America, the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
When it comes to crop conditions, God has certainly shed His grace on thee. We have been spared from the horrors of the perma-drought and new dust bowl that was being touted as late as 2013.
It’s true that during the hot, dry summers of 2010, 2011, and 2012, U.S. food production leveled off a bit, but it has climbed 8-10% ever since.
The fact is that during the periods of 1931-1940 and 1952-1954, drought conditions were far worse than this most recent dry period, during which the hysteria was reaching a fever pitch. There is no question these more extreme cases were because of natural occurrences, which begs the question: Why is the less-severe case being blamed on an artificial cause?
Here’s the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) from May to September, 1931-1940:
And here’s since 2014:
A large part of the dry area in the West during this previous five-year period is because it was dry in California until two years ago. When the Great Plains reversed, the hysteria was refocused on the West Coast. But, lo and behold, what happened? The PDSI index shows a record-breaking lack of drought over the U.S.
This is, again, exactly opposite of what was being touted. The crucial assumption that warming aloft would shut down precipitation has not occurred. Quite frankly, the bust on this is as real and spectacular as the pronouncements that snow would be a thing of the past or that the Arctic would be ice-free by 2013.
Yet this reversal was predictable. And since we at Weatherbell.com are also in the forecasting business for agriculture, we let whoever wishes to listen know that, like the 1950s, this would reverse.
Publicly, we also try to get it out there.
This is from Jan 2013: “Widespread Dryness: Been There, Done That, Naturally.”
And this is from May 2016: “Examples of History Beating Hysteria in Climate and Weather.”
Guess what? It appears another year of non-drought is evolving. Here’s the latest CFSv2 temperature forecast for the summer:
Here’s the precipitation outlook:
Overall, it certainly looks moist and relatively mild in areas where we grow a lot of food.
The fact is, if there is any worry at all, it’s that it may be so cold for so long in some of these areas. If it gets cold again during the early fall, that’s a problem. Our agriculture guys are looking at that very closely. It’s not a forecast yet, but I pass it along to mention that these potential problems are not being caused by hot and dry conditions.
Here’s the point to remember: Rarely in an (almost) infinite system does one set of variables control the entire picture. It’s usually a combination of variables, and one has to correctly take into account attribution and forcing. From forecasting a snowstorm to the earth’s climate, what is on the playing field has to be evaluated for its influence. I am not going to rehash all the examples of natural forcing we have discussed, but suffice it to say, blaming the ups and downs of weather and climate on one variable, CO2, which has recently been labeled as a climate control knob, is questionable and does raise skepticism, especially when there are a myriad of occurrences before that were caused by strictly natural combinations of events.
I don’t see why this is an unreasonable position to take. But when someone says snow will soon be a thing of the past or the Arctic will be ice-free or there is a perma-drought coming (none of which occurred) or we only have 12 years left to live, I think an examination is in order.
In the meantime, the problem this year has been caused by too much cold and its clash with the warmth in the Southeast. It’s likely the dry area over the Southeast will expand back to the west, which will lead to some problems. But when that becomes an example of man-made climate change, remember the amber waves of grain that are leading to the opposite result of what was being touted.
Joe Bastardi, a pioneer in extreme weather and long-range forecasting, is a contributor to The Patriot Post on environmental issues. He is the author of “The Climate Chronicles: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — and Others.”