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Russia grain export ban benefits US farmers, sparks talk on climate change

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Along with drought, Moscow hit a new high of 102 degrees F. on July 30, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Temperatures continued to hover 27 degrees F. above average during the first half of August. The heat wave helped spark more than 600 wildfires in July over 494,200 acres of land. The fires crept within 50 miles of Moscow, pushing carbon monoxide levels to 6.5 times the allowable level.

What is the fallout in Russia?

By mid-August, wildfires were contained to 56,000 acres. But the damage was done – physically and politically.

The fires destroyed more than 2,000 homes and killed more than 50 people; the indirect toll of the heat and smog is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of thousands more. Analysts at HSBC Holdings said the drought could reduce 2010 economic growth by a full percentage point – or $15 billion.

Amid the crisis, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stepped out front, personally flying a firefighting plane over the blaze. President Dmitry Medvedev said that "what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change," a shift for a government that has resisted action on climate change out of fear it could slow economic growth.

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