’s Bad Gas Made It Into 200 Stations In Chicago Area, Affecting At Least 7,000 Customers

By on August 23, 2012 10:00 AM

Since the news hit this week that tainted gas from a BP fuel storage facility in northwest Indiana could be causing drivers to have problems with their vehicles, it seems BP had to scramble a bit to get a gauge on how bad the situation is. The company has churned out a few press releases in the last few days, and has now alerted customers and the media that about 200 retail gas outlets in Indiana and the Chicago area had a case of bad gas.

In the first few hours after the tale of bad gas spread, customers were having a hard time getting an actual BP representative on the phone, much less someone who would have the skill to address the situation. We must say since that point, the company has been trying to get a better handle on the tainted gas, as well as launching a web site for consumers with issues.

In the latest statement from a company spokesman, BP handed down the numbers of 200 retail outlets that were supplied with off-specification regular-grade gasoline, aka the stuff you’d likely fill up with, as well as 20 sites in the Milwaukee area:

The company continues to go through its shipping records and is contacting retailers who may have loaded tanker trucks with the off-specification fuel and is replacing it with on-specification product.

This fuel, sourced from BP’s Whiting, Indiana and Milwaukee, Wisconsin gasoline storage terminals, contained a higher than normal level of polymeric residue, which can lead to hard starting and other drivability issues.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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I was going to write a piece today on the stupidity of trying to maintain our addiction to liquid fuels that are not sustainable like ethanol. But then it suddenly dawned on me, if the corn can’t get to the processing plant then there is really nothing to write about. Yup the barges are stacking up in a river that is, in some places down to one lane and in an 11 mile stretch it is closed. They also point out that after the flooding last year they did no dredging cause the rich people won’t pay their taxes. Oh sorry.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/this-years-drought-is-so-severe-you-can-see-its-toll-on-the-mississippi-river-from-space/261428/

This Year’s Drought Is So Severe, You Can See Its Toll on the Mississippi River From Space

Aug 22 2012, 9:42 AM ET

Last year, the Mississippi River flooded. Major storms combined with melting snow brought the waterway more than 56 feet above river stage in May. The Army Corps of Engineers lifted the floodgates of the Morganza Spillway, deliberately inundating some 3,000 square miles of rural Louisiana to spare worse damage in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In August of last year, NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite took a picture of the swollen river. Here’s what it saw:

(note: I know longer post pictures on this blog for the most part. They take to much time and effort to post.)

 

This year it’s an entirely different story. At the end of last month, more than 60 percent of the lower 48 states were in drought, and the might Mississippi was running low. An 11-mile stretch of river has been closed on and off since August 11, and earlier this week nearly 100 boats lined up near Greenville, Mississippi, waiting to pass. Water levels near Memphis are ranging from 2.4 to 8.3 below river stage, compared with 11.7 feet above at this time last year. To make matters worse, the floods of last year deposited huge amounts of sediment on the river bed, reconfiguring the existing channels.

Again NASA was there to capture the view from space, this time with Landsat 7. Here’s that image:

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Go there and see the startlingly different pictures and read. More tomorrow.

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But that would mean that monopoly utilities were smart and they are not. Now that the problem has been shoved in their face by the warming up of the sun, they want to talk about it. Great.

http://www.pgecurrents.com/2012/08/07/climate-change-comes-to-the-power-industry/

August 7, 2012
Climate Change Comes to the Power Industry

By Jonathan Marshall

With temperatures setting new records across the country, and over half of the continental United States now experiencing serious drought, global warming is no longer just a prediction of climate scientists. It’s a reality, here and now.

Though every sector of human activity is feeling the impact, electric utilities are feeling them especially keenly, as they struggle to keep up with peak summer demand for air conditioning. At the same time, heat and drought threaten to curb their ability to generate and transmit power in the first place.

As Matthew Wald reported in his Green blog, one power plant in the Midwest was recently curtailed and another shut down altogether because river water levels dropped too low for their cooling intake valves. This was no fluke. A number of Texas power plants reduced their output in 2011 due to water shortages. Three years earlier, many more plants throughout the drought-stricken Southeast came close to shutting down.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Why do I say that. Because the Sun is finally into its warming phase. The Sun always has 4 cycles: cooling, quietude, warming and maximus. These cycles inhabit an 11 year cycle most probably related to the creation of some of the heavier elements in its core. What does change in no known sequence is which is bigger the cooling cycle or the warming cycle and I suppose some brief time periods of equilibrium. For the last 30 years (almost 3 full cycles) the cooling side of the cycle has been bigger than the heating cycle and the last quietude was almost 2 full years which I believe is the biggest in recorded history. Here is the point. The planet should be cooling but it isn’t. During the cooling we still had some pretty hot years. Why. There is no other thing to blame, but humans. Now that the Sun is heating up and for the next 3 years or so, Watch Out!

http://www.examiner.com/article/drought-affects-nation-s-energy-prices

If you think the drought of summer 2012 is only increasing the prices of the nation’s corn and grain supplies, you’re missing a large part of the picture. Drought reaches into every corner of American pockets, affecting even the cost of driving a car and what we pay for air conditioning.

Current drought conditions

The United States is experiencing the most severe drought, with the highest percentage of land affected by it, in over 60 years, according to the National Climatic Data Center‘s July 17 report. (See August 5 Palmer drought severity map at left. Yellow = moderately dry, orange = severely dry, red = excessively dry.)

Parched conditions have now led to disaster declarations in more than half the counties in the nation–1,584, in 32 states–this growing season. The declarations make these areas eligible for government aid, including low-interest emergency loans to hold the line until farms and ranches recover.

And the ripple effects of this brutal weather will extend farther than the farms in the Midwest, where corn and soybean crops are failing. It will affect meat production nationwide as well because pasture and grazing land has been blighted, forcing farmers and ranchers to seek other–and more expensive–feed for cows and other animals.

In some areas, cattle have to be fed with next year’s grain reserves because local pasture lands have dried up. Almost four million acres of federal conservation land has been opened for haying and grazing. Crop insurers have also begun to provide penalty-free 30-day grace periods on 2012 premiums.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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