Agriculture climate-change-no-more-cattle

Published on September 6th, 2011 | by Susan Kraemer


American Cattle Ranching is Outgunned by Climate Change

September 6th, 2011 by  

Cattle-ranching, as quintessential to America’s idea of itself as John Wayne and cowboy movies, will likely become a thing of the past as temperatures continue to rise. With the heat index above 120°F across many US states this summer – the kind of incredible temperatures more typically associated with countries like Saudi Arabia – cattle deaths have been on the rise, according to Pew Climate.

Even at just a degree or two in average global temperature rise – early in the decades of predicted climate change – some regions of the USA are experiencing temperature humidity index (THI) values that threaten cattle.

For several days at a time this summer, it was around 90°F in the Northern Plains and Midwest. This is well over the THI of 80°F, at which negative impacts are seen. At a THI of 98°F, cattle can not survive. Iowa lost 4,000 head, and Minnesota and South Dakota lost an additional 2,500 head.

These are just the early days. Climate scientists predict that by the end of this century, current cattle-producing regions could average 75 to 120 days per year where the temperature exceeds 100°F. That will mean the end of the cattle industry.

How bad are things already for American cowboys? Faced with dry pastures, rapidly depleting hay supplies and drought stressed surface water sources, ranchers in Texas are selling off their livestock. The U.S. herd is now at a record low.

The Federal government has stepped up and supplied low interest loans to Texas ranchers and direct payments for farmers whose herd was culled by the heat. Under the Livestock Indemnity Program, cattle lost to extreme weather are reimbursed by the government at 75% of their value.

Climate change is already costing the national treasury, and these are just the early days.

Susan Kraemer@Twitter
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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • Pingback: Texas Ranchers Battle New Enemy: Coal, Drought and Climate | CleanTechnica()

  • Amy

    I guess we should all just commit suicide now…it’s going to be so bad that we will just burn up anyway and we can’t even have a hamburger on the way out. Man that does suck. I am old enough to remember when the same kind of climate scientists were forecasting the next ice age. Never happened. This is just the liberal version of religion and their continual perpetuation of gloom and doom.

  • Mfls

    ok, I went to the “it is too true” site and found much disagreement. Seems people are catching on to reasearchers who are government sponsored, supported and otherwise attached to one political party.

  • euroflycars

    Russel Williams, are there really over a 100 million cows in the USA? How does this compare to Switzerland with its 7 million people and 500,000 cows?

    If your figure is right, it would mean that the US population is consuming 4 times more steaks and milk than the Swiss who are already suffering from all sorts of diseases due to excessive feeding on meat and dairy products, although 40% of the meat returns to the waste container.

    Could it be that proportionally the USA have a quadruple cow lifestock versus Switzerland’s which is already oversized by an order of magnitude?

    Here’s some edifying info anyway, telling you all the ghastly evidence:

  • Anonymous

    If they think that this proves global warming they are dead wrong. I believe this about Mother Nature. What God has created only he will destroy. So Al Gore and all the scientist that re-arranged data of the studies to show global warming can go jump in the lake.

    • Anonymous


      No one tampered with data — this has been the conclusion of about SEVEN independent reviews now:
      That humans (who are part of nature, mind you) cannot destroy anything is pure idiocy. Sorry, can’t think of a better word for it.

    • Anonymous

      Doc, if you think God created all this stuff that does not mean that man can’t screw it up.

      You know very well that people can destroy land. You’ve almost certainly seen examples.

      Just think a bit and see if you can’t think of things we’ve done like pollute rivers so much that they became fire hazards. Killed off a lot of our eastern forests with acid rain.

      We may not be able to create a universe, but we sure can poop all over our part.

      Maybe get off your ranch sometime and look how we’ve built up large parts of our world. Look at how many buildings we’ve built and how much land we’ve covered with pavement. Get up to the western coal pits and over to the blasted off mountaintops of the east. Stand outside a coal plant and count the car loads of coal that come in every day for burning.

      Aren’t we suppose to be good stewards? Looks like we might have tripped up on this one….

