Human Dimensions of Global Warming



"When the well is dry, we know the worth of water." (Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746.)

Climate change is profoundly changing Earth’s hydrology, giving us too much water in some places, but too little water in others; giving us too much water at one time, but not enough water over time; and giving us rain, but not snow. Perhaps the greatest challenge posed by climate change is deciding how to adjust our water resource use to address the “new hydrology.”

Decision-making takes place at all scales of human endeavor, from individual and household levels to community, state, national, and international levels. People regularly make decisions about water use at all these scales, including decisions that have time horizons of decades to centuries. Humanity, therefore, appears to be equipped to handle the water resource challenge presented by climate change. Although competing economic, political, cultural, and social interests will undoubtedly make this task more difficult than it needs to be, humans are infinitely resourceful and will figure out how to meet this challenge and, in many cases, turn it to their advantage.

This lesson concentrated on perhaps the most important impact of climate change –– the impact on water supply and quality. You learned about the difference between hydrology and water resources, the impacts of climate change on hydrology, the issues relating climate change and water resources, and the ways that the United States can adapt its water resource policies to account for climate change.  The lesson's reading and writing assignment focused on climate change impacts on hydrology and water resources in the Mid-Atlantic Region, providing an understanding of the climate change-related water problems affecting the area in which most of you live.

Reminder - Complete all of the Lesson 8 tasks!

You have reached the end of Lesson 8! Double-check the Lesson Assignments list on the Lesson 8 Overview page to make sure you have completed all of the tasks listed there.