A massive disaster is unfolding in the US midwest this farming season. Extreme heavy rains and flooding are making it impossible for many farmers to plant their crops at all. If the crops are planted, the flooding is causing stunted growth. As of May 28, only 58% of corn acreage and 29% of soybean acreage had been planted, vs. typical figures of 90% and 66% respectively. John Newton, chief economist at American Farm Bureau Federation, reportedly said he's never experienced anything like this. Michael Coren at Quartz says:
If this sounds like part of the climate crisis, it is. As the planet warms, extremes in heavy rain and drought are becoming the new normal, says Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at Climate Matters. It’s not that every weather event is the result of global warming. But the probability of extreme disaster rises as humans increase the levels of carbon dioxide, now at their highest point in the planet’s atmosphere in 3 million years. Greenhouse gases trap heat and destabilize the climate system. Higher temperatures “supercharge” evaporation, leading to droughts and desertification. Water is dumped back on arid soil in torrential rains, creating flooding.
Apparently, the US is not alone in experiencing unusual weather conditions. Meteorologist Nick Humphrey provided a list of links, which I've visited to provide additional summaries.
This isn't an exhaustive list as surrounding nations are also suffering as well in some cases and this is a snapshot of what's been reported mostly in just the last 30 days.
Towns along the Mississippi River have been experiencing the longest stretch of major flooding from the river in nearly a century.
The Arkansas River near Little Rock is cresting at its highest level since 1945 as the region braces for more rainfall.
Saskatoon and Moose Jaw had their driest springs ever recorded.
14% less rainfall in northeast, India record lowest pre-monsoon in 65 years
Australia is staring down the barrel of another lower-than-average winter crop, as ongoing dry weather hinders planting across the nation...
North Korean media outlets have been urging all-out efforts to fight drought in the face of a record dry spell. According to the Rodong Sinmun, the North's official newspaper, the country's precipitation level during the first five months of this year was the lowest since 1917.
Nearly half of all rural Afghans now face some level of food insecurity, a UN agency said on Monday, as a historic drought and deteriorating security grip the country.
An extended, severe drought in southern Veracruz has proved fatal for rare howler monkeys. A combination of extreme temperatures nearing 40 C and a three-month dearth of rainfall in the region has deprived the monkeys of access to sufficient water.
A lack of rainfall last year and so far this year means that irrigation prospects across the country are low, meaning that new measures are having to be put in place in order to ensure at least some potatoes grow.
According to phys.org, the four-month period from April to July 2018 was the warmest in Germanysince the beginning of weather recording. As a consequence, by August, about 90 percent of the German territory was suffering a drought.
Germany's DWD weather service says that soil moisture deficits lingering since Europe's 2018 drought have not been relieved by winter rainfall. DWD agricultural meteorologist Udo Busch stated that conditions after the winter in many regions of Germany were "significantly worse in 2019 compared to the previous year".
Southern Angola is facing the worst drought in decades, with at least 2.3 million people at high risk of suffering malnutrition because they couldn’t get enough food, the United Nations Children’s Fund says.
Among them is 58-year-old farmer Eduardo Noukala, who is struggling to find enough grass and water for the cattle his family now depends on.
The worst drought to hit southern Angola in decades destroyed his entire crop.
It hasn’t rained since November and thousands of farmers like Noukala were left with no harvest and little hope.
He says only God knows about the drought this year, because he hasn’t seen something like this before.
At least 24 people have been killed in a wave of torrential rainfall and flooding that has pounded Iran for the past two weeks, local officials say.
According to Mojtaba Khaledi, a spokesman for Iran's emergency services, four people were killed by flooding while another 20 lost their lives after having been struck by lightning.
A severe drought is baking parts of China, with southwestern Yunnan province and northeastern Jilin province getting the worst of it, according to the Beijing-based National Climate Center.
Crops have been damaged by the drought, including rice and wheat in southern areas and corn in the northeast.
According to the Yunnan government, the drought has made it difficult for about 309,000 people to get drinking water. About 141,000 hectares of crops have been affected, with more than 29,000 hectares experiencing serious damage.
Namibia is facing a "natural disaster" because of poor rains, President Hage Geingob says.
He has declared a state of emergency - the second in three years - over the situation, mobilising all government agencies to respond to the drought.
The lack of rain has already left 500,000 people - one in five Namibians - without access to enough food, the government says.
The sparsely-populated country has seen a succession of droughts since 2013.
At least 37% of the urban populace require food aid in Zimbabwe and, unlike in the past, aid will also be distributed in towns and cities.
According to Famine Early Warning Systems Network in May, levels of acute food shortages are up because of poor rainfalls experienced last year in November, which meant a delay in planting and subsequently harvesting normally done in April.
Mozambique’s first disaster was a cyclone. The second has been cholera. Now hunger could be the third.
The raging floodwaters that left a large part of central Mozambique a vast inland sea are draining away, laying bare a severe lack of food for the months ahead.
Low-lying rice fields in this fertile region were destroyed when rivers burst their banks. Maize crops on higher land were shredded. Their mangled stalks now wither under an almost constant sun. Exposed, the clay earth is cracking.
The UN says climate change has "undermined" the lives of farmers in Vietnam, where the wet season has come earlier or brought in heavier rains in recent years.
"In Vietnam and elsewhere, climate change has put weather in flux. When you can no longer plan for the future, you can only hope," said Dechen Tsering, UN Environment's Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
All of this might represent just a string of bad luck, and it's impossible to prove anything about the climate from particular and specific incidents. But, there's very little doubt that increased CO2 levels are causing increased temperatures and also increased amounts of water vapor in the air. Climate models say that this should result in both increased storm intensity, and also increased episodes of drought.
Unfortunately, if we wait long enough for definitive statistical proof of a trend towards crop failure caused by bad weather, the problem could easily also cause a collapse of the world economy owing to increased food prices, food riots, and so forth.