California is experiencing a historic drought, which is now in its fourth year. In Northern California, ski resorts have very little snow covering their hills while other states in the Eastern part of the country have faced record-breaking blizzards. According to a report from the University of California, Davis, the economic impact of this unprecedented drought is nearing $2 billion. In response, the state has been taking bold actions to conserve water.
At a meet-the-press event, California Governor Jerry Brown criticized political leaders who continue to disregard climate change and its consequences. He pointed to their opposition to President Obama’s efforts in curbing climate change as one of the reasons why the United States’ climate change initiatives have yet to achieve their intended level of effectiveness. With the drought expected to continue, state leaders like Gov. Brown have taken steps to cut back on water usage, letting the grass go brown in their backyards as a symbolic act of support for climate change initiatives.
During this year’s Earth Day celebration, President Obama agreed to answer ten questions from National Geographic regarding environmental topics. When asked about the drought in the West, the president answered that he is collaborating with California to get additional funding and speed up investments, but also added that “Californians need to do everything they can to save water.”
Climate change-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms and floods are bound to be costly. A drought is one of the disasters people have to plan for. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, while water problems are progressing in the West, the rest of the country is not immune from future impacts. California’s drought is just the forerunner of water shortages expected in other places. The drought in California is not just a crisis for the state, but is part of a global pattern of groundwater loss which has been tracked by NASA for years.
According to Accenture’s study on Climate Change and Health, severe drought has increased by one to three percent around the globe in the past 50 years, and is expected to rise to twelve percent if global temperature increases by 2°C above pre-industrial standards by 2050. While the sustainability community is focused on issues such as carbon emissions and fossil fuels, the situation in California is a vital reminder that water security is just as important.
Extreme weather, including drought, can be detrimental to business as it can disrupt global supply chain operations. Both the private and public sectors need to adopt water management practices in order to mitigate the effects of climate change on businesses and communities.
FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) is a leading provider of environmental and sustainability solutions, offering fully integrated consulting, software and data management services. With expertise in LCA and Supply Chain Services, we develop cost-effective solutions to help businesses integrate sustainability in their daily operations. For more information on managing your supply chain, read this FCS blog article.