The West Depleted by the Mega Drought

Since the year 2000, the mega drought continues to cause havoc

Lake+Oroville+in+California+is+the+second+largest+reservoir+in+the+state+and+in+a+spam+of+3+years+has+loss+over+50%25+of+the+water.

Photo courtesy California Department of Water Resources

Lake Oroville in California is the second largest reservoir in the state and in a spam of 3 years has loss over 50% of the water.

Dev Patel, Sports Co-Editor

Overwhelming amounts of dust and desiccated lands have become inevitable on the West Coast of the United States as climate change has caused the region to face a severe “mega drought” that could last decades. California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico are being affected by drained rivers, perished crops and wildfires which have intensified the drought issue. According to npr.org, the American West has spent the last decade in what scientists are now qualifying as the worst mega drought in at least 1,200 years.  For instance, the Colorado River covers a significant portion of the West and has prompted droughts to transpire in the area as the river’s flow has decreased by 20% since the 1900s due to climate change. 

Rob Wilder, AP Environmental Science teacher and sponsor of the Envirothon team, is knowledgeable on the conditions and the effects of natural disasters on the environment through his many years of teaching at Spartanburg High School.  

“There are multiple factors that cause desertification, which is defined as the loss in productivity and degradation of lands. These factors include droughts, overgrazing, poor agricultural practices and climate change/higher temperatures. Not surprisingly, most of this occurs in lands adjacent to deserts. There is no doubt that climate change will impact the rate of desertification, as higher temperatures and changing precipitation patterns can lead to prolonged droughts, such as the one happening out West. Not sure how this drought will impact the Eastern U.S., but climate change is being felt around the world. Recent predictions say the East Coast will see a one-foot rise in sea level by 2050,” Wilder said. 

Desertification is irreversible, but there are strategies that are less strenuous on the environment and can help prevent the factors that contribute to the mega drought. Planting more trees, utilizing more sustainable farming methods to improve the quality of soil and water management are all helpful solutions. Insufficient amounts of water with the mega drought are dangerous as they force populations to move out into more hospitable areas, but without proper water management there becomes a cycle of migration for people since human activities can be detrimental and degrade the land. 

Lillian Morris (11) has visited a family friend who owns a farm in California and thinks the government should take action to slow the drought as it could potentially lead to desertification throughout the West. 

“When I was in California on the farm, we had to take short showers to conserve water because of the limited water supply. I know that it’s easy to have actions and not think about the consequences, but I think water conservation is vital because the mega drought will have a tremendous impact on desertification which doesn’t seem viable for someone to live in,” Morris said.