Seven states are currently running out of water and only one of them is doing something about it
Even the rightest of the right-wing party will have a hard time denying this bleak story unfolding in the United States. The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NOAA, and the National Drought Mitigation Center, is reporting that seven states are running out of water. This is not a drought, per-se, but an ongoing crisis that is reaching a tipping point.
It is hard to wrap one’s mind around the idea of even one state running out of water, but seven? According to reports by the USDM, the United States is experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory. As of last week, more than 30% of the country experienced at least moderate drought.
In the seven states that most concern USDM, the drought is so severe that each state has more than half of its land area in severe drought. An area is considered under a severe drought by the measure of three characteristics: Crop loss, frequent water shortages, and mandatory water use restrictions. Drought has been an ongoing problem for each of the states listed. In North Texas, for example, “the drought has dragged on for three and a half years,” according to meteorologist Brad Rippey.
Texas presents an interesting dichotomy given that its governor is one of the most vocal deniers of climate change. Republican Governor Rick Perry has called the data on global warming “doctored.” He has claimed that the “so-called science” has been “hijacked by the political left,” and “it’s all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.”
At the same time, last year Perry renewed a state of emergency declaration from 2011 for 200 counties. So for over 3 years Perry’s state has been under a state of emergency due to “extreme record temperatures preceded by significantly low rainfall.” However, according to Perry, “climate scientists are in a secular carbon cult.”
The Seven States Running Out of Water
- Pct. Severe drought: 56.1%
- Pct. Extreme Drought: 39.9% (4th highest)
- Pct. Exceptional Drought: 20.7% (3rd highest)
- Pct. Severe drought: 64.5%
- Pct. Extreme Drought: 50.1% (2nd highest)
- Pct. Exceptional Drought: 30.4% (the highest highest)
- Pct. Severe drought: 76.3%
- Pct. Extreme Drought: 7.7% (9th highest)
- Pct. Exceptional Drought: 0.0%
- Pct. Severe drought: 80.8%
- Pct. Extreme Drought: 48.1% (3rd highest)
- Pct. Exceptional Drought: 2.8% (6th highest)
3. NEW MEXICO
- Pct. Severe drought: 86.2%
- Pct. Extreme Drought: 33.3% (6th highest)
- Pct. Exceptional Drought: 4.5% (5th highest)
- Pct. Severe drought: 87.0%
- Pct. Extreme Drought: 38.7% (5th highest)
- Pct. Exceptional Drought: 8.2% (4th highest)
- Pct. Severe drought: 100%
- Pct. Extreme Drought: 76.7% (the highest)
- Pct. Exceptional Drought: 24.8% (2nd highest)
(Provided by USA Today)
California has the nation’s worst drought problem and Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency earlier this year. There is a notable difference, however, in how California (led by a democratic governor) is responding to the drought. While Texas is treating the drought like a short-term problem, California is funding long-term solutions.
One such solution is desalination plants where salt water is desalinated to produce fresh water suitable for human consumption or irrigation. “A facility that is expected to be the largest in the Western hemisphere is currently under construction in Southern California and another is under consideration in Orange County.”
Hopefully we will start to see some cooperation from the “this is God’s plan” group and become more proactive. But 6 of the 7 states affected are directly in the hands of climate change deniers. Either way, the effect from sustained drought is here to stay and a long-term solution needs to be put in place now.