Across the country and around the globe, the effects of drought are everywhere. Google the word “drought” and the news stories are endless; some with severe consequences.
In California, over 100 million trees have died due to the drought. In Tennessee the drought is posing a huge threat to the cattle industry. Pastures have dried up and farmers have resorted to feeding the cattle hay which is normally saved for the winter months. Similar stories are reported out of Georgia as well.
Wildfires have ravaged over 54,000 acres of forest, protected areas and farmland in parts of Peru. Peru is experiencing the regions worst drought in at least half a century. Wildfires have burned over 100,000 acres of land across seven southern U.S. states leading to mass evacuations.
As devastating as those issues are; other countries are faring much worse. The severe drought in Madagascar has left 330,000 people on the brink of famine.
As Bolivia faces its worst drought in at least 25 years, the government has been forced to declare a state of emergency. It is estimated that the drought has affected 125,000 families and threatened 716,605 acres of agricultural land and 360,000 head of cattle.
The line from drought to war is not nearly as straightforward, though on the surface it doesn’t seem to involve any leaps of faith. It makes sense that a severe drought would lead to massive crop failure, and that in a country heavily dependent on agriculture the results would be disastrous.
The drought lasted several years and forced hundreds of thousands of poor farmers off their lands and into cities that were already overcrowded by refugees (1 million or so, by most accounts) from the war in neighboring Iraq.
However, the drought alone may not have been what forced the farmers from their land. The cancellation of diesel and fertilizer subsidies also had a crippling effect on the farmers. Political, economic and technological forces at work in the modern world also play a major role in economical collapse.
Global warming is a topic of contention for many people. This winter has skeptics high on their soap boxes spouting phrases such as “I thought this was global warming, why is the temperature outside negative 45°?” And when researchers studying global warming get stuck in Antarctic ice, skeptics are given a little more fuel for their fire.
Global warming refers to surface temperature increases, while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas amounts will affect. The Earth’s temperature has risen about 2°, while this may not seem significant it is enough to contribute in climate changes such as the number or warm and cold days, the level of the sea, widespread decreases in snow and ice, as well as some extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornados, droughts and flooding.
When NASA scientist James E. Hansen testified to Congress about climate he used the term “global warming” and the popularity of the term exploded. Unfortunately these phrases are casually used interchangeably although they are not the same. But would skeptics listen if it wasn’t called Global Warming? What if it was called solely climate change?
Well, it depends. There is a lot of ignorance to global warming because of the name, those people could possibly be persuaded to the facts of global warming if the “climate change” became the buzz, but there are many skeptics with valid points. The informed skeptics are quite knowledgeable and a name change won’t influence them.