Are droughts and floods at historic heights?

By Declan Alexander, Brandon Rosa, and Aaron Robertson 

Yes. 

Climate change itself is real and one of the major concerns within this is droughts and floods. It’s origins from us but proceeds to worsen, causing droughts and floods to be at an all-time high. If humans keep up with these habits that are causing natural deconstruction, there may never be a green Earth again.   

Why this Question is Important  

Are droughts and floods at historic heights is an important question because they will always be a natural concern that we can’t prevent yet can only prepare for. “Paleoclimate studies show major droughts in the distant past, while some more recent dry periods are still within living memory, such as the Dust Bowl of the 1930s or the drought of the 1950s. These historic examples serve as guideposts to highlight our vulnerabilities to drought as we move into a warmer and, in some places, drier future.” This shows that major droughts have been around for a while even before major climate change solutions have been implemented and the blame was drastically placed on humans. Yes, droughts and floods are at a historic high. They have always been a global issue and some of the worst droughts have even came 50+ years ago. Droughts cause many issues such as wildfires, energy problems, and agricultural problems. Fighting wildfires in the U.S topped over 2 Billion dollars in 2017 and continue to rise. That also doesn’t count the billions of Dollars in damages to homes that people had to leave and watch burn down. Energy wise droughts cause concern about the reliability of electricity production from plants that require cooling water to safely operate. Hydroelectric power may even become unavailable in droughts due to the lack of water. When droughts and heat waves combine electricity demands skyrocket and cause major stress on the electricity grid. Droughts also effect agriculture because they kill livestock and a whole lot of it. This causes huge problems as demands for necessary foods are needed and can’t be gotten because of the shortage of goods. As of a result of this, this causes increased food prices which affect the poor and cause hunger to increase across the U.S and the rest of the world. 

Issues and Analysis 

When we hear the words “droughts” and “floods” we think of climate change and extreme weather with heavy rainfall events causing flooding in areas where flooding has never occurred and extreme dry weather with high temperatures in areas of where drought rarely occurs.   

Droughts and floods are caused by significant weather patterns, such as rainfall, temperature, and winds that varies for different parts of the United States.   

  According to a 2012 New York Times article, floods and droughts can negatively impact our everyday lives by killing crops and farm animals making food resources more difficult to obtain and at an increased cost. A 2012 Food Price Watch report of the World Bank Group indicates that “food prices increased by 10 percent in July from a month ago, with maize and soybean reaching all-time peaks due to an unprecedented summer of droughts and high temperatures in both the United States and Eastern Europe.”  In addition to droughts, flooding causes damage to infrastructure making it difficult for businesses and schools to open. This effects the economy because business products and materials are damaged limiting their availability to the consumer.   

  The issue of whether drought and flooding are at historic heights is analyzed in a website composed by students at Auburn University to provide “accurate” information about “Climate, Energy, and Society”.   As part of the students’ efforts to provide accurate information, the students from Auburn had shown an increase in annual precipitation for the contiguous 48 states over a period of 1895 – 2012.  The issue of drought and flooding has also been thoroughly researched by Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, who are successors to the PEW Center on Global Climate Change founded in 1998.  They concluded that regions of the U.S. will see increased heat, change in rainfall and less snowpack adding to drought conditions.  Warmer temperatures can increase water demands causing greater stress on water supplies.  The 2014 U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment concluded that droughts and floods is part of a constant fluctuation, and we should be prepared for an increase in temperatures and less rainfall in the southwest part of the U.S. that can impact water supplies. While in other regions, we may see an increase precipitation that can impact rivers and cause flooding.   

Droughts and floods in the U.S. have been increasing.  According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Texas experienced its 12th driest months ever.  Additionally, floods are supposed to increase in the south, except for a few European countries.