California has experienced a drought since 2012. A drought is a deficiency in water supply. A drought does not have to result from an absence of rain, however that is one of the causes that many times result in a drought. In California, scientists debate what caused this specific drought. There are two main arguments for the causes; the first being that a large area of high pressure air off of the West coast, extending four miles high and 22 miles in length, has blocked storms from forming in California. As a result, California has received some alarmingly low records of rain and snow. This past January experienced its least amount of rain recorded. The second reason greatly debated is that California has received record breaking warm temperatures. According to USA today and NASA, 2014 was the warmest year in 120 years. Even this information from USA Today is debated, also. Many say 2014 was not the warmest year in 120 years.
This is not the first time a great drought was experienced by the U.S. The Dust Bowl in the 1930s was a much graver drought because it exceeded the California drought in time. In some areas of the Great Plains, the dustbowl lasted eight years, causing migration westward. At its peak in 1934, 77% of the country was covered by the Dust Bowl according to Forbes magazine. Another great drought, named the Great Plains Drought, covered more than one state. In 1954, the drought had enveloped ten states and covered 62% of the country. The Great Plains drought lasted from eight to twelve years.
California is not the only location experiencing a drought. According to The International Business Times, Sao Paulo in Brazil has had record low amounts of rainfall for three consecutive years that has resulted in a drought, even though the country of Brazil is the source for 12% of the world’s fresh water. This rain is the main source of water replenishment for the city’s reservoirs, which are 27% full capacity, down from the 40% capacity of May 2014. In additions, the Northern part of Kenya, Turkana, is experiencing a major drought. With water affecting crops and livestock, food has become incredibly expensive. The lack of a good rain season, the last being in 2012, resulted in largely affecting the way of life. Samuel Aboto, a resident in Turkana, told The Guardian of the affect rain has had on his animals, saying that last year at this time he had 600 goats, now he has none.
1. What are two possible reasons for the drought in California?
2. What drought affected the Great Plains in the 1930s?
3. What year did the Great Plains drought directly affect 10 states at once?
4. What two other places in the world are experiencing a drought?
5. Do you think precautionary measures to the drought should have been taken by the California state government? Why or why not?
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.