Iowa Public Television


Locks and Dams Locked Up, Global Warming Solutions Pondered

posted on October 3, 2003

Two new yet disparate academic studies were released this week detailing, in one case, the Planet Earth and, in the other, man's use of it.

In the former, scientists conclude global warming will have significant impact on American agriculture and the people who partake in it.

In the latter, researchers found changing times may influence the ongoing debate over how to manage the Missouri River. Here's a look at both.


Locks and Dams Locked Up, Global Warming Solutions Pondered

The study, was authored by AGRI-Industries, a coalition of 100 farm cooperatives and a former Iowa State University economics professor. It shows government dollars spent on the Missouri lock and dam system may not be worth it. According to the report, for every dollar spent on maintenance and operation shippers only save 40.6 cents. The data further indicate farmers and elevators are using other modes of transportation for grain. In 1964, 2 million tons of corn, soybeans and wheat went down the Missouri. In 2000, only about one-sixth of that amount made it to the mouth of the river.

The study is not without its detractors. The Coalition to Protect the Missouri River believes that traffic will return once steady flows return. The coalition also is concerned that rail rates may go up if there is no competition for grain transportation.

For its part, Army Corps officials point to their mandate of balancing navigation, recreation and all other authorized uses when it comes to the care of Mighty Mo'.

While the rise and fall of the Missouri affects life along the river, in Washington, the Center for Health and the Global Environment, warned of a more far reaching phenomenon: global warming. The group is concerned that warming of the atmosphere poses serious risks for U.S. agriculture.

Eric Chivian, M.D. Center for Health and the Global Environment: "...US farmers in general face a future of warming temperatures and weather extremes, a future that is more unstable and more unpredictable, a future that as you will hear today, also involves their having to deal with new and more widespread crop pests and diseases."

The panel based their conclusion on the wild temperature shifts around the world as an indicator of things to come. If left unchecked, the scientists in the coalition predict there will be even more frequent and intense weather events. Over time, global warming could influence everything from where people live to where crops are grown.


Tags: agriculture climate change floods global warming Missouri news rivers