While watering the garden it started to rain. It wasn’t much, a sprinkle really. I turned the sprayer nozzle off, pulled the mobile device out of my pocket, and looked at the weather application. The forecast was rain, maybe three tenths of an inch toward midnight. I decided to wait and went inside to prepare dinner.
We need rain for a lot of reasons, importantly for the farming community. Large farm operations can capitalize the loss of a major drought, spreading the financial loss of a period of years. Small scale farmers, like the vegetable farmers in my community, not so much. Something is afoot in this spring’s weird weather.
Jonas Morgan of Fairfield opined in the Cedar Rapids Gazette that farmers are between a rock and a hard place.
A Des Moines Register poll found that among those who make their living working Iowa’s fertile soil, 81 percent believe our climate is changing but only 18 percent accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are the cause.
Why the disparity? On the one hand, farmers are experiencing firsthand that long-term weather patterns are changing, changes that threaten not only their livelihoods, but the viability of the farms they hope to leave to their children and grandchildren, as well.
On the other hand, like all of us, farmers are under the sway of their political tribe.Jonas Morgan, Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 21, 2021.
That tells part of the story. The same farmers to which Morgan referred might accuse him of falling under the influence of his own political tribe, noting he lives in Fairfield. I used to pen opinion pieces like this, which while accurate, don’t do much to move the needle toward acceptance of the realities of the climate crisis, much less the potential to do something about it before it’s too late.
A farmer friend wrote about the weird weather in their newsletter to CSA members:
The thing that has stood out to me the most this spring has been the extreme temperature swings, both hot and cold. […]
Extreme temperature swings (either hot or cold) are generally hard on vegetable crops, and the way different crops respond can also be somewhat unpredictable. Since we had two months that included periods of both unseasonable heat and cold, I feel like things were especially unpredictable. Some of the cool season greens have been bolting (sending off shoots to flower) early, which means that we have to harvest them smaller and earlier than we had hoped. The small Napa Cabbage in the share last week is an example of that. On the other hand we have struggled in the past to grow Hakurei turnips in the spring, and they have been mysteriously doing very well with this weather.Local Harvest CSA Newsletter, June 21, 2021.
There has not been enough rain. Last night’s rainfall is welcome, but not enough to make up for the dry spring. Weird weather is not just in Iowa.
“In Siberia the ground surface temperature is a shocking 118 degrees Fahrenheit (47.8 degrees Celsius),” wrote Eric Mack in Forbes. “That’s bad news for permafrost.”
Laptev Sea ice on the Siberian coast set a new record low this week.
I’ve written about the dry spring in Iowa and in the western United States.
It’s not just farmers between a rock and a hard place. We go on living, aware the climate has changed and is changing. Our political leaders don’t have the will to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. The good intentions of the Biden administration seem unlikely to become reality given the current political climate in Washington, D.C.
In the meanwhile, we’ll deal with weird weather as best we know how.