Texas Drought Leaves Lasting Effects

Last week I volunteered to paint a thrift store with a couple hundred other people. The paint project was outside, so when the sky went dark and the thunder rolled in all anyone could hear were groans. The rain inconvenienced us, left us without a purpose and became quite a nuisance. The irony of our feelings didn’t sink in until later that day.

Historically, rain is something to be valued above all else. It brings fresh waters to lakes, gives life to crops that will provide food and provides a way for animals that we eat to thrive. The very fact that some people complain about rain is almost unnatural, but of course we all do it. Rain floods our cities, cancels sports games and darkens an otherwise beautiful day. Even though many may have forgotten the gift that rain is, the farmers and mothers of today have not.

Since October 2010, Texas has been experiencing the worst drought recorded in the state’s history. The lack of rain has severe and lasting effects. Texas produces 55% of the United States’ cotton crop, but half of that crop was lost due to the drought in 2011 [1]. This has caused cotton prices to increase. The prices of food as well will rise, because Texas and Oklahoma produce a third of the U.S. winter wheat crop [1]. With no water in the soil to help the wheat grow, the prices of bread will continue to rise. The drought has also affected Texas ranchers who have been forced to sell or slaughter much of their cattle due to the lack of hay to feed them [1].

Texas State Climatologist, John Nielsen-Gammon, estimates that the drought could last for three to fifteen more years, because of the effects of La Niña and changing ocean surface temperatures [2]. Coupled with rising temperatures, the demand for water will increase yet the supply will remain limited. So despite power outages or flooding that rain may cause, be thankful the next time your local meteorologist predicts stormy weather.



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