Monday, July 4, 2011

Dust Bowl II?

I grew up in Lubbock, a city of about 200,000 in the southern part of the panhandle in west Texas. Like most of Texas, the area around Lubbock is experiencing the worst drought in decades. So far this year, Lubbock has received 1.10 inches of rain (as of July 4), compared with over eight inches in the first half of a normal year.

This recent picture shows a lake that is in a park about five blocks from the house where I grew up.
As a child I used to play and hang out in Clapp Park, and am very familiar with this lake. Although it is not unusual for water levels to rise and fall periodically in the small lakes that dot the landscape around Lubbock (the regional term is "playa lakes"), depending on rainfall patters, the water would typically extend close to the line of trees in the background of this picture, covering most of the area that is now covered with grass.

The area around Lubbock is one of the largest and most intensive cotton producing regions in the world. The ongoing drought will no doubt have severe and lasting impact on the local economy as the cotton crops are devastated. It is also causing severe stress with the local wildlife.

I understand that no single weather event, or even a series of events, can be taken as evidence for (or against) the reality of climate change. But when you look at the pattern of extreme weather that is occurring, fitting the models that scientists have been laying out for years, I don't see how anyone can question that major changes are taking place.


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