(NaturalNews) The U.S. intelligence community and scores of scientists at home and abroad have warned that the world's supply of clean, potable water is fast disappearing, due mostly to climate change, overuse and pollution.
And while such water shortages are set to affect mostly poor, third-world countries the hardest, the U.S. itself is certainly not immune to shortages of water, the liquid that sustains every one of the 9 billion lives on planet Earth.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the western United States. According to a post at the TheEconomicCollapse blog site, scientists called the 20th century the wettest on record for the past 1,000 years, but "now things appear to be reverting to their normal historical patterns."
A new Dust Bowl?
From the site:
But we have built teeming cities in the desert such as Phoenix and Las Vegas that support millions of people. Cities all over the Southwest continue to grow even as the Colorado River, Lake Mead and the High Plains Aquifer system run dry. So what are we going to do when there isn't enough water to irrigate our crops or run through our water systems?
In the 1930s, in the throes of the Great Depression, much of the southern plains suffered through the "Dust Bowl" years. According to The History Channel, that was both a manmade and natural disaster:
Beginning with World War I, American wheat harvests flowed like gold as demand boomed. Lured by record wheat prices and promises by land developers that "rain follows the plow," farmers powered by new gasoline tractors over-plowed and over-grazed the southern Plains. When the drought and Great Depression hit in the early 1930s, the wheat market collapsed. Once the oceans of wheat, which replaced the sea of prairie grass that anchored the topsoil into place, dried up, the land was defenseless against the winds that buffeted the Plains.
The Dust Bowl years saw some migration of people out of the regions that were affected the most - but most (three-quarters) of the region's farmers stayed put. Today, however, "the family farm" has been replaced by urban-dwelling; serious water shortages near any major city would cause much worse migration than what occurred 80 years ago in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
What's more, there is evidence that such conditions are already threatening major metropolitan areas out west. From TheEconomicCollapse:
In the past couple of years we have seen giant dust storms known as "haboobs" roll through Phoenix, and six of the 10 worst years for wildfires ever recorded in the United States have all come since the year 2000. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, "the average number of fires larger than 1,000 acres in a year has nearly quadrupled in Arizona and Idaho and has doubled in every other Western state" since the 1970s.
Damning drought evidence
Scientists now say they expect the western U.S. to become even drier in the coming years. Sustained dry conditions will put additional stress on entire regional water sources. Eventually these sources will begin to run low on water. When that happens, make no mistake - major western urban regions will not withstand that.
More from National Geographic:
All over the Southwest, a wholesale change in the landscape is under way. Pinons and scrubbier, more drought-resistant junipers have long been partners in the low woodlands that clothe much of the region. But the pinons are dying off. From 2002 to 2004, 2.5 million acres turned to rust in the Four Corners region alone. The immediate cause of death was often bark beetles, which are also devastating other conifers. ... Bark beetles tend to attack trees that are already stressed or dying from drought. "They can smell it," says Craig Allen, a landscape ecologist at Bandelier National Monument in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico.
There is other evidence the west is drying up. See the full blog post here.