Anyone who has paid even scant attention to the news over the last few weeks has been exposed to some pretty disturbing revelations. But the one that has left me worried about the future had nothing to do with groping, “locker room talk,” or emails. It dealt with what the southwestern U.S. – and all of its fish, wildlife and humans – likely will face over the next 50 years.
“We find that regional temperature increases alone push megadrought risk above 70, 90 or 99% by the end of the century, even if precipitation increases moderately, does not change, or decreases, respectively.”
So concluded a team of respected researchers in their report published in the journal "Science Advances."
In case the presidential campaign has your hyperbole radar on high alert, the researchers provide this explanation:
“Megadroughts are comparable in severity to the worst droughts of the 20th century but are much longer in duration.”
That news left me rattled for two reasons.
First, anyone who loves the great Western outdoors should know a future filled with megadroughts likely would spell the end to public hunting, fishing, and water-based recreation as we’ve always known it in those states.
The reason the West is baking and rapidly changing is because of global warming caused by the greenhouse gases produced by human activities. Yet the topic has come up just once – and then only briefly – in the two presidential debates, and seldom in the years-long nominating races.
And we're talking about an issue which has the world's climatologists warn could flood many of our coastal cities by the end of the century, one that the nation's top security and military officials ruled as one of the most serious threats to our security in the decades ahead.