Greenhouse gas emissions could “dramatically” increase the risk of “megadroughts” in some parts of the US, NASA has warned.
According to scientists, the US Southwest and Central Plains could face the worst droughts recorded in the last 1,000 years if emissions continue to increase.
Ben Cook, Climate Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies believes the current likelihood of a megadrought, i.e. one lasting more than three decades, is 12%.
He said: “What these results are saying is we’re going to get a drought similar to those events but it is probably going to last at least 30 to 35 years.”
The chronic water shortages expected in the US Southwest and Central Plains under the “business-as-usual” scenario would make farming as well as ranching nearly impossible.
However, the study found it could be manageable if we follow a path that involves slowing global warming by cutting carbon pollution. The research suggests if greenhouse gas emissions stop rising in the mid-21st century, the likelihood of a megadrought could be more than 60%.
The UK Energy and Climate Change Committee said a system that allows carbon trade to be linked between countries across the globe is the “most cost effective way possible” to cut CO2 emissions.