Southern Drought: Will It Ever End?

Since+the+year+2000%2C+the+American+South+has+been+going+through+a+horrific+mega-drought.+This+drought+has+reduced+water+supplies%2C+induced+many+wildfires%2C+and+is+considered+to+be+the+worst+drought+since+800+B.C.E.+

Global Citizen

Since the year 2000, the American South has been going through a horrific mega-drought. This drought has reduced water supplies, induced many wildfires, and is considered to be the worst drought since 800 B.C.E.

Grace Mulroy, Freelancer

Since the year 2000, the American South has been going through a horrific mega-drought. This drought has reduced water supplies, induced many wildfires, and is considered to be the worst drought since 800 B.C.E. 

This is very serious. Groundwater levels and river flow could cease to exist, resulting in dehydration and even death for a large percentage of the southern population. So, why is this happening, when/how will it end, and what can we do about it.

First of all, what is a mega-drought? While there is no uniform definition, the general consensus is a drought that is extremely long and severe. This drought is happening in parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and even Mexico. Scientists believe this drought is the result of severe climate change. “Exceptional conditions in summer 2021 really pushed it over the top,” says A. Park Williams. 

Williams is a climate scientist at the University of California. Williams led a study using tree ring data to track the drought, showing that human-caused global warming played a major role in this extreme drought. Tree rings are a year-to-year measurement of growth. Julia Cole, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan says, “This study just makes it clear how unusual the current conditions are. The air is basically more capable of pulling water out of the soil, out of vegetation, out of crops, out of forests, and it makes drought conditions to be much more extreme.” 

If we don’t combat this crisis as soon as possible, not only will the effects of climate change be irreversible, famine, dehydration, war, blackouts, and wildfires will plague the world, and the American South will be severely affected.”

— Grace Mulroy

Climate change also gives a higher chance this mega-drought will survive for years to come. “This drought at 22 years is still in full swing, and it is very, very likely that this drought will survive to last 23 years.” said Dr. Williams. According to researchers, Mega-droughts in the past have lasted for as long as 30 years. Researchers have concluded that if this drought does last for over 30 years, it will be drier than any other drought in history. 

Samantha Stevenson, a climate modeler at the University of California says “the research shows the same thing that projections show, the Southwest, like some other parts of the world, is becoming increasingly more parched. We’re sort of shifting into basically unprecedented times relative to anything we’ve seen in the last several hundred years.”

With this, what can we do to slow, or better yet, completely stop this drought? Since the fundamental cause of this drought is global warming, the first thing we need to do is something about global warming. 

On June 23, 1988, climate change officially became considered a global issue. Scientists have told companies to stop dumping their waste in the ocean, use sustainable air filters, and switch to renewable energy sources, and yet none of these companies have done anything. As long as we let large corporations such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google monopolize our sea and skies, we can never be free of the chains we call climate change. To combat this, we need to implement stricter laws against littering and climate change.

Deforestation is also a key contributor to global warming. Trees release important moisture into the atmosphere that helps prevent droughts. Sadly, the human race has become rapacious over the years and now destroys upwards 15 billion trees each year. If we keep destroying our forests, this drought will last forever. To combat deforestation, we can plant more trees to improve the quality of the air we breathe. 

With this, we can agree that this drought is the side-effect of a bigger issue: global warming. If we want to stop this drought, we can’t just rest on our laurels, or mother nature—we have to take action. We need to hold large corporations accountable for their horrendous actions and decrease deforestation by an extreme percentage.  

If we don’t combat this crisis as soon as possible, not only will the effects of climate change be irreversible, famine, dehydration, war, blackouts, and wildfires will plague the world, and the American South will be severely affected. If we don’t do something about this quickly, people will die from something we could have prevented.