The fall out from the drought that has been impacting the U.S. goes from bad to worse. According to an article in the LA Times, American Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that disaster designations have been signed for 218 more counties in 12 states. This brings the year's total to 1,584 counties in 32 states. That's 50.3% of all American counties under disaster designations - 90% as a result of drought.A Phys.Org article provides some background:The US Drought Monitor reported a nearly threefold increase in areas of extreme drought over the past week in the nine Midwestern states where three quarters of the country's corn and soybean crops are produced. "That expansion of D3 or extreme conditions intensified quite rapidly and we went from 11.9 percent to 28.9 percent in just one week," Brian Fuchs, a climatologist and Drought Monitor author, told AFP. "For myself, studying drought, that's rapid. We've seen a lot of things developing with this drought that were unprecedented, especially the speed."La Niña - an ocean effect that causes changes in atmospheric circulation - is responsible for some of this year's temperature rise. But human driven climate change has made dry conditions more severe. The heat has been record breaking in some places. In June 3,282 daily heat records in the U.S. were broken. The rising temps continued into July that saw a further 4,414 records fall. The scorching conditions have been a nightmare for corn growers. Soy yields are also down. This will contribute to escalating farming costs down the line - costs that will end up being passed on to the consumer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that consumer products such meat, dairy and eggs will rise between 3% and 4% over the next year.We can expect to see more of these conditions in the future which is why contributing factors have to be addressed with greater urgency, in particular the reckless dependence in some sectors on fossil fuels. A good resource for more in-depth info on climate change is the Panel on Climate Change's 2012 report on extreme events. Check it out - here. The al-Jazeera video published on YouTube in July, features a discussion of the U.S. drought with guests Michael Mann, Bob Deans and Heidi Cullen.
read more: American drought zones: 50.3% of US counties designated 'disasters'