Water Scarcity Related Climate Concerns

Chapter 3 is titled "Runnin' Dry" and it has to do with the scarcity of water, in many forms from drought to aquifer depletion, that is affecting farming and what regions are becoming uninhabitable for people in the near future. The lack of rainfall and warmer winters contributes to a reduced snowpack which is a source of water for many Slade writes about the history of aquifers, and some of their differences compared to other irrigation methods. For example, aquifers withdraw water passively from the water table whereas irrigation uses a lot more water. In the previous chapter, Slade mentions that the farmers of small farm plots in Mexico, before the Green Revolution, had also used mountainside “chain-well” canals, that are used to access groundwater through the side of a mountain, a technique that was first introduced to Europe by the Moors in Spain, but was originally developed by Persians. “Many of the farmers of the High Plains (of the United States) had European roots, and because water is plentiful in continental Europe, farmers there had less need for practical knowledge of aquifers….The Moors later established working chain-well systems in Morocco at Erfoud, and then in Muslim Spain at Cordoba, Crevillente, and, famously, in Madrid before the Islamic expulsion. From Christian Spain, after the Conquest, knowledge of these wells, spread from Catholic missionaries into Northern Mexico. Meanwhile, in Anglophone, Protestant America, the technology of chain-wells remained unknown.” American Exodus, p.68 “So while the world’s population expands, topsoil abuse and climate change are shrinking the Earth’s habitable lands including in the United States. Already 1 billion people do not have access to sufficient potable water. The UN now predicts that by 2025, population increases, aquifer depletion and drought will leave 2/3rds of the world in similarly desperate straits.” American Exodus p.63 Another weather phenomenon that is related to drought, because drought sets the stage for a drier environment with no moisture that can more easily catch fire, are forest fires. Slade also mentions that a reduction in the yearly snowpak causes an earlier spring, which also sets the stage for a worse fire season. While all weather phenomena grow more extreme during the time of climate change, the average length of forest fires and cost of resources used in putting them out increases, and the new term for large, longer lasting forest fires that drain on public and natural resources is megafires. San Diego, California’s 2nd largest city, comes up in chapter 3 in regards to desalination projects and wastewater purification and fires.  While he traces wastewater purification projects in southern California back to 2007, it is also true that such projects have been attempted in southern California since at least the mid 90’s with little success.  Desalination may benefit coastal states in the west like California, however it will be of no help to landlocked states with no access to ocean water that are also experiencing droughts. By Andrea Boggs | Posted: 4 February 2015 Reference list Giles Slade (2013) American Exodus. New Society Publishers; Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada.