NOAA reported recently that globally, we have reached a new high (or low?) for atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by surpassing the 400 parts per million mark. This is sad, but not too surprising of news – we continue to ignore and deny that climate change is a serious problem in the United States and across the world. Yet, climate change is not going to solve itself. Carbon dioxide is the largest component to our greenhouse gases emissions, so as we continue to release greenhouse gases, global temperatures will continue to rise.
Based on climate change models, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that more severe and frequent weather events are likely. And severe weather isn’t cheap: NOAA tracks the financial cost of severe weather in the United States and, in 2013 alone, severe weather cost around $24 billion dollars. That’s no small bill that will only keep getting bigger as the West Coast drought drags on.
Money isn’t the only concern though: the drought is not only diminishing our water supply on the West Coast, but our beloved freshwater habitats. Salmon are dependent upon cold stream water and many amphibians rely on wetlands, ponds, and streams throughout their life cycles. So, as we continue to weather the drought, let’s remember to think not just about drinking water, but freshwater habitat too.