The few drops of rain falling outside of our San Francisco 350.org office won’t bring much relief from the drought that’s plaguing California. I’m used to hearing scientists warn that with increased global warming, many parts of the world will face the risk of extreme drought. I didn’t think they were talking about 2009.
As early as 2007, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon drew the connection between global warming, drought, and the conflict in Darfur. “The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change,” he told the world.
Now, China is facing one of its worst droughts in recent memory. Reuters reports on the severe drought hitting central and northern China: “The national Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief declared a ‘level 2′ emergency, calling it a ‘severe drought rarely seen in history.” The drought isn’t just endangering food supply. According to Bloomberg News, the stress placed on poultry by the lack of water increases the risk of bird flu spreading throughout the food chain.
Here in California, there might not even be a food chain for much longer. The new US Secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu, recently warned that if global warming continued unabated, 90 percent of the snowpack could disappear, virtually wiping out California’s vast agricultural networks. “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” he said.
That’s where you come in. Over the next year, we need to work together to wake-up the public all over the world. With drought spreading across the planet at 386 parts per million, the need to lower carbon to 350 is more evident than ever.