Benefiting from climate change? | The Jackal

24 Jul 2012

Benefiting from climate change?

Yesterday, the Otago Daily Times reported:

A severe drought in the United States is likely to push the prices of two key New Zealand commodities - dairy and beef - higher, rural economists say.

It may take some time, but the drought covering half of continental United States - the most widespread since 1956 - will have a big impact on prices, they said.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) had designated 1055 counties as disaster areas due to drought.

According to the most recent US Drought Monitor report, 88 per cent of America's corn and 87 percent of its soybean crops are in drought-stricken areas. The resulting increase in grain prices is threatening livestock and dairy operators with high input costs, Vilsack said.

The average temperature for the U.S. during June was 2.0°F above the 20th century average. The June temperatures contributed to the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since record keeping began in 1895.

Being that the US drought could trigger a repeat of the global food crisis, there really is no silver lining here... Especially when you consider one of the main causes. Climate change is undoubtedly affecting the worlds environment and causing more extreme weather events.

For instance just this week a torrential downpour killed 37 in Chinas capital, and more storms are set to hit the southwest of China with Tropical storm Vincente arriving in Guangdong and Hainan provinces today. Preliminary estimations already put flood and economic losses at 10bn yuan (NZ$1,986 million).

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) recently found that climate change from greenhouse gases had caused half the increased dryness in the Mediterranean region.

"The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone," they said.

It would be foolish to think New Zealand is somehow impervious to the effects of anthropomorphic climate change, and that we can somehow benefit from the misfortune of other countries. After all, carbon molecules carry no passport, and it's only a matter of time before New Zealand experiences a severe weather event of its own.