Hopefully, you have accepted that global warming is real. It is heating our oceans and lands and threatens hundreds of millions of people who live in coastal regions and whose eventual migrations will pose a major threat to everyone living inland.
Hopefully, you’re aware of these facts. What you might not know, however, is the steady increase in dangerous droughts coinciding with intense climate change.
From 1995 until 2009, Australia experienced a once-in-a-thousand years drought, significantly depleting reservoir levels and crop production.
In Northeastern Spain, drought became so constant and dire by 2008 that the region was forced to import water from France.
According to NASA, India has lost so much groundwater and become so reliant on irrigation that if drastic measures to ensure sustainable groundwater usage are not taken soon, there may be a major collapse of the agriculture industry there and other areas sustained by Indian agriculture.
In 2012, 71 percent of the U.S. experienced a major drought, and 81 percent experienced abnormally dry conditions.
In 2012 and 2013, Texas and California experienced their driest respective years ever. Droughts kill livestock and destroy crops; they threaten water supplies and decrease food supplies. Droughts and intense heat have also contributed to wildfires globally devastating millions of acres, and thousands of homes. Drought is estimated to cost the U.S. yearly losses of $9 billion.
Due to rising global temperatures, droughts are expected to increase in frequency and duration. Warmer temperatures increase the prevalence of droughts and amplify their intensity by increasing evaporation from soil, which further suppresses rainfall.
Further, higher temperatures lead to more precipitation as rain, rather than snow. Rainwater evaporates much more quickly than snowmelt. Moreover, changes in the timing and quantity of snowmelts lead to water supply shortages and an inability to meet water demands.
Droughts not only negatively impact the quality of life and economic prosperity of millions of people, but they also affect their safety. Recent research clearly reflects that global warming caused years of drought in Syria, which in turn helped cause the current conflict there. A study published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” identified warmer and drier conditions in Syria as the cause for extreme drought in Syria from 2006-2009.
Ill-informed governmental policies led to major crop failures and the migration of nearly two million from rural to urban areas. This destabilization in Syria contributed to the unrest leading to the catastrophic civil war there.
When you walk outside and it’s unbearably hot, you shouldn’t just ignore it as an irksome, yet isolated moment. The world isn’t one-dimensional; it’s interconnected.
One hot day may well signify the approach of many more hot days. Those hot days don’t just mean an uptick in sweat on your way to class but possibly a permanent change in our weather, our safety and our quality of life.