Drought

 

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Description or situation

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Overview

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The term "Drought" generally signifies an unspecified duration of time without appropriate amounts of water. Water is the most valuable resource humans depend upon. With out water and hydration we perish. In the past, ... thriving cultures built their villages and towns near sources of water but as time moved forward people found ways to move water from one location to another. This allowed  new towns to pop up in regions that previously had little or no water at all. The availability of fresh water has always been subject to seasonal fluctuations and the earths ability to produce the amount needed to sustain the populace. This was not as much of a concern back in the days when the the worlds population was much smaller. Those days are gone as the world population has grown immensely. According to the United Nations, the world population has now exceeded over 7 billion people. The amount of clean water required to sustain such a population is phenomenal and in many eyes has reached a tipping point for sustainability. The Earth has limitations with how much food and water it can produce in a given period of time or season. In the past, ... this fact had less of an impact to a minimal population. The earth has now become saturated with far more people to sustain in addition to a growing industry which consumes water at a much greater rate than ever before. As we continue to populate the earth we also continue to erode the resources and ability to sustain ourselves. This is a mathematical calculation that should not be ignored. It is only a matter of time when water may become more valuable than gold. Until such a time when we will turn ocean waters into a clean drinkable resource for everyone, ... we will all be subject to the growing concerns of longevity for the human race.

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The following is intended to assist those seeking information related to drought. A condition known to encompass periods of time without appropriate amounts of the most precious resource we have.

"WATER"

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What is a Drought?

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A drought is a period of below-average precipitation in a given region, resulting in prolonged shortages its waters supply, whether atmospheric, surface or ground water. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 15 days. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region.

As a drought persists, the conditions surrounding it gradually worsen and its impact on the local population gradually increases. People tend to define droughts in three main ways:

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Types of Drought

⇒  Meteorological drought is brought about when there is a prolonged time with less than average precipitation. Meteorological drought usually precedes the other kinds of drought.

  Agricultural droughts are droughts that affect crop production or the ecology of the range. This condition can also arise independently from any change in precipitation levels when soil conditions and erosion triggered by poorly planned agricultural endeavors cause a shortfall in water available to the crops. However, in a traditional drought, it is caused by an extended period of below average precipitation.

Hydrological drought is brought about when the water reserves available in sources such as aquifers, lakes and reservoirs fall below the statistical average. Hydrological drought tends to show up more slowly because it involves stored water that is used but not replenished. Like an agricultural drought, this can be triggered by more than just a loss of rainfall. For instance, Kazakhstan was recently awarded a large amount of money by the World Bank to restore water that had been diverted to other nations from the Aral Sea under Soviet rule. Similar circumstances also place their largest lake, Balkhash, at risk of completely drying out.  [Source]

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What causes drought?

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When considering the relationship of drought to climate change, it is important to make the distinction between weather and climate. Weather is a description of atmospheric conditions over a short period of time, while climate is how the atmosphere behaves over relatively long periods of time. Individual drought periods can be understood as discrete weather events. Climate changes occur over longer periods and can be observed as changes in the patterns of weather events. For instance, as temperatures have warmed over the past century, the prevalence and duration of drought has increased in the American West.

Global climate change affects a variety of factors associated with drought. There is high confidence that increased temperatures will lead to more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, earlier snow melt, and increased evaporation and transpiration. Thus the risk of hydrological and agricultural drought increases as temperatures rise. Much of the Mountain West has experienced declines in spring snow-pack, especially since mid-century. These declines are related to a reduction in precipitation falling as snow (with more falling as rain), and a shift in timing of snow-melt. Earlier snow-melt, associated with warmer temperatures, can lead to water supply being increasingly out of phase with water demands. While there is some variability in the models for western North America as a whole, climate models unanimously project increased drought in the American Southwest. The Southwest is considered one of the more sensitive regions in the world for increased risk of drought caused by climate change.  [Source]

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What are the effects?

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Times of drought can have significant environmental, agricultural, health, economic and social consequences. The effect varies according to vulnerability. For example, subsistence farmers are more likely to migrate during drought because they do not have alternative food sources. Areas with populations that depend on water sources as a major food source are more vulnerable to famine.

Drought can also reduce water quality, because lower water flows reduce dilution of pollutants and increase contamination of remaining water sources.

