The Great Drought of 2012 has yet to come to an end, but we already know that its consequences will be severe. With more than one-half of America’s counties designated as drought disaster areas, the 2012 harvest of corn, soybeans, and other food staples is guaranteed to fall far short of predictions. This, in turn, will boost food prices domestically and abroad, causing increased misery for farmers and low-income Americans and far greater hardship for poor people in countries that rely on imported U.S. grains. This, however, is just the beginning of the likely consequences: if history is any guide, rising food prices of this sort will also lead to widespread social unrest and violent conflict.
We’ve tapped underground water sources pretty heavily as well. The water level in the Ogallala Aquifer in the Midwestern U.S. has dropped more than 150 feet in some places, leaving many farmers’ wells bone dry. As water is sucked out of aquifers, the overlying soil and rock can compact or collapse into the dewatered void, causing tall buildings to teeter in Mexico City, automobiles to tumble into sinkholes in Florida, or swallowing tourists on the fringes of the shriveling Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan. With so many rivers, lakes and aquifers going dry, we have to ask: Are we running out of water?
Renowned environmentalists Maude Barlow and Vandana Shiva join us. Says Shiva, “Most civilizations of the world, for most of human history, have seen the world in terms of relatedness and connection,” says Shiva. “And if there’s one thing the rights of Mother Earth is waking us to, is: we are all connected.”