The first thing I HAVE to mention is the first snowfall contest. If you haven’t yet entered, if you have been waiting and checking the extended weather charts to get the best read on trends, you had better get a move on. The deadline is midnight tonight. Just go here and predict the date of the first “official” one inch of snow in Wausau. The average date of the first one inch snowfall in Wausau is November 14th. Last year it was a little late, not ocurring until November 24th. Many years it does not hit until December. I will let everyone know my prediction Monday. I think I am going to take a chance and predict a date outside of what is normal – just to be a little different.
Secondly, this is the time of the week to take a look at the US Drought Monitor. For us, it is a bit boring, which is a good thing! Not much changed since last week. About 65% of the state is indicated as abnormally dry. The coverage of the dry conditions decreased only by a fraction of a percent. Given that we did just get through 11 days in a row of wet weather, I suspect that next week’s Drought Monitor report will show less dry areas in the state. The best news in the country is that some rain fell in Texas this past week. It was not widespread or heavy enough to end the record drought, but any drop is welcome, I am sure.
Thirdly, I want to make sure to highlight this weekend’s weather. It will be nice for the 1st weekend of October. We should have plenty of sunshine and high temps in the 50s on Saturday and in the 60s on Sunday. According to the latest Fall Color Report, the color are near the peak in the northern half of the area and close to 50% for most of the rest of the area. This means, this weekend could be the best one for a nice Fall Color trip or drive. By next weekend we could have more clouds or rain. If you don’t have time to get out there over the weekend, there will be some very nice days early next week as well.
Fourthly (if that is a word), I want to continue on the theme of progress that I started with yesterday. I often talk about gains in efficiency and all the wonderful new breakthroughs in alternative energy but not too much about things as prosaic as food production but there are exciting things going on there as well.
Read almost any environmental-themed website and you will find a lot of concern (to put it mildly) about how humans are using up all the resources of the planet, we are running out of fresh water, there isn’t enough productive land or fertilizer to feed everyone, and basically we are all going to die (like this article). I am here to say that it is not as bad as it looks and that we will like find solutions to keep everything moving forward.
First and foremost, the root of the potential problem is population increase (which ties in with my recent blog post “Housing Starts Negative“). Worse yet, the countries with the least ability to feed themselves are the ones having the most kids. What is up with that? It is all backwards. People with the least ability to feed a family should not be having multiple kids. I guess, it is what it is, and people will continue to need food, so where will it come from?
How about from the quarter acre farm? It does not take a genius or tons of work to grow a significant amount of food on a typical city lot. I make most of the small part of my yard that receives adequate sunlight. I drive around and see many large suburban lots, not only here but all over the U.S., many that are more than an acre in size, being used to grow grass. If there was a food shortage, these big lots could grow enough food for multiple families. In short, there is plenty of productive land that could be used to produce food. It seems more and more people are getting into the homegrown revolution which is a good thing.
Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle to growing more of our own food might be the government. I cannot believe a judge in Wisconsin recently explained that people “do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice”. Seriously!? This person is a judge in Wisconsin? We don’t have a right to have chickens and eat the eggs, own a cow and drink the milk, or grow a garden and eat the veggies, according to this fellow. Not without the government’s say so. And no, this is not a joke and it is not from the Onion. Grrrr. I had better stop before I blow my top.
Back to some of the good news. Even larger industrial-type agriculture has its share of innovation and each step makes it more likely that we will be able to produce more food with less energy, using less land and water that years past. Take a look at this recent development in aquaculture. A researcher in Texas has developed a new way to raise shrimp that involves a “racetrack” system of rearing the shrimp that uses less space than conventional outdoor ponds. The grow through successive stages of the equipment until they reach the bottom fully grown. Plans are being made to scale it up to factory size so we will soon find out if it lives up to its promise. Whereas not-so-environmentally-friendly outdoor ponds can produce 20,000 to 60,000 pounds of shrimp in a year, the racetrack system can produce a million pounds, using the same amount of water! If this system works at scale, then there will be much less pressure on the oceans of the world to produce seafood for humans.
Have a nice weekend! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on September 30, 2011