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Mon Jan 8, 2018, 08:53 AM

UNM Scientist: "We Are On The Front Lines - Like It Or Not - Of Climate Change"

ALBUQUERQUE — When the trees are bare, climate scientist and meteorologist David Gutzler has an unobscured view of the Sandia Mountains from his office window. On the second floor of The University of New Mexico’s Northrop Hall, the four seasons transform just beyond the glass. From this vantage point, since the mid-’90s, Gutzler has watched the effects of a warming climate on the state’s landscape.

“We are on the front lines — like it or not — of climate change,” he said on a recent morning. “The temperature is warming very rapidly across the Southwest. In this climate, we see the manifestation more clearly than anywhere else in the world.”

Gutzler, 62, has spent the last two decades teaching climatology and meteorology at UNM but said he never expected that his field of study, which has focused on monsoonal patterns, drought and the impacts of climate change on state water resources, would be the subject of so much controversy.


Extreme hurricanes, fires and earthquakes dominated headlines in 2017. And almost daily, the validity of policy enacted by the Obama administration to prevent global warming through international commitments and domestic policy are disputed and unwound by the Trump administration. It’s a debate that resonates deeply in New Mexico, where environmental concern and an oil-driven economy are often at odds. “If people demand iron-clad proof that humans are changing the climate, then we can’t react,”Gutzler said. “But from my perspective, there has been such a mountain of evidence — to toss all that out because there are uncertainties would be choosing stupidity.”



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