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weather extremes
kickmoon
ljgeoff
I'm not sure how we can prepare for the reality of this continuing drought. The effects are becoming more severe and I wonder how things will go if it continues. Mostly, it will just come down to money -- more money for food, utilities and all kinds of goods.

Over on Neven's blog, many of the scientists and well-read and educated amateurs are worried about the current state of the arctic. Most expect a new low for arctic ice this autumn, and believe we are on the cusp of the transition to an ice-free arctic -- about 50 years earlier than the most radical estimates of only five years ago.

Homeowners in the midwest are battling cracking foundations. "Homeowners are learning that when soil dries up, it shrinks -- so foundations shift, twisting and cracking the houses on top of them... The cost is not usually covered by insurance, because the damage is blamed on an "act of God." ... (Minnesota) Builders have assumed that the ground around foundations would not shift because the soil moisture is relatively stable."
full article here.

Power generation accounts for almost 50% of the US' water usage. Kansas City Water office director Tracy Streeter "expected the reservoirs could meet the needs of downriver (of Topeka, KS) communities through 2013 without hitting levels that would trigger conservation efforts, but cities and industries could decide to take voluntary measures before then — assuming Kansas continues to remain in drought as the Drought Monitor predicts." article here

Drought has so lowered the level of the Mississippi that barges must carry much less load, increasing the cost of shipping. article here

Of course, the drought is having a huge impact on food production: winter wheat is shriveling, and now that we've gone through the glut of meat from last year's drought-induced slaughter, the cost of meat will be going up. Last week, there was a little sign on the spot where I usually buy my greens, saying that supplies were down due to "poor weather." I plan to grow as much of my veggies as I can this summer, but with the continuing drought, everyone is going to be paying more for fresh food.

Here in the US, the summer of 2013 is expected to be even hotter and drier than the the summer of 2012.

I'm not very well versed on how an economy works. But it makes sense to me that if it costs more for food and shelter, there'll be less spent on things like new shoes, refrigerators and eating out. Which means that companies won't hire as many people and so more people will be out of work.

The thing is, I don't really see an end to this. It's going to get much worse. And it's going to get much worse a heck of a lot faster than just about anyone thinks that it will.

There is a hard coded limit on energy and food prices that worries economicists a great deal, because you're right, if people wind up having to spend most of their money on food and energy, the rest of the economy tanks because everybody who works in the service sector is screwed.

This is usually why and when governments step in with price controls, but we've deregulated markets to such a massive extent now thanks to Thatcher and Reagan that I don't know if government price controls would work anymore. Though I'm sure if the crisis was great enough, measures would be taken.

Hard to see how that would ever work in America though, the idea of government regulated markets will just scream 'COMMUNISM!'

But I think that will be what happens, governments will have to step in and take absolute control over the economy, because I think runaway inflation is now a very real danger.

Price controls are usually a bad deal - supply and demand isn't a natural law, but it does tend to work predictably, and if there's a cap on prices, there'll be less production. It's often better to subsidize the purchase of food, instead. That will still be resisted, but it's a much more market friendly solution, since the prices can rise high enough to encourage greater production to meet the demand at that price.

Of course, none of this will matter if land productivity simply drops below sustainability. If there isn't enough arable land that's productive enough to grow enough wheat to meet demand, there'll be a wheat shortage at any price.

And as and when wheat prices start to spike, it will be the developing world that gets hit hardest.

Oh, and ironically we're having the exact opposite problem here. Last year there were 350% more landslides than there should have been, and the ground is absolutely saturated. Houses are starting to slide off hills. And livestock is having to be slaughtered because the fields are just quagmires.

Yes, I was thinking of you when I wrote this, how you're at the other end of the spectrum.

Oddly though this absolutely saturated ground, down south in England anyway, came on top of a record drought. So just, extremes either way.

Haven't had a proper summer here in Scotland in 3 years now.

We've been seeing this steadily happening already for at least two years. We need more regulation instead of just talks of 'existing
regulations' which leave most people poor and companies fat and actually put cappers in place. This is the type of disaster which changes nations irrevocably. Hope they've got a plan here...

There was a post on the wunderground climte change blog that talks about different levels of attention to different issues. Long-term problems, that is problems that go on for years or in this case generations, are particularly hard for humans to come together and work.

Our political system is okay (sometimes even really good) at working on short term problems and really bad at the long term stuff.

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