The American mega drought has been horrendous. From the look of current information, there’s more to come. It may even be heading east, into the Midwest food belt.
Even researching this drought is a truly nasty experience. The current map on the US Drought Monitor looks like a huge bruise to the entire West and Southwest. Extreme and exceptional drought are shown in areas which are usually considered dry at the best of times. Patches of severe drought extend across the northern border states from coast to coast.
The big river nexus at the heart of the Midwest based on the Mississippi is out of the drought zones at the moment. If this region is affected, food supplies could face a sudden hit from seriously reduced water supplies. This area is Big Irrigation Country, and water is currency, as well as food.
The drought news is 100% gruesome. A bad wildfire season is predicted, and water supply problems aren’t helping. California is in very deep trouble with its farm and domestic water supplies after the supposed “end” of a previous drought two years ago. This drought looks like more of the same, but worse. Emergency drought conditions are in force in 41 of 58 Californian counties.
This “new” drought is likely to be worse because water supplies haven’t really recovered from the previous mega drought. The winter melt is also severely depleted, starving rivers like the Colorado and the Hoover Dam.
A lot of people are now at direct threat of severe water supply issues. These issues aren’t “nuisances”. They can be a big hit to quality of life, and the remarkably punctual onset of a big hot summer could be pretty bad if it continues. Part of LA County experienced temperatures of 121F, the hottest on record, in 2020.
Is the drought spreading?
Droughts have ravaged the USA on a semi-regular basis. It’s too soon to tell, but it’s not at all impossible that this one will spread. Maps of the previous big drought show severe drought in areas not currently affected.
Big, brutal, nationwide droughts occurred in the Depression. The famous Dust Bowl drought displaced huge numbers of people. The Dust Bowl was literally uninhabitable for years. Another big drought happened in the 1950s. If those events are any guide, the risk of spread must be considered a credible national threat.
Too many big risks to ignore
This time, however, the risks are much bigger. The US population is three times larger than in the 1930s. A similar event now could displace millions of people. Food supply problems could be vicious, driving prices up while supply is low.
There’s no reason for complacency. The US economy, savaged by the pandemic, isn’t anywhere near capacity. It’s recovering, but another big bottom line economic train wreck can’t be good. There are no “nice” expressions for sudden big price rises and mangled food distribution supply chains.
Worst case – The worst case scenario, a prolonged exceptional drought and massive food and water supply disruption, could be truly horrific. This isn’t a situation where babbling about costs can be a topic of conversation, let alone a working option.
The logistics of managing big food and water shortages are horrendous even on a local scale and under normal circumstances. On a national scale, these issues could quite literally mean lots of dead people in days or weeks.
Add to this situation the possible invaluable inputs of America’s many politically-sanctioned totally incompetent nutcases. (How surprised would anyone be by hysterical demands to be “liberated” from adequate food and water supplies?) Washington’s usual slow grind to doing the obvious can’t work in this scenario, either.
This big drought is potentially lethal on a national scale. If it spreads or gets much worse, the fan is going to be hit very hard indeed. This could be the Triumph of the Preppers, in so many ways.