Global warming we can handle... Drier and a couple degrees warmer, just farm like it's Nebraska instead of southwest Minnesota. Maybe have to irrigate and actually rotate beans with the corn, but we'd get a longer growing season in the bargain. If only climate change was so simple....
Had a couple years of great crops up here on the Buffalo Ridge on the northern plains- plentiful precipitation, even a little too plentiful, more on that later. Early springs and late falls with hot summers to make the corn skyrocket. 'Twas a couple years of silobusters that came out of the field dry, high test weight too. But last spring the drought moved north, with the spigot being turned off from July through December. We made it through on some residual soil moisture, and for the lucky farmers that had a crop to harvest, the higher prices made up for the smaller yields. On my own little homestead and my neighbors gardens, we low tech "irrigated" from the nearest lake and managed a respectable vegetable crop, and my little vineyard overflowed with juicy grapes.
So I come back from a few weeks in the Everglades in February, expecting another global warming early spring riding my motorcycles... Not! We've seen a steady bombardment of snowstorms and even a couple NOAA certified blizzards, even snowed again today! The good news is that the drought is over... The bad news is that today's updated flood forecast for the Red River of the North at Fargo is for a crest of 38 to 40 feet, just shy of the all time record. Even 38 feet will put this years flood in the highest five crests ever, with three of those five occurring in the last five years- The 2009 crest set the record at 40.84 feet, followed by a 2011 crest of 38.81 feet. With over a century of records and what looks to be 60 percent of the highest crests occurring in the last five years, we got some weird weather goin' on here!
And the cost of all this global weirding? Ever been in Fargo for a flood? I have. Figure on a hundred dump trucks with police escorts hauling dirt to build the dikes, plus a couple dozen loaders, 'dozers, and 'hoes working day and night at a cost of upwards of $10,000 an HOUR. Easy to see why the near annual flood fight in the Red River valley alone runs well into the millions. The (maybe) fix: A billion dollar bypass channel around Fargo that should be able to handle a hundred year flood. But given that we're seeing hundred year floods about every other year, an elementary application of Stats 101 suggests that a real hundred year flood would see downtown Fargo become an island between the river and a new back channel down the I-29 trench.
This year's and 2011's floods sandwich a drought that saw our rural water systems in southwest Minnesota and the Buffalo Ridge stressed to the point that new industries requesting water had to be turned down. The (maybe ) fix for that is the unfinished Lewis and Clark water system, a better part of a billion dollar bunch of pipelines and pumps to bring water from the aquifers along the Missouri as far as south central Minnesota. Good luck getting that funded with the GOP halting all "pork" except their own.
So yes, we can maybe mitigate global warming for a few billion dollars just for the Buffalo Ridge and a bit beyond. But this ain't global warming, it's global weirding, with a return of the dust bowl, the flood that swallowed Fargo, and the Hurricane that dumped the built environment from Miami to Naples back into the Everglades in the offing...
Maybe it'd be a little cheaper to cut back on our greenhouse gas emissions?
(crossposted from my Buffalo Ridge Blog )
Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM PT: Thanks for the spotlighting, I'll try to hang around and join the discussion!