IPCC: Same Message, More Urgency… We are Running Out of Time, Adaptation Options Narrowing

We either get serious or we prepare to live in dystopia, much sooner than anticipated. NM needs to get serious and stop talking as if an administration with good slogans, proclamations, and inspiring speaking points is enough. Today we connect the dots between IPCC findings and NM political lethargy on climate. Read on!

Spoiler alert: if talk counted as action, NM would be leading the just transition. But if you examine action, we are right with the rest of the world, chasing wishful thinking, while the window for implementing real solutions quickly closes. The IPCC’s newest report is nearly 100, highly detailed, pages long and comes in various sections and formats. Today we offer a link to the full report, along with excerpts from the Executive Summary. In between excerpts we offer commentary on the relevance of each passage to NM political action/inaction. At the end of the post, we offer info on an important zoom that bgins a 6:30pm TONIGHT. No doubt this blog needed another pass, but the Zoom is in an hour, you need time to go through this and register. Onward.

First the obvious from the IPCC:

“A.2 Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred. Human-caused climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. This has led to widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people (high confidence). Vulnerable communities who have historically contributed the least to current climate change are disproportionately affected (high confidence).”

Unless, you’ve spent the last 20 years under a rock, A.2. above is fully appreciated, but it is worth noting the last sentence about how those who contributed the least are going to bear the brunt of what is coming. This point is magnified below.

“A.2.2 Approximately 3.3–3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change. Human and ecosystem vulnerability are interdependent. Regions and people with considerable development constraints have high vulnerability to climatic hazards. Increasing weather and climate extreme events have exposed millions of people to acute food insecurity and reduced water security, with the largest adverse impacts observed in many locations and/or communities in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, LDCs, Small Islands and the Arctic, and globally for Indigenous Peoples, small-scale food producers and low-income households. Between 2010 and 2020, human mortality from floods, droughts and storms was 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions, compared to regions with very low vulnerability. (high confidence) [Emphasis ours. Please read that sentence again.]

In short, over the past decade, we here in the land of very low vulnerability, i.e. the privileged and those who’ve contributed most to warming, have been experiencing 1/15th the level of climate mortality of other highly vulnerable, yet largely innocent communities. So, while all of us are stunned by the destruction being wreaked by fire and floods here at home, that destruction pales in comparison with what is to come and what is being experienced in India, Pakistan, South America, much of Africa, and southeast Asia. For much of the world, it is here. For the rest of us, it is coming, with a ferocity we are only just beginning to be able to imagine.

“A.3 Adaptation planning and implementation has progressed across all sectors and regions, with documented benefits and varying effectiveness. Despite progress, adaptation gaps exist, and will continue to grow at current rates of implementation. Hard and soft limits to adaptation have been reached in some ecosystems and regions. Maladaptation is happening in some sectors and regions. Current global financial flows for adaptation are insufficient for, and constrain implementation of, adaptation options, especially in developing countries (high confidence).”

The IPCC report is highly referenced and so, with time, we can tease out the maladaptation reported here, but no doubt it involves the U.S. and much of the industrial world’s foolish flirtation with hydrogen and persistence in extracting gas and oil while describing natural gas as a clean fuel. Note also that adaptation across sectors and regions is uneven with the industrial world beginning to furiously build sea walls, damns, and other buffers, while the southern hemisphere remains largely unprotected, one of the drivers of climate migration north.

“A.3.1 Progress in adaptation planning and implementation has been observed across all sectors and regions, generating multiple benefits (very high confidence). Growing public and political awareness of climate impact and risks has resulted in at least 170 countries and many cities including adaptation in their climate policies and processes (high confidence).”

While noting progress in adaptation in many counties, the remainder of Section A.3. points to the limitations to what has been done and the absence of equity as a guide to adaptation efforts.

“A.3.2 Effectiveness of adaptation in reducing climate risks is documented for specific contexts, sectors and regions (high confidence). Examples of effective adaptation options include: cultivar improvements, on-farm water management and storage, soil moisture conservation, irrigation, agroforestry, community- adaptation, farm and landscape level diversification in agriculture, sustainable land management approaches, use of agroecological principles and practices and other approaches that work with natural processes (high confidence). Ecosystem-based adaptation approaches such as urban greening, restoration of wetlands and upstream forest ecosystems have been effective in reducing flood risks and urban heat (high confidence). Combinations of non-structural measures like early warning systems and structural measures like levees have reduced loss of lives in case of inland flooding (medium confidence). Adaptation options such as disaster risk management, early warning systems, climate services and social safety nets have broad applicability across multiple sectors (high confidence).”

What we have above is a checklist of valuable strategies, IF, AND ONLY IF, you have done the most important thing—swiftly transitioned from fossil fuels and curtailed growth to sustainable levels in select, sustainable industries. In the absence of reductions in emissions and transition to responsible, sustainable growth, these adaptation strategies amount to aid and comfort to the corporate community, allowing them to falsely affirm their sincere commitment to climate action, while failing to address the challenge that matters.

