Drought Plagues Globe

B. McPherson
Many parts of the globe are facing another season of exceptional drought. Crops have failed in Argentina, parts of the Ukraine and north and central China. Farmers in the Great Plains are facing yet another growing season with severe water shortages.

NOAA is predicting another year of above normal temperatures and lower rainfall again this year. Some of the drought may be relieved in the east, but is expected to continue in the mid-west and spread to California and southern Oregon. The Hawaiian Islands are also experiencing a continuation of drought conditions.

No area of the world seems to be immune from changing precipitation – from Greenland to South Africa. At the same time the world’s reserves of ground water, some laid down thousands of years ago are being depleted faster than they can be recharged.

Global climate is changing and along with warming is a change in precipitation patterns. Argentina is currently coping with torrential rains that have killed 50 people yet other areas have had crop failures due to lack of precipitation.

As the human population continues to increase, increasing demands are made for food and household water. At the same time pollution is fouling many sources. Agriculture uses vast amounts of clean water(hopefully) to bring to market vegetables, grains and meat. Industry competes for water useage, again using massive amounts of fresh water. Fracking has hit the world stage hard and it is greedy for water, approximately one million gallons per well fracked.

NOAA uses four categories to rate severity of droughts from minor to exceptional. Exceptional drought affects nearly 70 million people worldwide which leads to malnutrition, starvation and civil unrest in many areas. 

The growing deserts around the world are not just the result of lack of rain. They are helped along by humans, whether it is poor land management, urban sprawl and industrialization of agriculture for short term profit.

Recently Canada withdrew from a conference on drought and desertification saying that it was a “talkfest” and that little gets done.

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