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4/27/2008

The Earth Is Changing Before Our Very Eyes

The Black Blizzards of the 1930's: Is America Ready for Another Dust Bowl?
USA
Scientists widely accept that greenhouse gases are changing the climate, and in Kansas they are already seeing some of the effects of higher temperatures and less water. The shrinking water supply will make it harder to grow corn. “Nebraska won’t be the Cornhuskers anymore. It will be the South Dakota Cornhuskers.” Disappearing surface water will make it harder for trees like sugar maples and bur oaks to survive, and birds like the red-headed woodpecker that rely on them may also disappear. The changes will make seasons unpredictable, disrupting the natural life cycles of honeybees and the flowers and fruits they pollinate. Each change will make life more difficult for humans, raising the prices of food and eliminating the state’s biodiversity. The climate change Kansas is experiencing now was similar to what happened during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. “Now we’re facing what is THE WORST PERIOD OF KANSAS HISTORY. It’s not a matter of belief. It’s a matter of scientific research.” Some food production would move north toward Canada as surface water disappeared in the west and water for irrigation was depleted. Some land could go out of production within 20 years. Wheat is the largest cash crop in Kansas, valued at $1.3 billion in 2006. With higher nighttime temperatures, some wheat will not be able to heal from extreme heat during the day and may die. Water is disappearing from the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water for irrigation to western Kansas and seven other states, and wells will become more expensive each foot deeper they must be dug to reach the water. Some farmers have already dug their wells 100 feet deeper than they used to and they get only half the water. Bees and other insects have a difficult time adjusting to unpredictable seasons. In Lawrence, plants were usually at full bloom on April 14. Last year, that day was April 2, a full 12 days early. This year, flowers reached full bloom seven days later than the norm. Normally, the bloom days vary only by three or four days.
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