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Drought, Fires, and Possible Food Shortages

Today we're going to focus on a BBC news report from last year about water shortages in the Western United States, but the topic applies to many places in the world.


The Western United States is now entering one of the worst droughts ever seen.

Captions 24-25, BBC News: California ‘crippling drought’ leads to strict water restrictions

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A drought (rhymes with "doubt") is a prolonged period of dryness that is usually caused by a shortage of rainfall or snowfall.


Then, in a place like the West, we get wildfires.

Caption 29, BBC News: California ‘crippling drought’ leads to strict water restrictions

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A wildfire is a large and sweeping fire in a wilderness or rural area. When a wildfire happens in a forest, it's called a "forest fire." The Canadian wildfires that filled many US cities with smoke starting in March 2023 are also a result of drought. The smoke from the fires made many cities issue warnings to residents to keep their windows closed and not go outside.


But thousands of acres are now lying idle, because they're unable to irrigate.

Captions 35-36, BBC News: California ‘crippling drought’ leads to strict water restrictions

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An acre is a unit of measurement, used primarily in the USA and the UK, that is around 4,000 square meters. The verb "irrigate" means to supply land and crops with water by artificial means, such as pumps and diverting river flows. The noun equivalent is "irrigation."


We're looking at food shortages in the United States.

Captions 44-45, BBC News: California ‘crippling drought’ leads to strict water restrictions

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Because of the lack of water for farms, there's a possibility that some kinds of food made with ingredients grown in the USA may be in short supply.


The government has urged Californians to conserve water.

Caption 46, BBC News California: ‘crippling drought’ leads to strict water restrictions

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The verb "to conserve" means to avoid the wasteful use of something. Water conservation measures are essential during times of drought. According to the BBC, the first three months of 2022 were the driest on record in the Western United States, but during this period, water usage actually increased!


So you see how a shortage of precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) has a domino effect: it hurts farming, causes wildfires and forest fires, and has a major impact on health and the economy. The city of Phoenix, Arizona has even suspended previously approved house-building projects due to the projected lack of water for them. Cities like Las Vegas, Nevada have even banned lawns as "nonfunctional," since maintaining them requires so much water. Phoenix has not yet implemented such drastic measures. Similar programs are taking place all over the Western United States.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla English and watch the video above in its entirety. You can also watch the Sigrid "Slow News" video in New Videos above. Then you may do a search for other videos using some of the keywords above. What can you and your family do to conserve water?


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