High temperatures, water shortages and fires in California

I am inundated daily by news of drought, wildfires and historically high temperatures. My home state, California, USA, is not alone in this period of crisis, but it certainly provides a dramatic illustration of some of the current issues.

California is facing its worst drought in four years. As water levels continue to fall, farmers have left large portions of their fields unseeded. The state’s $50 billion (approximately £36 billion) agriculture industry supplies over 25% of the nation’s food.

Drought-induced water scarcity and heatwave-driven warm water have already impacted power production in several parts of the USA, including California. Future thermoelectric power production will depend on the availability of sufficient water resources, which will be directly impacted as a result of climate change.

Changes in precipitation patterns, along with increased evaporation rates, have already reduced freshwater availability in certain regions of the USA. Freshwater scarcity and water temperature under climate change are major concerns for the availability of future food supplies, not only here in California but across the world.

Water scarcity creates a major risk for oil producers. Much of the growth in USA oil production in the past decade is due to technological advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracking. The water used for hydraulically fracturing one well in the Marcellus region, for example, could provide sufficient water for 30 families of four for one year.

The contents of this article do not directly apply to the world of non-destructive testing, but will influence the adjustments that the sector will be required to make and the lives of future generations dependent upon how we adapt. There are clear imperatives that require us to act now in order to prevent a dystopian future.

Meanwhile, I am still sizzling here in California, at a temperature of 109°F (43°C), down from 113°F (45°C) yesterday, but at least I don’t have to heat my pool!

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