Tag Archives | Drought

Corn Shortage Sees Farmers Turn To Junk Food For Feed

Picture: Derived from work by Airstrom (CC)

Extensive drought damage throughout the U.S. has led to the smallest corn crop in six years, and in turn a dramatic increase in price for the versatile foodstuff. Beef farmers in particular are incredibly reliant on corn to feed their vast numbers of livestock, and the shortage has seen many farmers creatively supplementing their herd’s diets. The Vancouver Sun reports:

In the mix are cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries. Cattlemen are feeding virtually anything they can get their hands on that will replace the starchy sugar content traditionally delivered to the animals through corn.

“Everybody is looking for alternatives,” said Ki Fanning, a nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting in Eagle, Nebraska. “It’s kind of funny the first time you see it but it works well. The big advantage to that is you can turn something you normally throw away into something that can be consumed.

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Food Shortages May Force World Population To Go Vegetarian

Drought Swimming HoleCould this be a conspiracy against freedom-loving, red meat-eating Americans? I have a feeling there will be those in certain quarters who claim just that. John Vidal reports for The Guardian:

Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world’s leading water scientists.

“There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations,” the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.

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Half Of U.S. Counties Are Now Disaster Areas

America: it was good while it lasted. After a summer of extreme weather patterns, half of the country is classified as disaster zones, Yahoo! News reports:

Nearly 220 counties in a dozen drought-stricken states were added Wednesday to the U.S. government’s list of natural disaster areas as the nation’s agriculture chief unveiled new help for frustrated, cash-strapped farmers and ranchers grappling with extreme dryness and heat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s addition of the 218 counties means that more than half of all U.S. counties — 1,584 in 32 states — have been designated primary disaster areas, the vast majority of them mired in a drought that’s considered the worst in decades.

As of this week, nearly half of the nation’s corn crop was rated poor to very poor, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. About 37 percent of the U.S. soybeans were lumped into that category, while nearly three-quarters of U.S.

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Texas Town To Convert Urine Into Drinking Water

peewaterisgrossThere’s a metaphor in there somewhere. Discovery writes:

The drought in Texas has gotten so severe municipal water managers have turned to a once untenable idea: recycling sewage water.

“When you talk about toilet-to-(water) tank it makes a lot of people nervous and grossed out,” says Terri Telchik, who works in the city manager’s office in Big Spring, Texas.

Less than 0.1 inches of rain has fallen on West Texas for months. Normally, the region gets more than 7 inches of rain this time of year. This week’s Department of Agriculture Drought Monitor map shows 75 percent of Texas is in “exceptional” drought stages.

Water for the town’s 27,000 residents comes through the Colorado River Municipal Water District, which has broken ground on a plant to capture treated wastewater for recycling.

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Iranian President Ahmadinejad Accuses The West of Weather Control

Cloud SeedingReports Agence France-Presse via the Raw Story:

TEHRAN — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday accused Western countries of devising plans to “cause drought” in the Islamic republic, as he inaugurated a dam in a central province.

“Western countries have designed plans to cause drought in certain areas of the world, including Iran,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in the central city of Arak in Markazi province.

“According to reports on climate, whose accuracy has been verified, European countries are using special equipment to force clouds to dump” their water on their continent, he said.

By doing so, “they prevent rain clouds from reaching regional countries, including Iran,” Ahmadinejad charged. Iran has experienced several droughts in recent years.

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Genetically Induced Drought-Resistant Corn Could Feed Our Future

Photo: JLantzy

Photo: JLantzy

Could genetic modification be the only way to save our food during the drought-full future? The Scientific American reports:

Climate change has yet to diminish crop yields in the U.S. corn belt but scientists expect drought to become more common due to global warming in coming years. That could impact everything from the price of food to the price of fuel planet-wide. As a result, for the last several years agribusiness giants like Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta have been pursuing genetic modification to enable the corn plant to thrive even without enough rain. And now the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering approving a new corn hybrid genetically engineered to thrive on less water—the first time such a corn strain would be available.

“Working on something like drought is more complex than introducing a trait like insect resistance,” says plant breeder Bob Reiter, vice president of biotechnology at Monsanto, the company seeking approval for the new strain.

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International Young Water Professionals Discuss Water Fears

This week in Australia, the International Young Water Professionals meet to discuss the repercussions of climate change, war, and other factors on our water supply. In the driest continent, 25 countries are represented to voice concerns and contemplate solutions so that our growing populations and destructive habits don’t put an end to our tap water. Phil Mercer of The National covers:

Experts from Oman, Kenya and Austria joined others from across the world to discuss sustainability and how communities in drier regions must adapt to warmer temperatures to safeguard precious supplies into the future.

The meeting dealt with basic issues of survival, said Katerina Ruzicka, a research assistant at the Institute of Water Quality at Vienna’s University of Technology.

“A huge problem we are facing besides climate change is water for food,” Ms Ruzicka said. “We have to feed a growing population and you need water to produce food.

“Somehow we will be able to cope with it because humans do always somehow cope with huge challenges in one way or another.”

Ensuring that supplies continue to flow to the nation’s homes and businesses has been a pressing concern for authorities in Australia.

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