(the featured image above is of the once aptly named Rio Grande, now referred to by locals as the "Rio Sand")
The LA Times has a very chilling piece on New Mexico's not so chilling climate change. Here are a few quotes to pique your interest:
- "All of New Mexico is officially in a drought, and three-quarters of it is categorized as severe or exceptional."
- "The last three years have been the driest and warmest since record-keeping began here in 1895."
- "With water supplies at the breaking point and no relief in sight, a domino-effect water war has broken out, which might be a harbinger of the West's future. Texas has filed suit, arguing that groundwater pumping in New Mexico is reducing Texas' share of the Rio Grande."
- "The 10,000-year-old desert is changing, scientists say. Grasses are in a cycle of collapse, overwhelmed by hardy and long-lived shrubs such as mesquite and creosote."
- "'That thinking didn't take into account climate change. These kind of state changes are catastrophic changes. They can be irreversible.'"
- "Biodiversity will decline as wildlife and bird species move away or die off. Moreover, a denuded landscape loses its ability to transport water to recharge aquifers, a crucial resource in the desert."
It is worth keeping in mind that it is much easier to break things than it is to create them. This goes triple for ecosystems.
Las Cruces is as dramatic as it is because (like the lower Colorado) there are numerous dams and reservoirs upstream of it.
Also, the current drought is a short-cycle one on top of the longer one that's been going on for most of 20 years. As recently as 2006, the lower Rio Grande reservoirs were completely full and unable to moderate exceptionally large summer rains, leading to extensive flooding.
None of which was in the least comforting a mere month ago as we picknicked in the dry-as-a-bone Magdalenas.
I didn't know you had hippopotamuses in North America?