  • Davidsonpuckett

    Cattle trading is based on a number of things. True, presently we in Texas are selling off partial herds due to the drought. However, only the LIBs project a record high temp summer to mean the entire cattle industry is now changed. What a crock of “bull$_it! (Pun intended.)

    • Susan Kraemer

      You see the present realities, that is your job as a Texas farmer. But climate scientists look ahead and foresee the future realities, that is their job. We are lucky to have the knowledge that the present higher temperatures and drought is what was forecast by climate scientists starting in the 80s, as we can act on advance notice.

      Given that you acknowledge that 80s forecast of climate reality now, do you think it is possible that your great grandsons in Texas farming might also be facing the even more dire realities that climate scientists forecast for decades ahead?

  • Bubba Guido

    Is the climate changing? Absolutely! It has been for 5 billion years. How much climate change is due to the activity of man. That is the question.

    Miss Kraemer claims that climate change is causing a decline in cattle ranching.
    The people who claim climate change is man’s fault, list cattle ranching as a primary source of greenhouse gases.

    Therefore shouldn’t a reduction in cattle farming cause the earth to cool?

    I, personally, believe the earth’s climate is going to do whatever it feels like no matter how much we disapprove.

    A single california forest fire can produce a much greenhouse gas as every automobile in America does in a year’s time. It was estimated that one volcano, I don’t remember which, produced as much greenhouse gas over the course of a year as man has since he began walking upright.

    The green religion is the height of conceit. It rests on the premise that the acts of man are somehow not natural, that man controls nature. This would mean that man is supernatural. I don’t think so. If I were, I would be a lot better looking and a lot thinner.

    When a herd of elephants moves through an area the virtually wipe out the vegetation along their path. We don’t accuse them of destroying nature.

    When a herd of widebeeste are grazing, we don’t expect them to leave some for the Impala.

    Every creature in nature acts solely in its own self-interest. We expect man to act differently and claim it is in the interest of nature. Hold the Kool-aid. I’m trying to quit.

  • Anonymous

    The jet stream and high pressure zones are the reason for the drought, not CO2.

    Because of the jet and highs, it’s been so cold and wet in the Northwest agriculture has been called a national disaster.

  • Forgot

    Those who continue to blame the changes of sumer and winter on Humans,
    are almost entirely made up of FEEL GOOD liberals! That is their qualifications to push their agenda!

  • Richie

    The planet has not warmed even one degree for over a decade now. The oceans as reported by the international oceanic offices stated: Ocean levels have gone down 1/4 inch in the past 2 yrs. Some glaciers in Asia and S. America are receding. Some, however are growing. Man is just not that important part of the planet to matter. So it goes.

  • Daveteam

    You are operating on a false premise! No one has proved manmade global warming! Greenland, which is covered mostly by ice was once green…..who warmed the globe back then??? Also, we are still here and the planet cooled enough to frost Greenland, so don’t bother me with your BS until Greenland is once again green!!!

  • There are over 100 million cows in the U.S. and the liberal Pew center is focusing on 6500? That is .0065% death loss. As a cattle rancher, I would love those sort of numbers. We lost more to domestic dogs this year than to any weather event, and we had temps from 100 degrees to -11.

    • Anonymous

      Just because it was Christmas at your house Russell does not mean that everyone got presents.

      Take a wider look around. You see any parts of the country where ranchers are having trouble providing their herds graze? That number starting to look a little higher than normal? (Here’s a hint, look at the western part of Texas and up into Oklahoma.)

      How about grain production getting messed up by unusual amounts of rain and flooding?

      Finally look south of you. That weather down there, if scientists are right that weather will be your weather in the future and your weather will be north of you.

      If you look at things like planting season data it’s happening. Spring is coming earlier, winter showing up later.

      And, when it does snow, plan on having to dig out deeper for your herd. We’ve got a lot more water up above us these days and when it comes down, it now comes down in big buckets of snowflakes.

      You might be lucky. You might be sitting somewhere that would be helped by warming up.

