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Drought, Blistering Temperatures and Raging Fires: Are We Screwed? 5 Facts You Should Know

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page, Farm Issues page, and our Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

In 2007, as a drought-stricken Georgia watched its drinking water reserves dwindle, then-governor Sonny Purdue took action -- he organized a prayer service for rain. In similar fashion in 2011 as fires raged across Texas in one of the state's worst droughts, Governor Rick Perry designated Easter weekend "official days of prayer for rain," according to the Texas Tribune.

And now as the country endures fires, drought and record-high temperatures, our leaders are on bended knee yet again. Earlier this month Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters he was saying an extra prayer for rain. But the latest science shows that the country's leaders are going to need a whole lot more than prayer. Vilsack for one, may be feeling the pressure. A backlash is growing against the Agriculture Secretary for comments he made in a recent press conference when asked about whether or not climate change may be playing a role in this summer's torturous weather.

Vilsack responded:

 I'm not a scientist so I'm not going to opine as to the cause of this. All we know is that right now there are a lot of farmers and ranchers who are struggling. And it's important and necessary for them to know, rather than trying to focus on what's causing this, what can we do to help them.

Farmers don't want to know if there is a potential link between droughts affecting their livelihood and climate change? I'm pretty sure farmers like to plan ahead and knowing what may be coming down the road is extremely helpful. And Vilsack doesn't have to worry about "opining" on climate change, as Brad Johnson points out, the USDA -- the department Vilsack heads -- has a Climate Change Program Office that's staffed with top scientists.


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