Many groups and organizations in New Mexico are taking action and proposing legislation to address the climate crisis at the state level because of inaction at the federal level.

However, the uncoordinated, piecemeal nature of these efforts limits progress and precludes the development of a comprehensive climate change policy and action plan commensurate with the scale and urgency of the crisis. Resources are being wasted; momentum slowed; the big picture and common interest obscured; and the public is left confused and disheartened by competition and conflict among the various voices, each advocating for its separate and partial agenda in relative isolation.

We believe that no individual or group in isolation, however expert, can develop a policy and plan capable of meeting such a complex challenge as successfully as a body of representatives of all stakeholder constituencies working together under favorable conditions.



In our view, the process most likely to produce a comprehensive, maximally effective, fair and politically viable climate change policy and action plan for New Mexico will be one that tries to understand and integrate the many different perspectives, experiences and ideas regarding climate change to be found among New Mexicans. Such a process would reflect rather than gloss over the various and sometimes conflicting needs, interests, understandings and opportunities present in New Mexico’s diverse society and changing economy.

We propose creating a New Mexico Climate Action Council. Different from a coalition of lobbyists cobbled together to win a political fight, the council, through its work of dialogue and informed deliberation, would develop the framework of the needed policy and action plan.

Successful completion of the council’s work would depend on creating a space in which respectful communication becomes possible. This, in turn, will require: skilled facilitation to help navigate the inevitable conflicts that may arise due to different perspectives and needs; and leveling the playing field to counteract the power differential that exists in any group.

Models of how to leverage “the wisdom of the crowd” that have been used to realize the collaborative development of policies by diverse, even opposing, constituencies include “citizens’ assemblies” (citizensassemblies.org) and “deliberative democracy” (cdd.stanford.edu), which provided the framework for the recent “America in One Room” experiment (nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/02/upshot/these-526-voters-represent-america.html).

New Mexico can learn from these and other models, but will almost certainly want to develop its own “all-in,” collaborative policy-development process.

We call on the governor and members of the proposed New Mexico Climate Change Task Force to lead the effort to realize this most promising approach to meeting the challenge of the climate crisis.

Dr. Gregg Manoff and Dr. Justina Trott are concerned citizens who have lived and worked in New Mexico for more than 40 years. They live in Santa Fe.

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(7) comments

Khal Spencer

I'd like to see the membership in the Governor's Climate Council. I read the Exec Proclamation but there are no names, just orders that members of the Cabinet are on the committee or have to delegate to someone else. Are the members grounded technocrats? I wonder if any of our UNM geoscientists or engineers is on it.

https://www.governor.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/EO_2019-003.pdf

Meanwhile, I suspect a lot of this will get litigated, i.e., if the state tries to enforce vehicle emission standards or "you're da** right, we are coming for your SUV's". Will the state fund 100% of anyone's decision to re-insulate their home?

What the public truly lacks is a scientific underpinning of what we know and how well we know it. The present suggestion that we form a committee (its always a good idea to form a committee, right?) may result in a committee of the uninformed. "Climate Crisis" has become just another buzzword. Kinda like "common sense gun control" and the Right has their own list of political pablum. Its been too dumbed down.

To get public acceptance, I think we need to get public buy in to informed choices. Being lectured in generalities with slogans and dire warnings ain't the way to do it. Where are the UNM climate modellers, economists, and geoscientists and why are they not offering us solid editorials on what we know, the limits of knowledge, and how various economists translate this into real world economic numbers? All in lay terms in the Journal and New Mexican.

Bruce Taylor

Climate change is, indeed, the existential issue of our time. I agree that there's a requirement for a state-level approach, and I applaud this request of Governor Lujan Grisham she appoint a special council dedicated to both issues of sustainability and resiliency. Accelerating clean, sustainable energy development -- solar and wind -- and smart grid distribution is critical. Moving toward a (more) circular economy will be a requirement. Aligning state-wide efforts with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals provide a clear set of criteria and metrics for measuring progress against globally agreed upon criteria. My one recommendation is that the Governor form the group with the UN SDGs central to its charter. Forming this Council on Climate Change right now isn't a moment too soon.

Dr. Michael Johnson

You have to be amused at the way the left wing/socialists dance around issues and assume everyone agrees with their "solutions", so it is just a matter of getting all us socialists together to "agree" on the "consensus" we all know is "correct". This so-called "council" would be a bigger waste of time and taxpayer money than the stacked and biased so-called "task force" old Mich stuck together to get her preconceived "answer", to save the earth by NM leading the way. These kind of people want nothing to do with any rational, opposing viewpoints, facts, and data to upset their partisan political agenda. They "know" what to do, let's just "convince" everyone we are right and they are wrong, simple.

Bruce Taylor

I am appalled that you believe climate change to be a subject "invented" to further some political agenda.

Khal Spencer

Really? Where did Mike say that or are you putting words in his mouth?

Robert Bartlett

"creating a space in which respectful communication becomes possible"

But agree with us smarter people or we will call you a denier.

David Mulberry

What crisis?...what is the earth see now that it has never seen before?....could it be with our technology we have now we are seeing more now then we have in the past?.....why were there more severe storms..droughts..heat..etc..when the co2 levels were lower?....why focus only on the US and not those countries that put out far more emmisions?...how can you stop the solar minimum and the other climate producing forces?.....in other words....you can't stop or change the climate...the money trying can be used for much better things...

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