Cover Image

PAPERBACK
$39.00



View/Hide Left Panel

the demand for electricity will increase by 4 to 6 percent over the increase that would occur without global warming. The growing competition between municipal and industrial water users and agricultural water users will exacerbate existing supply shortfalls in populous arid areas, and cities may use their political power at both the state and federal level to bar all but the most essential crops from being irrigated. Simultaneously, the efforts to allocate more water to in-situ uses that began in the 1970s may literally evaporate. A recent global warming disaster scenario includes the prediction that "[i]n northern California, low water levels and high temperatures deoxygenated Tule Lake, inducing epidemics of botulism that eventually killed off immense flocks of ducks and geese that had made Tule the greatest single gathering around the world for migratory waterfowl" (Oppenheimer and Boyle, 1990).

GLOBAL WARMING RESPONSE STRATEGIES: WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING?

Three interrelated responses to global climate change have been identified: (1) further research, (2) adaptation to temperature rises, and (3) the reduction of the root causes of the warming (resource demand). The merits of the first option are a given (Guruswamy, 1990). The current debate centers on the comparative merits of the second two options. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases must be reduced to slow the warming, but implementing the third option will require a radical change in energy generation and consumption and thus a radical shift in the economic and social organization of all countries.

Climates have historically varied throughout the world, and civilizations accepted variations more or less as fate. In the past, the causes of climate change were unknown natural phenomena rather than human activities; man did not try to manage climate change. However, the legacy of the enlightenment is that climate can be adapted to man through technological progress. The entire settlement of the West can be understood as a living example of this faith. We have refused to accommodate to the limitations of aridity and have sought to turn deserts into gardens for all who would cultivate them.

Global warming is forcing a modest reexamination of this practice. Most moderate alarmists counsel adoption of the second strategy: the decade-by-decade adoption of flexible response strategies to prepare us to live with long-term change. Water shortages are one very important category of the full range of possible adverse



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement