Fortune reports that according to a new government-backed study, population growth and climate change will likely cause “serious water shortages” within 55 years.
As demand increases and water evaporation increases with it, it’s likely that 96 of the 204 water basins that are currently the sources of fresh water for people in the U.S. will have monthly shortages by the year 2021. Methods of adaptation that have been used in the past, such as expanding reservoir storage, show “little promise” in helping to avoid shortages.
“Other major adaptations commonly used in the past, especially instream flow removals and groundwater mining, can substantially lower shortages but have serious external costs,” wrote researchers. “If those costs are to be avoided, transfers from irrigated agriculture probably will be needed and could be substantial.”
Over 75% of annual consumption in most water basins is due to irrigated agriculture. If farmers reduced irrigation for crops, there would be hope for fewer shortages.
The study found that “a mere reduction of 2% of irrigation consumption” could remove shortages in a third of 90 basins expected to have shortages by 2071. Other basins would need at least a 30% reduction to have benefits.
“In reality, irrigated agriculture is unlikely to bear the full burden of accommodating future water shortages,” the study states. “Nevertheless, given the large quantities of water used in agriculture and the fact that most of that water is used to grow relatively low‐value crops…the agriculture sector is likely to face serious challenges.”
Although this is the second government-backed study which showcases the threats that climate change poses, President Trump continues to ignore the scientific consensus about climate change.