Wars over water?

Reservoir in Mexico courtesy John Locher AP file
Reservoir in Mexico courtesy John Locher AP file

In a recent visit to California, Vice President Kamala Harris discussed the severity of the drought there noting “For years there were wars fought over oil; in a short time there will be wars fought over water.” The full article is here.

The fact is, over half of our country is in drought right now, including 87% of Texas. For the United States, that is affecting over 90 million people. Here’s the latest U.S. Drought Monitors for our country and our state:

More than half the country is in drought
87% of Texas is Abnormally Dry or in Drought

This is a North American issue with drought occurring in Alaska, Canada and in Mexico. That entire country is now 85% in drought. Reservoirs are simply drying up. And given that Mexico is on the same latitude as the Sahara Desert, it already has a geographic challenge in getting rain. Here’s the North American Drought Monitor:

Note that Mexico is 85% in Drought

What is causing this drought?

Warm air evaporates ground moisture and our global temperatures are almost 3° warmer than in the past. Pretty simple. The warmer our climate continues to be, the worse this drought is going to get. In fact, this may be the worst drought in 500 years, possibly 1,200! I found an Associated Press investigation very interesting as it claims 47% of this drought boils down to human influence. That results in what would be a moderate drought being a severe one.

So what can we do? Everyone gets the ‘green is clean’ advice, but water conservation is going to be more than just a suggestion as this continues. There are also ongoing experiments with creating rain via cloud seeding and here is a great article on new processes using silver iodide, but at the end of the day this seeding would only increase the precipitation output by 1% even if it works.

And no, a bunch of tropical storms moving into the U.S. or Mexico are not a long-term solution for drought. We just need it to start raining again. And that’s a lot to hope for.

Frank

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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.