Ventura County, where I live in Southern California, has had a slew of natural disasters in the last couple of years. The White House declared a disaster for the floods of January 2005, after several months, and the state has declared a disaster as well, and also for the Day Fire of last September, and now for the most recent freeze. That’s not even mentioning the other disasters from the 90’s.
The recent disasters have been mostly spectacular; sliding hillsides, roaring fires, shrieking winds. (We had gales of 70 mph after Christmas.) But despite all the drama, a less spectacular but even more dangerous sort of disaster appears to be stalking us, as citrus grower Jim Coultas told The Ojai Valley News ($).
"There’s about five bad things that can happen to us," Coultas said. "Last year we had floods, then fire, then we had big winds, and now a terrible freeze. The last thing is drought, and it has rained only 1 inch in the last year."
His fears, unfortunately, appear well-placed. A recently released study by Marty Hoerling for the IPCC (the international climate change study organization) predicts a new era of drought in the 21st century:
The Southwest appears to be entering
a new drought era. In the 20th century,
drought was principally precipitation
driven, and enhanced by temperature.
Indications from the simulations are that
a near perpetual state of drought will
materialize in the coming decades as a
consequence of increasing temperature.