You know what’s depressing these days? The weather. Oh, I’m sure climate change-denying Republicans probably consider it comedy of the highest order, but for those of us who accept (notice I did not use the word “believe”) that science provides the most accurate explanation of the known universe to date, reading current weather reports is pretty dismal.
“Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about 39 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of August 2012,” states the current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s State of the Climate website (the website offers no data beyond August at this time). “About 55 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of August.”
The online U.S. Drought Monitor, which is produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NOAA, says things haven’t changed all that much since August. “The Upper Midwest, northern half of the Great Plains, and the West received little to no precipitation during the past 7-days,” states the Drought Monitor website, which was last updated on Oct. 2. “Temperatures for the period were generally above normal in the West (as much as 8 degrees above normal in the northern High Plains), 2-4 degrees below normal in the Great Lakes, Northeast, and Ohio Valley, and 2-4 degrees above normal in the Southeast.”
For many months now, virtually all of the western United States has been mired in drought conditions not seen since the 1950s. Even out here in Hawaii, reports the U.S. Drought Monitor, “Abnormally Dry” to “Extreme Drought” conditions exist over the entire state except the Hilo side of Hawaii Island, East Maui and the Northshore of Oahu.
And now, the Associated Press says drought conditions are taking a severe toll on the state’s domestic beef industry:
“Maui Cattle Co., a partnership of several local ranchers who supply grocers, including Whole Foods Market, has been particularly hard hit,” the news service reported on Oct. 6. “The company has been sending 18 animals to market each week, reducing its herd by 60 percent since June 2011. It has let more than half of its employees go and now has only six.”
Even worse, the AP reported that Maui Cattle Co.–so hard hit by drought conditions that have all but eliminated the grass the company famously uses to feed its herds, is considering giving the cattle a “high-protein byproduct” instead of grass. When the news service asked if this would hurt the company’s reputation, Maui Cattle Co. Managing Director Alex Franco said simply, “Our customers may consider this is a better option than having no cattle and no cattle industry.”
Talk about unhappy cows…
Photo: Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons