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Climate Change and WildernessSan Pedro Wilderness aspens Sara Bergthold

At New Mexico Wild, we focus our efforts on protecting wilderness, wildlife, and water. While most of that work is done for the inherent value of these natural resources, it is becoming clearer that protecting these resources can improve life for both humans and nature. The fact is, climate change is a global problem and a backyard reality.

Wilderness is an imporant tool for countering the negative impacts of climate change on our planet. Wilderness areas not only provide a means of escape and recreation, but a blueprint for reducing the harm done by climate change.

How Does Wilderness Help Combat Climate Change?

  • Wilderness areas are roadless, keeping ecosystems natural.
  • Wilderness areas allow animals to move freely within the ecoystem.
  • The undisturbed habitat which wilderness offers provides a way for wildlife to adapt to climate change.
  • Forests lock away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots, and leaves found in wilderness; this "carbon capture" helps to reduce global carbon dioxide levels.
  • Wilderness areas help advance climate change research: Much of what we know about climate change comes from old trees, wood, and pollen cores that increasingly can only be found in wilderness.

The Oil and Gas Factor

New Mexico is one of the nation's top producers of oil and gas. The main component in natural gas - methane - is 84 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. While we all still depend on fossil fuels to some extent, New Mexico Wild advocates for responsible regulations on oil and gas drilling and the venting of methane. These regulations are necessary to keep our air, land, and water clean for now and for future generations. To that end, New Mexico Wild is committed to protecting special places like Chaco Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns, which are under constant threat due to nearby oil and gas development projects.

GilaRiverNNewcomer1Drying Up

Since the 1970's, New Mexico's annual temperature has increased by 2 degrees. The combination of rising temperatures and decreased precipitation has lead to lower mountain snowpacks. This is problematic because snowpacks feed our rivers and streams and account for a significant portion of the state's water supply. Simply put, New Mexico is drying up. This increasingly dryer climate has serious implications for New Mexico's ecosystems and wildlife.

In order to mitigate this drying trend, we must be devoted to protecting our rivers and other water sources. That's why New Mexico Wild is pushing for permanent protection of the last free-flowing river in the state - the Gila River - through a federal Wild and Scenic River designation. You can learn more about the Gila River and its remarkable qualities here.