This Kind of Freaks Me Out

More info here:

With May in the books, another third of the 2019 U.S. corn crop has yet to be planted, according to the latest USDA crop progress report, out Monday afternoon.

“Today’s update from USDA came in on the lower side of estimates for corn and soybean planting, keeping both crops under the gun,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “Only Texas was ahead of normal for corn planting, though growers in the western Corn Belt made better progress.”

Corn progress reached 67% as of June 2, up from 58% a week ago but still far behind 2018’s pace of 96% and the five-year average of 96%. Analysts expected a more robust pace of 71%, although trade guesses ranged between 68% and 76%. Five of the top 18 production states still haven’t reached the halfway mark, including Illinois (45%), Indiana (31%), Michigan (42%), North Dakota (33%) and South Dakota (44%).

This strikes me as a really big deal, and while I am one to freak out about things like this, I should note that I am not seeing people who know what they are talking about lose their shit, so maybe I shouldn’t. My concerns are beyond a potential corn shortage, how many farmers will go under because they can’t plant alternate crops like soybeans? Cheeto Benito’s trade war wiped out their market, and that ain’t ever coming back. Just the other day China halted big purchases, and last year Brazil and others (including Russia, which I am sure is just a coincidence) eagerly stepped in and filled the void.

So there is that problem. On top of that, I don’t think people fully appreciate just how fundamental the corn crop to so much of our manufacturing and economy. Beyond the obvious foodstuffs, corn is also a key component in everything from cattle feed to pet food to ethanol for cars to vinegar and on and on and on. Almost every product will be more expensive- including beverages, because in response to the US Sugar program, which places tariffs and sets prices for sugar producers, beverages are made from… high fructose corn syrup. It also factors in to a wide number of industrial products, like the following:

* Industrial products — Soaps, paints, corks, linoleum, polish, adhesives, rubber substitutes, wallboard, dry-cell batteries, textile finishings, cosmetic powders, candles, dyes, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, insulation, wallpaper and other starch products.

* Fermentation products and byproducts — industrial alcohols, fuel ethanol, recyclable plastics, industrial enzymes, fuel octane enhancers, fuel oxygenates and solvents.

Again, virtually every stage of manufacturing will be impacted. This, with Trump’s tariffs with Mexico already jacking up prices for consumers and economists predicting a recession in the near term, and it is scary. Making it even scarier is that this isn’t going to be a one-off. Climate change isn’t going to just stop. The flooding is going to become more and more commonplace- you’d think people would notice that they are having 100 year floods every year, but apparently not.

So again, the whole thing has me concerned. Not that there is any realistic chance we’ll fucking do anything about it. The idiots in those states will still keep electing wingnuts, and they’ll respond by transferring tax dollars from blue states to distressed farmers in the moocher red states (and Trump’s wealthy buddies), and talk about salt of the earth real Muricans and evil liberal coastal elites.

I am shocked that gambling goes on here

Whose heart is having palpitations?

Open thread

And some actual good news

Great Britain went almost four days without having to draw power from a domestic coal power plant. That is good news. It is not great news, as half of the power generated and consumed still produced carbon dioxide but it is good news.

As countries continue to deploy more solar and storage prices come down, more and more days will be coal free. The next challenge over the next decade is to eat into cheap natural gas. And even there, there is hope as the combined levelized cost of power for brand new renewable generation is below that of fossil fuels. There is a huge bolus of natural gas capacity that has a significant natural lifespan in front of it, but the repair or replace calculation looks like it will be leaning towards replace with renewables and storage for most cases.


Thursday Morning Open Thread: Oh Joy, It’s Pollen Season Already

Betcha you don’t even have to ask how I can tell! But if I’m unusually disorganized or cryptic in the near future… well, blame it on the juniper / poplar / maple. Especially the Norway maples which are prominent among the local trash trees.

Meanwhile, random (mostly) happy, uplifting news tidbits…

Today in Great Moments in Senatorial Debate: Senator Mike Lee Edition!

