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Ertharin Cousin is the Distinguised Fellow at the Center on Food Security and the Environment and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. She previously served as executive director of the World Food Programme from 2012 until 2017.
Tomorrow is the deadline for a deal among the seven states that share water from the Colorado River, and one state, Arizona, is holding out. The water plan agreed to by the other states back in December, confronts the long-running drought in the region, the resulting dwindling supply of water from the River, and how the states can ensure river water does not get overused. Arizona was the only state that required the plan be approved by its Legislature, which according to the Associated Press, has made the negotiations on the drought contingency plan more complex. What if Arizona does not meet the deadline? Then the Department of Interior will allegedly ask the other states for their views on how to divide the limited pool of water, and then the federal government will rule unilaterally.
Heat, drought, and debilitating dust storms have, according to National Geographic, brought much of southeastern Iran to the brink of being uninhabitable. The temperature in Sistan and Baluchestan province is often above 110 degrees F and it never rains, but the wind blows non-stop for 120 days straight each year. And so “the entire areas wanes under a months-long barrage of sand, cloying dust, and noise.” The entire area is in the grip of an unrelenting succession of environmental disasters that are a harbinger of what’s to come for many other parts of the planet.
The government last Friday made public another report warning of the dangers that climate change poses to our nation — this one details the risks to our national security as a result of more than two-thirds of our military installations being at increased risk in the next 20 years of flooding, drought and fire damage related to climate.
The Revelator, a publication of the Center for Biological Diversity, reported on a new study that found that “fresh” groundwater is 50% less plentiful in several key U.S. regions than scientists previously believed. Therefore, digging deeper to find groundwater that is drinkable (not too salty or contaminated) is an increasingly infeasible answer to water shortages across the country.
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