Tags: Global Warming | What if Global Warming Continues | Climate Change | Southwest | Rising Sea Levels

What If Global Warming Continues? 8 Most Dire Scenarios For America's Southwest

By    |   Monday, 09 February 2015 10:47 AM

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the climate in the Southwest is changing and over the last century, the average annual temperature has increased by 1.5°F. If global warming continues, temperatures are expected to rise another 2.5-8°F by the end of this century.

The Southwest is already the driest region of the United States and increased temperatures caused by global warming will put the region at great risk for severe drought.

Here are eight dire scenarios for America's Southwest if global warming continues:

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1. Stockholm Environmental Institute paints a dire picture for the Southwest as demand for water exceeds supply. "… there is less rain and snowfall each year than the amount of water used in homes, businesses, farms, and for environmental purposes. Today that shortfall is made up for by pumping groundwater, and in at least two states, Arizona and California, the stock of groundwater is falling every year. Add the higher water use that comes with growing population and incomes, and the Southwest is expected to face a major water crisis in the coming decades. As the century progresses, groundwater reserves will run dry, and current trends in water use cannot possibly be continued."

2. Climate change and ensuing drought will cause societal stress due to competition for resources. "Projected temperature increases, river-flow reductions, dwindling reservoirs, and rapid population growth will increase the competition for water resources across sectors, states, tribes, and even between the United States and Mexico. This could potentially lead to conflicts," reports the Environmental Protection Agency.

3. According to TIME, "The Southwest has been accustomed to unlimited growth in cities and exurbs along with unlimited water for irrigated agriculture, but the day may come soon when a choice will have to be made between the city and the farm."

4. What will happen if global warming induced drought reduces agriculture and food prices escalate? According to TIME, "Governments can fall — as Egypt's nervous government knows, where high food prices have been one factor in that country's unprecedented mass protests."

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5. Melanie Lenart from the University of Arizona puts the impact of continued global warming on America's Southwest into simple, dire terms. "Losing water. Losing cool summer nights. Losing plant and animal species to changing climate patterns. Losing homes, forests, and Sonoran Desert to wildfires."

6. Increased drought means increased wildfires and the Southwest is already prone to lengthy dry spells. With continued global warming, the heat and drought will "put trees under stress, setting them up for attack by predatory beetles. Stressed and dying trees are perfect fodder for wildfires," reports Climate Central.

7. Climate Central also reports on the impact of rising seas levels due to glacier melt that will cause flooding in California. "If adaptive action is not taken, coastal highways, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure (such as the San Francisco and Oakland airports) are at increased risk of flooding with a 16-inch rise in sea level in the next 50 years."

8. Although it may not sound as dire as floods, fire and drought, the impact of continued global warming on the economic benefits of tourism will have significant negative consequences on the Southwest. "Rising temperatures will adversely affect winter activities such as downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Later snow and less snow coverage are projected for ski resort areas, particularly those in the southern part of the region," reports Air Quality.

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the climate in the Southwest is changing and over the last century, the average annual temperature has increased by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
What if Global Warming Continues, Climate Change, Southwest, Rising Sea Levels
Monday, 09 February 2015 10:47 AM
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