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Drought And Heat Go On And On In The United States—We’ll Ignore The Causes And Ignore The People Who Are Impacted

Many places in the United States are dealing with drought conditions.

Above you see a map of drought conditions in the United States from the National Drought Mitigation Center.

It is very dry out there in our great nation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared more than half of all U.S. counties as disaster areas for this year’s growing season.

It has also been very hot in the United States in 2012.

Changes in the climate are messing with some of America’s infrastructure. Roads and railroad tracks are buckling.

Does all this have anything to do with global warming?

Many people think this is the case.

New Scientist magazine reported recently that the severe 2011 Texas drought was made much more likely to occur by a warming planet.

Scientists who before have doubted global warming are changing their minds as the evidence becomes more clear.

Still–President Obama says very little on climate change, and Mitt Romney–despite previously saying he believed in climate change—now says he has no idea if human beings are heating up the planet.

Many farmers who are suffering from the drought want help from the federal government.

What these farmers feel about government help for others I’m not certain.

Though I bet some of them at least are not strongly in favor of government help for others besides themselves.

No worries though about any ideological inconsistencies from our nation’s farmers.

Congress was unable to agree on a drought relief bill before going on a recess and so farmers will not be getting any relief for the time being at least.

So the drought and the heat  will likely go as we refuse to take a serious look at what may be causing the unusually severe weather, and as we allow farmers to keep on taking the hits.

That’s how we do things in the United States of America

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August 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Climate Change May Raise The Prospects Of East African Drought And Famine—American Conservatives Do Not Care

A recent article in New Scientist said that changing weather patterns have increased the chance for recurring drought in East Africa. 

(Above–Oxfam photo of a family gathering firewood in drought-stricken Kenya in 2011.)  

From New Scientist

“Last year’s drought occurred because both of the region’s rainy seasons failed. We already know that the trigger for the failure of the “short rains”, between October and December 2010, was La Niña – a cyclical meteorological event caused by a pulse of cool water rising to the surface of the eastern Pacific Ocean. But efforts to work out why the “long rains” that occur between March and May fail have drawn a blank – until now.

Bradfield Lyon and David DeWitt of Columbia University in New York examined records of the long rains and found that they have been much more likely to fail since 1999. That year also marked a sharp rise in sea-surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific Ocean, while further east the ocean cooled.”

The story goes on to very clearly state that the reasons for the prospect of recurring drought in East Africa are by no means the definite result of man-made climate change. The article says that studies are now ongoing to see if the droughts are naturally occurring, are influenced by human activity, or are caused by some combination of these two factors.

(It should also be noted that some of the problems of famine in Somalia have been caused by Islamic insurgent groups stopping shipments of food.)

The thing is that here in the United States one of the two major political parties won’t even allow all the needed research to take place, and won’t even consider the prospect that man-made climate change is for real.

And if a bunch of people in Africa die so we don’t have to change our lives in any way, or so we can retain the ideological purity of the Republican Party—Then I guess that is the way it goes.

Many American conservatives have reached the point where they see bike trails as a United Nations plot.

A recent Oxfam report says that global response to the 2011 famine drought in East Africa was very slow in starting, and that many lives were lost as a consequence.

Here is a BBC series of reports about famine in East Africa.

Here is a New York Times page of a number of links and articles about climate science.

Here is how to make a donation to Oxfam for famine relief.  I just made a small donation as it seemed the thing to do to back up my post.

Another thing we can all do in the United States is to ask our political leaders to at least be open to the prospect of climate change, and to support the necessary research to determine the facts.

We are not the only people in the world. What we do impacts others.

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Texas Drought Goes On And On—Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is the most recent Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

TPA members are citizen-bloggers who are working everyday for a better Texas.

Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

The work of democracy and freedom is up to each of us.

With the round-up this week is the latest Texas drought map from the federal government. I swear the map is not a federal trick to convince Texans that it is dry when it is fact it is raining.

It is very dry.

Here is the full U.S. drought map.

Here is a history of droughts in Texas from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.

