By Peter Gleick, President
March 7, 2014
In the last few months, as the severe California drought has garnered attention among scientists, policymakers, and media, there has been a growing debate about the links between the drought and climate change. The debate has been marked by considerable controversy, confusion, and opaqueness.
The confusion stems from the failure of some scientists, bloggers, reporters, and others to distinguish among three separate questions. All three questions are scientifically interesting. But the three are different in their nuance, their importance to policy, and their interest to politicians and water managers. Here are the three different questions:
- Is the California drought caused by climate change?
- Is the California drought, no matter the cause, influenced or affected by climate changes already occurring?
- How will climate changes affect future drought risks in California?
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