This blog was originally published on GreenBiz. Read the full post.
We know how important food, water and energy are to our daily lives, but what happens when we fail to value them as critical, interconnected resources for our economy?
In the summer of 2012, the U.S. was impacted by one of the worst droughts in recent decades. Eighty percent of U.S. farms and ranches were impacted, crop losses exceeded US$ 20 billion and unforeseen ripple effects followed.
With corn crops withering from the lack of rainfall, prices for food and livestock feed supplies rose, as did ethanol, predominantly sourced from corn. Numerous power plants had to scale back operations or even shut down because the water temperatures of many rivers, lakes and estuaries had increased to the point where they could not be used for cooling. Household, municipal and farm wells in the Midwest had to be extended deeper into rapidly depleting aquifers to make up for the lack of rainfall, draining groundwater supplies and demanding more electricity to run the pumps.
It is estimated that consumers will feel these ripple effects for years to come — over the next year alone, this impact could result in personal costs up to $50 billion.