Story at a glance

  • The United Nations announced that drought is at-risk of becoming “the next pandemic.”
  • A new report published on Thursday highlighted the need for urgent action to tackle climate change through water and land management.
  • About 1.5 billion people have suffered from the effects of droughts this century, with the land devastation, food insecurity and other subsequent factors leading to economic costs of an estimated $124 billion.

The United Nations (U.N.) announced that drought is at risk of becoming “the next pandemic” if urgent action isn’t taken to tackle climate change through water and land management. 

According to a report published on Thursday, about 1.5 billion people have suffered from the effects of droughts this century, with the land devastation, food insecurity and other subsequent factors leading to economic costs of an estimated $124 billion. 

The U.N. secretary general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, Mami Mizutori said, “Drought is on the verge of becoming the next pandemic and there is no vaccine to cure it. Most of the world will be living with water stress in the next few years.” 


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The effects are already being observed in the United States. 

This week, the Southwestern United States is facing extremely hot temperatures — across Utah, California, Nevada and Arizona — and some areas are expected to reach dangerous highs of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

More than 48 million people throughout the Southwest are under heat advisory warnings from the National Weather Service

In Arizona, the Telegraph fire, which began on June 4, has burned 104,755 acres as of June 14. 


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Some scientists believe the Western United States is on the verge of a permanent drought, which is characterized by an unchanging dry climate, sparse vegetation and increased risk of wildfires. 

Recent years have seen expansive droughts and longer fire seasons. 

“People have been living with drought for 5,000 years, but what we are seeing now is very different,” Mizutori said. “Human activities are exacerbating drought and increasing the impact.”


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Published on Jun 17, 2021