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By Staff | Sep 18, 2015

NOAA reports July was the hottest month ever recorded for the Planet Earth. The first seven months of 2015 were the hottest and they expect that trend to hold for the full year.

The records actually only go back to 1880 so that is a blink of an eye in recorded Earth time. The hottest temperature this year appears to correlate with one of the strongest if not the strongest El Nino on record.

The latest 90-day Southern Oscillation Index values are -15.23. It takes a -8 SOI to represent an El Nino. The August SOI was -19.02. On August 4th the daily SOI was -39. That was eye catching. I doubt that it is a coincidence that we are seeing a record or near record El Nino during what appears will be the hottest year on the planet.

All that warm water in the Pacific is a sink for holding the heat. 97 percent of scientists form a consensus for global warming. A survey found that only 12 percent of the public was aware of that consensus, which leaves a lot of room for ideology to trump science over climate change.

Cargill believes in Climate change. Monsanto CEO, Bob Fraley, believes in climate change. The Pentagon believes in climate change. The National Academies of Science believes in climate change … an institution that is supposed to be the gold standard. Even the Pope believes in Climate Change, so theology accepts the science.

It is not all tree-huggers promoting climate change. ISU Climatologist, Elwynn Taylor, believes that climate change is man-made, supported by weather cycles. They have the separate contributions from natural factors and human factors modeled.

It would have gotten warmer anyway, but we made it hotter than would have resulted from natural factors unless of course you consider the rational that man is a natural factor.

The Koch brothers have invested millions of dollars in funding naysayers in think tanks which essentially prostitute themselves debunking climate change in order to defend the asset values of the petroleum industry.

They also attack ethanol, probably throwing biofuel under the bus for free when the Kochs get the bill. The climate in the Midwest and Plains has changed significantly in my life. Row crops expanded in the Dakotas. What South Dakota Badlands?

Western Iowa gets more moisture, so we now produce the same yields as eastern Iowa.

We are seeing deluges on a regular basis with monthly rainfall totals that are half what used to be the annual average total.

All that water going down waterways and through tiles increases crop nutrients moving downstream to the Des Moines waterworks requiring more conservation measures. Good land with deeper soils able to stand drought should be worth more in value than light soils that can’t as weather cycles turns variable.

We may swing from a record El Nino to a record La Nina again.

An ISU survey found that 44 percent of farmers are concerned about climate change, 34 percent were uncertain and 22 percent disagreed. I will let everyone else fight over what governments will do about it.

I don’t see the issues of climate change changing the views of very many voters who have strong feelings on both sides of the issue that have already broken down ideologically.

My focus is on how we adapt to climate change. One way we have adapted is spend a lot of money to tile the farms. I put in tile so that we could get into fields to plant and we may be looking at a wet-cool fall where we need the tile to harvest.

Here is how the Economist Magazine views the problem: “On current trends, by 2050 America’s most productive cereal-growing region, the Midwest, will have between nine and 28 days a year in which average daytime temperatures will be 35 degrees Celsius (95F) or above; for the past 40 years, it has had, on average, just two such days each year.

In even more sweltering Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, the number of hot days could rise from 39 to 67-99 a year by 2050. The heat could cut yields in the Midwest by a fifth, the study reckons – though that assumes farmers do not adapt by planting heat-tolerant crops, which of course they would.

The problem is that, at the moment, new crop varieties cannot withstand such high heat without big yield reductions and there is impact on productivity. Steamy temperatures make people wilt, as well as crops.

Previous studies have shown that, when the thermometer hits 100 degrees, the supply of labor in farming, construction and other outdoor jobs fall by an hour a day, compared with mild days at 75-80 degrees.

The new study is more cautious: it reckons labor productivity among outdoor workers could fall 3 percent if there were 27-50 extra days of daytime temperatures over 95 degrees.”

Right now we have to adapt to this El Nino and what it means for us next. Dr. Elwynn Taylor was quoted in Feedstuffs Magazine. He said, “It’s unclear how long the current El Nino will last, but in similar situations where one has followed a strong La Nina, the El Nino has lasted a full two years rather than 14 months, which is average.

“If it goes 14 months, that gets us well into 2016. It could get us off to a good start with the crop, but it could go bad after that, noting that El Nino has sometimes gone on for 24 months – even 36 months, but that’s rare.

“In ancient history, they’ve gone on for four or five years, but we don’t expect to see that this time around.

“Scientists who study El Nino and La Nina have a good record for knowing four or five months in advance what conditions are coming: but, when a strong El Nino ends, it can suddenly go to a La Nina condition, such as the major drought we had in 1988 that began just weeks after we went into La Nina.”

An average length El Nino could get us all the way through another South American crop.

With 4 percent larger soybean acreage and an El Nino benefiting yields in South America on top of a potential 500 million bushel U.S. soybean carryover, I plan to plant corn next year.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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