From that history—

“In 1720 a summer dry spell in Coahuila killed 3,500 of the 4,000 horses that the Marqués de Aguayo, governor of Texas, was prepared to bring to Texas. A drought in Central Texas dried up the San Gabriel River in 1756, forcing the abandonment of a settlement of missionaries and Indians.Stephen F. Austin’s first colonists also were hurt by drought. In 1822 their initial food crop of corn died from lack of moisture.”

The fact that Texas has always had severe droughts makes it clear that this current drought is not necessarily a result of climate change.

However, it is fully possible that global warming does have something to do with the drought conditions we are seeing across Texas.

Regretfully, with Rick Perry as Governor and with Republicans in strong control of the Texas legislature, there will not even be any discussion of the possible impact of climate change on Texas.

Here is the  round-up—

Off the Kuff discusses the latest Texas polling data and what a Rick Perry candidacy might mean for downballot Democrats.

On a night during which both Georgia and Texas put men to death, Letters From Texasvisits the moral and practical implications.

Amy Price, the progressive running for Houston’s city council at large #4 seat, had a great week of news coverage. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collected the stories, audio, and video. Continue reading

October 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ongoing Drought In Houston

Above is a picture of trees at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.

I took this picture yesterday.

These trees are sick and dying due to the long drought that we are having in Houston and in Texas.

Here is the most recent federal map on where in the U.S. drought conditions are prevailing.

Here is a link to water conservation rules and suggestions for Houston.

Here is a Houston Chronicle story on the drought’s impact on local trees.

I hope it rains soon.

(Photo copyright Neil Aquino 2011)

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Fire At George Bush Park In Harris County—Take Steps To Avoid Being The Cause Of Any Fires

There is a wildfire at George H.W. Bush Park in Harris County.

Here is a non-ideological assessment of the presidency of G.H.W. Bush.  Though this is not the main subject of this blog post, it is always the right time to learn about and to think about new things.

Here is a report on the fire from Houston TV station KTRK. 

(Update—9/14/11—Progress was made overnight in figthing the fire.)

The picture above is of smoke from the fire as it was seen a few hours ago. This picture was taken by my friend Ms. Alex Ragsdale.

As you can see, the fire is an urbanized area.

This fire is not surprising as there is an extreme drought in Harris County and in Texas.  There have been many wildfires in Texas in 2011 and in recent weeks.

These fires have been made more difficult to fight than need be, because Rick Perry and the Republican-dominated state legislature have cut funds for the Texas Forest Service and for firefighters in Texas.

Given the extreme drought conditions in the Houston and in Texas, it is best that we take steps to avoid being the cause of any more fires.

While some people may wish to do what is best, often we make mistakes.

Here are some tips from the Houston Fire Department about how you avoid being the cause of any more fires.

HFD recommends the following safety tips during this drought: Continue reading

September 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Water Use Restrictions In Houston—Chair Of Council Water Committee Opposes Enforcement Even During A Drought

The City of Houston has mandated that people conserve water.

( Above—Houston this past Sunday.) 

This is because it never rains and it is very hot every day.

Here is what the city is requiring of folks—

As you may be aware, due to persistent drought conditions and declining combined reservoir storage, Stage Two Water Conservation Measures went into effect for the City of Houston earlier this month. Customers must follow the irrigation limit and schedule which was originally voluntary during the Stage One measure, i.e., limit irrigation to the hours between 12:01 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. or between 8:00 p.m. and midnight on no more than two days per week in conformity with the following schedule:

 • Sundays and Thursdays for customers with even‐numbered addresses

• Saturdays and Wednesdays for customers with odd‐numbered addresses

It may reach 105 in Houston this upcoming weekend.

So far people have not quite been fully on board with the water restrictions that the city has imposed.

Houston also has a problem of water main breaks caused by the drought conditions.

I wonder where any money will come from to address this infrastructure issue as the drought continues. I think this would be a good use for some of the Renew Houston money given that the public was misled on the cost of this initiative.

Houston Republican City Councilman Mike Sullivan does not think we should be ticketing homeowners for water issues.

From the Houston Chronicle

“I don’t think we can penalize and cite homeowners when we’re behind in fixing our water leaks and also talking to business and industry about reducing water consumption,” said Councilman Mike Sullivan, chairman of the Council’s Water Resource Management Committee.

