December 7, 2017

News flash: 2017 has been hot + news around NM


January to November 2017 contiguous U.S. average temperature was 56.4°F, 2.6°F above average

Early Wednesday morning, a pipeline owned by Enterprise Products, a natural gas company, exploded south of Carlsbad, near Loving. Homes were evacuated and details are still scarce. The Carlsbad Current Argus has continuing coverage.

Elizabeth Miller’s story about work being done in Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve in this week’s Santa Fe Reporter offers a reminder that while locals sometimes grumble when it’s done near their backyards, the chainsaw-and-herbicide work of restoration is important. Thanks to a state grant, the Santa Fe-Pojoaque Soil and Water Conservation District removed 6.5 acres of invasive Russian olive trees from around the preserve.

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From the story:

The intervention aims to save the cienega. Recent years have seen its moisture-loving plants, like checker mallow and milkweed, heading further downstream as the upper reaches dry out. Area monitoring wells that are part of a state hydrology study have shown the water table dropping each spring.

“When the trees leaf out, the water level drops four feet,” says Scott Canning, director of horticulture for the botanical gardens. “Cienegas are one of the rarest kinds of landscapes in New Mexico, so we’re doing everything we can to save it.”

If you own an acre or more of land and agree to use them for conservation purposes—like reforestation, erosion control or creating wildlife habitat—you can buy seedlings from the New Mexico State Forestry Division Conservation Seedling Program, which just opened up its spring seedlings sale.

Of course, you might want to make sure you choose tree species that love warm temperatures.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque noted Wednesday that New Mexico’s statewide average temperature for November “smashed” the all-time record by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah each had their warmest Novembers on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its latest numbers also show that from January to November 2017, the average temperature in the contiguous U.S. was 56.4 degrees Fahrenheit—2.6 degrees above average.

NASA reported earlier this week that October 2017 was the second-warmest October on record. The agency released that data, which is based on measurements from about 6,300 meteorological stations across the planet, showing that October was 0.90 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean from 1951-1980.

And the latest carbon dioxide levels measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii show that the greenhouse gas has hit 407.06 parts per million in Earth’s atmosphere.


The Earth’s carbon dioxide levels. Reconstruction from ice cores. More info:

Just in case you missed Elizabeth Kolbert’s latest story in The New Yorker, you can read it online here. Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is technically tricky, and undoubtedly controversial, in part because for some people it signals that humans have collectively decided not to try and control our greenhouse gas emissions, despite knowing the destructive effect they’re having on the planet. In her story, Kolbert profiles Klaus Lackner, who worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory decades ago and founded the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University in 2014.

From the story:

One of the reasons we’ve made so little progress on climate change, he contends, is that the issue has acquired an ethical charge, which has polarized people. To the extent that emissions are seen as bad, emitters become guilty. “Such a moral stance makes virtually everyone a sinner, and makes hypocrites out of many who are concerned about climate change but still partake in the benefits of modernity,” he has written. Changing the paradigm, Lackner believes, will change the conversation. If CO2 is treated as just another form of waste, which has to be disposed of, then people can stop arguing about whether it’s a problem and finally start doing something.

Read the entire story here.

Lastly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting public comment on its release and translocation proposal for Mexican wolves. The proposal, which includes information about the reintroduced population’s genetics, is available online here. And you can find out how to comment, before Dec. 26, here.