Thursday, August 28, 2014

What We Learned This Week - "And It Was Just Right"

A draft U.N. report predicts “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts" from the continued release of climate changing gases, using the word "risk" 351 times in just 127 pages.  The Mississippi River Basin is ranked among world's top ten "priority basins for remediation" because it is so highly fragmented and has poor water quality.  A new report recommends collaborative strategies to reduce Mississippi River Basin nutrient pollution.   The Obama Administration is ramping up its output of new regulatory initiatives, including EPA climate and water rules.  Farm groups are painting the map red in a messaging effort designed to block the EPA from finalizing one of those water rules.  A Congressional committee is also posting water maps, and its members criticizing the EPA in the process.  Indiana University researchers believe that "Goldilocks plant growth" may be the key to sustaining resilient river deltas.  U.S. corn and soybean crops will probably break production records this year, reflecting favorable growing season weather; resulting in a sharp decline in corn prices, leading to pain for a hitherto robust Corn Belt economy. The excess grain is backing up on farms and silos, awaiting empty trains - trains mostly being used to carry a "bumper crop" of North Dakota crude oil. Up to 33 of those Bakken-oil-loaded trains pass through Arkansas weekly. Grain-filled barges travelling down the Missouri River might help alleviate the transportation bottleneck, but infrastructure spending, and water allocation changes may be needed first.  Some of the excess corn might be used in a new "weed blaster" being tested on Minnesota farm fields.   Last, and actually least, the Republican odds of taking control of the U.S. Senate are improving, as the Mississippi River states of Iowa, Kentucky and Arkansas become possible "wins."

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