Sunday, August 14, 2011

Experts state that the lengthy drought conditions seen all over Texas this summer will effect the state’s economy and ecosystems for years. Climatologist John Nielson-Gammon told reporters that July was the hottest month ever on record in the state and that the 12-month period ending July 31st represented the worst drought year in Texas in at least 116 years. He was also quoted as saying that Texas has entered a “vicious cycle” where drought and heat aggravate each other.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 94 percent of Texas is suffering either extreme or exceptional drought. Travis Miller, professor of soil and crop sciences at Texas A&M University, has estimated that this year farmers and ranchers in the state will lose $8 billion, “the largest agriculture loss we have ever experienced.” Miller also suggested that the worse outcomes may not even be here yet. “Climatic models show there is another La Nina system, which is blamed for this drought, coming our way this fall,” Miller said. “That is not a good thing.”

Tom McAlley, a rancher in Tatum, stated, “It’s a big problem. People don’t understand—this drought effects domestic and wild animals, the economy, everything.” Texas ranchers complain of feeding their cattle this summer, which is extremely rare as cattle normally consume natural grasses and vegetation during summer months. Tim Jenkins, a rancher near Athens, stated during an interview, “I have three ponds on my [ranch] — they’re all dry now. They should be teeming with frogs, insects. Small animals would normally go there to drink. I’ve got hundreds of dead fish in those ponds. I’ve paid huge sums of money just to feed my cattle this summer. If my parents were alive, they wouldn’t believe what we’re going through right now. I may see the effects of this for the remainder of my life.”