Worst megadrought in 1,000 years could cripple our economy

Benjamin Schneider

Here is why every American needs to be worried about the economic consequences of climate change: A “megadrought” that dwarfs the one now ravaging the Southwest will come this century if world leaders don’t do something to slow the rise in global temperatures.

You don’t need to be a card-carrying member of Environmental Defense Fund to be concerned about what this will do to our agriculture, industry and big Western cities that help fuel our economy.

Drought costs our nation $9 billion a year under “normal” drought conditions. What a megadrought will cost, we can only imagine.

NASA, along with researchers from Cornell and Columbia universities, warn that if man-made climate change continues unchecked, there is an 80-percent chance the United States will face a drought that lasts as long as three decades across the Central Plains and the Southwest.

If and when that happens, there will be severe water shortages that dry out vegetation and prompt massive wildfires.

It would not be the first so-called megadrought to hit our part of the world; the last one occurred during the 13th century. But the scientists behind this latest study predict the next one will be far more severe than previous episodes unless we take action.

Some Americans find  noisy environmentalists and polar bears uninteresting or even annoying, I know. This is not about that, this is about real, tangible economic problems right here in America that will affect us and our children - soon.

We may not always agree about the significance of climate change impacts around the world. But as we’ve seen in our past, when Americans look for solutions to problems we all face, and that threaten our economic future, we can find common ground.

So let’s get to work.

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