How is Climate Change Contributing to the Water Crisis

Climate change and the water crisis are both contained within one system. Our world’s atmosphere, large as it seems, is fragile as an eggshell in the face of multiplying threats. Many of the worst threats come from us, ironically, yet U.S. Senator James Inhofe declares that global climate change warnings are one of the worst hoaxes ever foisted on the people of the world.

Storms are a large part of the eco-system of our world, and the way in which that system is being shepherded by humankind seems to be accelerating the damage. Storms hit in “odd” places, meaning that we really didn’t expect them, and rains don’t fall for months or years in places where they ought to be common traits of a reasonably ordered system.

That’s the problem, of course: order. What we take for order is that the system is understandable or, perhaps, that we have found a way to control it. Have you wondered how we might be faring in that area?

For the past two years, southern Texas has experienced so little rainfall that farm crops and cotton yields are disastrously down. Many farmers report that the ground has dried so much that it actually displays cracks; hardly anything can be grown effectively. We are afraid of what will happen if rains hold back for much longer.

“Global warming has also affected rainfall, so that there is less usable water available at the same time as urban demand for water is increasing.” (Spratt, 150)

Many Americans like to vacation in Florida, and many more want to live there when they retire. A problem is creeping up on them that may threaten their plans for a water-secure future. Florida’s water table, like many elsewhere in the U.S., is falling because so much fresh water is required for the huge urban communities built in Florida. This means that the water supply is running out at a time when many communities are beginning to be uneasy about where more water is to be found.

Global warming is causing the rise of sea levels around the world, and as salt water encroaches on former wetlands, it replaces much of the fresh water they once contained. This has deleterious effects on wildlife and plants that have made those wetlands home.

“Long before the rising tides flood coastal cities, salt water will invade the porous rocks that hold fresh water.” (Spratt, 43) These strata of porous rock are called aquifers, and they serve as our water storage tanks below ground. Many people seem to consider them limitless sources of pure, fresh water, but they will shortly belie such feelings.

As the rising cost of fuels from the Middle East has cut into our budgets, we have embraced technologies that promise to replace foreign oil with synthetics and bio-sourced oils. While we ought to be working to find other sources of energy for new times, it may be that we ought to think more carefully about the most important and precious liquid on earth before it disappears in such processes: water. “And large parts of the world already suffer water shortages. Moreover, many proposed solutions to our energy needs, including biofuels and hydrogen production, require huge quantities of water.” (Romm, 55)

Global climate change is a contributor to the water crisis. We, likewise, are contributing to shortages of water across the globe. Not everyone, of course, agrees with this assessment, some because they don’t understand the science and others because they refuse to accept the science.

“The great political tragedy of our time is that conservative leaders in America have chosen to use their superior messaging and political skills to thwart serious action on global warming, thereby increasing the chances that catastrophic climate change will become a reality.” (Romm, 99-100)

Works cited:

Romm, Joseph, 2007. Hell and High Water: Global Warming – the Solution and the Politics – and What We Should Do. New York: William Morrow.

Spratt, David, and Philip Sutton, 2008. Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency Action. Melbourne: Scribe.