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New Mexico’s Climate: Hotter and Drier Every Year

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New Mexico’s climate has been getting hotter and drier over the years, which leads to hotter summers, earlier springs, and less predictable winters. In addition to these less desirable weather conditions, natural New Mexican ecosystems and farms are suffering because of this change in the climate.

The high temperatures, lack of rainfall, and lack of water storage is drying up the Rio Grande. According to the NM Political Report, the Rio Grande river went dry in Albuquerque for the first time in four decades during August of 2022.

Today, the Rio Grande is dried up in many spots, especially in Albuquerque. In other places that the Rio Grande runs, like Cochiti Pueblo and Pecos, the river is mostly full.

An article from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) predicts that “increasing air temperatures and more frequent droughts,” are expected in the Southwest due to climate change.

New Mexico farmers are also struggling to keep their harvesting seasons plentiful. There was a time when New Mexico farmers harvested tens of thousands of acres of chile a year, but between 2021 and 2023, farmers have only cropped 8,500 acres of chile, according to KRQE. The problem that causes this is drought, lack of rainfall, and increased temperatures.

“I would say, temperature-wise, I’d expect to see it near normal, if not slightly above average,” KRQE Chief Meteorologist Grant Tosterud says.

Increasing droughts and higher temperatures are likely to have an effect on farms and cattle. The rise in temperatures can threaten the health of farm animals such as cows, pigs, and horses. Cows produce less milk, eat less, and grow more slowly due to these droughts and temperatures.

According to a 2016 EPA article, “Most of the state has warmed at least one degree (Fahrenheit) in the last century.”

Heat waves are more common in New Mexico now, which can be unhealthy and dangerous for humans. The heat can be particularly dangerous to certain people, including children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor. The high temperatures can cause heat stroke and dehydration, and can affect people’s nervous systems, cardiovascular systems, and respiratory systems.

Higher temperatures and drought are likely to increase in frequency and severity, and to cause more wildfires in New Mexico. Aside from the environmental damages of wildfires, wildfire smoke can reduce air quality and increase medical visits for respiratory problems, chest pains, and heart problems.

Higher winter temperatures can bring pests and rodents. Pests can persist year-round, and new pests can bring diseases that can be life threatening, brought into homes by rats and mice, pigs, dogs, raccoons, squirrels, and ticks.

However, people in New Mexico have tried to address these climate change problems by recycling, investing in clean transportation, and constructing sustainable buildings. For example, in 2023, a significant percentage of Albuquerque’s energy came from solar or other renewable sources.

Ways to reduce our carbon footprint include recycling, saving energy at home, walking, biking, or taking public transport, throwing away less food, and changing your home’s source of energy.

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