“A.3.3 Most observed adaptation responses are fragmented, incremental, sector-specific and unequally distributed across regions. Despite progress, adaptation gaps exist across sectors and regions, and will continue to grow under current levels of implementation (very high confidence).”

While adaptation plans are evident everywhere, “most observed responses are fragmented, incremental, sector-specific and unequally distributed across regions.” In short our efforts are random and insufficient, with that inadequacy of response growing by the day.

“A.3.4 There is increased evidence of maladaptation in various sectors and regions (high confidence). Maladaptation especially affects marginalized and vulnerable groups adversely (high confidence).”

In other words, our unsystematic, random efforts at adaptation are producing maladaptation that is no doubt perpetuated by the elite seeking profit from implementation of unproven solutions, while those who did the least to create the problems suffer from the absence of real solutions. A.3.6. below summarizes where this has left us: in a roiling, tempestuous sea, in a rudderless ship, steered by a clueless, capitalist captain. What could possibly go wrong?

“A.3.6 Key barriers to adaptation are limited resources, lack of private sector and citizen engagement, insufficient mobilization of finance (including for research), low climate literacy, lack of political commitment, limited research and/or slow and low uptake of adaptation science, and low sense of urgency. There are widening disparities between the estimated costs of adaptation and the finance allocated to adaptation (high confidence). Adaptation finance has come predominantly from public sources, and a small proportion of global tracked climate finance was targeted to adaptation and an overwhelming majority to mitigation (very high confidence). Although global tracked climate finance has shown an upward trend since AR5, current global financial flows for adaptation, including from public and private finance sources, are insufficient and constrain implementation of adaptation options, especially in developing countries (high confidence). Adverse climate impacts can reduce the availability of financial resources by incurring losses and damages and through impeding national economic growth, thereby further increasing financial constraints for adaptation, particularly for developing and least
developed countries (medium confidence)”

In short, we have failed to sustain sufficient citizen engagement across the planet to force our leaders to do much of anything. In that context, we’ve left them to do what they do best — blunder forward, ignoring science and seeking ever more profit off of implementation of false solutions, and publishing full-page ads extolling their moral virtue and sincere commitment to a net zero future.

NM politicians, slow on the uptake of climate literacy and adaptation science, operate with a false sense of urgency: Our most pressing need is local jobs and revenue and if the feds will fund that, we don’t care if it is maladaptation, since I (and most of my colleagues and constituents) don’t fully grasp the science of what is coming.

B.2 For any given future warming level, many climate-related risks are higher than assessed in AR5, and projected long-term impacts are up to multiple times higher than currently observed (high confidence). Risks and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages from climate change escalate with every increment of global warming (very high confidence). Climatic and non-climatic risks will increasingly interact, creating compound and cascading risks that are more complex and difficult to manage (high confidence).

That which was known years, even decades ago, is now starting to come to fruition: a coalescing of environmental tipping points that together both accelerate the speed with which climate change impacts arrive and multiply many times over their “cascading” impacts. In short, Mother Nature’s response is coming much more quickly than we expected and she is far angrier than we could possibly have imagined.

“B.4.1 The effectiveness of adaptation, including ecosystem-based and most water-related options, will decrease with increasing warming. The feasibility and effectiveness of options increase with integrated, multi-sectoral solutions that differentiate responses based on climate risk, cut across systems and address social inequities. As adaptation options often have long implementation times, long-term planning increases their efficiency. (high confidence)”

The window is closing. You can certainly address short-term economic challenges by pursuing false solutions like hydrogen and carbon capture and benefit from the very short-lived jobs and revenue that results. But as we waste time on these strategies, time inexorably marches forward with our climate and environment in dangerous and dramatic decline. The IPCC report makes clear that legitimate adaptation strategies require long-term planning and focus. Our state (and nation) are devoting far too little resources to researching and then investing in legitimate, proven adaptation strategies. We continue to follow false paths and false solutions that seduce us into thinking we can placate the fossil fuel industry and benefit from their profits while we fool Mother Nature. We can’t make this work. Mother Nature is not amused, as we will soon learn.

“B.4.2 With additional global warming, limits to adaptation and losses and damages, strongly concentrated among vulnerable populations, will become increasingly difficult to avoid (high confidence). Above 1.5°C of global warming, limited freshwater resources pose potential hard adaptation limits for small islands and for regions dependent on glacier and snow melt (medium confidence). Above that level, ecosystems such as some warm-water coral reefs, coastal wetlands, rainforests, and polar and mountain ecosystems will have reached or surpassed hard adaptation limits and as a consequence, some Ecosystem-based Adaptation measures will also lose their effectiveness (high confidence).”

