In response to one of the most serious droughts to hit California in decades, President Obama has promised hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid to help residents cope. The past three years have seen below-average rainfall, putting 17 communities and many famers at risk of literally running out of water within the next three months. Obama’s offer of $183 million in drought relief funds was welcomed by those in the rural and agricultural areas most affected by the drought.
Photo © Fikret Onal
In his speech on Friday, the president drew parallels between the California drought and the dramatic hurricanes that have battered the East Coast in recent years. In addition to the millions set aside for the drought, he pledged to ask Congress to invest $1 billion in funding for a “climate resiliency” program to drive research, development, and new infrastructure to help communities cope with similar climate-related disasters. Obama justified the move by saying, “A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher.”
Obama also echoed what many environmentalists have long warned, that even if the US takes immediate action to fight climate change, the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will mean that the Earth’s temperature will continue to rise for many years to come. The president emphasized that climate-related fires, droughts, hurricanes, and other disasters should be expected and budgeted for, noting that these disasters were likely to become costlier than in the past.
Lead photo © The U.S. Army