Senator Lee gave a speech delineating his opposition to the Green New Deal today as part of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s attempt to put the Senate Democratic caucus in a bind by making them take a stand either for or against one of the House Democratic caucus’s signature issues. Fortunately for us all, Senator Lee is, well, Senator Lee, which is sort of the Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of Senator Ted Cruzes. Or something… Even more fortuitously, Senator Lee posted a YouTube video of his remarks and posted a transcript of them at his Senate website.  He’s so considerate!

Senator Lee’s major proposal for resolving the problem that is climate change is to have more babies*, because one of them might actually come up with a good idea to resolve the problem at some point in the future.

This, Mr. President, is the real solution to climate change: babies.

Climate change is an engineering problem – not social engineering, but the real kind.
It’s a challenge of creativity, ingenuity, and technological invention.

And problems of human imagination are not solved by more laws, but by more humans!

More people mean bigger markets for innovation.

More babies mean more forward-looking adults – the sort we need to tackle long-term, large scale problems.

American babies, in particular, are likely going to be wealthier, better educated, and more conservation-minded than children raised in still-industrializing regions.

As economist Tyler Cowen recently wrote on this very point, “by having more children, you are making your nation more populous – thus boosting its capacity to solve [climate change].”

Finally, Mr. President, children are a mark of the kind of personal, communal, and societal optimism that is the true pre-requisite for meeting national and global challenges together.

The courage needed to solve climate change is nothing compared with the courage needed to start a family.

The true heroes of this story aren’t politicians or social media activists.

They are moms and dads, and the little boys and girls they are, at this moment, putting down for naps… helping with their homework… building tree houses… and teaching how to tie their shoes.

The planet does not need us to “think globally, and act locally” so much as it needs us to think family, and act personally.

The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution, but the serious business of human flourishing – the solution to so many of our problems, at all times and in all places: fall in love, get married, and have some kids.

I yield the floor.

This, however, wasn’t the most batshit insane part of Senator Lee’s audio-visual extravaganza. Pride of place for that honor goes to the graphics and images he used to help make his point.

President Reagan on a velociraptor wielding a machine pistol while the velociraptor carries a tattered American flag – this is apparently big on one of the Chan boards/sites:

A still image from The Empire Strikes Back of Luke Skywalker riding on a tauntaun on the ice planet Hoth:

A still image from the Hannah-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series Superfriends of Aquaman on his seahorse Storm from the early 1970s (in the earlier 1960s Filmation Aquaman-Superman Adventures Storm was white with gold ears – do not ask how I know this…):

A picture of a bunch of babies (awww!):

This is stupidity, disingenuousness, and bad faith on par with Kyle Reese’s description of the Terminator:

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

I don’t care if you’re Senator Booker who is claiming one of his key strengths is that he can, because he has in the past, work effectively across the aisle or Howard Schultz who keeps stating that as an independent centrist that he can work with both sides, THERE IS NOTHING HERE TO WORK WITH!!!!! There’s no difference to split here, there’s no accommodation that can be made here, and there is no compromise that can be reached. Right now, whether you agree, partially agree, or disagree with what the Democrats are proposing, you’ve got one party actually proposing solutions that have been thought through and one party that proposes the same four things no matter what is going on: 1) cut taxes, 2) cut regulations, 3) gut the social safety net and undo the New Deal, 4) and allow unlimited amounts of money in politics because money equals speech and corporations equal people. And, if there’s a crisis involving brown people with funny accents: 5) deploy troops to deal with them. The shame that is the United States in 2019 is that there is one party, the Democratic Party, that is dealing with reality, even if you don’t agree with what they’re proposing and then there’s this insanity being peddled by the Republicans.

At this point I’m about two weeks away from declaring myself Sub-Commandante Citizen-Leftenant Zero and storming a radio station… **

Which leads to one of my favorite political cartoons of all time:

Open thread!

* I’m sure at some point this will be rolled into an argument why Roe V. Wade must be overturned and abortion made illegal so we don’t accidentally abort the baby that will save us from the climate change crisis that Senator Lee doesn’t actually believe exists.

** This is SARCASM, lest someone eventually show up or use this to claim I’m advocating the overthrow of the US government or endorsing the use of low intensity warfare and political violence.