The science is crystal clear: We have less than ten years to radically change our course or face the great consequences of our ongoing ecological destruction spanning from our extractive industries.

According to the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s best scientists say we need to drastically move toward decarbonizing our energy economy if we want a habitable planet for our future generations.

By delaying any action on climate change and its immediate threat to our lives, we are working against our own futures.

The climate crisis is real and it is impacting the lives of everyday New Mexicans in real ways. Our communities have witnessed bigger wildfires, severe water droughts, and weaker snowpacks, all of which are threatening our way of life by depleting our water sources.

In fact, according to a report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, New Mexico’s major water sources have seen a decrease of up to 37 percent, compared to the total average throughout the 20th century.

In many ways our communities feel cornered because they understand the need to address the climate crisis but are perpetually told our communities will perish unless we continue to bow down to extractive industries. It is time to take the reins of our future — we the people working and living in the belly of the beast; we who put our lives on the line to extract our natural resources; and we who have been historically abused by corporations.

Without a doubt we are at a turning point, not only in the history of New Mexico, but in terms of determining the prospect of human existence. We must act swiftly and boldly, before it is too late. And we can’t continue to destroy our children’s homelands and futures, only for the accumulation of wealth of a few out-of-state CEOs who could not care less about our communities.

But there is good news on the horizon. This is because New Mexico has an opportunity to be a role model to the rest of the country in how to act on climate while making sure these decisions are informed by hardworking New Mexicans. The opportunity is called House Bill 9, the New Mexico Climate Solutions Act.

HB 9 arose from the need for a just transition to a clean and healthy environment, with a thriving economy that respects our history and tradition of hard work, and one led by us — front-line communities. It is time for us to be first in line for training and access to the high-quality jobs of the future in emission and pollution reduction, and clean energy.

The Climate Solutions Act is one-of-a-kind in the nation. This bill will put us, workers who for generations have sacrificed our land and health for extractive industries, at the front of leading New Mexico’s economic diversification while also addressing the root causes of the climate crisis.

For far too long, we have not been included in the decision-making of New Mexico’s energy future. It is time we change that. We must commit to working for the bold, new solutions our communities deserve.

If New Mexico wants to live up to its proclaimed leadership on climate, it is time to show the nation that a healthy and clean environment does not contradict a diverse and sustainable economy. Now is the time to support and pass the Climate Solutions Act.

Nena Benavidez comes from a long tradition of miners and lives in Silver City. She is a community organizer with CAFé Acción.

(7) comments

Khal Spencer

First, the world will not end in ten years. But indeed, the longer we kick the climate can down the road, the bigger the risk to societal stability.

Second, nothing NM does on its own will make a whit of difference. There are 7.7 billion humans on the planet and they all want the American Dream. NM has 2.1 million. Plus, our citizens routinely order stuff from China, which builds stuff using dirty energy.

This is a global problem. Education is more important than bombast.

Jim Klukkert

Khal- we should throw in the towel as “ nothing NM does on its own will make a whit of difference.” We are hardly alone in the struggle to stem Global Climate Disruption. In fact NM has often led by example or as a model. Certainly young people will not accept your defeatism. ”Think Globally, Act Locally” is, thankfully, trending.

Khal Spencer

Pardon my cynicism, Jim. It gets the better of me.

I get a little sick and tired of this issue all being laid at the feet of those evil CEO's in the extractive industries. After all, if there was not a big demand for the product, they would not be making money. Or as the Good Book says, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

We all need to look in the mirror. Every time I see another Super Duty or muscle car pass me in Santa Fe, or someone toddle out of La Montonita with a load of beef in their shopping bag, I laugh at how "NM has often led by example".

What we should be doing is putting funding into R and D at the university and national labs to develop multiple mitigation pathways as well as new less carbon intensive technology. But I'll stand by my statement: until individuals change their own habits, the demand will still be there for meat (which is energy intensive), cheap sh*t from you know where, (and you know where is way behind us in carbon mitigation), affordable transportation, creature comfort, etc. For example, certainly if we go to electric cars that is more efficient than infernal combustion engines but that means a big load on the grid if we don't cut down on our need to travel farther and farther due to unfettered growth. I don't think wind turbines will be enough and stationary carbon free sources such as Gen III reactors are the third rail.

And I might add, all these young people will need to take birth control seriously. Ten billion people will have an adverse impact on the globe irrespective of idealism.

Ok, rant over. Sorry. We did our part. No kids. But I still worry about the future of the human race.

Jim Klukkert

No need to ask my pardon, Khal. In the world we have made, cynicism seems a very understandable perspective.

I value your comments most often as clarion call for clear headed thinking and ositive action. If I am critical at times, perhaps I just want you back in the ring in the best of form.

You are right in much of the critique you have posted here. Perhaps most important is your suggestion that we take a good look in the mirror.

My take on that is that with American consumerism, we have created and exported a culture in which happiness is basec on consumption. The rate of that consumption in terms of natural resources far exceeds anything that might be sustainable.

To sum up that sentiment in a common plea, Live Simply so that Others May Simply Live.

I am afraid that humanity is much too greedy to heed that call.

Thanks again Khal. Hope we both can get outside for a nice walk in warm sunshine.

Khal Spencer

"Live Simply so that Others May Simply Live."

Amen to that. There is a reason Jeff Bezos is so rich and its not a good one. WE WANT STUFF! WE WANT STUFF!

I read Diet for a Small Planet back in graduate school, as I slowly awakened to what our culture demanded of the planet. Big houses. Big cars. Lotsa eating high on the food chain. Unfettered growth. Urban sprawl. By then, and not to virtue signal but just state facts, I was biking everywhere possible and phasing out meat from my diet.

Of course, being a kid raised out in the country and still seeing soap suds in the stream and the Buffalo River a toxic stew should have awakened me before that but as I said, it always is easier to say it is someone else's problem. We thought Earth Day would solve everything.

The air is amazingly clear this year in Santa Fe with the pandemic putting a lid on transportation. I keep getting calls from Subaru about my car being overdue for service, but I rarely drive it. No point in dumping synthetic oil when it looks new. But we see this as anomaly rather than a chance to reflect.

You are an educator, far more than me (I was more of a researcher) so the question is how do we get buy-in rather than finger pointing towards a more sustainable world?

mark Coble

Science? NO, just the usual "man is bad" theme while ignoring the sun. Does the sun affect the weather? Solar cycles important? Weakening magnetosphere? Cosmic rays increasing? ANY of this mentioned? No. Why? Propaganda article, clearly.

Khal Spencer

Don't forget weakening of the Polar Vortex, possibly due to rapid polar warming. Oh, that doesn't fit your narrative.

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