Let's Talk About That "Ongoing, Mature La Niña" And US Climate Politics

seasonal drought tendency image

With spring in the north still months away, a southern farmer might well be preparing for planting - something we Yankees seldom think about - such are the climatic differences between north and south. As we all can see by the latest Federal drought trend projections (above), however, Southern and Mid-Atlantic farmers face a likelihood of drier than normal conditions.

What is the officially recognized cause of this North-South 'climatic anomaly?'As NOAA reports,

The drought outlook for Spring (March-May) 2011, made on February 17, was based largely upon climate anomalies associated with an ongoing, mature La Niña that has begun to weaken, with ENSO-neutral or La Niña conditions equally likely by May-June. The CPC monthly and seasonal outlooks indicate enhanced odds for below median precipitation and above median temperatures across the southern tier of the Nation and in the central Plains which favors drought persistence from southern Arizona eastward into the southern and central Plains, along the Gulf Coast States, and northward into the Carolina Piedmont.

Five questions to ponder as spring gets underway.

  • Which congressional delegations are most likely to demand Uncle Sam help farmers with Federal crop insurance?

  • Which states are worrying about wild fire and will need help to deal with fire fighting and emergency evacuation costs?

  • Which part of the country is likely to see a lot more "government intrusion" in the form of mandatory water conservation measures?

  • Which states that have grown at a phenomenal rate over the last few decades could be facing a sustainability water wall?

  • Where are the lion's share of US Army Corps water project appropriations headed?

How will all of these and other related questions feed into the ongoing POTUS campaigning? It'll be a head spinner, for sure.

Related, but from the other direction: a Michigan Congresswoman is saying it's time to drop out of the Federal flood insurance program because Michigan always pays out more than it takes back in the way of flood claims. See U.S. Rep. Miller: Michigan residents shouldn't pay to cover flood losses elsewhere for details.
My political prediction.
Back when I did water resources planning a colleague told me of a new definition of flooding. He heard a guy stand up at a public hearing and straight-faced, for the record, state that the definition of a flood is 'water where it shouldn't be.'

That's how most non-professionals view the impact of weather extremes: where they live and with little thought to root cause or how the problem can best be mitigated in the common interest.

We pay out flood damages and have crop insurance to balance things out - so the union can survive on shared resources. Shockingly, such things are best accomplished by government. Equally shocking, government can change and fine tune these programs rather than just demand they be abolished.

Here it is: Very possibly severe water problems - the climate change thing, the "Ongoing, Mature La Niña" - and resulting food price hikes and farm bankruptcies, whether they are brought about by extended drought or by "water where it shouldn't be" is what it's going to take to get Congressional Republicans and Democrats to work together on actual problem solving. And, what it will take to get the libertarian purists moved up to the 50th row, overlooking the dugout roof.