If You Can't Take the Heat. Record Temperatures and Droughts May Be Here to Stay

Article excerpt

Texans, stoics that they are, are coping pretty well with the heat wave, whose record-breaking temperatures included 10 days of 100-degree-plus mercury in July. And they're used to drought, which has gripped much of the state for the third year in a row, devastating cotton crops in the Panhandle and cornfields in north Texas. But now things have turned Biblical. More than 10,000 dead fish have washed up around bayous, killed by heat and drought, and mosquitoes, spider mites, army worms, fire ants, horn flies and grasshoppers have reached near-plague proportions, thanks to temps 6 to 8 degrees above normal last winter. As a result, instead of dying of cold the bugs enjoyed perfect breeding conditions, and this summer grasshoppers alone have caused $190 million in crop damage and treatment costs. And that's just for starters. The 'hoppers, says entomologist Allen Knutson, "are getting bigger and hungrier."

Remember the joke about not just talking about the weather but doing something about it? Looks like we are. Although La Nina, a pool of abnormally cold water in the eastern Pacific Ocean, is probably the immediate cause of the warm and bug-friendly winters, larger forces seem to be at work here. …