For those who do not know, northern and central New Jersey are now under a drought warning, the first issued in 15 years. We remember the last time a drought warning was declared – you needed permission to refill your swimming pool and a placard had to be prominently displayed verifying that you indeed had the go-ahead to do so. Lawn-watering was curtailed and car-washing was forbidden, among other steps. So you would think the state would have mobilized around a water plan to address this dire situation. Come on, this is Jersey. The last time the master state plan for water was updated was in 1996! And the population of the state has increased by over 500,000 just since 2000. NJ Spotlight has a good report on the situation; a recent report/presentation by the state climatologist is online.
Archive for Climate Change
That would appear to be the premise of this article from Nature Climate Change. This report from Scientific American explains the situation in more understandable terms. Everyone got their winter clothes ready?
According to the American Meteorological Society’s State of the Climate 2015, we are now 1 degree Celsius warmer than in preindustrial times. That is a big deal. And to add to the discomfort, July 2016 was the hottest on record. Much more information can be found at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
Both national and international bodies have issued important documents pertaining to water scarcity and its implications. The World Bank has published High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy. This report details how the lack of potable water will exacerbate already bad conditions in areas where water scarcity already exists as well as impacting areas that presently do not have to contend with this issue. If left unabated, climate change will affect the supply of water to the world’s cities by 2050, in some cases by two-thirds. These conditions will give rise to mass migrations, “water wars”, and otherarmed conflicts that will in the long run reduce the economies of many of the world’s countries by up to 6%. It offers some hope of amelioration in its Confronting Drought in Africa’s Drylands: Opportunities for Enhancing Resilience .
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued Municipal freshwater scarcity: Using technology to improve distribution system efficiency and tap nontraditional water sources and an E-Supplement containing the survey of 1300 municipal water systems upon which the report is based. As stated in the highlights page: “Of all municipal services, providing a safe and adequate supply of water is perhaps the most essential. Reports about lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan and ongoing drought in several regions of the United States highlight some of the challenges water utilities are facing. In times of shortage, conflicts over limited freshwater resources—including for irrigation, power production, and municipal water use—increase. Further, freshwater shortages are expected to continue into the future.”
The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has produced Climate Change, Water Scarcity, and Adaptation in the U.S. Fieldcrop Sector that states:”Projected changes in climate are likely to alter growing conditions across important agricultural regions in the United States.”(Summary 1) Reductions in crop yields are expected by 2020.
A search of PMC (PubMed Central) shows over 700 articles on water scarcity; over 350 articles are in DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals); and more than 100 articles can be found courtesy of HighWire Press.
Both NOAA and NASA state that 2015 was the hottest year on record. And both are fairly certain that manmade pollution is the major contributor to this situation. No matter what Senator Cruz may posit.
The move to adopt the agreement and the agreement itself are here; the agreement forms the “annex” in this document that is located at the end. Analysis and key points are available from The New York Times.
Examining dozens of basins in the northern hemisphere that depend on snowmelt for water supplies, the authors of this article – The potential for snow to supply human water demand in the present and future – conclude that: “… that should greenhouse gas emissions continue along their recent trajectory… the risks of declines in snow resource potential exceed 67% in snow-sensitive basins, potentially impacting spring and summer water availability for nearly 2 billion people.” Among those areas to be adversely affected would be northern and central California and the Colorado basin area.