      Others aren’t.

    • Susan Kraemer

      As I say, these are the early days. Temperatures are up less than 1 degree globally on average so far. But they are predicted to be up globally 3 to 6 degrees by the end of the century, depending on whether we humans are politically willing to support a switch to more clean energy, or not.

    • Anonymous

      Just saw a weather summary from the Texas area. Thought you guys who have good water and graze might want to know how things are going down there….















  • Trqwrench2

    I guess there are those of you that STILL do not get it, as is the case with Mr. Smit. There is a contingency of folks, myself included, that does not deny that the climate is getting hotter. So, you and your friends need to stop calling those of us that question Al Gore as “holocost denyers.” By the way, I did not know that Al Gore was an accredited climatologist. The point of contention for us is WHY the climate is getting hotter. Despite what you hear there is no solid proof of exactly why this happening, happening now or that Man’s activity is THE cause. The Earth is somewhere around four billion years old, and throughout it’s life it has gone through cycles of cool periods and hot periods. Scientists have many THEORIES for why this so. If geologic time were measured by the hour, then man would have appeared only a few seconds ago. The very idea that man in his relatively short existance could cause drastic, fairly instantaneous change is ridiculous. I must admit that seasons and weather are much different than what they were when I was kid forty years ago. But compare 40 years to four billion, or even the thosuands since the last ice age. Despite what eco-wackos like Al Gore would have you to believe solar activity DOES have something to do with what temperatures are on planet Earth. The Earth’s axial tilt with respect to the Sun is why we have the seasons, and why when it is winter in the Northern hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern hemisphere. The Earth’s axis is not only tilted, but wobbles slightly which is why we have the ice ages. This may also have something to do with why it is getting hotter. Al Gore wants the “believers” to totally IGNORE naturally occuring events such as Mt. St Helens, Montseratt, sunspots or any other such events as having anything at all to do with climate change. You can ask 100 scientists why this is happening and you will get 100 different answers. But for the ones that scream the loudest that man is the cause, I say follow the money. Who is providing the money for the research? For that matter, even if the scientist you ask say man is not cause, follow the money. Where is he getting HIS money? Remember Murphy’s golden rule, “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.” Also how do you explain the record cold winters and snows we have had the last few years. If you ask an eco-wacko he will say “global warming.” So let me get this straight, if the summers get hotter and longer it is because of global warming. If the winters get colder and more severe and snowier, it is because of global warming. “Sure,” says the eco-wacko, “because more water gets evaporated and therefore more snow.” Well, if it is warmer would that cause more RAIN? How then do you explain the record droughts we have been having?

    • Anonymous

      Trqwrench2, i’m very tired of responding to climate science propaganda here and elsewhere, so i am using a new approach. I will just drop a link to a good source of information on each of your concerns below, and, if you continue to spew propganda on this blog you will be blacklisted and/or all your comments will be deleted. i’m sorry, but this nonsense has spread too far for too long and is a great hindrance to the future of our society, whether you came about it through earnest concern or are just a paid troll. and this is a blog, not an academic journal — since the academics HAVE RESOUNDINGLY CONCLUDED who is to blame for global warming, i see no point in letting trolls spew inaccurate nonsense on our blog.

      responses to your points on:

      1. humans ARE to blame for global warming, this is clear. (see: ; ;

      2. the Earth has gone through many cooling and warming periods, true. but this warming period is clearly different, one of rapid change, and human-induced.(see: ; ;

      3. humans can’t cause significant environmental or climate change? I hope you’re kidding me and you don’t need me to prove that. again, you can see the articles above, but if you actually think humans can’t cause significant change, you are a lost cause.

      (ok, one link:

      4. IT’S THE SUN!… not.

      (see: ; ; ;

      5. ok, on this one, i’ll just quote you: “You can ask 100 scientists why this is happening and you will get 100 different answers.” Wow, talk about a lie.

