A two-degree global temperature increase seems inevitable
Two recently published studies independently conducted concluded that the Earth's temperature will rise by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next century, even with a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the adoption of mitigation strategies. Scientists suggested that even if the burning of fossil fuels was stopped immediately, we would still see a 2 degree temperatures rise. Hopefully, with 158 countries having adopted the Paris Agreement, countries will be able to prevent a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius.
The impact of climate change ranges from more severe and prolonged droughts, rising seas, decreased available freshwater, a melting Arctic, unreliable power supply, less productive crops, and mental health. In July 2017, MIT climate scientists released a study concluding that climate change will result in less rain in the Southwest United States. With less rain, there will be less water available reservoirs used for irrigation and therefore lower crop yields by 2050. On the East Coast of the United States, rising sea levels are already causing forests to die off. While this is a natural process, as a result of climate change this process is occurring at an accelerated rate. In the past 100 years, seas along the East Coast have risen at a faster rate, 1.3 feet, than in the proceeding 2,000 years. In India, climate change has been linked to increased suicide rates among farmers. More than 1.3 billion people in India earn incomes based on agriculture, and while farming is already a risky business, climate change exacerbates the risk by heightening the severity of droughts and storms. Experts estimate that by 2050, temperatures in India will rise 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Throughout Europe, countries are experiencing power shortages as a result of water shortages. These shortages are expected to increase as rain patterns change due to rising temperatures.
Mitigating the impacts of climate change starts first with anticipating and planning for the impacts changing global temperatures will have on access to water. Better planning for water needs will help to eliminate unreliability and inadequate supplies to meet demands. While some changes require government action, individuals can contribute by buying energy-efficient and water-efficient appliances, reducing water use, and reducing energy use.