Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog action day: water scarcity and impact for EM planners

Hello everyone! Today is Blog Action Day which is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year's topic is water.

This will explain why water is the subject of this year's actions:

For emergency managers, the concept of water scarcity and its impact on our North American society might be difficult to grasp because the problem is not yet an acute one. But how soon before it becomes so?

There have already been some heated discussions between states in the Southern US on water supply. and many issues related to the Klamath River water system in the Northwest ... and many Californians have felt the effects of water shortages at different times over the last few years.

By all accounts, these situations are only going to get worse.

What does this mean for EM planners? What are the implications in terms of public policy and public safety? Could we face internal mass migration toward areas where it's perceived there is more water? 

Would the Great Lakes area be flooded by American or Canadian refugees? 

It's often very difficult for EM planners to look at long time hazards/risks and engage in efficient mitigation and preparedness practices. In this case, I'd say that this is a topic that cannot be ignored. Large segments of the North American continent would not be able to sustain the population levels that are projected for 2050. Where will these people go? what will be the pressures on other states and on the relationship between the US and Canada? 

As climate change slowly affects all of our lives, many scientists and observers think that its impact will become more and more apparent on our demographics and geography. People will move where there is water, where crops can grow. Large swaths of territory (i'm thinking Vegas and Phoenix in particular, but also many areas of Texas, the central plains, Alberta and Saskatchewan, even northern Florida) will be severely impacted. 

How do you plan for a population displacement on such a scale? 

Yeah, I know. It's still some 40 years away but my children and their children will need water ...

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