The United States is in its worst drought since 1956, according to a report by the National Climatic Data Center. A full third of the country was suffering from severe to extreme short-term drought, up from 23 percent in May. Overall, 56 percent of the country is in drought conditions, including much of the Plains and Midwest.
The drought could have far-reaching implications, from crop death to increase wildfire risk to the disruption of shipping on the Mississippi River.
“We’ve never seen a drought like this and we have to make sure we do something about it,” said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. The Democrat called on Congress to pass the farm bill, which provides for insurance programs to aid hard-hit farmers.
38 percent of corn planted is reported as in poor or very poor conditions, leading to rising prices for corn. The price of corn has jumped 34 percent in the last month, and it’s expected they will go higher.
The drought comes against a backdrop of global warming. While no weather event can be directly tied to global climate change, climate scientists have predicted that global warming will make droughts more likely worldwide. The United States is expected to be one of the regions hardest-hit by increasing droughts.
Last month was the fourth-warmest June on record, with temperatures 1.13° F above average. Only Australia, Northwestern Europe, and the Northwestern United States were cooler than normal.
The 2012 drought is already causing disruption. More concerning, however, is what the future holds. This year’s drought is the worst in 56 years. Few people expect that it will be 2068 before we see another one this bad.
Image Credit: Bert Kaufmann