Prolonged Drought and it Effects on the Environment

Lack of rain over a few days can dry up flower beds or brown lawns. As a dry spell increases, water levels drop and temporary restricts may be needed to avoid water shortages. Sometimes the dry spell may last beyond the flower bed dying off or the lawn disappearing, sometimes human life is endangered. Prolonged droughts can persist for years. Parts of Africa have been in a state of drought for so long that people only know of drought conditions. Droughts have been a plague on mankind for all of recorded history and then some.

“Drought is a natural phenomenon.” Thus begins the statement of Nadia M. Osman, Minister Of The Republic of the Sudan To the UN, on behalf of 78 nations. He delivered the resolution to the UN on February 25, 2009. The resolution pleaded for UN support of drought mitigation policies in countries affected by drought. He points out that droughts are devastating- socially, economically, geopolitically and environmentally. Droughts are a part of nature’s cycle. It would appear that droughts occur worldwide and occur cyclically. The severity and duration of droughts vary. Some of the effects of drought can be diminished or even averted. However, droughts cannot be averted.

Droughts result from a lack of precipitation. The resulting dryness causes soil to become dust-like. The dry soil can be easily driven by wind. Dust storms are common occurrences in drought areas. The soil can be carried to distant places and can be deposited in rivers, lakes and streams. The contamination that results affects the aquatic life. The creatures that rely on the aquatic life for their existence are affected as well. Ecosystems are disrupted or destroyed. The shift in environmental conditions result in a new set of selective mechanisms.

Over time the reduced supply of water causes lakes and rivers to shrink. Streams and creek dry up completely. The landscape changes drastically both in appearance and hostility to wildlife. Increased erosion reduces soil and rock to be blown away. The surface of the earth changes. The life forms that existed change. Prolonged drought results in desert environment. The once plush grassland is lost.

The earth is in a constant state of change. The fossil record and geologic evidence tell a tale of the rise and fall of environments. Rivers shift course. Islands are born. Glaciers advance and retreat. Lakes become marshes. Grasslands become deserts. This is nature. It marches on. It causes change. The forces of change include volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and drought.