The Po River is the largest freshwater reservoir in Italy and much of it is used by farmers. — © Piero CRUCIATTI AFP
As usual, everyone forgot about the great droughts during the winter. Europe continues to struggle with risks of a repeat of last year’s monstrous drought and massive heat waves. Southern Europe is particularly affected.
asia just had a big, nasty heat wave. This was unprecedented for the spring, and the droughts in China and India already looked extremely dangerous. A late or possibly interrupted monsoon doesn’t help much either.
China, ironically, also took a hit typical of great droughts: a massive downpour of rain just in time to damage rice crops. Droughts, for whatever reason, are often interspersed with occasional floods.
The only good news on the drought front was in the United States. The United States received some useful water. Record amounts of water entered the system. The western and southwestern states are still vulnerable, if not at as immediate risk. Here too there is a problem. Half the states are supposedly “out of the drought.” That’s fine, but big droughts can lead to encores. The Colorado River is still in very bad shape, directly threatening future water supplies if it doesn’t improve.
Africa, unsurprisingly, is also having problems. Even generally drought-free areas are now experiencing dry weather patterns. Famine is the usual result of any African drought. Africa also received the typical freak deluge characteristic of persistent drought.
Drought news is now routine around the world. I could spend all day listing the news, most of which tell the same stories.
Let’s go to the fundamental patterns:
- Great heat waves and great droughts work in unison.
- Evaporation caused by the additional heat quickly decimates the deposits.
- Changing weather patterns sabotage rainfall.
- Jet streams running amok create atypical patterns, which also affect the movement of water in weather systems.
- Expensive storms are now common around the world, caused by altered weather patterns.
Those six sentences define an ongoing catastrophic situation. They have also led to continued significant increases in food and industrial production prices for essential items. To some extent, they additionally contribute to increasing energy costs. China’s energy costs alone are likely to add to those price increases around the world.
The summer of 2023 is likely to be the defining factor in future economic realities. Europe was in big trouble by summer 2022 through and through. The rise in temperatures and the disruption of the water cycle was unprecedented, yes. However, the magnitude of the problems caused by the drought was much worse. The 2022 drought basically broke the norms of the modern economy. The great rivers of Europe, from France to the Danube in the Ukraine, took a beating. Irrigation and river transport, like the Rhine, were compromised.
The availability of water is the key issue. “Without water, there is no life” applies as much to the economy as to survival. Virtually all economic processes and products depend on water as much as people.
That is why the summer of 2023 will be so important. Most of the 8 billion people on this Earth will be vulnerable to drought. Many will be fleeing these droughts for the same reason you get out of a burning house.
This could get nasty, fast. A large movement of people could strain resources in other areas. …But what choice do people have? Do they die of thirst or starvation, or more likely both? Do they have any chance of long-term support if the rest of the world is struggling too?
Does anyone expect a rational response to human needs? If so, why? What evidence do you have that some kind of competition will take place? Is there any reason to believe that corrupt, ignorant, insane idiots can deal with these problems?
A different kind of climate change is required. Political climate change. From hot stupid people doing hot stupid things to cool heads. Otherwise, it’s “See our great suppression options for your region.”
The opinions expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author. They are not intended to reflect the opinions or views of Digital Journal or its members.