I know we cannot control the forces of nature.
Photo by / Rob Martin
Attention world, drought is happening and the lives of millions are being threatened every year. The only area left unaffected by drought is Antarctica. Should you desire an in depth read on the types of drought being monitored by the experts check out articles on NIDIS.
Temperatures are rising and experts agree that climate change is the reason why. Droughts develop slowly. Once a drought becomes full blown its’ impact is felt in agriculture, recreation, water supply, energy production, and tourism. For example, the drought of 1988 caused a loss of $40 billion; an amount that exceeded the losses caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 plus the Mississippi River floods of 1993 plus the San Francisco earthquake of 1989. In Africa, drought has led to famine. In southern regions of Somalia dead goats, camels, sheep, cows and donkeys are strewn across city streets. Last year, 53% of the food received by Somali came from the Ukraine. This year there will be none. Chile has been experiencing drought for 12 years. As of the first of June 2022 water will be rationed in main city of Santiago. In 2020, 1.5 million Chileans (farmers and citizens) were on a 50L/d water ration from tanker trucks.
According to data released from the World Resources Institute, Moldova and Ukraine have the highest risk of drought in 2022. Close behind those two European countries are Somalia, Zimbabwe, Djibouti, Mauritania, South Africa, Namibia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Mozambique, Senegal, Syria, Sudan, Jordan, Albania, Australia, India, Mongolia, Thailand, Hungary, Yemen…then China, South Pacific, United States, South America, Soviet Union and United Kingdom. Globally, 2.3 billion people are living with threatened water sources and 160 million children are living in areas with severe prolonged droughts.
Nearly half of the United States is afflicted with extremely dry conditions especially the areas in the Northwest of the country. Recently, a heat wave, killed hundreds of people. Such dry weather has not been experienced in the Northwest for over a century. Scientists maintain that rising global temperatures and shifting rain patterns are responsible for the continuing droughts. They also report that the situation will get worse. Water conservation is crucial. In the last twenty years, the UN estimates that 1.5 billion people have been affected by drought along with the cost to the economy hovering around $124 billion.
How is the situation being managed?
For starters, Mexico is releasing silver iodide into clouds to stimulate rain. In Maui County fines will be handed out to anyone who irrigates, waters their lawn, washes their vehicle or uses water for activities considered nonessential. The state department of water resources for Arizona continues to reduce the use of groundwater so that the water returns to the aquifers at the same rate it is withdrawn. Drought is diminishing the Colorado River. In April of this year, the state of Arizona began to restrict water usage by urban golf courses. Advocates for conservation point out that agriculture accounts for 80% of the nation’s water consumption and even if cities reduce their usage, unless less water is used to irrigate farms, conservation measures in cities will not solve the shortage problem.
Israel has invested $500 million in a desalination plant. Even though the plant supplies 20% of the country’s water it is not enough. The Israeli government has had to warn the people that the water crisis is severe and as early as next year they will fail to supply water for their basic needs. Cape Town, South Africa reduced its’ water usage when drought afflicted the area in 2018. Since then, they introduced water meters, tariffs and targeted campaigns. Result? The city uses 38% less water than before the drought and its’ population is more aware of how finite a resource water has become and how vulnerable we all are in case of a water shortage.
Prediction for future? Experts agree that the one sure thing we can look forward to is more extremes and more unpredictability. We are at a crossroads. The UN declares drought the next pandemic. It is a hidden global crisis screaming for the light of day.