Water shortage has been talked about for years now, especially in California, where many big cities rely on the aqueduct for usable water. I know that water meters have been installed all over northern California and will begin counting water usage within the next couple of years. Not getting enough water is obviously the biggest immediate threat to human well-being, since we can’t live without drinking it or using it to farm, so that would seem the most immediate priority. Thankfully, the average person can make a substantial difference in this situation by budgeting water usage and encouraging others to do the same.
To me, all these effects of climate change are pretty scary, and it’s hard to single out one as the most important. Fortunately, the solution to each of them is largely the same: we need to stop the burning of fossil fuels and other activities that contribute to global warming. Only be reducing greenhouse gases can water shortages, wildlife extinctions, desertification, and other impacts of global warming be prevented. Solving this problem means taking action at the personal, community, and even national level to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
The primary thing we should be focusing on at this moment is promoting change and movement away from over consumptive behaviors to behaviors that value our natural capital. If people change their behaviors and start using less energy, buying more locally, and recycling and reusing ect. then we can slow the effects of climate change. I think the most important thing to do at this point is to properly monetize our natural capital for what it is really worth. For example, what is more important, paper coming form old growth forests, or the ecosystem service of turning carbon into oxygen provided to us by forests? What is more important, a shopping complex where a wetland used to be, or the storm suppression and water purification provided by the wetlands? Once people understand how important ecosystem services are and how difficult they are to artificially replicate, the sooner we will be able to create a society that values sustainable development.
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