I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was incredibly pleased with the questions we got today for the drought chat over at the ABQJournal web site. My favorite bit:
Are we able to predict when there will be a serious problem with NM’s water supply?
The short answer is “no.”
The longer answer depends on two separate problems.
The first is the uncertainty associated with supply. Climate scientists cannot yet predict when droughts will happen, or how many years they will last. What they can say with certainty is that droughts that last a decade or more have happened repeatedly in the past, and there’s no reason to think they won’t happen in the future.
The second part of the problem is our steadily increasing water demand as population grows. That’s also hard to predict, but the trend there is clear. There are more and more us, and we’re using more water.
The message from archaeologists is that, in the past, societies that didn’t pay attention to the first part – climate’s ups and downs – had serious problems if they grew substantially during the wet parts of our inevitable climate cycles and didn’t pay attention to the fact that, sooner or later, it’s going to get dry again.
I assume you’ve already seen the Science paper to which http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/health/14666521.htm refers. I wonder lots of things about this, such as whether the jet stream in the southwest has been trending north consistent with the overall movement, and whether there are implications for Atlantic hurricanes.
I like your answer, John. I had a discussion the other day about how information transfer works to the public [my area is science -> policy] and the fact remains that we don’t train our scientists to communicate well. Your answer suggests the bridging strategy offered my many has merit.
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