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What can we do about global warming in the Southwest?
Published March 20, 2007
Mitigation and Response
The driving force behind global warming is the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), from burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gasoline. Mitigating global warming means taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas sources or enhance greenhouse gas "sinks"--places where greenhouse gases are safely taken up, such as trees, which use carbon dioxide to grow. The United States, home to only 5 percent of the Earth's population, is responsible for 25 percent of global CO2 emissions. Mitigating global warming in industrialized nations presents the challenge of changing energy production methods while addressing the need for energy to serve economic growth and quality of life.
Governors Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Bill Richardson of New Mexico have created policy initiatives to mitigate global warming, including the Arizona and New Mexico climate change advisory groups, which build political and business partnerships to develop plans to reduce greenhouse gases. Federal, private, and non-profit organizations also provide information describing everday measures that everyone can take to reduce emissions.
According to the latest scientific consesus, societies will need to adapt to climate changes. Adaptation to climate change refers to adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.
During the last 100 years, temperatures in the southwestern United States have been increasing about twice as fast as the global average temperature. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) temperature projections show that further warming is likely in the Southwest. Scientists are less sure of the magnitude of regional precipitation changes. Nevertheless, in the arid Southwest, where water resources are already vulnerable to multi-year drought, communities will likely have to adapt to changes in water resource relaibility. Land use managers may also need to adapt to ecosystem changes created by long growing seasons and altered fire regimes.
Adaptation to global warming also means seizing new opportunities when they arise, such as implementing improved irrigation techniques, "water banking" (storing water in underground aquifers), and using reclaimed effluent, where feasible.
This list offers selected ersources that provide information on what governments, businesses, and individuals can do about global warming. It is not meant to be comprehensive. Material included in this list does not imply an endorsement of commercial services and products offerend on these websites or the political agendas of any agency or company.
AZ Climate Change
NM Climate Change
An Inconvenient Truth
Seattle Climate Action Plan
EPA Climate Change
American Solar Electric
Database of state Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
NM Energy Coalition for Clean and Affordable Energy