Under its “Extreme Weather and Climate Updates,” section online, the New York Times, suggests climate change is causing drought conditions in the United States to worsen. This is false.
Data show no significant increase of drought in the United States during the recent period of modest warming. In fact, data indicate, if anything, most of the United States has experienced more rainfall during the past 150 years, becoming less prone to extended drought.
“Nearly half of the land mass of the contiguous United States — 47 percent — is experiencing drought conditions, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, and it’s getting worse in the Northern Plains and everywhere west of the Rocky Mountains,” wrote the New York Times on August 25. “Droughts are a normal part of life, especially in the American West, where they have occurred regularly throughout the centuries. But scientists say that climate change, in the form of warming temperatures and shifts in precipitation, is making the situation worse.”
Historically, it is common for more than 40 percent of the United States to be experiencing drought at any period of time. What is uncommon is for less than 40 percent of the country to be experiencing drought, yet, as reported in Climate at a Glance: Drought, that just what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data show occurred recently.