According to a NASA study, which also involved scientists from Cornell and Columbia Universities, a projected megadrought is expected to occur between 2055 and 2099. The southwest and the central plains will be most affected and the drought has been projected to last anywhere between 20-40 years. The severity of this megadrought is dependent upon greenhouse gas emission rates, i.e., if they continue to increase as they are today, this megadrought has an 80% probability of occurring. Depending on what government and general public action is taken to help curb and abate the current greenhouse gas emission rates, the probability of the drought happening can be lowered to about 60%, far better odds than 80%.
This megadrought and the current drought the southwest is experiencing already have huge economic and social repercussions. Agriculture suffers a huge amount, crops are destroyed or can’t even be grown due to water shortages, unemployment increases, inflation will occur due to lack of water and food, and dairy and meat industries will ultimately fail. Government intervention is slow but growing; for example, state lawmakers, in California, have issued a $7.5 million bond to be put to vote with Californians in the fall which will expand reservoirs and aid in water recycling and conservation.
I think it is a very positive thing to see the government trying to put more and more money toward helping the environment especially when our most precious resource is being so severely threatened. If I were a California citizen suffering the consequences of water shortages I would absolutely support the expansion of reservoirs in order to help the environment, the state, the economy, and the citizens that depend so much on water for jobs and of course, means of living. Even being a Maryland resident, I still support projects like the one proposed by California because water is our most precious resource and if we aren’t careful, it will be gone and it will be too late to do anything about it. I think the government needs to step up and educate the public about some of the easiest ways to reduce GHG emissions by doing things like carpooling more and decreasing individual driving and decreasing meat consumption. These two solutions would help abate GHG emission rates drastically, especially if done on a national and/or global level. The time to make a change is now, before it’s too late.