We are now using language about what happens when we exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, once considered unthinkable. Considering exceeding 1.5, involves contemplating the vast devastation that will be reaped upon the global south and ultimately upon us, as we creep closer and closer toward an abyss of which we have no real understanding. Ecosystems have reached the breaking point.

“Talking” Action Is NOT “Taking” Action, NM!

NM is much too good at mistaking talk for action. All you have to do is to attend a post-session legislative debrief and you will hear nothing but reports of our remarkable progress and action.

It isn’t as if New Mexico leadership doesn’t understand the issues or have access to reports and guidance that could point them in the right direction as the links below demonstrate there are abundant reports on the degree to which fracking and extractive industry impact our public health there’s abundant research on how the state of New Mexico can transition to a sustainable economy and free itself from dependence upon gas and oil revenue and political influence. We have the report; we have the information we have enough guidance to point us in the direction of doing what is needed to at least begin to prepare for adapting to what is to come from Mother Nature. But given that this information is available to legislators and to our governor and to her administration and yet what we find in each session is another set of bills that purport to do much but really do little.

As evidence of Democratic leadership’s failure to grasp the gap between talk and action….

At the Democratic Party of Santa Fe’s Convention on Sunday, we heard one prominent Democratic Party leader proclaim that we were on the cusp of eliminating the methane cloud visible from space over New Mexico because we have the most ambitious methane emissions regulations in the nation. A room full of over 300 Democrats applauded enthusiastically. What that legislator failed to mention is that our methane regulations are toothless aspirations, amounting to nothing more than a bumper sticker because we have absolutely no enforcement of those regulations. The gas and oil industry self-reports on methane leaks, and guess what? They don’t notice leaking very often. Indeed in a recent Searchlight report, “No Eyes on the Sky,” investigative journalists visiting the Permian Basin found unchecked methane leaking from multiple drilling stations. Not surprisingly, when they checked on reports of leaks with the Environment Department, there was no evidence that those leaks were being reported to the state. What good are regulations if they aren’t monitored and enforced except to serve as false evidence of actual progress in addressing climate change so that politicians can continue to report to their constituents that they are doing something they are not doing — protecting us?

We cannot abide that dynamic any longer.  In this context it is incumbent upon all of us to become educated, to become experts in these fields and to share that expertise and knowledge with your legislator and to coach them and ready them to stand up and take the right action. In future legislative sessions we can no longer rely upon 1 1/2 minutes of public comment and hundreds of emails, many probably unread, as our only means of advocacy.

We Know What Our Options Are; Apparently Our Legislators Don’t

Reports are available on most every possible challenge & options for adaptation and we will add to this list of resources over the next few days :

It isn’t as if New Mexico leadership doesn’t understand the issues or have access to reports and guidance that could point them in the right direction as the links below demonstrate there are abundant reports on the degree to which fracking and extractive industry impact our public health there’s abundant research on how the state of New Mexico can transition to a sustainable economy and free itself from dependence upon gas and oil revenue and political influence

Important Research for Review

  • The The Environmental Costs & Benefits of Fracking, a report from the U.S. Dept of the interior.
  • IPCC Full Report. We need to review closely the report’s critique of failed adaptation efforts, and more realistic adaptation strategies.
  • Health & Climate Change, a comprehensive study of the link between climate change an our health. se link below pdf on tax changes and diversifying our revenue.
  • The Oil & GAs Industry and Nm’s Fiscal Future, Finding a Path Forward. he link to this excellent road map, is below. needless to say, Nm did precious little of what is recommended below that is recommended in this study. So while legislators are offered a path, they make up their own route and stray away from a more sustainable, diverse economy.

We have the reports; we have the information; we have enough guidance to point us in the direction of doing what is needed to at least begin to prepare for adapting to what is to come from the dystopia that awaits us, and soon.

Huddle Up; Weds. Apr. 5, 6-7:30 pm

If you are interested in discussing our options, please join us for our next huddle.  Click here to get to our Actions & Events page, then scroll down a wee bit to get for more information and a link to register. You must register to attend.

Zoom Web discussion Tonight!

And if you are free tonight there is a zoom based web conversation on the impact of climate change being hosted and moderated by 350 NM

Hear authors of the report, Impacts of NM’s Largest Emissions Sources including Gabe Pacyniak, JD. He will discuss the February 1 report that for the first time examines the climate and health damaging pollution from large stationary sources in New Mexico.

The report identifies 189 stationary sources that together contribute approximately 25 percent of the state’s climate pollution along with a large share of conventional pollutants. The largest share of pollution from these sources comes from the electric power and oil and gas sectors. Other large stationary sources include mines, manufacturing facilities, airports, and universities.

