Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thirsty Thursday: Heating Up

So remember how we had a drought this summer? Remember how this water-scarce period was one of the worst we've experienced, comparable to the Dust Bowl of the 1930's? And now that we've closed the year out, it's official that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States. If you think we had it bad, just look at Australia! A recent Grist article points out that two new colors had to be added, beyond that deep burgundy, to the heat forecast maps in Australia...not too shortly after the end of the ten-year 'Big Dry' was announced.

Hotter conditions, particularly in areas not near large bodies of water (ie coastal areas), usually correlate with more frequent and severe droughts. This is no good for agricultural regions that rely on irrigation from rivers and groundwater to ensure crops survive sweltering summers. But we are also a wasteful species, and see a resource as one to be exploited. In fact, a study this summer showed that the world's groundwater aquifers that supply nearly 40% of the global irrigation are being severely over-drafted.

What can we (as a society) do? Well, for one, discontinue growing such quantities of water-intensive crops that don't provide food, like cotton. Second, take lessons from the Israel and other desert nations, which have learned to be extremely efficient about water use. Finally, stop screwing around with the climate and start being serious about reducing emissions! 

Drink up while you can :)

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