No one can say the people of Earth have not been warned.

Climate change is here, it’s real and the window to stop its progression is rapidly closing.

Let’s not call it climate change anymore. The planet is in the midst of a climate emergency, with the future looking hotter, drier and bleaker.

This month’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report cannot be ignored. The body of scientists convened by the United Nations spelled out in compelling detail what the future we want to avoid looks like. The report makes clear humans are the cause of global warming, with a grim conclusion. Nearly all the rise in global average temperatures since the 19th century have been driven by nations burning fossil fuels, clearing forests and unloading into the atmosphere greenhouse gases that trap heat.

To save the future, nations, states, private industries and individuals must change their habits to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

That’s why the switch from burning fossil fuels for energy to renewable power is essential. It’s also why New Mexico and the United States must control methane gases and other pollutants.

If we can coordinate efforts to stop carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, temperatures will rise, but not to a point that makes life unbearable. Global warming would level off, with temperatures around 1.5 degrees Celsius hotter but no more. That’s not optimal. It is livable. Should global average temperatures keep rising, passing 2 degrees or 3 degrees or, heaven forbid, 4 degrees Celsius compared to the preindustrial world, the danger to humanity is exacerbated.

The report, based on 14,000 studies and approved by 195 governments, will be considered in November at a United Nations summit in Scotland to once again discuss how countries can increase efforts to reduce emissions. The goal from many world leaders, including President Joe Biden, is to limit the global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or about 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

If we act quickly across the world, we can change the future.

Under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the state has taken a number of important steps to reverse the climate emergency. An early executive order committed New Mexico to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030. A landmark Energy Transition Act requires 100 percent carbon-free electricity in New Mexico by 2050. Rules to require 98 percent gas capture by 2026 and to reduce methane emissions have been adopted or are in the process of adoption. The oil and gas industry is the state’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, and these rules will reduce the industry’s pollution footprint.

But oil and gas is just one area the state is addressing. The second greenhouse gas emitter is transportation, and the governor has worked to increase the availability of zero- and low-emission vehicles in the state. A Clean Fuel Standard is being updated as soon as the next legislative session and the state is shoring up electric vehicle infrastructure. Cities and counties should also work with the state to improve mass transit and improve conditions for biking and walking; we need fewer cars and trucks on the road.

The governor’s Interagency Climate Change Task Force meets quarterly — making climate action part of the day-to-day work in every state agency. With emissions reduced at 30 state buildings, taxpayers save $1.1 million a year in energy costs. New Mexico is focusing on building new industries to replace oil and gas so its economy can thrive. Solar tax credits are being issued — some 2,000 to businesses and individuals — and building codes have been updated to emphasize energy savings.

Cities and counties are making their own efforts, too. Among other initiatives, Santa Fe is working on making its canopy of trees more resilient; along with that work, there must be more emphasis on planting water-wise trees across private and public property. That means emphasizing rain catchment and water storage so these trees have an opportunity to live.

Local governments should have their own climate task forces and should talk to one another so we are working together toward a common goal. All decisions must be seen through the lens of the looming climate crisis.

The news is grim, but enough time remains — just barely — to write a different future.

(36) comments

Khal Spencer

Seems to me if we really want to establish some sort of human constructed "thermostat" to fix climate at a certain global temperature indefinitely, what we really need is a massive research investment into geoengineering, so we can respond appropriately to both human and natural influences on climate change.

And, of course, a t-shirt: Ban Climate Change Now!

Mike Johnson

True Khal, and the very fact that so many think the earth has an "ideal" or "optimum" temperature is downright frightening for a scientist to hear. Ignorance is widespread.

Khal Spencer

Well, as you pointed out, we built our coastal cities in an interglacial whereas sea level has only been roughly where it is today for ten thousand years. A blink of an eye geologically. Our desire for permanence conflicts with nature. So if we wish to have our cities and climate zones persist indefinitely, it will require a lot of thinking and work.

Khal Spencer

Humans developed advanced societies around the climate of this interglacial so by our very success, it must be optimal! Sure, no one wants to see the status quo change and have to swim to the subway in New York, but the irony is our very success has contributed to the anthropocentric component of climate change, resource exhaustion, and one of the great mass extinctions. As my cartoon picture says, we have met the enemy and he is us.

Having said that, prehistoric humans had to deal with climate change.