I guess we should only obey the law when it suits us to do so.

How long will we be “talking to business and industry about reducing water consumption?”  The drought has been going on for many weeks and months already.

Aren’t you glad that the chair of the so-called Water Resource Mangement Resource Committee is going around saying we should not enforce water use restrictions during a drought.

Some project that the drought in Texas could last for another year.

Here are some specific questions and answers for the mandatory water restrictions in Houston.

While this idea is not under consideration in Houston, some water policy experts suggest that the best way to limit water use during a drought is to raise the price of water.

There is no way to know for certain that the current drought has anything to do with global warming.However, it is a possibility.

The water use restrictions are likely going to be with us in Houston for some weeks and months to come. Let us make an effort to comply.

Here are some water conservation tips from the City of Houston.

(Below—Discovery Green Park on Sunday 8/21. Parched grass and no crowds.)

August 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Is Hot And Dry Every Day In Houston, Texas

Two pictures of the record breaking Houston drought as seen in Houston city parks this past Sunday—

Above you see trees losing leaves and dying from a lack of rain in Memorial Park.

And here you see parched grass and an empty park even on a weekend at Discovery Green Park in Houston.

It is hot and dry every day in Houston, Texas. It has reached at least 100 each day in August so far.

(Both photos copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

August 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Houston, Texas Has Heat Wave, Drought, Ozone Alert & West Nile Disease—This Is The Rick Perry Texas Miracle

Above is a picture of the front page of today’s Houston Chronicle.

I took the picture outside on the hot and parched Texas grass.

It sure is hot.

The newspaper above reports that Texas farmers and ranchers have suffered major losses due to the current drought in Texas, while at the same time Texas Governor and Presidential candidate Rick Perry denies the existence of global warming.

While nobody can be sure that one cause of the terrible weather in Texas for the past few months has been global warming, it is quite possible that this is indeed the case.  However, of course, Rick Perry won’t even consider the very idea that this is possible.

No letup in the Texas drought is predicted in the months to come.

Three other stories in the Houston Chronicle today detail record heat in Houston, mosquitio spraying by Harris County out of concern that tropical West Nile disease may occur in the area, and the fact trees are dying in Houston due to the drought.

Here are facts about West Nile Disease. 

Also, an ozone alert has been declared for today in the Houston area. 

In Texas, the air quality is often so bad that it offends deeply conservative Oklahoma. 

Meanwhile, out on the Presidential campaign trial, the Republican field is bashing the EPA. 

In the end, people are just going to have to decide what kind of future they want. If you want Rick Perry and how he governs Texas for your future, then that is your call to make.

And–since I have you here–please also note that the Texas Miracle Rick Perry has been touting as his economic record, involves one in four Texas children living in poverty and the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation.

Rick Perry has called for prayer to end the drought. His prayers and the prayers of his supporters have not been heard in this regard. Under Governor Perry’s reasoning for why we are being afflicted with terrible weather, maybe the State of Texas is being judged for harsh treatment of the poor and neglect of those in need.

(Below—It is very hot in Houston, Texas. Both photos in this post copyright Neil Aquino 2011.)

August 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hot And Dry Everyday

We had record heat and very little rain in Houston in June.

From the Houston Chronicle

“June is ending Thursday as an exceptional month, weather-wise, for all the wrong reasons. Begin with the heat. The month is finishing with an average temperature of 86.1 degrees, making this the warmest June on record in Houston, besting the mark of 85.9 degrees set back in 1906, according to National Weather Service records. And it was dry, so dry in fact that Texas is on the verge of experiencing the worst drought on record…This year April, May and June have now all finished among the 10 warmest in Houston history. In fact the only day this June with a temperature at or below normal levels came on June 22, when Greater Houston got its first real splash of rain in five months. The heat, in turn, has worsened the drought, which has been building since last fall, by drying out soils more rapidly.”

Above is a picture of the drought in Houston that I took a few days ago.

I’m not sure this is an exciting picture, but a drought does not involve very much action.

Here are facts about heat stroke from the Mayo Clinic.

