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Drought in the West, Worst Since A.D. 800

Climate change is making the drought worse.

I have to say I’m currently distracted by two things. 1) The Holdemans are moving after being in the same house for 34 years. This has pretty much consumed us for the last six weeks. One more week to go, movers come on Tuesday. Not moving very far, just 1.8 miles.

2) The Russian aggression and attacks on Ukraine have me fixated. I’ve followed events somewhat closely (leading up to the attack and now the invasion that is in progress). I blogged on some of what the Ukrainians should have been doing before. As of this writing, it is only now that they called for full mobilization. Handing out weapons to average citizens who have never held a rifle is somewhat criminal in my mind. A little bit of training several months ago would have been much more advantageous to the survival of the new riflemen.

I’d have to say this is how most people think in general. What is happening today, tomorrow, next week. Long-term impacts of something are not on people’s radar, like climate change impacts, for instance. See the portion of the story I quoted below. If an issue is not staring us in the eyes, we seem to disregard it, say for instance the financial status of social security that we have under invested in for decades. Likely we’ll have to be at the point where someone in the federal government starts projecting the fund will run dry in six months. Maybe then there will be some action — a committee hearing maybe?

Anyway, here is the news on the drought. When people turn on the faucet and no water comes out, then maybe they will start paying attention to the issue.

How Bad Is the Western Drought? Worst in 12 Centuries, Study Finds. Fueled by climate change, the drought that started in 2000 is now the driest two decades since 800 A.D.

By Henry Fountain


The megadrought in the American Southwest has become so severe that it’s now the driest two decades in the region in at least 1,200 years, scientists said Monday, and climate change is largely responsible.

The drought, which began in 2000 and has reduced water supplies, devastated farmers and ranchers and helped fuel wildfires across the region, had previously been considered the worst in 500 years, according to the researchers.

But exceptional conditions in the summer of 2021, when about two-thirds of the West was in extreme drought, “really pushed it over the top,” said A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who led an analysis using tree ring data to gauge drought.

As a result, 2000-21 is the driest 22-year period since 800 A.D., which is as far back as the data goes. The analysis also showed that human-caused warming played a major role in making the current drought so extreme.
Eric Holdeman is a nationally known emergency manager. He has worked in emergency management at the federal, state and local government levels. Today he serves as the Director, Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR), which is part of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). The focus for his work there is engaging the public and private sectors to work collaboratively on issues of common interest, regionally and cross jurisdictionally.