Hydroclimate changes in eastern Africa over the past 200,000 years may have influenced early human dispersal

Mike Johnson

I do find it ironic Khal, that it is supposed to be conservatives that resist and reject change and insist on the status quo permanently, certainly the left wing. liberal, progressives are proving that dogma false today.

Khal Spencer

Here's a nice tidbit. Basically, worrying about climate change is worrying about our own precious skins because we build cities, set national boundaries, and live as though the planet and its climate has to kowtow to our demands for stability. There is nothing wrong with taking an anthropocentric view of climate, but if that is the case, we need to do less to mess with it on the short term. My earlier sarcasm sometimes gets the best of me, but I think humans want to have it all: the electric car, comfy homes on low density developments, rich American diet, consequences.

To wit:

"Like nothing we’ve ever seen

Earth’s hottest periods—the Hadean, the late Neoproterozoic, the Cretaceous Hot Greenhouse, the PETM—occurred before humans existed. Those ancient climates would have been like nothing our species has ever seen.

Modern human civilization, with its permanent agriculture and settlements, has developed over just the past 10,000 years or so. The period has generally been one of low temperatures and relative global (if not regional) climate stability. Compared to most of Earth’s history, today is unusually cold; we now live in what geologists call an interglacial—a period between glaciations of an ice age. But as greenhouse-gas emissions warm Earth’s climate, it's possible our planet has seen its last glaciation for a long time."

Mike Johnson

There you go again, promoting so-called "greenhouse-gases"........Tyndall, remember Tyndall. We have to set good examples as earth scientists Khal.

Khal Spencer

Hi Michael. That was a direct quote out of the page. I didn't change it but expected [beam]

Mike Johnson

I knew that, but wanted to remind you.....and as for the bulk of your comment, yes, there is no free lunch and energy is not free nor is it without any disruptions to the earth, no matter what energy it is. Remember that 30 KWH are required to charge an EV to go 100 miles, now do the math and multiply that by how many EVs are out there charging up off the already overstressed electric grid and you can see the problem. And as the IEA has warned about EVs: "At least 30 times as much lithium, nickel and other key minerals may be required by the electric car industry by 2040 to meet global climate targets." And this sobering fact: "Broadly speaking, the mineral demands of clean energy technologies are greater than their fossil-fuelled counterparts, the IEA says." So, I hope people like mining, and trying to find ways to recycle all this new stuff, which has not been developed as of today....

Khal Spencer

Exactly, Michael. You won't get any disagreement out of me for your 4:23 comment.

I think the gist of one of my comments is that as my Marine Major in NROTC once said, "there is no such thing as a free lunch".

James Gibbons

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." Dylan

Climate Chance? Let's be candid; you are about to die. It's not 2030 or 2050, or the ice sheet will melt in 100 years. Climate change is now.

Please tell me Dr. Johnson, who is going to be alive on earth, what habitat will still exist at 4°C ? If you know the science as you claim, then you know the climate we have now is the results of CO2 released 8 years ago. If 100% of all CO2 released on earth was stopped today global temperature would continue to rise for then next 8 years. The beast of Wall St. is fed everyday. We are caught in the matrix suicidal web of a culture of our own creation and we are living in a society where the only sacrifice we are willing to make is that of our children. For those who think the earth will continue with life after humanity is gone I ask you, who is going to take care of the 400 nuclear power plants? So the time for action on climate change was yesterday. We still have time to see what your actions have done and I am afraid our children will call you THE WORST GGENERATION.

Khal Spencer

A bit overstated.

One, the earth tootled along just fine back in the Proterozoic when there were natural nuclear reactors on the planet such as at Oklo, due to the high content of 235U in natural uranium.

Secondly, the earth has been far warmer than today such as during the Paleozoic, Cretaceous, and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.

To be sure, warming coupled with changes in climate zones and sea level will play H*ll with human habitation and likely result in major upheaval. There will likely be extinctions and new forms of life moving into niches. But as far as the planet? It could care less.

