Southwest 2050 Forecast Script

This is Dr. Emily Schoerning with AR, and we’ve got your 2050 climate forecast for the Southwest.  I gotta tell you, just starting off, that this region includes California.  All of California!  We’re also looking at the four corners states and Nevada.  And anyone who’s going to look at a region that gigantic and think that one forecast really covers that whole area, well.  Let’s just say that if you’re in the Southwest, you’re going to want to get in touch with me for more detailed local information.

These Southwestern states are united in that every one of them is looking at very serious water challenges in the 2050 forecast.  The American Southwest, writ large, is a place where the climate does go through long-term wet and dry cycles.  Way back in the day, the four corners region used to have the biggest cities in North America, but that all changed around 800 years ago.  People left because of the Great Drought.  It lasted decades.  There wasn’t enough water, there wasn’t enough food.  So most of the people left, but some people stayed.  And some of those people’s descendants are there now, such as among the Hopi nation and the Navajo nation.  As we’re looking to America 2100, there are going to be some of you now in the Southwest who stay, who tough it out, and let’s talk a little about what that’s going to mean.

When I was reading up on this report, how it’s going to get hotter and drier in the Southwest, I learned something very important.  And that important thing is that a lot of the current power infrastructure in the Southwest is going to get so much less efficient as a result of those changes.  You’re talking about 20%, 30% power losses.  Some of the power stations don’t generate power as well if they get too hot, you can imagine your hydroelectric dams are not going to generate as much power when the water levels get low.  You don’t have to imagine that, it’s happening now.  So if you want to make a go of things in the Southwest over the next 30 years, you and your community are going to want to focus on generating some energy independence.  This is a great region for solar.  Solar technology for homes and communities is getting pretty good, it’s changed a lot in the last ten years. 

You’re going to want some energy stability, some energy independence, because if you don’t have power, you can’t get cool.  I lived in Phoenix, I’ve lived in Fresno.  These are places where it is bad for your long term health if you can’t get access to air conditioning, if you can’t cool down.  These places are hot enough now that the heat is a public health issue, and the heat is going to stay very intense.  In Phoenix, by 2050 there will be about 30 more days a year over 100 degrees.  The summers are going to get longer.  Now, I know a lot of people who live in the Southwest right now, they like the summers.  They’d rather have the summers than the kind of winters I get to enjoy in the Midwest, and I can respect that.  I think it’s good to have an idea of what you’re in for, though.  How much longer those hot summers are going to get, and that the winters are not going to be as cool.  Very large portions of this region that used to see freezing, subfreezing temps in the winter, are no longer going to freeze.  That has big implications for agriculture.  If you can get the water, there’s a lot of interesting stuff you’ll be able to grow in the Southwest, but the water is going to be a real challenge.

            The current drought is bad, and it’s not going to end anytime soon.  The current wildfires are bad, and they’re not going to end anytime soon.  We could easily be looking at another Great Drought, another drought that pushes many people out of this region.  If you have a spring or a well, you can’t necessarily depend on it.  The groundwater is dropping, the aquifers are dropping, and that trend is going to continue.  If you’re on land, or you’re considering investing in land in the Southwest, I’d advise you to check out and be prepared to defend your legal water rights.  And as you’re thinking about the future, assume that your water situation is going to get substantially worse.  Being okay now does not mean being okay in 2050.  You build in some wiggle room.

Here’s the good news.  There’s some bright pockets in this region, and you can get in touch with me for more info on that topic.  Another piece of good news.  This isn’t happening fast, this is kinda slow-rolling.  If you want to get out, move to an area with an easier outlook, you’ve got time.  Come to the Great Lakes region, we’ve got room. 

But I know plenty of you watching out there, that’s not you.  You love it there, you love it right where you are.  You’re tough.  If you want to be one of those people who come out on the other side of this drought, and there will be another side, you’ve got time to prepare.  We’ve got a good idea what’s coming.  You’ve got time to get ready.

This is Dr. Schoerning with AR, signing out.  Please help get the message out there.  There is hope.  We can prepare for what’s coming.  Let’s get ready.