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What Climate Change Looks Like, Drought Version - Sierra Daily
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Sierra Daily

Jul 16, 2012

What Climate Change Looks Like, Drought Version

DroughtThose aren't just dying lawns in this NASA satellite image: That's the nation's breadbasket. This image (click to enlarge) contrasts the period from June 25 to July 10 with the ten year average; brown indicates plant growth "less vigorous than normal," while green areas are more lush than usual. Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared 1,000 counties in 26 states to be disaster areas--the largest such declaration ever.

Farmers are feeling the pain now, but consumers will soon join them. Corn prices are up by 4.9 percent today alone, and prices are also rising for soybeans and wheat. While prices in the grocery store are not expected to rise immediately, they are definitely going up. And the crops that do survive may have a hard time getting to market: The drought is lowering the water level in the Mississippi River, closing many river ports and causing barges to run aground.

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.


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