Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central
U.S. Federal Climate Assessment: Energy, Water, Land Intertwined and ThreatenedJanuary 31, 2013 By Wilson Center Staff
Water resources, energy, and land use are so mutually dependent that climate-related disruptions to any one of them could lead to economically devastating ripple effects – especially as a growing population puts increasing strains on all three. That’s one conclusion of a recent report issued by a federal advisory committee charged with assessing how climate change has already affected the U.S., and what the future holds.
The National Climate Assessment draft report, nearly 1,200 pages long, explores how the Earth’s climate is controlled by a complex system of interconnections. And, more specifically, how when the climate changes, those interconnections can make for all sorts of troubles.
“Energy projects, [including] coal-fired power, biofuel, solar farms – require varying amounts of water and land; water projects – water supply, irrigation – require energy and land; and land activities – agriculture, forestry – depend upon energy and water,” write the authors.
Climate change, they explain, affects each of these sectors directly. In energy, for example, rising global temperatures make it harder to keep water-cooled coal and nuclear power plants operating safely, to the point where some have already had to reduce power on very hot days – the very same days when demand for electricity to run air conditioners tends to be highest.
Video Credit: “GEOS-5 Modeled Clouds at 3.5km Global Resolution,” courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.