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.
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.