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Posted by on Aug 5, 2010 in Science & Technology, Society | 0 comments

Inferno

Here in the Pacific Northwest it has been cool this year.  Only four days above 90 in July as opposed to 14 last year.  My electric meter is happy but my tomatoes aren’t.  But in the Midwest and Southeast it’s been a different story

A dangerous heat wave baked a large swath of the nation Thursday from Texas to New York with high humidity making temperatures feel well over 100. Football players moved practice sessions to evening hours and election officials in Tennessee touted air conditioned polling places to lure voters.

At least 13 deaths in Tennessee and Mississippi have been related to the recent stretch of steamy weather.

Heat advisories or warnings were in effect in 18 states Thursday, with temperatures in the mid to upper 90s and high humidity driving the heat index to more than 100.

But what we haven’t heard much about is the heat wave in Russia.

MOSCOW — Russia struggled Thursday to contain the worst wildfires in its modern history. The blazes, which are spreading to the south, have killed 50 people and are raising concerns about radiation levels.

With the most severe heat wave in Russia in decades affecting economic areas as diverse as sales of anti-pollution masks and agricultural yields, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took the dramatic step of banning grain exports until Dec. 31.

“We have seen over the last 24 hours a decrease in the number of fires but not so much that we can rejoice,” Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a news conference.

Shoigu expressed alarm that the situation was worsening in the south — so far spared the worst of the fires — including in Rostov, which is not one of the seven Russian regions where a state of emergency has been declared.

“Today, the situation has been getting worse in the Rostov region and we can note a movement of the fires towards the south,” he said.

Shoigu said the emergency services were working hard to prevent the fires spreading to a region in western Russia where the soils are still contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe of 1986 in neighboring Ukraine.

“We are painstakingly controlling the situation in the Bryansk region,” he said. “If a fire appears there, the radioactive particles could fly away with the smoke and a new polluted area could appear.”

The death toll rose to 50 after a corpse was found in a burned-down house in the Nizhny Novgorod region and another victim died in hospital in the Voronezh region, the ministry said.

You think this won’t impact you?  You are wrong!  The heat, drought and fires have endangered the Russian grain harvest .

Wheat futures soar on Russian ban

PUTIN CALLS HALT: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a ban on
Russian wheat exports through Dec. 31. Russia, one of the world’s
largest wheat exporters, may extend the ban into 2011.

There may be a slight increase in prices but there is a lot of grain on the market.  Here in the Willamette Valley the farmers that used to grow grass seed planted wheat this year because of the collapse of home building.  It was originally seen as a way to break even but now they may actually be able to make a little money.

The first impact of global climate change won’t be rising sea levels but food shortages.  This is a just a sign of things to come.  One of the first places we may see shortages is India.  Norman Borlaug won a Nobel Prize for his so called “Green Revolution”  which made it possible for India to feed it’s millions.  Unfortunately Borlaug’s revolution was not sustainable.  It depended on fossil fuel and water from both the ground and melt from the Himalayas.   The ground water is about gone, because of climate change runoff from the Himalayas is decreasing and fossil fuel is becoming more expensive and less available.  

Ron can also be found at Newhoggers