Over the past four years, the drought in California has gotten so bad it has become essential for water to be rationed (even though companies like Nestle continue to guzzle it in near illegal fashion).
That’s not really surprising, though, right? It was recently shared that ocean temperatures are the warmest they’ve been in 135 years, and that coastal cities may soon be uninhabitable due to melting glaciers. In addition, scientists recently released a study concluding that humans need to preserve plant life or prepare for extinction.
In regards to the intensifying drought in California, however, this paper published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters concludes that climate change, caused by human emissions, has intensified the current drought out west. Scientists note that global warming will almost certainly cause conditions in the future that are worse, as well.
Said A. Park Williams, lead author of the study and climate scientist at Columbia University:
“It would be a fairly bad drought no matter what. But it’s definitely made worse by global warming.”
According to Stanford University climate scientist David B. Lobell, the research is “probably the best I’ve ever seen.” It comprehensively analyzes all potential combinations of temperature, rainfall, wind and other variables that influence the drought.
The idea that humans are to blame behind the worsening crisis is not a new school of thought. Many have suspected that modern-day emissions are enhancing the frequency and intensity of weather events for quite some time, and this study proves it.
As the New York Times reports, what the group of scientists specifically concluded is that somewhere between 8 and 27% of the lack of soil moisture over the duration of the drought was a result of the human-caused climate change.
Incorporating the speed of global warming over the last few decades, however, it is estimated that is likely closer to 20 to 25%.
California has warmed by just over 2 degrees in the past 120 years, but scientists speculate that if current trends are not curbed (ie. excessive use of fossil fuels, pollution, etc…), the state could rise another five degrees Fahrenheit in the next century.
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