Droughts, less water in Europe as warming wrecks crops, UN reports

The Vinuela reservoir is seen with a low water level due to lack of rain in la Vinuela, southern Spain, Feb. 22, 2022. Declining agricultural yields in Europe, and the battle for diminishing water resources, especially in the southern part of the continent, are key risks as global temperatures continue to rise. These conclusions are part of a United Nations report that will help countries decide how to prevent the planet from warming further. (AP Photo/Carlos Gil)

LA HERRADURA, Spain (AP) - "Herders and farmers have their feet on the ground, but their eyes on the sky." The old saying is still popular in Spain's rural communities who, faced with recurrent droughts, have historically paraded sculptures of saints to pray for rain.

The saints are out again this year as large swaths of Spain face one of the driest winters on record. Even as irrigation infrastructure boomed along with industrial farming, the country's ubiquitous dams and desalination plants are up against a looming water crisis that scientists have been warning about for decades.

"We are facing a drastic situation," said Juan Camacho, a farmer in the southern province of Granada, as he looked hopelessly at withered leaves of avocado plants and their fruits, smaller than usual this year.