Most American’s live with the expectation that fresh water will continue to flow freely from their faucets. The reality is that environmental degradation, an aging water infrastructure, water scarcity, job instability, and the ability to provide food for a growing population are now pressing issues.
Developing countries are more likely to see a drop in agricultural productivity and increased food prices due to climate change, particularly in tropical regions, according to a set of new studies out this week.
Understanding the climate history of Mono Lake will help scientists understand the future impact of climate change. This is no esoteric question for Los Angeles, which depends in part on Mono Lake’s watershed for drinking water, green lawns, agriculture and industry.
Americans are paying more for water than they did a decade ago, even as water utilities fall into debt and water infrastructure deteriorates, according to a Columbia Water Center report.
“One of the ways that climate change is going to manifest is through warmer temperatures. … What we are seeing, in line with our projections, is that even if you assume constant precipitation, the temperature effects are so large that it is going to dry things out. This is going to have really big impacts on soil moisture, reservoirs and stream flow for irrigation and drinking water. The availability of water is going to decline into the future, and the challenge is adjusting for that, and what that means for agriculture and development.”
A new report by the Columbia Water Center, produced with Veolia Water and Growing Blue, could help expose the real nature of water risk–even in places that most people think of as having plenty of water.
“This is a mess, and it is a mess that we have not attended to yet,” Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs said at a conference on water security held today at Columbia University. “Humanity is the driver, but we don’t have our hands on the steering wheel very much.”
So far, tensiometers have been tested in four central districts of Punjab, initially with more than 500 farmers the first year, and then peaking with an additional 4,500 farmers in 2011 before testing was scaled back. Data showed, on average, a 30 percent reduction in the water used in the test plots when compared with the standard practices employed in the control plots.
Extreme weather and climate-related events already have cost the United States billions of dollars. A recent symposium focused on what we know about the causes and how changing climate affects agriculture, water supplies, wildlife and our economy.