2023 Top Stories #3: Climate change brings record heat to New Mexico

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. This summer brought record heat to much of the United States, including New Mexico. This led municipalities to open locations for people to go to cool down. The heat led to increased hospitalizations, especially in urban areas of the southwest region of […]

2023 Top Stories #3: Climate change brings record heat to New Mexico

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers.

This summer brought record heat to much of the United States, including New Mexico. This led municipalities to open locations for people to go to cool down. The heat led to increased hospitalizations, especially in urban areas of the southwest region of the country. The amount of pavement, especially in low-income parts of cities, creates what is known as an urban heat island. And it wasn’t just humans who suffered. Birds struggled to keep their body temperatures in the optimal zone as their typical cooling mechanisms no longer worked. 

That record heat brought with it drought, with New Mexicans in the Albuquerque area noticing the Rio Grande drying in areas that usually remain wet. The drying was in part due to work on El Vado Reservoir leading to less storage. Summer heat also meant that irrigators needed more water to keep crops alive. This underscored the need to reach agreements with neighboring states on interstate stream contracts.

Meanwhile, utilities faced increased demand for electricity to keep homes and businesses cool and some students endured extreme temperatures while riding on school buses that lacked air conditioning.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believes this year will turn out to be the warmest on record globally. That record is due to the changing climate, which has been induced by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.

At the end of the COP 28 United Nations Climate Change Conference, representatives from hundreds of countries pledged to transition away from fossil fuels. But some say that pledge is too little and too late.

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