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Drought doubts

Human element true force behind climate change

By Rodney Woodson, associate editor
On March 6, 2014

  • sam attal / The Advocate Pump it — Blood Centers of the Pacific phlebotomist Erin Dunn draws blood from student Krystian Grove’s arm at the ASU Blood Drive in the Recreation Room Thursday. Grove donated 500 milliliters of blood. Sam Attal / The Advocate

The National Drought Mitigation Center released a report stating that at least 97 percent of California has been experiencing some sort of drought since March 26 of last year.
Currently 90 percent of the state is in, at least, a "severe drought" status - 22 percent of the state is facing "severe" drought conditions while 14 percent is suffering from "exceptional" drought status and a whopping 54 percent face "extreme" drought conditions.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rank drought conditions as follows; abnormally dry, moderate drought, severe drought, extreme drought and exceptional drought.
California has suffered through nine multi-year droughts since the 1900s, none longer than the eight-year "Dust-Bowl Drought" from 1928 to 1935. Other significant droughts, 1976-1977 and 1987-1992, also occurred, which forced California's government to restructure water conservation and irrigation techniques, procedures and equipment.
In light of the current California water shortage Gov. Jerry Brown recently appropriated funds to help reduce the crunch of the current drought. On Saturday, Brown signed into law a $687 million drought relief package, $549 million coming from recently approved bills SB-103 and SB-104, which reforms the recent budget to appropriate funds to assist in the state's water needs, according to the governor's office.
Types of droughts include meteorological (a measure of departure of precipitation from normal), agricultural (the amount of moisture in the soil does not meet the needs of a particular crop), hydrological (when water supplies are low) and socioeconomic (when water shortages start to affect people).
With California seeing its third driest January in the last 100 years, in terms of rainfall, the cause of the shortage seems to be meteorological. What causes meteorological droughts? Climate change.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ranks last year as the driest in the state's history, referring to precipitation. In 2012 precipitation was near normal, however, just as in 2013 the state's temperature was above the normal average.
During the same year, the U.S. experienced the warmest year to date with a 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit daily average - 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th century average. For five years running, the nation's degree average has been more than the 20th century average.
The year 2012 marked the 15th driest year in the nation's history with rainfall 2.5 inches below the century average, while 2013 was one of the wettest in the nation's history. However, for Californians, it was the driest ever. With the average temperature in 2013 being 60 degrees, 8 degrees above the century average, it is not far fetched to think that a warmer climate may be leading to the lack of rainfall in the state.
Every few years the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meets to review the latest findings regarding global warming.
Scientists agree that many causes contribute to global warming - most being greenhouse gases emitted by humans. Others include methane released from landfills and agriculture (mostly from the digestive systems of animals), nitrous oxide from fertilizers, gases used for refrigeration, industrial processes and the loss of forests.
As humans roam the Earth and do the things that we do on a normal basis, it seems that we are ushering in our own demise. It would seem that the answer to all problems leading to global temperature balance would be to either decrease the amount of people roaming the Earth, or to stop doing what we know to do as humans.
What good is the human race if the planet is deteriorating by the hands of its smartest creatures? Could it be that humanity is the biggest race of parasites, eating away at the world's resources at an alarming rate?
The U.S. census information shows that one child is born every eight second while one person dies every 12 - that's three people born for every two who die, leaving a difference of +1 human per 24 seconds in the nation. To better show the significance, the current population of the U.S. is about 317.6 million compared to the 316.1 million people roaming the nation as of July 4, 2013 - that's more than 1.5 million people born in the U.S. over the last eight months and 187,500 people born in the U.S. each month over that span.
As things go wrong in our nation and on our planet, it is only natural for humans to do what is necessary to survive - such as what Gov. Brown is attempting to do to fix the current drought issues. But, there lies the biggest issue of global warming, and its causes and effects - if the solution to helping prevent global warming is known would it be more beneficial for Brown to use that $687 million toward another solution?
Past droughts have ushered in more and more water conservation technology and legislation and still, today, the state is experiencing the exact same conditions as well as taking the same steps that were taken in the past to keep California wet.
Whether or not the current California drought continues remains to be seen.
Knowing that humanity can have a hand in changing the climate, which affects our survival, basically puts the fate of our kind in our hands, so to speak.
If history repeats itself we may expect hotter days in the nation's forecast. 


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