Climate change is real; make the right choices

May 13, 2018 GMT

It’s great that people no longer ask, “Is climate change real?” but rather, “What can we do about it?”

We know it will take more than changing light bulbs or using your bike more to make the difference needed.

But even the most politically active among us know how hard it is to effect big change at the federal level, which is why focusing on state level policy is the sweet spot. And the sweetest spot in our state could be the Public Regulation Commission.

There are only five commissioners elected to regulate the industries that are the biggest contributors to polluting our air, land and water, and changing our climate. In other words, they are commissioned to make rules and policy to protect the citizens of New Mexico. Those same New Mexicans are now fearful that we could be approaching an epic fire season because of our extreme drought conditions.

And to the question, is this drought or that flood caused by climate change? The answer is yes. All weather is affected by initial conditions, and the initial conditions, i.e., a measurably warmer and moister planet, have changed. So in fact, all weather — past, present and future — is affected by the current conditions; in today’s case, our now warmer planet, even the nice days. And it can’t be denied that some of the weather our country has experienced over recent years — record breaking heat, floods, hurricanes, etc. — has been pretty frightening.

New Mexico ranks second in the nation for solar potential and 11th in the country for wind potential. However, despite widespread public support for renewables, the state’s renewable energy portfolio is about 9 percent, and is scheduled to increase at an unacceptably slow pace relative to public, environmental and economic demand. The reason is that private energy companies, such as the Public Service Company of New Mexico, the state’s largest utility, are heavily invested in conventional energy sources like nuclear and coal, have monopoly protections, and have historically enjoyed unchallenged influence over political and regulatory bodies. This is the reason our rates keep rising.

Renewables are good for our pocketbooks because they are a hedge against skyrocketing electricity costs. Renewables use no fuel, use no water (we do live in a desert), don’t break, don’t require expensive capital improvements to keep them working and don’t pollute. There are no stranded assets, no spills, no explosions, no frack pads, and they are not a target for terrorist attacks. Bottom line, renewables are cheaper, cleaner and less dangerous than polluting fossil fuels and risky nuclear energy.

Commissioners Lynda Lovejoy and Sandy Jones have consistently voted to approve investor-owned utilities’ (Public Service Company of New Mexico and El Paso Electric) coal and nuclear power as an energy source rather than renewables.

Janene Yazzie is running against Lovejoy in District 4, and Steve Fischmann is running against Jones in District 5. They are campaigning on platforms that protect the public interest. Check them out, and support and vote for them if you can.

Dr. Leslie Lakind practiced dentistry in Santa Fe for almost 40 years.