Western megadrought is worst in 1,200 years, intensified by climate change, study finds

(Rick Bowmer | AP file photo) In this Aug. 26, 2019, photo, baked earth is shown along the receding edge of the Great Salt Lake near Antelope Island, Utah. 

Scientists calculated that 42% of the current drought is the result of global warming from human caused greenhouse gas emissions. The research warns that humans have the ability to make the drought even worse. With the drought, the Great Salt Lake has declined to record low levels, exposing valley residents to dust pollution, on top of exacerbated pollution from wildfires intensified by climate change. 

“The results are really concerning, because it’s showing that the drought conditions we are facing now are substantially worse because of climate change,” said Park Williams, a climate scientist at UCLA and the study’s lead author. “But that also there is quite a bit of room for drought conditions to get worse” a Yahoo article on the study writes.

We know that the drought is exacerbated by greenhouse gas emissions, which are also extremely harmful to human health. This means we need to move quickly to reduce our impact on climate change. Personal choices, like riding mass transit (UTA services for free all February), and not idling your car can make a big difference to emissions and air quality locally. 

We also need our Legislature’s help detaching our economy from dirty energy, which will only make drought and the air worse. This means vetoing oil railways like the Uinta Basin, and any new port infrastructure that will increase trucks in our area. 

Read more about the study here.