Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Drought and Nuclear Tests/Accidents?

Drought in U.S. reaching levels not seen in 50 years, pushing up crop prices. By P. Whoriskey & M. A. Fletcher. July 16, 2012 http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/drought-in-us-reaching-levels-not-seen-in-50-years-pushing-up-corn-prices/2012/07/16/gJQA01SopW_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines

[Excerpt] A drought gripping the Corn Belt and more than half the United States has reached proportions not seen in more than 50 years, the government reported Monday, jacking up crop prices and threatening to drive up the cost of food.

Though agriculture is a small part of the U.S. economy, the shortfall comes as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing. Last week, the Agriculture Department declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states as natural-disaster areas.

About 55 percent of the continental United States is now designated as in moderate drought or worse, the largest percentage since December 1956, according to the National Climatic Data Center, and the outlook is grim.

"The drought could get a lot worse before it gets better,” said Joe Glauber, chief economist at the Agriculture Department.

[end excerpt]

Majia here: Although drought is a naturally occurring phenomenon predicted to occur more frequently in some regions with climate change, there may potentially be a relationship between increased nuclear radiation in the atmosphere (from testing, war, or accidents) and drought.

The majority of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests occurred in 1956, the year of the last drought in the US of this magnitude

Here is one source suggestive of a relationship between drought and ionizing radiation in the atmosphere from testing:

"Earthquakes and Nuclear Testing" by Dr. Gary Whiteford. Paper presented to the Second International Conference on the United Nations and World Peace, Seattle, Washington,
14 April 1989

[excerpt from the article on a previous study]:

The Spring 1992 issue of Journal of Orgonomy (1) carried a paper by James DeMeo describing research undertaken in 1990-1991 on the California drought, with a "Special Note on Underground Nuclear Testing and the Oakland Wildfires" that bears repeating here:

Weather Response to Nuclear Testing 

In prior articles, I discussed a possible connection between underground nuclear bomb testing in Nevada to weather changes in the Western US.(2) A graph was published showing changes in 500 mb pressure over Nevada and Montana in 1990, with a generalized association with nuclear tests. Nuclear testing appeared to have increased atmospheric pressure in the upper atmosphere, a possible factor in the expansion of high-pressure drought conditions in the West.

[end excerpt]

Majia here: I conducted an academic search on the subject looking for more research on links between atmospheric testing in the 1950s and the 1956 drought.

Finding results was rather complicated because most of the literature examined the relationship between nuclear war and agriculture. Nuclear war complicates effects because of the amount of dust that would be raised by the explosions.

For example, Ernest Bondietti's "Effects on Agriculture" published by Springer in 1982 on behalf of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences examines the effects of radiation on crops and has an interesting set of findings I'll post later, but it doesn't specify whether the presence of ionizing radiation in the atmosphere, in the absence of the dust produced by a nuclear explosion, would produce drought.

So, at this point the relationship between the Fukushima disaster and the extreme drought in the US is purely suggestive with no firm evidence.

However, it certainly does raise questions.


  1. Radionuclides release heat when they decay. The heated air around them creates a bubble which causes the particles to rise. When they rise, they get caught up in the stronger winds in the upper atmosphere, so they travel farther.

    The heat creates an atmospheric cap, which leads to drought. Rain is caused by warm humid air which condenses as it rises to cooler air higher up. But in this case, it is warmer up there, rather than cooler, because of the decay. So it doesn't rain.

  2. What about intentional cloud seeding ---such as was used in Chernobyl? Was there an effort to increase rain in some areas --- to create a rainout-to sacrifice fertile farmlands and larger populations? The result an intentional drought?