COMMODITIES: A Year of Evil Winds

Unusual snows in South Carolina and Georgia last winter. A particularly late frost in California this March. The worst flood in the Mississippi basin since 1937. Abroad, the worst drought in India in 20 years. A landscape of dehydrated livestock carcasses dotting the dry beds of rivers in Africa. An absence of monsoons that ruined the rice crop in Southeast Asia.

Freakishly foul weather has struck so many parts of the world in the past year that some meteorologists discern a complex, long-term change in climates. Others discount the theory. On one point, however, all agree: the impact has been devastating...

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