Over half of California has now reached the most severe level of drought for the first time since the federal government began issuing regular drought reports in the late 1990s. As of Thursday, July 31st, over 58 percent of the state was declared under exceptional drought, a shocking increase of more than 20 percent from the previous week.
The impacts of this current drought will be profound for the state, including estimated economic losses of over $2.2 billion for California agriculture industry. The entire state has been in a severe drought since May, but levels have been spiking even more since then during the summer months.
“It’s hard because the drought is not over and you’re in the dry season. Our eyes are already on next winter,” Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center said. “Outside of some freakish atmospheric conditions, reservoir levels are going to continue to go down. You’re a good one to two years behind the eight ball.”
Not only have these environmental conditions been severe this year, California is now in its third year of drought. The implications of the drought have gotten so bad that people may have to move out of the state if this continues. Lynn Wilson, academic chair at Kaplan University and on the climate change delegation in the United Nations, says, “We may have to migrate people out of California.”
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is a conservative panel drawing from 800 scientists around the world, sad it’s more likely than not that man-made global warming is causing these longer and more intense droughts in many regions including the Midwest and California. Time will tell if California residents start to move away from their state or not, but one thing is clear: global warming has undoubtedly influenced this drought, and it’s time for policymakers to start taking heed of the changing environmental conditions in the United States.