Playing Now: The Biggest Natural Disaster Of All

Photo: Tomas Castelazo (CC)

Photo: Tomas Castelazo (CC)

Alex Prud’Homme describes the drought gripping the southern United States as the “creeping disaster” in this essay for the New York Times:

Floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme weather have left a trail of destruction during the first half of 2011. But this could be just the start to a remarkable year of bad weather. Next up: drought. In the South, 14 states are now baking in blast-furnace conditions — from Arizona, which is battling the largest wildfire in its history, to Florida, where fires have burned some 200,000 acres so far. Worse, drought, unlike earthquakes, hurricanes and other rapid-moving weather, could become a permanent condition in some regions.

Climatologists call drought a “creeping disaster” because its effects are not felt at once. Others compare drought to a python, which slowly and inexorably squeezes its prey to death.

The great aridification of 2011 began last fall; now temperatures in many states have spiked to more than 100 degrees for days at a stretch. A high pressure system has stalled over the middle of the country, blocking cool air from the north. Texas and New Mexico are drier than in any year on record.

The deadly heat led to 138 deaths last year, more than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods, and it turns brush to tinder that is vulnerable to lightning strikes and human carelessness. Already this year, some 40,000 wildfires have torched over 5.8 million acres nationwide — and the deep heat of August is likely to make conditions worse before they get better…

[continues in the New York Times]

  • DeepCough

    Oh, dear, looks like “Global Warming” isn’t a myth after all. Suck on that, Republicans!

  • DeepCough

    Oh, dear, looks like “Global Warming” isn’t a myth after all. Suck on that, Republicans!

    • The_Baffler

      Global warming is just the new sales pitch to sell us air conditioners.

    • Duffman3

      ???? 

      Nobody was claiming it didn’t exist, unless they were retarded.
      Whereas there is no evidence that man made the earth warmer, there are people out there who feel that global warming is a lot more natural than “democrats” think it is. 

      The solution to global warming is NOT taxation. 

  • DeepCough

    Oh, dear, looks like “Global Warming” isn’t a myth after all. Suck on that, Republicans!

  • Anonymous

    Global warming is just the new sales pitch to sell us air conditioners.

  • jasonpaulhayes

    We should have gone Solar and Geothermal … I don’t see how burning Oil and Coal is worth killing the Earth. Oh well, too late! “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should” Dr. Ian Malcolm

  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    We should have gone Solar and Geothermal … I don’t see how burning Oil and Coal is worth killing the Earth. Oh well, too late! “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should” Dr. Ian Malcolm

  • Skullfaceflamenco

    Actually, the Earth has been warming for several hundred thousand years, ever since the Ice Age. Otherwise, the ice wouldn’t have melted. Think about it…

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      in all likelyhood the craziness is some knowledged peoples keeping the idea of a long term cycle on the radius of the earth’s revolution about the sun… it might explain these kinda things

      • The_Baffler

        I believe at least some of the climate change is due to us dumping carbon into the atmosphere. You make a solid point with our orbit having something to do with global temperature.

        Now add in the observed hot/cold cycle our planet has had, and maybe we have a clearer picture.

        It is however no excuse for our short sighted policies regarding sustainable agriculture, industry, and finding a new energy source or sources. Alas, I’m just some fat dude with a keyboard and the people in charge of these things value money over everything else, even at the expense of their own children.

    • The_Baffler

      The Ice Age is just the new sales pitch to sell us heaters.

  • Skullfaceflamenco

    Actually, the Earth has been warming for several hundred thousand years, ever since the Ice Age. Otherwise, the ice wouldn’t have melted. Think about it…

  • Skullfaceflamenco

    Actually, the Earth has been warming for several hundred thousand years, ever since the Ice Age. Otherwise, the ice wouldn’t have melted. Think about it…

  • Skullfaceflamenco

    Actually, the Earth has been warming for several hundred thousand years, ever since the Ice Age. Otherwise, the ice wouldn’t have melted. Think about it…

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    in all likelyhood the craziness is some knowledged peoples keeping the idea of a long term cycle on the radius of the earth’s revolution about the sun… it might explain these kinda things

  • Anonymous

    The Ice Age is just the new sales pitch to sell us heaters.

  • Anonymous

    I believe at least some of the climate change is due to us dumping carbon into the atmosphere. You make a solid point with our orbit having something to do with global temperature.

    Now add in the observed hot/cold cycle our planet has had, and maybe we have a clearer picture.

    It is however no excuse for our short sighted policies regarding sustainable agriculture, industry, and finding a new energy source or sources. Alas, I’m just some fat dude with a keyboard and the people in charge of these things value money over everything else, even at the expense of their own children.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Shit…it may seem alarmist…but its actually alarming to people who live there. The water isn’t coming back in dependable cycles the way it used to…whatever is changing isn’t changing slowly…its changing fast…and in ways that haven’t been seen in hundreds of years. Freshwater resources are dwindling fast…and rationing and periodic shutoffs are a way of life in a number of towns and cities…especially around Hotlanta. I’m not going to waste time speculating on the cause…I just stick to begging people to accept the immediate reality and plan accordingly…which is damned hard when a stack of shitheels drunk on Fox broadcasts keep trying to explain why theres nothing wrong, nothing different, nothing needed and no point in trying. If they really believe that shit…throw them in a shark tank…if they sit perfectly still and ignore it all…they have conviction (and stupidity) on their side…but we all know most of the dumb fucks would be swimming for safety and climbing the hell out of dangers way. It’s one tune when others are suffering…another when its their own ass on the line.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Shit…it may seem alarmist…but its actually alarming to people who live there. The water isn’t coming back in dependable cycles the way it used to…whatever is changing isn’t changing slowly…its changing fast…and in ways that haven’t been seen in hundreds of years. Freshwater resources are dwindling fast…and rationing and periodic shutoffs are a way of life in a number of towns and cities…especially around Hotlanta. I’m not going to waste time speculating on the cause…I just stick to begging people to accept the immediate reality and plan accordingly…which is damned hard when a stack of shitheels drunk on Fox broadcasts keep trying to explain why theres nothing wrong, nothing different, nothing needed and no point in trying. If they really believe that shit…throw them in a shark tank…if they sit perfectly still and ignore it all…they have conviction (and stupidity) on their side…but we all know most of the dumb fucks would be swimming for safety and climbing the hell out of dangers way. It’s one tune when others are suffering…another when its their own ass on the line.

  • Duffman3

    ???? 

    Nobody was claiming it didn’t exist, unless they were retarded.
    Whereas there is no evidence that man made the earth warmer, there are people out there who feel that global warming is a lot more natural than “democrats” think it is. 

    The solution to global warming is NOT taxation. 

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