Mike Johnson

Yes, Khal stated it well, predicting the human race will be wiped out in anyone's lifetime is beyond exaggeration. As Khal stated, the earth has been much warmer over the course of the planet's 4.6 billion years. How much? Well, the average earth temperature in the 20th century was 12.7 degrees C, in the Carboniferous Period (300 million years or so ago), it was over 20 degrees C, and the earth was a green, verdant landscape populated by all manner of plants and animals life. Humans would have done just fine in most all parts of the earth at that time, living in places far too cold today to support abundant life. You should read this:

As for sea level, since the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago, the sea level has risen by more than 125 metres (410 ft), with rates varying from less than a mm/year to 40+ mm/year, as a result of melting ice sheets over Canada and Eurasia, all without human CO2. Today sea level is rising at a rate of about 1.8 mm per year, a drop in the bucket compared to natural forces. Ignorance of science and the earth's history is not your friend Mr. Gibbons, it just makes you look ridiculous.......

The earth and all life on it is NOT about to end, Greta is not a scientist, and obviously, neither are you.

James Gibbons

Something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Johnson. Please don't take any social position on me and the rest of humankind with f you are not a scientist, your not going to understand what's going on. I do have two daughter's, both scientist, who graduated valedictorians from Santa Fe high schools and and went on to get their degrees from Ivy League universities and they agree with me. So stop with the insults.

There are 14,000 climate scientist backing me up. So you may enjoy living in a fern forest or on a sweaty Carboniferous beach, but that ideal has absolutely nothing to do with the earth's condition today. I am beginning to see the insanity of your thought process. You can go back into the phantasy of time and live in a delusion to the present day's acidification of the oceans, the vast desertification of land taking place now. The bottom line of what you are saying is "There is no problem with climate change" and for that Sir you shall be judged and the evidence shall be right outside your window.

Mike Johnson

What field of science did your daughter's get their undergraduate degrees in? Do they have graduate degrees? What jobs do they have today working in the sciences? If you want to claim attribution to higher authorities than myself, I need to know the details, otherwise I am not impressed.

Prince Michael Jauregui

Dr. Johnson, you make a good point. Still, Monocausotaxophilia? "Climate Change"?

Truth, be told: Acts of God. A term that terrifies the U.S. "News-media" with its pure, unadulterated honesty and immutability.

Amos 9:11 (get it?), is Now. Zechariah 12:8 is Now. Psalm 2 is Now. Daniel 12:1 is Here.

Mike Johnson

That is also an example, but of course the left wing and media would never entertain the possibility of God existing.

Prince Michael Jauregui

Precisely, Doctor. Thus, however unwittingly, defying Truth - and we see how well THAT has worked-our for Everyone.

Mike Johnson


Jim Klukkert

Ahem, Mike, the left wing, or at least one of the left wing here, who definitely acknowledges the existence of God.

Now please clean up your argument.

Mike Johnson

So Jim, if you are a true believer in God and Jesus Christ's power over the all earth and humans, and the universe, what plan do they have with seeing the earth destroyed by "climate change" or even threatened by it? Interesting fundamental questions of your deep faith. I for myself have no opinions on such things, I am a scientist.

Amy Christiansen

Youre right Michael! No matter what people do, the earth is going to burn!!!! Read your bibles!!!

Chris Mechels

We missed the message, in 1988, that James Hansen, and others, brought. No surprise there, that's what folks do, they ignore the obvious until its too late. We needed some Leadership, with vision. Perhaps Gore??

We are about to smack a great big wall, and it will be messy. Like billions of lives snuffed, real messy. But, the planet will survive, as always. And, just perhaps, we may be a bit humbler after that, though I doubt it.

The good news, its dead interesting. So interesting in fact that many will soon be dead. As there is no "goal", other than consumerism, nothing to obtain. Its all a dance, as Nietzsche saw so well.

Mike Johnson

Yes, Hansen is an interesting character. Having debated him once, I know he is sincere about his views here. He is also not a partisan ideologue, which I respect. He said this about Obama's efforts: "There is particular scorn for Barack Obama. Hansen says in a scathing upcoming book that the former president “failed miserably” on climate change and oversaw policies that were “late, ineffectual and partisan”".

And he said this about the Paris Accords:"Mere mention of the Paris climate talks is enough to make James Hansen grumpy. The former Nasa scientist, considered the father of global awareness of climate change, is a soft-spoken, almost diffident Iowan. But when he talks about the gathering of nearly 200 nations, his demeanour changes.“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just BS for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”"

Yes, he is sincere and honest about his opinions and not politically focused. I don't happen to agree with the extreme consequences he sees, but my education is in paleoclimatology, not climatology, and there is a distinct difference.