      Check out the fact that 97% of climate experts say humans are causing global warming:

      6. OK, i’ll quote you again, “But for the ones that scream the loudest that man is the cause, I say follow the money.”

      Yes, follow the money, the huge energy giants that are rich as heck and don’t want to see a clean energy revolution are following all the same tactics the tobacco industry used to confuse the public for decades. nothing new there. the big oil, big coal, etc CEOs don’t want to lose their bonuses.

      But, you know, it’s all those money hungry climate scientists — why else would they go into such a get-rich-quick field?

      7. OK, i’ll go ahead and quote you again: “Also how do you explain the record cold winters and snows we have had the last few years. If you ask an eco-wacko he will say ‘global warming.'”

      Guess what? We haven’t had any record winters in a LONG time — and that’s the difference between climate and weather — looking at the whole system. While the Arctic was warming a ton, the northern U.S. and Europe might have gotten a bit of a cooler breeze… think of the firdge door being left open. but, on the whole, the world was much hotter than normal in recent years, winters and summers.

      8. OK, i’ll quote you for the last time here: “Well, if it is warmer would that cause more RAIN? How then do you explain the record droughts we have been having?”

      Wow, this just shows how much you have actually learned about climate science. Yes, it is going to rain a ton more in SOME regions (due to more moisture in the atmosphere from the heating) but we are also seeing huge droughts in other regions because there’s no way that moisture from evaporated water bodies is going to make it to those regions. These two issues have been fundamental concerns of climatologists for decades — record droughts and record flooding, in different regions but catastrophic nonetheless. & this is what we are already seeing…

      for more information on common myths, you can also check out:

      • Good job, drive ’em off the page with facts… The Information Cowboy rides again.

        • Anonymous


          not really for them but for anyone who might be confused by them.

          Been a whole long line of the trolls coming in on this post today — word must have got out somewhere.

          • We-laney

            No. This article was posted on the Cowboy Consrvative Byte.

      • We-laney

        Isn’t it great that you libtards have a place that if you don’t like the truth you can just edit it out? That’s the only way you can keep the lies going.
        If you noticed, all the links you suggest are climate nut sights. Good luck living in your ignorance.

        • Anonymous

          If you notice, the arguments are left in, I just don’t have them front and center without a scientific response quickly following (or preceding).

          If you notice, these responses relate to scientific studies written by climate scientists and communicated by scientists. Unlike all the nonsense in the comment by the troll.

          *Living* is difficult in extreme drought, flooding, and other natural disasters — i.e. in the world climate science denier nuts are creating for us all. So, instead of wishing good luck (or praying for rain), maybe you could accept the scientific consensus and help in combating the problem, rather than delaying action indefinitely.

  • Eduardo Vargas

    That sucks. I hope that countries manage to reduce emissions, at least so that some cowboys can still survive.

    • Bill

      Cowboys suck – go Redskins!

      • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Listened to an interview with a Texas rancher who had just sold off his herd.

    He said that it took ranchers many years to build up their breeding stock and that many of the ranchers were too old to start over after this disastrous year. Most of their children don’t want to ranch and are working off the ranch.

    He figured that many ranches in his part of Texas would never come back. He was 72 and said that he didn’t have the years and energy to do it again.

    I expect we’ll see that sort of thing move north with increasing heat.

    I’ll bet the current wildfires close down another big hunk of ranches.

    We’re going to be adding West Texas to the Great American Desert….

    • We really need to go back to feeding cattle what they evolved to eat: grass and other forage on the range.

      They simply were not built to live on corn and be packed in feed lots like mooing commuters on the morning subway to hell.

      I know that they feed out faster but without a steady diet of antibiotics they sicken and die.

      • Anonymous

        The cow guys won’t like this, but we need to speed up the time at which we can grow our meat in factories.

        Science Daily has a piece up today about where things stand…

        This would eliminate much of the waste and likely produce much more affordable protein.

        • I’ll have the cheeseburger…hold the burger, thanks.

    • Susan Kraemer

      Yeah, and in Pakistan and Australia there has been an increase in suicides by farmers in response to climate change. Your example is sad.

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