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Tags: drought | global | economy | water

NBC News: Global Drought Conditions Are Starting to Take an Economic Toll

By    |   Monday, 08 September 2014 01:43 PM

The United States is not the only nation coping with a shortage of rainfall. Worldwide drought could play havoc with the future of water and food supplies, and drag down the global economy as well, according to weather experts.

Drought conditions aren't anything new — droughts have plagued the world for centuries. But that does not make the situation any less serious.

Will Sarni, a director and practice leader in water strategy and sustainability at Deloitte Consulting, told NBC News the full economic brunt from the current global drought is only now becoming visible.

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"We don't hear much about how water scarcity impacts where businesses locate," he said. "Water-rich states will be able to lure manufacturing and agriculture away from water-scarce nations. That can lead to limits in economic growth."

Besides the United States, other nations grappling with drought now include Brazil, Colombia, Pakistan, Somalia, Australia, Guatemala, China and Kenya.

How the world deals with dwindling surface and groundwater supplies is a key to the problem, according to experts cited by NBC. Solutions include more genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to grow crops in dry regions. Better farming methods are also viewed as potential help, since agriculture soaks up nearly 70 percent of all global water use.

"Some plants like corn, for example, use copious amounts of water," said Frank Galagno, professor of geography at Villanova University. "We need to change those crops along with using better irrigation methods."

LaDawn Hagland, an urban water expert at Arizona State University, predicted an ongoing increase in extreme weather conditions.

"We'll see more droughts and floods in the decades to come," she predicted. "Warming temperatures are changing when and where how much water falls from the sky."

The World Economic Forum estimates that drought across the globe costs $6 billion to $8 billion annually from losses in agriculture and related industries. A study from the University of California, Davis, estimates the current California drought will cost the state $2.2 billion in 2014.

The historic U.S. drought that has lowered the water table in California and shrunk rivers and reservoirs in Arizona has also heightened a diplomatic dispute on the Texas border, The Washington Post reported. Under the terms of a 70-year-old cross-border treaty, the United States is obliged to give Mexico water from the Colorado River, while Mexico must transfer water from the Rio Grande and its tributaries.

But in recent years, Mexico apparently has shirked its obligation. Mexico currently owes the United States 380,000 acre-feet of water, more than all the water used in a year by the 1.5 million Texas residents living in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, according to The Post. Mexico does not deny its water debt, but says that its own shortages make it impossible to comply for now.

An effort in California to tap the biggest potential water source of all — the ocean — is being developed, USA Today reported.

The newspaper said a $700 million desalination plant to use water from the Pacific Ocean is being built in Carlsbad. It is expected upon completion in 2016 to provide about 7 percent of the San Diego region's water.

But high costs, environmental concerns and pipeline distances make desalination more of a "site-specific insurance policy than a comprehensive solution to California's water woes," USA Today said.

Editor’s Note: Dow Predicted Will Hit 60,000 — Buy These 4 Stocks Now

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The United States is not the only nation coping with a shortage of rainfall. Worldwide drought could play havoc with the future of water and food supplies, and drag down the global economy as well, according to weather experts.
drought, global, economy, water
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2014-43-08
Monday, 08 September 2014 01:43 PM
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