Mike Johnson

Yes, "climate change" (aka global warming or anthropogenic global warming) has become the textbook example of "Monocausotaxophilia":

The love of single ideas that explain everything, one of humanity’s most common cognitive errors."

There are some others too of course, in the left wing and right wing political mindsets.

rodney carswell

of course you are biased in a big way due to your no doubt richly rewarding role shepherding one of the institutions of big oil. And you tout yourself as pro-science (due to your PhD, I guess); but you cleverly brush climate change aside through the claim of a mass "cognitive error" for which you have no proof. Science requires proofs, I think, where is yours Dr?

Mike Johnson

Proof of what? Yes, I require scientific proof of the myriad things global warming is being blamed for, from the COVID pandemic:

To the illegal alien crisis at the border, to any and very hurricane, tornado, flood, wind storm, hail storm, drought, climate death, malaria, and the list goes on. I know certain things happening are proven about increasing CO2 in the atmosphere due to the Tyndall gas effect, but so many other unproven things are being blamed on increasing CO2, it has become exactly as I describe. I know what the data show and what the data do not show. Do you?

Khal Spencer

Report is here.

Prince Michael Jauregui

Well-written, albeit sobering, perspective.

Khal Spencer

If Inez had let me edit this, I'd have added a few comments.

1. Replacing the U.S. fleet of gas powered cars with e-cars is probably not sustainable in the long haul unless we reduce the amount of driving we do. Ratcheting up the mining, manufacturing, and electricity production to meet the demands of an auto-centric society will be a pipe dream.

2. To ameliorate #1, promote infill rather than sprawl and zoning practices that actually support less long range daily travel. Being able to shop in one's neighborhood, telework, or work at local hubs might help.

3. Pour R&D into research on more energy efficient transportation and appliances.

4. Encourage individuals to eat lower on the food chain.

5. Do more to have folks look at the nitty gritty rather than always pitching this at a 40,000 foot, "government's job is to...." level.

6. And, of course, hotlink to the "reader's digest" version of IPCC 6 since most don't want to read a Bible-size tome.

Meanwhile, blasting around my end of town with a souped up Super Duty just to demonstrate your lack elsewhere...sends the wrong message. As does ordering Wagyu Beef when you are the governor and telling the rest of us low-lifes to conserve.

Mike Johnson

Good points Khal, like I have all the other ARs, I am in the process of digesting it all. After retirement it has been an absorbing hobby to keep up with these things, when not blasting around in one of my Corvettes......and I plan to stay high on the food chain when it comes to diet, sorry, I like lobster, crab, halibut, and of course prime rib. BTW, I do find the sections on attribution of extreme events to be interesting, as well as the rate of warming since 1998.

Khal Spencer

Climate change is the only constant in climate and those trends coming out of the ninteenth century are exacerbated as we were coming out of the little ice age. Still, Tyndall gases are Tyndall gases.

The good news is the latest IPCC report reduced the maximum likely climate sensitivity factor a little bit. Meanwhile, the New Mexican ought to sign off with how many of the people on its editorial board are climate scientists.

As I sit here and cynically type this while listening to all the Santa Fe people loudly drag racing their souped up cars all over the north side of the city, I have to ask what amount of cognitive dissonance is acceptable as we move forward. Maybe a little bit of what we Catholics used to call self-denial during Lent, i.e., to practice self-discipline and remember the sacrifices Jesus made, would go a long way to lessening our carbon burden on the planet. Nah. No one is responsible. Government will take care of all of us.

Mike Johnson

Thank you Khal, for calling out the scientifically incorrect term of "greenhouse gases" for the proper scientific term that describes the physiochemical actions happening with Tyndall gases. A good friend of mine at TAMU started a campaign to try and stop political scientists from using that egregious term, his work continues....

Khal Spencer


Mike Johnson

I particularly object to Tyndall gases being said to "trap heat", it makes me want to upchuck.

Mike Johnson

Oh Khal, and to follow up on your comment about the education and experience the esteemed editorial board has in any science, much less climate science, I have to laugh at this whopper they throw out: "Global warming would level off, with temperatures around 1.5 degrees Celsius hotter but no more. That’s not optimal. It is livable. " So, please provide me the research on what the "optimal" temperature is for the planet, based on what, and by who's scientific data? I'll wait.......

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