In this episode, I speak with meteorologist and geoscientist Nicholas Humphrey. I ask him to detail the record-breaking flood in the Midwest United States this season, in particular the impacts this is having on the agricultural center of the country, and how this event is directly tied to the dramatic global changes associated with abrupt climate disruption as a result of human industrial activity.
As Nick and I discuss, there are numerous reasons why this year’s flooding in the Midwest has been as destructive as it has been — with estimated damage, in economic terms, of “$12.5 billion, based on an analysis of damages already inflicted and those expected by additional flooding, as well as the lingering health effects resulting from flooding and the disease caused by standing water.”* Nick’s interdisciplinary research into global climate change, especially in describing its direct impact on the hydrological (water) cycle and weather, helps us understand how this record-breaking event occurred. “Nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states will have an elevated risk of some flooding from now until May, and 25 states could experience ‘major or moderate flooding,’ according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”** Record-breaking snowfall in the Midwest, with severe fluctuations in temperature in late-winter and early-spring, coincided with a massive “bomb cyclone” visiting the region, leading to a rapid and massive overflow of the Missouri River — inundating numerous farms, cities, and towns, as well as overwhelm much of the overall infrastructure and spread toxic waste and pollution throughout the region. This doesn’t even include the impacts this event is already having on the financially-burdened businesses in the region, and what the impacts will be for the region’s agricultural output in the future, as it is severely limiting farmers ability to grow and harvest vital agricultural products this year. Overall, the prospects don’t look good, for the Midwest region, and for the United States. Nick and I take a dive into the science and the implications of this event, and fit it within the broader ecological and climate trends currently unfolding on this planet.
Nicholas Humphrey is a meteorologist and geoscientist, with the focus on extreme weather events and their connection to our destabilizing climate. Nick’s goal is to communicate, in an interdisciplinary fashion, the serious risks from climate tipping points, extreme weather events, and ecological collapse. He graduated with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in societal impacts of extreme weather from South Dakota State University in 2013, and earned a MS in Geosciences - Applied Meteorology from Mississippi State University in 2016. Nicholas is based in Lincoln, Nebraska.
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- The song featured in the episode is “Country Boy” by "Little" Jimmy Dickens.