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Aug. 27, 2010

Dry counties

by Neil Wagner

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Climate change could cause 70% of U.S. counties to face water shortages or similar issues by 2050.
 
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When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007, some friends of mine wondered what the discussion and study of climate change had to do with peace. Alfred Nobel wrote that the award should be given to “…the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
 
I figured that working towards international solutions for anthropogenic global warming now could help avert some big time unrest in the future. If the study I cite in today’s strip is anywhere near accurate, imagine the political battles over water supplies at all levels of government in the United States. And further, imagine the impact on third world countries who already suffering water shortages while residing anywhere near a nation blessed with a supply of water.
 
From Grist: “As global warming accelerates, the world will become not only hotter, flatter, and more crowded but also thirsty, according to a new study that finds 70 percent of counties in the United States may face climate change-related risks to their water supplies by 2050…One-third of U.S. counties may find themselves at “high or extreme risk,” according to the report prepared for the Natural Resources Defense Council by Tetra Tech, a California environmental consulting firm.”
 
Seattle Examiner: “It has been predicted that droughts from global warming will make water more precious than oil and regional wars will most likely be fought over water rights.”
 
Promotional info about The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin: The Great Lakes are the largest collection of fresh surface water on earth, and more than 40 million Americans and Canadians live in their basin. Will we divert water from the Great Lakes, causing them to end up like Central Asia’s Aral Sea, which has lost 90 percent of its surface area and 75 percent of its volume since 1960? Or will we come to see that unregulated water withdrawals are ultimately catastrophic?”. Ira also discussed the book on Science Friday.
 
The Observer in December 2009: “…the drought that devastated the Australian wheat harvest last year had consequences that shook the world…Wheat prices across the globe soared by 130%…scientists are warning that far worse lies ahead. A ‘perfect storm’ of food shortages and water scarcity now threatens to unleash public unrest and conflict in the next 20 years…”
 
Retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Lee Gunn: “The American people expect the military to plan for the worst. It’s that sort of mindset, I think, that has convinced, in my view, the vast majority of military leaders that climate change is a real threat and that the military plays an important role in confronting it.”
Retired Air Marshal A.K. Singh: “It will initially be people fighting for food and shelter. When the migration starts, every state would want to stop the migrations from happening. Eventually, it would have to become a military conflict. Which other means do you have to resolve your border issues?”

{"input":{"width":490,"photo":"greenmin","row":"3723","table":"DOCUMENT"}}

 

About Neil Wagner

Neil Wagner's What on Earth? comic strip uses humor to discuss global warming.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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