The Effects Of Drought In The Southwestern United States

1056 Words 4 Pages
The ongoing drought in the Southwestern United States is driving water reserves to dangerously low levels, adversely affecting an agricultural system that will have ripple effects throughout the entire country, unless the farmers of this region can learn to farm without water they may not survive.
I. Drought must be defined to understand the impact the current drought has on the Southwestern United States.
A. In order to understand drought we must first understand what drought means.
1. Drought is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “A period of dryness especially when prolonged; specifically: one that causes extensive damage to crops or prevents their successful growth”(Merriam-Webster).
2. According to an article titled, What Does
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Droughts historically have been a part of the American experience, sometime contributed greatly by the farming practices of our agricultural industry.
1. During the 1950’s drought spread across the southwest and great plains, Texas only had fifty-one percent of its normal rainfall, rain was scarce and temperatures were high contributing to a loss of fifty percent of crop yields (Pappas).
2. During the 1930’s , also known as the dirty 30’s, a severe drought and agricultural mismanagement of the great plains created ecological disaster causing a mass migration to California by people fleeing giant dust storms that would block out the sun giving the drought plagued plains the name of the Dust Bowl.
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According to a study by NASA droughts in the Southwest United States may be longer and drier than previous droughts in the last one thousand years (Cole).
2. “Excluding Colorado, more than 92% of the region’s cropland is irrigated, and agricultural uses account for 79% of all water withdrawals in the region.”(Garfin 693)
B. The effects of the drought on agriculture in the Southwest will create economic hardship that will impact millions of Americans.
1. University of California Davis 2015 report estimates California’s continued drought stricken agricultural industry will negatively impact to the state’s economy by about $1.84 billion, and lose an estimated ten thousand seasonal jobs (Kerlin).
2. “Increased heat and changes to rain and snowpack will send ripple effects throughout the region’s critical agriculture sector, affecting the lives and economies of 56 million people – a population that is expected to increase 68% by 2050, to 94 million. (Garfin)
3. The United States Department of Agriculture had issued a determination that every county in Arizona receive a disaster designation due to drought in 2015.(2015 Annual drought

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