Is Another Dust Bowl Coming?


John Nielsen-Gammon, a professor of atmospheric sciences, is cautious:

At this point, we still have a ways to go before things dry out enough over a long enough period of time to give us another Dust Bowl. The impact of rising temperatures is still relatively modest, and the current drought could be finished as early as this winter by effects from the developing El Niño. Nonetheless, rising temperatures make an extreme and prolonged drought more and more likely.

Along those lines, Joe Romm cites studies that "project 'extreme drought' conditions by midcentury over much of the most productive and densely populated areas on Earth":

[H]uman adaptation to prolonged, extreme drought is virtually impossible. Historically, the primary adaptation to dust-bowlification has been abandonment. The word "desert" comes from the Latin desertum for "an abandoned place." We aren't doing a great job of feeding the 7 billion people we have now. How can we lose much of the most productive farmland here and around the world and feed another 2 billion people?

(Chart from The Weather Channel)