Although I live in Los Angeles, warnings of droughts seem to be a mere blip on most people's radar screens. This morning, I passed people (illegally) hosing sidewalks, sprinklers watering lawns and roses bushes, car washes turning on their lights to prepare for another busy day and I was greeted at yoga class by a handful of people drinking "Smart Water" in colorful plastic bottles (I thought they were smart enough to know that their beverage of choice isn't really smart or ecologically friendly). So, while reading alarmist headlines about an impending drought in California and a current one in Australia, I wondered how many people know this or care.
Australia known for its endangered kangaroos and oceanic gem, the Great Barrier Reef, is now schvitzing in the dead of their summer with their worst heatwave on record. Why should we care about a distant continent that stretches towards the bottom of the Earth and is filled with lots of friendly people who love a good beer and Aussie Rules Football? Well, Australia's current heat-wave is not just something that people stuck in snowy Detroit or Boston right now should be envious of. It's indicative of a more serious environmental crisis that has given the country the dubious distinction of being the "canary in the coal mine for climate-drive desertification."
Over 20 people have died, harvests have been reduced, rivers are drying up and Melbourne's power outage left thousands stranded last week. And, while some might want to wave this off as "Australia's problem," it's actually happening at home now.
Global warming doesn't know boundaries and California is next in line. Extreme temperatures and desertification are caused by global warming. And, for arid states, such as California, with limited water supplies, the parallels between Australia and here are striking and worrisome. According to Doug Obegi of the Natural Resources Defense Council, California is at a cross-roads because the state will not be able to continue to operate in its current mode with outdated water policies that are not sustainable, particulary as we move into a drought.
Here's a highlight of some facts about desertification and climate change:
-Science magazine predicted a "permanent drought" throughout the Southwest by 2050.
-Extreme drought around the world will increase from 3% to 30% by 2100.
-California might be at the start of the worst drought in modern-times.
Although this is alarming and frightening, there are solutions. We can continue with our unsustainable water and climate change policies. Or, we can make this issue our number one priority and drastically change our policies to greatly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (which cause global warming) and water use. Take action today to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and get involved with advocacy efforts.
This original post of Sarah's Social Action Snapshot appeared on Takepart.com