The report also analyzed where large sources are located and suggested that there may be equity benefits to reducing emissions in those areas with a high percentage of people of color, lower-income people, or people with health vulnerabilities. Four regions—the San Juan Basin; Permian Basin; Albuquerque, Bernalillo, and Sandoval Counties; and Las Cruces and Dona Aña County—were identified as areas with clusters of large stationary sources.

Finally, the report finds that current state policies are not adequate to achieve climate pollution reductions from these sources in keeping with the state’s climate goals but identifies ways that climate pollution policies could be designed to both reduce climate pollution and maximize public health benefits for communities where these sources are located. UNM’s Just Transition Grand Challenge initiative and the nonprofit organization PSE Healthy Energy hosted the report. The report was funded by the Environmental Defense Fund.

Pre-register on Zoom at LINK

When: 6:30 PM MT, Monday, March 27, 2023

 In closing

Finally, moving forward, we need to consider how impactful our advocacy strategies have been and how we need to adapt them if we are going to have a greater impact.  For example this weekend on the news we saw the streets of Tel Aviv jammed with hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting Palestinian policies[3.29.23 Correction: The protests in Israel are focused on Netanyanu’s undemocratic plan to gut the Supreme Court, and whatever vestiges of democracy still exist in Israel. The protests are not focused on apartheid or Israel’s palestinian policies. Of course, the point here is that a populace has flooded the streets to protest policies they can not abide. My bad.] We saw the streets of Paris besieged by hundreds of thousands of protesters over a two year delay in retirement age. in the U.S, in Minnesota, 16 youth filed suit against the state for failing to protect their future from climate change by sustaining fracking operations.

Where is New Mexico’s outrage about our climate being expressed? In petitions? In letters to the editor? In 90 second public comments offered in legislative hearings?, Or in polite dinner, conversation? Where is that getting us?

In the 1960s-70s, protesters stormed draft centers. AT UC Santa Barbara, thousands of us streamed from campus to Hwy101, stormed passed incredulous Highway Patrol and march up off ramps to completely block the highway linking L.A and northern California. When do we block I-40 or I-25? When do we storm the Governor’s office and demand a conversation and action?

Do we need to do more? Different? What?

Please start boning up on the information offered above and join our huddle.

Together we need to develop concrete alternatives to what we are being told is the best path forward.

We need to flesh out how far the tax strategies proposed by Voices will take us, if we divorce from Gas & Oil.

We need a specific plan for jobs and local and state revenue to diversify our economy.

And we need a unified front to fight for those objectives. But before we protest, we need a plan around which to rally. Join us on the 5th and let’s get started.

In Solidarity & Hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Climate Justice

Tags: , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. So far there’s been no art (street art and cartoons in the editorial pages and more)…art is one of the most powerful tools we have.

  2. Using the word, natural (methane) gas, studies have shown is positive, methane, on the other hand is negative. It would be wise to add methane, as above when using natural gas, so the two are associated, and a negative impression is thus inferred. Ward.

  3. A very good thing achieved from the recent legislative session was free school lunches for all kids. Even that was tainted for me by watching the governor use it as a publicity stunt. It’s hard to watch MLG knowing how compromised a politician she is. We do see authentic underdog candidates getting elected even when their own party works against them. I think New Mexico is beyond ready for such a leader and until that happens we’ll be stuck with the only options being voting for bad or worse. The previous post mentioned art as a tool. MLG fiddling while while everything around her burns would be accurate. We’ve recently been informed that PFSA’s or forever chemicals are being used in vast quantities in fracking. Our water wasted and poisoned while meaningful leadership is outspent and denied by a industry hell bent on our destruction.

  4. Well said, Paul and Roxanne.

    Two ideas to consider.

    1. A People’s Assembly on Climate. We need to find a way to put public pressure on elected and government officials. They can easily dismiss climate policy changes that they think are promoted only by activists. A People’s Assembly can help change that. It is a set of citizens randomly selected to carefully consider an issue and make recommendations. An Assembly cannot be written off as just representing progressives or environmentalists. It has been done in Ireland, France, Washington State and many other places, on a range of issues, including climate. In all cases that I know, the Assembly process has resulted in very ambitious and important recommendations. In NM, a People’s Assembly on Climate could also consider critical procedural reforms like legislative modernization.

    2. A Climate Compact. We have a lot of different climate and environmental and good government groups, with different priorities and different messaging. Diversity is often good but we need to consolidate our priorities. A Compact might take the form of an agreement among many organizations to convene a working group that will determine the top 3-5 climate policy and legislative goals for New Mexico, and agree beforehand to focus energies on those priorities for the next year. Messaging, lobbying and actions around those issues should be coordinated. In this way we can break through the noise to get a clear message to the public and officials, who I think are often confused about exactly what it is that makes a difference.

  5. I believe the street protests in Israel are against the planned “takeover” of the Supreme Court by the legislature (Knesset)

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