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Drought has been affecting people for as long as civilization has existed. The difference now is that with constantly increasing temperatures, droughts are lasting longer, covering greater areas and spreading to places that never experienced them before.

According to Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, “People have been living with drought for 5,000 years, but what we are seeing now is very different; human activities are exacerbating drought and increasing the impact.”

Drought affects more than just the water you drink. When rivers are drained, transportation is limited; crops don’t get water, dams can’t generate electricity and water-based tourism declines or ends.

From 1984 to 2016, Google revealed that 90,000 square kilometers of water have vanished from the earth. As more pressure is put on water resources, overuse and heat drains them away.

The drought in California that lasted from December 2011 to March 2019 killed almost 150 million trees just in that state. Higher temperatures exhausted water supplies and caused mass die-offs.

The problem is caused by both global climate change and resource management.

The Worst Drought in 1200 Years: What Does it Mean for Your Food?

Explained | World's Water Crisis | FULL EPISODE | Netflix

In this episode: The global water crisis is at an inflection point. How do we price our most valuable resource, while also ensuring access to it as a human right?

Can Sea Water Desalination Save The World?

Today, one out of three people don’t have access to safe drinking water. And that’s the result of many things, but one of them is that 96.5% of that water is found in our oceans. It’s saturated with salt, and undrinkable. Most of the freshwater is locked away in glaciers or deep underground. Less than one percent of it is available to us. So why can’t we just take all that seawater, filter out the salt, and have a nearly unlimited supply of clean, drinkable water?

How to Turn Sea Water Into Fresh Water Without Pollution

“The Line” is Saudi Arabia’s bold vision for the future of civilization: an ultra-modern city designed to house 1 million people and be entirely pollution-free.

But there’s one problem – it’s in the middle of the desert. And cities require a lot of water.

Enter the Solar Dome, a new desalination system built on existing technology. It’s supposed to be a low-cost, efficient, and carbon-neutral way of turning saltwater into fresh water. With water scarcity already threatening the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the world leader in desalination, but the process does pose problems. We take a closer look at the environmental costs of desalination, and how new innovation like the Solar Dome is trying to tackle these issues.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction put out a special report on Drought 2021. You can download it here: Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction - Special Report on Drought 2021

Four Types of Drought according to the National Weather Service

Meteorological drought is based on the degree of dryness (rainfall deficit) and the length of the dry period.

Hydrologic drought is based on the impact of rainfall deficits on the water supply such as stream flow, reservoir and lake levels, and ground water table decline.

Agricultural drought is based on the impacts to agriculture by factors such as rainfall deficits, soil water deficits, reduced groundwater, or reservoir levels needed for irrigation.

Socioeconomic drought is based on the impact of drought conditions (meteorological, agricultural, or hydrological drought) on supply and demand of some economic goods. Socioeconomic drought occurs when the demand for an economic good exceeds supply as a result of a weather-related deficit in water supply.

According to NOAA and NIDIS there are four key impacts of drought around the globe.

(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Integrated Drought Information System)

Environmental Impacts

Droughts can compromise a wide range of ecosystem services, including provisioning services such as food, fuel, and freshwater; regulating services such as pollination and pest regulation; and support services such as soil fertility and nutrient cycling. Significant or persistent droughts may alter ecosystem functions and compromise ecosystem goods and services, resulting in diminished or damaged ecological functioning.

Economic Impacts

Droughts may result in significant, long-term economic losses in a range of sectors. Losses may be local to the drought-affected area or they may be widespread through economic value chains and by cascading losses to other sectors and the national or global economy. In some regions of the world, drought may cause or exacerbate food shortages and food insecurity, unemployment, poverty, inflation, conflict, and internal displacement or migration.

Cultural and Social Impacts

Cultural and social constructs underlie how water is perceived, valued, and managed in different societies. In many cultures and belief systems, water is strongly tied to cultural heritage and religious and spiritual practices. These may inform a social understanding of the causes and solutions for drought and may support communities in coping with drought. Further, drought impacts can vary in severity based on gender, ethnic group, religion, likelihood strategies, and other societal roles and vulnerabilities.

Health Impacts

Drought can cause significant human health impacts, and the socioeconomic environment in which drought occurs influences the resilience of affected populations. In poorer or marginalized communities, drought may exacerbate existing health disparities. Drought impacts on food production systems and agricultural value chains can contribute to nutritional deficiencies. Drought can also exacerbate gaps in sanitation and hygiene coverage and reliability, which may disproportionately affect women and girls when they are responsible for household water supply.

Monitor Drought Where You Live

Several organizations monitor drought conditions. Choose the one in the area where you live to learn more.

Drought.gov International: https://www.drought.gov/international

Global Drought Conditions presented by the National Integrated Drought Information System.

Drought.gov National (United States) Current Conditions: https://www.drought.gov/current-conditions

Drought Conditions for the United States presented by the National Integrated Drought Information System.

U.S. Drought Monitor: https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Journalist Mike Pearl put it best. "In a world where conversations about science often get mired in pointless, bad-faith arguments, pitting cynical science denial against overheated science-based panic, it's sometimes helpful to stare at tables of raw data. And the public hydrological data for California - to name just one state caught up in the drought - are horrifying."

Preparation - Survival and Water Conservation Tips

The following sites offer a list of suggestions you can use to reduce water usage in your home and business. They're mostly easy fixes that not only help save water, but they'll also help you reduce your water bill as well.

Click Here for information on what to do with Conservation Information from the United States government website, Ready.gov.

Click Here for the Red Cross Drought Preparedness & Water Conservation Information.

Click Here to download a PDF file with information on what to do from the United States government website, Ready.gov.

PDF Information from Ready.gov

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This information is presented to make people aware of the larger world around them. If you can prepare for something as devastating as this, you're much more likely to be ready for smaller disruptions. Be aware and prepare.

Updated 4/15/2021
Updated 6/26/2021