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Common consequences of drought include:

»  Diminished crop growth or yield productions and carrying capacity for livestock

»  Dust bowls, themselves a sign of erosion, which further erode the landscape.

»  Dust storms, when drought hits an area suffering from desertification and erosion

»  Famine due to lack of water for irrigation

»  Habitat damage, affecting both terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.

»  Hunger, drought provides too little water to support food crops.

»  Malnutrition, dehydration and related diseases.

»  Mass migration, resulting in internal displacement and international refugees.

»  Reduced electricity production due to reduced water flow through hydroelectric dams.

»  Shortages of water for industrial use.

»  Snake migration, which results in snakebites.

»  Social unrest.

»  War over natural resources, ... including water and food.

»  Wildfires are more common during times of drought.

»  Exposure and oxidation of acid sulfate soils due to falling surface and groundwater levels.

[Source]

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Effects on the human body:  Emphasized

Water is not a luxury, .... It is a necessity. People have been known to go for long periods without food but going without water is an entirely different situation. In normal conditions the human body might tolerate a period of 3 to 5 days without water. It is true that a few people have been known to last 8 to 10 days without water but it is not too common. At least 60% of the adult body is made up of water and every living cell in the body needs it to keep functioning.The lack of water in the human body leads to dehydration which can inevitably end in death.

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Symptoms of dehydration

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Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • No wet diapers for three hours for infants
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

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Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn't "bounce back" when pinched into a fold
  • In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby's head
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Unfortunately, thirst isn't always a reliable gauge of the body's need for water, especially in children and older adults. A better indicator is the color of your urine: Clear or light-colored urine means you're well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration.

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When to see a doctor

If you're a healthy adult, you can usually treat mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, such as water or a sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade, others). Get immediate medical care if you develop severe signs and symptoms such as extreme thirst, a lack of urination, shriveled skin, dizziness and confusion.

Treat children and older adults with greater caution. Call your family doctor right away if your loved one:

  • Develops severe diarrhea, with or without vomiting or fever
  • Has bloody or black stool
  • Has had moderate diarrhea for 24 hours or more
  • Can't keep down fluids
  • Is irritable or disoriented and much sleepier or less active than usual
  • Has any of the signs or symptoms of mild or moderate dehydration

Go to the nearest hospital emergency room or call 911 or your emergency medical number if you think a child or older adult is severely dehydrated. You can help prevent dehydration from becoming severe by carefully monitoring someone who is sick and giving fluids, such as an oral re-hydration solution (CeraLyte, Pedialyte, others), at the first sign of diarrhea, vomiting or fever and by encouraging children to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.  [Source]

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Other effects of a drought

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There are other conditions associated with a drought that have the potential to effect everyone directly or indirectly. A lack of water can result in extreme dry conditions. Fires are common during droughts which can destroy forests and crops as wooded areas and foliage dry out. In addition to environmental impacts which can also effect wild life and cause soil degradation it is important to consider the potential for economic impacts as a result of a drought. Businesses which depend on water such as farming and ranching will see the effects of a drought first hand. This industry has a secondary market that will be effected as well such as tractor and related equipment manufacturers, field workers and others who may be employed in the industry. Businesses that sell boats and fishing equipment will have a tougher time during a drought as the lakes and rivers dry up. Towns which are reliant upon recreational income will suffer just the same. Utility companies that normally rely on hydroelectric power, (electricity created from the energy of running water), may have to spend more money on alternate fuel sources to keep the power flowing. The increase in cost will surely be passed on to the customers. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that most everything will become more costly during a drought depending on the severity.   [For more information visit this reference].

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Final note

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Is water an entitlement?

If natural dangers to our water levels are not concerning enough try accepting the fact that many municipal water systems are currently owned by private corporations and organizations. Some practices by such entities include charging unreasonable prices for water and or deny it all together. Whats worse is that some of those corporations may not be based in the country we live in. That's right, .... Our water resources may be owned by foreign entities. Want to know more about who owns the water.

[See more here]

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Videos

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The Causes and Effects of Drought

What Causes Drought?

California Drought Documentary - A State of Emergency

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  Find "solutions to drought"  

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References

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drought

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/symptoms/con-20030056

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/causes-of-drought-climate-change-connection.html#.VqbU2FJUXNM

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