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The future is drying up - Assignment Example

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Student's Name & Course Number: The Future is Drying Up (Earth Sciences) 23 November 2011 (estimated word count – 1,032) Introduction The issue of global warming and the consequent climatic changes is on everyone's mind these days because it has brought about profound changes…
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It is the drying up of previously wet areas of the earth which are now continuing to experience longer and more severe droughts brought ironically by the same problem of global warming. Just as a coin has two sides, global warming commonly conjures visions of oceans rising that will soon flood or inundate low-lying plains and coastal areas but the reverse side is that fresh water has become a serious problem in other parts of the world today. A lack of fresh and potable water is most acutely felt in the western parts of the U.S. today which is quite ironic as this region is the most economically dynamic and has seen the more rapid rise in population. This brief paper examines the main issues brought about by the article entitled “The Future is Drying Up” written by Jon Gertner and which had appeared in the New York Times magazine dated last October 21, 2007. Dwindling freshwater supplies is partly caused by a combination of factors, primary of which is the loss of the snow pack that is accumulated in the high mountains located in the West of the United States. There are seven states directly affected by this decrease in fresh water that also includes parts of north Mexico. Water experts foresee this problem as getting worse in the near future as industries, farms and cities continue to grow with an expanding population as water availability limits the growth. Discussion Four main points were raised by the author regarding this problem of freshwater. The first is the dwindling supply sources as cities and states continue to grow and they have to find new sources which in some cases are no longer existent. The primary cause of decrease in the water supply is the melting of the mountain snow packs from the Rocky Mountains range due to global warming. This is the main freshwater source as it flows in the huge Colorado River. Warmer temperatures had led to shorter winters in which snow failed to form sufficiently and it is compounded by increased demands for water by growing populations in the region. Lake Mead which is the main reservoir in the South-West area is now half-empty. The second main issue is mainly political in nature. The big question for the region to confront is how to divide up the waters in the Colorado River which is fast declining. There is a growing consensus among the stakeholders to re-negotiate the main features of the older water contract (signed in the 1920s) among the seven states directly affected due to changed circumstances. The problem with water is that it is a vital commodity but also defies ordinary pricing mechanisms. A new way of dealing with the problem (a paradigm shift) is needed to connect all disparate members of the water economy to come together and agree on solutions right now as its water problem is bound to get worse with unavoidable shortages (Gertner 71). The third main issue is largely economic and financial in nature. Older cities that had discovered the water sources got the rights to those sources back in an earlier era. The newer towns and cities of today have to rely mostly on groundwater (pumped from the ground up). The older cities by virtue of their water rights have easier access to surface water, which also is cheaper to obtain. In other words, there are areas which can afford to have their water while other areas are disadvantaged by the costs of bringing or piping water from faraway sources. The fourth and last main issue in this article is the question of Read More
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