Climate change, extreme weather events, farming, and our food supply
They all tie together, and the connections are obvious and now undeniable. Tom Philpott has a good article in Mother Jones on the topic. From the article:
. . . In 2005, the sixth-most powerful hurricane ever recorded blitzed into the Mississippi River Delta region, flattening $900 million worth of crops. Just two years after Katrina, a “500-year flood” visited the Midwestern corn belt—which, as the US Geological Survey pointed out at the time, marked the second “500-year flood” in 15 years. In 2011, Texas suffered the most severe 12-month drought in its recorded history, resulting in a stunning $5.2 billion in crop and livestock losses, eclipsing the state’s previous record high in crop losses set just five years earlier. Then came last August’s Hurricane Irene, which deluged farmlands and destroyed crops from Puerto Rico to Canada, taking a particular toll on farmers in Vermont and New York State. This summer, farmers in the Midwest suffered the worst drought in a generation—which cut into crop yields and sparked yet another global hunger crisis. And now comes unprecedented “superstorm” Sandy. . .
The culprit for routine “extreme weather” is becoming obvious. Cary writes that “scientists used to say, cautiously, that extreme weather events were ‘consistent’ with the predictions of climate change.” There were lingering questions about whether extreme weather events were on the rise—or whether people were just paying increased attention to them. That idea has crumbled under the weight of data. Cary quotes Peter Höppe, head of the European reinsurance giant Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center, who “has compiled the world’s most comprehensive database of natural disasters, reaching all the way back to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79″:
Our figures indicate a trend towards an increase in extreme weather events that can only be fully explained by climate change… It’s as if the weather machine had changed up a gear.
Even US government scientists acknowledge the connection. “Now we can make the statement that particular events would not have happened the same way without global warming,” Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), tells Carey.
What does the rise of a hyper-volatile climate mean for farms—and our food supply? . . .