New Mexico was in the first wave of states to require gradually increasing amounts of renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal to power its electrical grid. Signed into law in 2004, the state’s Renewable Energy Act required private utilities to ensure that 20 percent of the electricity they provide to consumers comes from those sources by 2020. Since then, what was once a novel idea has gone mainstream. Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and three territories have similar laws. More than half have higher goals than 20 percent.
A “rough cut” estimate of water needs in southwestern New Mexico presented to the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity, or NMCAP Entity, back in June doesn’t tally up with other water studies for the region. And getting answers from the Interstate Stream Commission about the different estimates has proven impossible.
Tucked away in the southwestern corner of New Mexico, the headwaters of the Gila River pour out of mountains remote and wild. At least five other times in the past century, officials thought about taming or tapping its upper waters—then bumped up against the Gila’s unpredictability or inaccessibility. But the problems of the past haven’t dissuaded New Mexico officials from planning a new diversion of the Gila river. Nor are diversion project proponents deterred by predictions for a warmer, drier future. Some say that makes a diversion all the more necessary.
Silver City officials don’t want anything to do with a planned diversion on the Gila River—or the group of local governmental agencies that have agreed to plan, operate, and maintain the diversion. Instead, the city is focusing on conservation and efficiency.
Climate change won’t just affect rivers and forests. It’ll have widespread impacts on communities and cultures. As parents, teachers, and community members, there’s a lot we can do to make sure all New Mexico’s young people are learning about climate change, the challenges the state is facing, and paths toward possible solutions.
Watershed ecologist Krista Bonafantine wants to reduce political discussions around climate change and just get to the science of the matter. She think it’s possible to do that with students, teachers – and the public – by focusing on changes in the places people live and care about, learning from the past, and using science to make better management decisions.
Whether these are rural newspapers, daily weather reports on television, or the state’s largest paper, not giving readers information about climate change – and what scientists are anticipating will occur in New Mexico as the region continues warming – does a great disservice to the public.
On the latest episode of Blue Corn Live, a new podcast exploring food in New Mexico, farmers from the Albuquerque area talk about some of the challenges they face, including when it comes to climate change.