Around the globe, countries are experiencing unprecedented droughts as a result of global warming; causing longer and more intense droughts in which ground water runs out and water levels drop. Droughts have many unforeseen impacts beyond lower water levels.
In California, farmers have been forced to abandon crops due to water shortages. Cutbacks in crops have cascading effects across the country as California provides two thirds of the United States fruits and nuts.
In addition, droughts have reduced the volume of the Colorado river; forcing Nevada, Arizona and Mexico to cut water allocation in order to preserve the river that provides nearly 40 million Americans with drinking water. Reduced water levels have also had an impact on hydroelectric power. California has roughly 400 hydro plants providing about 13 percent of the state’s power. However, numerous plants have been paused due to insufficient water levels and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation projects many plants to be unable to operate by 2023 due to declining water levels.
In Europe, rivers that play an integral role in shipping across the continent are experiencing drastic declines in water level. France’s river Loire is experiencing some of its lowest water levels in 500 years as parts of the river have become possible to walk across. Such low water levels make it almost impossible for river barges to operate. Barges which are used to ship nearly all European goods across the continent are having to reduce loads to avoid bottoming out on the river floor. Reducing loads is having harmful economic impacts as simultaneously, the world is experiencing a supply chain crisis.
In addition, the river’s reduced water levels have drastic environmental impacts. Lower water levels have caused plants along the edges of the river to dry up, destroying animal habitats. Shallow water also loses oxygen as it’s more susceptible to heating up from harsh sun. As a result, fish populations are dwindling as they struggle to navigate the shallow waters.
Ultimately, global warming has created a world in which people across continents are perpetually experiencing water shortages, having often unforeseen yet detrimental effects on communities and the environment.