According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, this March has been the hottest worldwide on record. For much of the United states, it is also a devastatingly dry year. Nine US states are reporting record low snowpacks. To make matters worse, 72% of the Western US, bounded by Washington and New Mexico, is experiencing drought conditions, but these areas are not experiencing exceptional drought, the most severe. Because snow melts slowly, it supplies reservoirs throughout the warm season, but what little snow there is has started melting earlier than usual. Much of Nevada is under severe or exceptional drought, and while drought has not yet affected Montana, even this state has abnormally dry conditions, making fires more likely.
So far, these are conditions reminiscent of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s. Possibly the only difference is that we now have extensive irrigation and can farm dry land. This is likely the sole reason California’s farmers are immune to water restrictions. We need crops so that we don’t lose our topsoil, and with it the ability to produce more crops. This is the problem that Haiti faces. It has lost most of its topsoil, and soil is incredibly slow to regenerate. In Haiti’s case, it was not drought that was the problem, but the fact that Haiti did not have enough trees, though it started out being very verdant. Because the trees kept the soil from blowing away, the removal of the trees caused an irrecoverable loss of soil. The states affected by the Dust Bowl lost up to 75% of their topsoil, and for all intents and purposes it’s gone forever. If the water problems become so great that there is just no water for the farmers to use, the western states could be in similar trouble. No crops mean nothing to anchor soil, and soil is only created at a rate of one inch every five hundred years. Recently, a massive dust storm caused a massive pileup on I-80, killing one person and injuring 13 others. The dust was kicked up by unusually high winds, and in addition to causing traffic chaos, it also greatly harms those with respiratory issues.
Unfortunately, the tragic events we reported on are in no way a full reflection of what has been going on in the world. If you would like to see all of our headlines from the past week, please click here.