The Consequences of the Southwest Megadrought


Photo Credit:

Jesus Ortiz, OwlFeed News Reporter

The‌ ‌Southwest‌ ‌is‌ ‌known‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌dry‌ ‌heat,‌ ‌the‌ ‌canyons,‌ ‌and‌ open ‌desert.‌ ‌Many‌ ‌people‌ ‌don’t‌ ‌know‌ ‌what‌ ‌is‌ ‌happening‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Southwest.‌ ‌For‌ ‌those‌ ‌wondering‌ ‌what‌ ‌is‌ ‌happening,‌ ‌the‌ ‌Southwest‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌having‌ ‌one‌ of‌ ‌the‌ ‌biggest droughts ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌seen. 

The Southwest has always been hot. If you have ever lived in the Southwest, you most likely experienced a drought once in your lifetime. 

Over the years the droughts in the southwest region of the US have been expressing some of the worst droughts we have seen in a long time. Park Wiliams, a climate scientist at UCLA, said, “Scientists pointed out that the flow of the Colorado River during the 2020 and 2021 water years shrank to the lowest two-year average,” according to the LA times.

Low water in these regions is a very bad thing. Yes, the Southwest is a very dry place, but having limited access to water increases a lot of environmental changes on the landscape. 

Research points to real problems in the chronic overuse of water sources like the Colorado River, which fueled the growth of cities from Los Angeles to Phoenix over the past century,” Williams added. “He said the widespread depletion of groundwater is another symptom of overdrawing the region’s critical water reserves.” 

“Many people in the West may not feel like they’re living through a megadrought,” he said, because “we have all of these buffers in our system now, like groundwater and large reservoirs. But we are utilizing those backstops so rapidly right now that we’re at real risk of those backstops not being there for us in 10 or 20 years.” 

In that time frame, it’s possible that this current drought still hasn’t ended, or the next megadrought has already begun, Williams said.

One‌ component of ‌hot‌ ‌and‌ ‌dry‌ ‌weather‌ ‌is‌ ‌climate‌ ‌change.‌ ‌Climate‌ ‌change‌ ‌has‌ ‌been affecting this drought more than we thought. ‌The‌ ‌carbon‌ ‌footprint‌ ‌humans‌ ‌are‌ ‌leaving‌ ‌around, ‌has‌ ‌affected‌ ‌our‌ ‌homes‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌planet‌ ‌we‌ ‌live‌ ‌on.‌ 

Climate change is something that we need to pay attention to. Due to climate change the earth has been heating up dramatically. 

According to, “Since the pre-industrial period, human activities are estimated to have increased Earth’s global average temperature by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), a number that is currently increasing by 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.36 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade. It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land.”

One more thing that is getting affected is our food sources. A larger portion of our fruits and vegetables come from the Southwest regions of the US. With this really bad heat and dryness coming from the drought, it makes it really hard to grow and produce these really important food sources. 

According to Diana Leonard at The Washington Post, “Scientists refer to this combined hot and dry effect as ‘aridity’ — a warm and thirsty atmosphere that can pull moisture from soil and plants, melt snow, and intensify heat waves.”

Will this get any worse? Yes, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “Climate change increases the odds of worsening drought in many parts of the United States and the world,” the center said. “Regions such as the U.S. Southwest, where droughts are expected to get more frequent, intense, and longer lasting, are at particular risk.”

This heat is out of control, and it will only get worse over time. By now we as humans that are making our planet uninhabitable should know what our role is, and we should also try to minimize the fallout before it can’t be undone.