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Positioning for the Drought’s Aftermath

user profile picture Chris Martenson Aug 30, 2012
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Executive Summary

  • Why less water means higher electricity prices (and possibly reduced availability)
  • Where technology has limitations in dealing with these challenges to our food and energy systems
  • What to do about the coming higher food costs
  • Home investments to make now that will have outsized benefits later
  • Why to anticipate a more volatile end to 2012

If you have not yet read Part I: The U.S. Drought is Hitting Harder Than Most Realize, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

All we have are anecdotes that are starting to collect into a somewhat dismal picture. 

Confirmation of the idea that the drought is still intensifying comes from the water levels in the Mississippi River, which is now at the lowest levels ever recorded, utterly halting shipping traffic on the most important economic artery of the nation.

Drought sends Mississippi into 'uncharted territory'

Aug 21, 2012

TUNICA, Miss. – The drought of 2012 has humbled the mighty Mississippi River.

A year after near-historic flooding, the river’s water levels are at near-historic lows from Cairo, Ill., where the Ohio River empties into it, to New Orleans, just north of its endpoint at the Gulf of Mexico.

In July, water levels in Cairo, Memphis, Tenn., and Vicksburg, Miss., dipped below those of the historic drought of 1988. That’s affecting everything from commerce on the maritime superhighway to recreation to the drinking water in Louisiana.

The biggest impact may be on shipping. “It’s getting near critical,” said Austin Golding, a third-generation co-owner of Vicksburg, Miss.-based Golding Barge Lines. “Without more rain, we’re heading into uncharted territory.”

About $180 billion worth of goods move up and down the river on barges, 500 million tons of the basic ingredients for much of the U.S. economy, according to the American Waterways Operators, a trade group. It carries 60 percent of the nation’s grain, 22 percent of the oil and gas and 20 percent of the coal, according to American Waterways Operators.

Unless a lot of rain falls, and soon, we will be hearing about actual shortages of basic items like grains, oil, and coal, as railroads and trucks prove unable to take up the volumes that are now being waylaid.  I assume everyone has been operating on a 'fingers crossed' basis, piling up the usual goods at the loading ports upstream, and hoping that the river would return to normal before things got too critical.

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Top Comment

Right on the money, Old farmers will quit farming in droves. The soils around these parts are exhausted. Farmers are doing a fine job of...
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