Saturday, January 22, 2011

New regional plan proposes 'climate adaptation' for Taos County

Matthew van Buren in the Taos News (New Mexico): A newly released plan for Taos County approaches climate change as inevitable and suggests ways in which the county should change to deal with its looming effects. The Forest and Water Climate Adaptation plan, which explores the issue from a variety of perspectives, was created using a grant obtained by the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. Town of Taos Planner Matthew Foster was its primary author.

"This plan is adaptation. It's not mitigation," he said. "As a long-range planner, it's a topic I'm really interested in." Where mitigation seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent climate change, adaptation accepts climate change as an inescapable force whose effects are already being seen in Taos County and around the world.

…The plan identifies risks associated with climate change, including extremes in surface water flow, from large floods to inadequate water supplies, prolonged drought that could lead to "catastrophic" wildfires and reduced watershed health, and declining water quality due to erosion and ash, as well as associated effects on Taos County's economic health and "built environment." The plan indicates Taos County's infrastructure would be threatened by increased flooding and wildfires, and higher temperatures for longer amounts of time "will increase demand for energy-intensive air conditioning."

With increased air temperatures, the plan suggests Taos County can expect shorter winters and longer summers, which would impact skiing, rafting and the availability of water in general. Higher temperatures could also lead to increased evaporation, "causing losses of soil moisture and consequent soil desiccation."

…The plan calls for cooperation among governmental and other organizations into the future, with climate adaptation being incorporated into mission statements, comprehensive plans and ordinances, and updated research and monitoring of climate change being made a priority. "That seems to be the number one strategy," Foster said….

A pueblo church in Taos, shot by, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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