27 July, 2012

Sorry to have missed you. Oppressive heat will be back soon.

It's been incredibly hot and dry here, and Iowa is not known for either of those things. Sure, we get hot, a few days each summer around a hundred degrees, but along with the heat comes about 90+% humidity. Usually, in late July, you can see the air - it's whitish - because it's so crammed full of moisture. Many nights, there's a thunderstorm which will, temporarily, cut the heat and force some of the humidity to precipitate, instead of floating forever in the air. There's a relief, usually a short day or two, then it's hot and humid again.

Not this year.

We've had about a month at or around 100˚F. We've had about a month with humidity around 25%, which we don't usually hit except in the coldest parts of winter. We have rivers that have dried up, or are little more than a trickle. The corn is already turning brown with teeny, skinny cobs about the size of my thumb. The beans haven't grown tall or fluffed and just sit there slowly turning yellow. Instead of perfect growing conditions for grass, grains, and trees, everything is becoming crispy. Trees are shedding leaves, lawns are brown, and, frankly, wildlife, which is usually plentiful even in town, has all but disappeared. My bet is the deer, raccoons, possums and whatnot are staying near what few water sources remain, but I can't be sure. Even the birds are trimmed back, the mornings silent instead of filled with birdsong.

For someone used to sticky humid summers where we have to mow the lawn every other day, this is really distressing. There's a lot of worry that if we don't get a lot of rain this fall, before freeze, what fish remain in the rivers and lakes won't survive the winter. And neither will the trees. And who knows what the crap crops will do to our already faltering local economy.

Scary stuff.

Long term forecasts indicate the hot dry slow bake of the midwest will continue until mid September. Or maybe October. And once it starts raining, it won't stop. Maybe. If it starts raining at all. They think.

I just know that farmers here are selling their cattle because, with hay reaching $1500 a large bale, and grain at all time highs, they can't afford to feed them. The corn is so crappy it's not even useful as silage (mowed down to be used, leaves, stalks and all, for animal feed). Living in an Agricultural state, I see the fields, the pastures, the spindly weeds growing in hay fields and ditches, and it worries me because food prices are currently awful, and this heat wave and drought will only make them worse. A LOT worse.

I sure don't see it getting any better.

We're careening toward an economic cliff running hand in hand with climate change, yet our politicians bicker over gaffes, imagined affronts, and skewed data, telling us nothing about how they will actually repair our ailing economy, how they'll make it easier for folks to find and keep jobs, or how they'll deal with the coming food/water crises and lifestyle modifications that'll have to be used as the weather changes. Nothing they're saying really matters, it's all sound bites and bickering over the same damn crap, little different from the crap four years ago, or eight, or twelve, or twenty or any time I can remember.

Frankly, bail outs mean shit when people can't afford groceries. Taxes mean shit when people don't have income to tax. Gaffes mean shit when the national and global economies take a nose dive.

Sooner or later, the weather will change, we will get rain, and Iowa will be green again. Politicians, though, will continue to screech lies and half-truths at each other from their pedestals. Until they stop being so divisive and nasty, and instead start offering real solutions to real problems, nothing's ever going to get better.


Jean said...

What you're describing was us last year. This year has been incrementally better. We got a little rain in the spring, and the tanks filled up. The grass in hanging in there, and the rivers are holding their own. Crops are growing, and we'll have a harvest. The ranchers had to sell off their cattle last year for the same reasons your farmers are having to do so this year. I don't know where they're at in recovery, but things are a little more positive down here this year. Maybe you'll find yourselves in a better position next year. At least, I hope so.

But it's not encouraging when you president is telling you the private sector is doing just fine, but if you think you built a business you didn't and the news cycles are absorbed with useless trivia like haranguing a private businessman for expressing an opinion which has been obvious to all but the most dense among us since his business opened nearly fifty years ago. Or focusing on supposed gaffes from a presidential candidate that are far less damning than those made by a man who is already president.

I'm sure somewhere, someone is building a story about this being a result of Iowa approving gay marriage -- or did they rescind that? If so, it will be because of that.

Tammy Jones said...

Gay marriage is still allowed here, but I don't know if it will be much longer. There's a lot of anger all over the place.

Jean said...

I don't have strong feelings either way on the subject. I DO believe there needs to be some legal mechanism to ensure long-term domestic partnerships of ANY gender combination (which may or may not have a sexual nature to them) have a means to ensure that partner will be allowed to act upon the other partner's behalf in medical, legal, an other situations when one partner is not able to do so for themselves or upon death with rights of survivorship. The term already in use in current legal codes is marriage.

Most people harping on marriage as a long term Biblical decree by God do not have a remote understanding of history beyond a couple of hundred years.