Episode 228 S6-28
2019 Flooding and Future Implications
The Endless Night Ch 28
The winter of 2018-2019 left ninety-one percent of the Midwest and great plains covered in an average depth of ten point seven inches of snow. This was reported by the US National Operational Hydraulic Remote Sensing Center in Chanhassen, Minnesota, which tracks annual snowfall. When the snow melted, it devastated many farming operations.
Floodwaters carried away livestock, destroyed towns, destroyed fields, and devastated stockpiles. The trade wars caused historical amounts of stores of wheat, corn, and soybeans. There were six point seventy-five billion bushes stored at that time, which totaled thirty-eight percent of total US supplies at that time. Fremont county reported that three hundred and ninety bushels of soybeans and one point two million bushels of stored corn were underneath floodwaters.
On one farm, a three-foot-high wall of water over one hundred feet wide overwhelmed a farm covering it in seven feet of water and killing seven hundred hogs. Before the flooding took place there were already a record amount of bankruptcies. A number not seen since the Great Depression.
The flooding also has another devistational effect. Precious topsoil, needed for farming, is lost. There are only a couple of feet of soil that separate a nation from prosperity and total collapse. Even in perfect conditions, recovery will take a while. Scientists warn that this could become the “new normal” along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
While this news is terrifying, there is always another side to the story. The USDA reported that farmers had intended to plant one hundred and seventy-seven million acres of corn and soybeans. The flooding only affected five hundred thousand acres of farmland. If farmers only planted ninety-two point eight million acres of corn and eighty-four point six million acres of soybeans for the 2019 season, it would yield the second highest corn crop and fourth largest soybean crop in history.
The problem is the winter came in fast and hard for the 2019-2020 season. How will this impact the actual yields? Only time will tell. One thing is sure, if this pattern continues on a long term basis, it could be significant problems for the US.
A study on the impact of droughts and floods on food security can yield some interesting implications for what the future consequences would be. Flooding reduces agricultural yields, reducing household and national food availability. This reduces the return on investment for farming activities thus causing an decrease in high risk/high yield activities. Efforts shift to safer farming methods that may not pay off as well. This also reduces total investment in farming activities because of the reduced return. The lack of investment in farming can stagnate the agricultural markets. This can have a profound effect on nations unable to cope.
Farmers will resort to off-farm income sources, and farming communities begin to falter. This affects those that supply the farming communities with commodities for farming households. The nations become forced to import supplies, which increases the value of food. The increased value causes the cost of noncritical products to go down because people would rather eat than play on electronics and such.
Another disturbing trend is that when communities start to have a shortage of overall food supplies, they are less likely to lend one another a helping hand. Regularly, if there is a death in the family, for example, the community may rally to assist the family. However, if one family is lacking more food than another the population is less likely to rally, causing a turn to a more individualistic society. This trend steadily increases over time. As things progress, there is a breakdown of law and an increase in vigilante justice. Diseases increase, and society deteriorates.
Some steps can be taken to mitigate the losses. Forecasting flooding in smaller nations that have a harder time responding is vital. At this point resources to materials needed to recover can be distributed so that the farmer’s future is assured.
After the disaster, public work programs can help. Projects requiring a high labor output is rewarded with food. This feeds the needy and ensures only those in real need are assisted. The work programs create community assets while feeding the masses. These projects can be targeted at making sure future disasters don’t happen. These projects can also be aimed to assist underprivileged demographics like women in Africa. They spend many hours hauling water. Community water wells can not only give them a means of feeding themselves while the project is in construction but a source of easily accessible water to curb the workload in the future.
Government policies to regulate the price of food can also be instituted. This involves buying when the markets are saturated, and costs are low. As the price rises, the additional stores can be injected into the market to keep prices steady.
In the future, all nations need to strengthen their food supplies to provide local sources of production. Investments in irrigation, agricultural markets, technology, transportation infrastructure and asset buffers for households can help mitigate hunger on a global scale.
2019 was a year dominated by a persistent Jetstream in the plains and Midwest areas. The year began and ended with extreme cold. In January, Native Americans in Lousiana were given land to relocate because their properties were vanishing due to rising sea levels. In February, flash floods in Tennessee were happening, and California was being blasted as well. One may assume that this is good for California, but too much water at once only becomes floodwaters that run into the ocean. These flash flooding conditions cause landslides which happened in California as well as the Midwest and southern states.
In March, Ulmer dumped a large amount of snow and rain in the Midwest. Floods were happening in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. In Missouri the St. Joseph river reached record highs. Then in April the destruction continued. Winder storm Westly dropped record amounts of snow in South Dakota, the Midwest flooded again, and there was snowfall in Chicago. Texas was not immune, experiencing flash floods in April as well.
In May, over three hundred and fifty tornadoes were ripping across the country. Deadly storms and floods hit the Midwest and south again. Texas, Kansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas were all experiencing flooding. In June it was Texas and Mexico. July brought flooding to Washington DC, New Orleans, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and hurricane “Barry” hit Louisiana. Nebraska experienced flooding, as well as Canada and Minnesota. Then in August, Arkansas was on the list again, and September brought “Dorian” causing flooding in North Carolina. There were floods in South Dakota, and tropical storm Imelda caused flooding in Texas. Even Arizona was flooding! In October New York and New Jersey got into the game. Then in November, the winter storms began again.
The world has not been immune. In February of 2019 severe flooding hit Queensland, Australia, causing one of the worst disasters in history. March through April brought flooding to Iran. In April there was flooding in Crete, Greece, and Ontario, Quebec. November brought flooding to the United Kingdom and Venice saw the worst floods since the nineteen sixties. The waters would drain but the high tides brought the water back in each day.
2020’s rainfall will be critical. The food supply of the world hangs in the balance. Eyes open!
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"One step at a time and before you know it, we'll be up the mountain."
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