Friday, February 06, 2009

I wish it would rain

We've had a really nice winter. It's gets a little cold for a few days, then it warms right up. The nights are nice and cool, and the days are practically perfect. Only problem rain. We're getting drier and drier here in Central Texas. In fact we are officially in extreme drought right now. And we're not the only ones.

Here's a China story from the WSJ.

China Battles Worsening Drought
Wall Street Journal

BEIJING -- China's leaders ordered emergency measures to battle one of the country's worst droughts in decades, which is threatening to damage nearly a fifth of China's wheat harvest and millions of livestock.

Underscoring the government's concern, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the State Council, China's equivalent of a cabinet, to make "all-out efforts to combat the severe drought," the official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday. (clip)

China often battles droughts in its parched north, but meteorologists say the current one is, in some areas, the worst since 1951. It has left 3.7 million people across eight provinces facing water shortages and has damaged 9.3 million hectares of farmland, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, cited by state-run media. clip

The affected area is primarily in central and eastern China, covering the country's breadbasket where much of the winter wheat crop is raised. The area also includes the region surrounding Beijing, the capital, which hasn't had precipitation in more than 100 days. In all, 1.85 million livestock are short of water. more

And then there is Australia

This drought may never break
Sydney Morning Herald
Richard Macey

IT MAY be time to stop describing south-eastern Australia as gripped by drought and instead accept the extreme dry as permanent, one of the nation's most senior weather experts warned yesterday.

"Perhaps we should call it our new climate," said the Bureau of Meteorology's head of climate analysis, David Jones.

He was speaking after the release of statistics showing that last year was the hottest on record in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

NSW's mean temperature was 1.13 degrees above average. "That is a very substantial anomaly," Dr Jones said. "It's equivalent to moving NSW 150 kilometres closer to the equator."
It was the 11th year in a row NSW and the Murray-Darling Basin had experienced above normal temperatures. Sydney's nights were its warmest since records were first kept 149 years ago.

"There is absolutely no debate that Australia is warming," said Dr Jones. "It is very easy to see … it is happening before our eyes." more

And California certainly has it's water issues:

Water watchers cast a wary eye
Sacremento Bee
By Matt Weiser

Water experts are having a hard time finding the right words to describe what lies ahead, after recording a dismally dry January in California.

"Scary," "grim," and possible "conservation mandates" are offered up.

Yet it's easy for the experts to sound out a clear warning: This may become, simply, the worst drought California has ever seen.

"Our worst fears appear to be materializing," said Wendy Martin, drought coordinator at the state Department of Water Resources. "It's going to be a huge challenge."

The bottom line, water officials said, is that right now, everyone must start using less water. The public can expect higher water bills and fines if they don't, because the alternative is a real water shortage – one that is threatening tens of thousands of Valley jobs.

"It's pretty scary," said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, who has more than three decades in the water-supply business. "The public needs to tighten their belts. You have to rearrange all the molecules in your brain to think about using water differently." more

We're going to have to rearrange all the molecules in our brains about a lot of things. As the economy, the climate, and our belief systems continue to fall all around us, we are going to have to totally rethink our ideas about full employment, competition, and consumption. And we're going to have cooperate with other, and with the world.

Right now everyone in Washington is talking about how we stimulate the economy to get consumption up again. Ironically, Americans are actually saving for a change.

What we really need is less consumption and more efficiency.

But not just electrical efficiency, or MPG efficiency. We need to think about our overall economic system efficiency. We need more teletransportation, more virtual conferencing, and more locally grown food.

Our little city has been somewhat immune from the problems we see else where.

That's getting ready to end.

Oh I wish it would rain.
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