A Nightmare? New Mexico Confronts Climate Change
New Mexico will be hit hard by climate change.
Already, rapid warming has occurred year-round since the 1960s and continues today and into the future. Temperatures have increased roughly 2°F in the cold season and nearly 3°F in the warm. These increases are more than twice the annual global average over the entire 20th century. Hotter, longer summers are dramatic — increasing more than 15% since the beginning of the 20th century. Climate change will diminish water supply, soil moisture, and snowpack; and droughts will be more severe.
All this will change the amount of hydropower, coolant for power plants and mine reclamation, as well as the demand for more electricity. Winter heating needs have been decreasing with warmer winters; and cooling needs have increased with hotter longer summers. Agriculture, especially irrigated agriculture, will be hit hardest.
A nightmare could easily emerge.
Greenhouse gas emissions
- The state is responsible for almost twice the per capita emissions of greenhouse gases than the American average (42 vs. 25 MMTCO2e) because of its intensive gas, oil and coal industries.
- Because of distances, New Mexicans consume almost twice the US average gasoline per capita. New Mexico consumes 23.3 million barrels of gasoline each year; 2 million more just to asphalt and oil its roads; and 2.4 million in aviation gas and jet fuel. About 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. Transportation, which reflects population growth, is the fastest growing emitter of greenhouse gases (29% increase in the 1990’s).
- Over 90% of the state’s power-related GHG emissions occur at coal-fired power plants. Just two coal-fired power plants — San Juan and Four Corners — produce 75% of the total.
- New Mexico government oversight does not yet track CO2 and methane emissions from the oil, gas, and CO2 industries.
Living in a Sacrifice Zone
Mike Eisenfeld from the San Juan Citizens Alliance talks about the effects of producing cheap energy on his community in northwestern New Mexico.