I imagine there is a bit of excitement to be found in having heat stroke. Though not the kind that would make for a nice Fourth of July weekend.

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

In The Midst Of A Drought, Even A Violent Storm Seems Like A Relief

Here is the metaphor I thought of a few hours ago when some strong storms brought some rain to Houston for the first time in months—

“When you are long-suffering from the drought of decency being inflicted by Texas Republican voters and by elected Republicans in Texas in the current legislative session, even a storm with thunder, lightning, hail, and high winds seems like a relief.”

Above is a picture I took of the clouds as the storms approached in the middle of the afternoon. I don’t have a picture from when it was very gusty and raining heavily.

Though since this post is predicated on metaphor, I think the dark clouds in the picture suggest enough to let your imagination do the rest of the work.

I have confidence in you.

May 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Governor Perry Correct To Call For Prayer To End Drought—Maybe Plagues Are Being Visited Upon Texas For Neglect Of The Poor And We Should Pray For A Better Governor


Texas Governor Rick Perry has declared three days of prayer in response to the drought that is impacting Texas and helping to cause severe wildfires.

( Above–It is hot and dry in Texas) 

These three days run from April 22 to April 24.

Here is the link to the official proclamation.

From the proclamation—

WHEREAS, these dire conditions have caused agricultural crops to fail, lake and reservoir levels to fall and cattle and livestock to struggle under intense stress, imposing a tremendous financial and emotional toll on our land and our people; and

WHEREAS, throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up;  it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires;

This is good. Texans of all kinds find solace and hope in prayer. Governor Perry is right to call upon Texans to consider the hard times that many in our state are dealing with at the moment.

However, if prayer is a possible solution to the drought impacting all Texans, it could also be so that the drought is a plague being visited upon Texas from God for how hard our hearts our towards the poor and most vulnerable in our state.

Governor Perry and our Texas legislature are currently considering brutal cuts to our state budget. These cuts would hurt some of the most needy and most hard-working Texans.

Texans have the option to pray for Governor Perry to be a more decent human being. Texans have the option to pray that we consider climate science as we deal with droughts and hurricanes in the Lone Star State.

Here is a 1953 Life Magazine article reporting how Texans at that time also dealt with a drought and prayed for rain.  Maybe at that time Texans were being punished for Jim Crow laws. Maybe Texas has been on the wrong side of God for a long time.

Prayer and concern for others is of great value. At the same time, we must recall John Kennedy‘s words” that here on Earth God’s work must truly be our own.”  

(Below–The Seventh Plague as painted  in 1823 by John Martin. The seventh plague visited upon Egypt by God was as follows–“And Moses stretcheth out his rod towards the heavens, and Jehovah hath given voices and hail, and fire goeth towards the earth, and Jehovah raineth hail on the land of Egypt’


April 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Global Warming Expanding Tropics—As Always, The Poor Will Bear The Burdens

The portion of the Earth covered by tropics has expanded since 1979 and will continue to expand as the world warms.

From the BBC article—  

While geographers define “The Tropics” rigidly as the region between 23.5 degrees North and 23.5 degrees South, to atmospheric scientists it is a more variable zone marked by features such as the jet stream and the circulation known as Hadley cells.

On these measures, the tropics have expanded since the era of reliable satellite observation began in 1979.

“The edges of the tropical belt are the outer boundaries of the subtropical dry zones, and their poleward shift could lead to fundamental shifts in ecosystems and in human settlements,” the researchers write in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“Shifts in precipitation patterns would have obvious implications for agriculture and water resources, and could present serious hardships in marginal areas.”

As is the case in so many aspects of life, the poor will bear many of the most difficult burdens of this climate change.  

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in its series of reports this year that serious impacts on food and water supplies lie ahead, including:

  • 75-250 million people across Africa could face water shortages by 2020
  • Crop yields could increase by 20% in East and South East Asia, but decrease by up to 30% in Central and South Asia
  • Agriculture fed by rainfall could drop by 50% in some African countries by 2020

The scientists behind the new study note that the tropical zone appears to be expanding much faster than predicted by computer models.

Some people think of the tropics of being like the photo above.

But for many, expanded tropics will make life more like the photo below

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 8 Comments