In March of 2019, unprecedented storms raged across the U.S. The streets of New York flooded, Oklahoma was battered by a Thunderstorm, and blizzards halted all travel in South Dakota. Meanwhile, Florida was being pummeled by a hailstorm, and floodwaters rolling through Missouri forced large-scale evacuations.
“The same month a government-backed report was issued warning that America is running out of water.” according to Scott J Cooper, “Scientists warn us that within 50 years, America’s freshwater supply will fall to a third of today’s supply. We must ask why?”
Scott J Cooper Explains Where Our Water Is Going
Most of the freshwater that the United States uses comes from freshwater basins that feed our rivers with rain and snow. While it is from these rivers that we draw water for our uses, it is the freshwater basins that are the real source of our precious, life-giving water supply.
Worryingly, it is these very basins that are running dry. America is home to over 200 freshwater basins and scientists estimate that by 2071, 96 of these basins will be unable to meet our needs. This is primarily the effect of rising global temperatures due to climate change. The enormous amounts of Carbon Dioxide that human beings pump into the atmosphere through coal and gas burning is warming the planet.
This causes our freshwater basins to evaporate much faster, causing water to be displaced as clouds, rather than flowing through the rivers we rely on. In response, the average global temperatures will begin to soar even more. Scientists estimate that by the year 2050, the United States will be about 5.7°F warmer.
This is likely to effect the average American in a variety of ways. Some of these are unpredictable. For starters, less water in rivers means more water falling as rain in the rainy areas. As wet areas become wetter, dry areas become drier. Hence, water shortages are likely to affect most, if not all, of the U.S.
As many of you may have learned in high school, the United States is a geographical landscape of varied weather extremes. Louisiana gets over 60 inches of rainfall a year while Nevada gets less than 10 inches. However, Climate Change will cause drastic shifts in the United States’ climate as we know it today. Rising temperatures will cause the snowmelt patterns to begin and end earlier in the year, which means that water shortages are most likely to peak in the summer months.
“You might be wondering: if dry areas get drier and wet ones to get wetter, won’t that balance out in the end?” asks Scott J Cooper. “The answer is no.” Our steady supply of water, like other resources, depends on an environmental balance. While dry regions experience severe heat waves and droughts, the more humid regions will experience storms and other extreme weather events. Such types of severe rainfall are very hard to capture and make use of. This explains our dependence on our freshwater basins. Without them, water patterns become too unpredictable and unstable for us to make use of.
More Americans Means More Water
On average each American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water every day putting the nation’s total at 345 billion gallons of daily water usage. What is frightening is that by the year 2100 the U.S population is set to increase by 200 million people. As simple math would dictate that many more people just means that much more demand for water.
As water supply drops due to the effects of Climate Change, and the U.S population increases, our nation is more than likely to go through a great amount of water stress. This will bump up the price of water, making it a resource more valuable than some precious metals. Wealthy entities will likely start hoarding water while poorer communities will face severe water shortages.
All this is likely to snowball into an environmental and economic disaster. This is why it is absolutely imperative that we start acting immediately while we can still salvage the situation the best we can. Climate Change is predicted to have devastating effects all over the globe in terms of resource supplies and environmental catastrophes. Rising global temperatures destabilize water patterns, increasing the temperatures further. The economic downfall is similar, with climate change causing international economic decline which will make us less able to tackle its negative effects, hence causing the climate to destabilize further out of our control. If we let the situation snowball past a certain point, we may not be able to bounce back at all.
Scott J Cooper Offers Alternative Water Solutions
The natural response to this is that we need to start making use of other sources of freshwater. However, the sad reality is that we have already been tapping into our finite supply of aquifers, porous rocks and sediment that store water underground. 165 million Americans are already making use of groundwater for their daily purposes, while many farmers use it for irrigation.
This amounts to one thing: groundwater is being pumped out of the ground much faster than it can replenish itself. The Central Valley Aquifer in California, one of the nation’s most agriculturally productive regions, has lost ten cubic miles of water in just 4 years. A more-than-drastic decline indeed.
It seems that our most stable source of water, which has been the preferred source of water for humans beings for millennia, is freshwater basins. Unfortunately, these are the very sources we have harmed over the last 100 years due our unsustainable use of non-renewable resources like coal, oil and gasoline.
What Can We Do About It?
It’s possible that the simplest solution to our water problem is to use less water. Water meters and careful pricing can discourage waste while fixing old infrastructure will keep more water in the system – a main water line in the U.S breaks approximately every two minutes.
In the agricultural sector, a simple two percent reduction in irrigation water could avert shortages in one-third of the affected basins. Meanwhile, every American may be able to help out by taking shorter showers and by not rinsing dishes under a running faucet before loading them in the dishwasher.
The ever-looming effects of Climate Change are not medium-term problems anymore. They are now upon us. With these effects only due to get worse (at least before we make them better) we are going to need every American to save water starting today. It’s only in acting together and spreading awareness that we can begin to tackle this problem of global proportions.