In New Mexico Climate Change is More of the Same

Sep 30, 2013

At the end of August, the Rio Grande on the south side of Albuquerque had dwindled to a trickle.
Credit Laura Paskus

Last week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report from the world’s top climate scientists detailing everything from extreme drought to rising sea levels.

For decades, the IPCC has collected information about changes in the climate over time and improved models predicting future changes. One of the scientists who worked on the Fifth Assessment Report is the University of New Mexico’s David Gutzler.

The professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences says the report doesn’t hold any surprises for New Mexico. It confirms what scientists have been saying for years: Change is already here. And in the coming years, we’re talking about more rising temperatures and more declines in winter snowpack. And that means streamflows in New Mexico will continue to dwindle over the next century

As a scientist, Gutzler says he’d like to see the political debate about the causes of climate change shift to a discussion about how to handle those changes. "Once we turn the political debate into a technological challenge, then we turn from things we’re not so good at—which is arguing at each other—into a technological challenge,” he says, “and we know we’re really good at solving those.”

When it comes to climate change, Gutzler says we’re not doomed. But climate change can’t be ignored, either. He says the climate is changing—whether we like it or not.