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Climate change is wreaking havoc on the Earth's water cycle

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Climate change is throwing the world's hydrologic cycle out of whack and promising big water problems in the coming years, climate scientist Peter Gleick told "The Climate Crisis Podcast." 

"We're getting more severe floods and more severe droughts. Temperatures have gone up consistently over the last many decades. That's what people tend to think about when we think about climate change, but ... those higher temperatures means the demand for water is higher," Gleick, the co-founder of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif., told Yahoo News, "The loss of water from our reservoirs evaporating off is higher. The demand for water from agricultural crops is greater. And so the warnings that the climate cycle and the water cycle are changing, and that those impacts are going to be increasingly severe, are now coming true."

Having testified before Congress multiple times on the risks climate change poses to agriculture and access to clean drinking water, Gleick has long warned that global temperature rise poses a threat to the hydrologic cycle. Much of his own research, as well, has been borne out over time.

A nearly empty section of Lake Oroville in Oroville, Calif.
A nearly empty section of Lake Oroville in Oroville, Calif. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

"It's hard for those of us who have been working on climate sciences for so long not to think, at least to ourselves and maybe sometimes, admittedly, out loud, 'Oh ... we told you so.' We've been issuing these warnings for a long time," Gleick said, adding, "Some of the things that we thought we would see, we expected to see, we predicted we would see, we're now seeing. It's no consolation that we're seeing those things now. It's a vindication of the earlier work of many, many people. But it's sad to understand that if the policymakers had paid more attention years ago, the impacts that we're seeing now wouldn't have been prevented, but would be much less."

Global temperatures are on the rise and have been for decades, step inside the data and see the magnitude of climate change.

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