Sweat, Sleep and Cheating: Teen Scientists Invent the Future (3/14/01)
Is the Earth getting warmer?
California's Power Crisis: How much power do you use every day? California now has to watch every volt. (2/7/01)
Drought Effects:A 17-year-old cattle farmer weathers a serious drought. (8/30/99)
the Air: Tom Bearden reports on the continuing debate over air
pollution and its effects.
with Dry Days
Don't let any rainy days fool you. In many areas in the United States, there is a severe dry spell affecting millions of people.
The period from April 2001 to March 2002 was the driest 12-month period in over 150 years for Maine, and second driest for New Hampshire, New Jersey and South Carolina, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
Federal scientists say an extremely dry winter caused severe or extreme drought conditions in 21% of the U.S., with the northeast area facing the worst problems.
How important is this drought that experts say is the worst one in 100 years? It affects many things like the way people live to the food they eat -- and relief may be very far away.
The drought effect
A severe drought can have small consequences, like shorter showers, to more serious effects like failing farms.
Wells and reservoirs
in some states are much lower than normal. People have to live by strict
water restrictions -- so no more hosing down driveways, watering lawns,
or washing cars at home for now.
States that depend on tourism may see fewer people visiting their low-level lakes and rivers, resulting in lower tourism income.
But this extremely dry weather is affecting the economy in other ways. With water shortages come costly water bills for business owners and homeowners. As a result, small businesses that use a lot of water -- like golf courses, car washes and landscape companies -- may have to raise prices or shut down.
Electric companies also use large quantities of water to cool their machinery. If they are limited in the amount of water they can use, they will have to produce less power than normal. This may cause brownouts, meaning that the demand for power exceeds the supply and the lights go out for short periods of time.
What is causing it?
So what is causing
the dry conditions? Drought is a normal part of every climate, but some
droughts are just worse than others.
Although global warming is often seen as the culprit for many different environmental woes, scientists say that it's too early to say whether or not that is a factor in the current drought.
To make matters worse, much of the Northeast had a heat wave in mid-April. The warm, sunny weather dried up precious ground water and tricked trees and shrubs into thinking it was summer, causing them to draw more water from the ground through their roots.
The end to the Northeast's mega-drought is not in sight. According to federal meteorologists, the chances are low that the amount of rainfall from now until July will take care of the current severe conditions.
Jeffrey Rothfeder, author of Every Drop for Sale, told the NewsHour: "When the drought ends, there will be less water than before we're going to all have to worry about it as a global issue."
Four simple ways to save water.
do you think? Should
washing cars or watering your lawn be illegal when there is a drought?
--Contributed by Mark Bower
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