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Climate Change: Uniting Jordan, New Mexico, and San Francisco in a Common Struggle

Mar 26,2023 - Last updated at Mar 26,2023

ALBUQUERQUE — Climate change is a global crisis that transcends borders and unites countries in a common struggle. From the arid landscapes of Jordan to the deserts of New Mexico and the bustling metropolis of San Francisco, the ramifications of climate change are felt in unique ways.

Despite their geographical differences, these regions share similar challenges, making it essential to learn from one another and collaborate in the fight against climate change.

Firstly, let us consider the statistics on climate change in each region. Jordan has experienced an increase in average temperature of 0.4°C per decade since the 1970s. More than 90 per cent of the arid country receives less than 200 mm of annual precipitation. About 75 per cent of the precipitation occurs during the winter, and the amount of rainfall decreases from north to south and from west to east. Water scarcity is a huge burden, with the per capita share of water standing at less than 85 cubic meters per year, which is almost 8 percent of the internationally recognized water scarcity level.

Similarly, New Mexico has seen an average temperature increase of 0.6°C per decade since the 1970s, making it one of the fastest-warming states in the United States. On the list of America’s 10 fastest-warming states by Climate Central, New Mexico is the second state after Alaska.

New Mexico relies on both groundwater and surface water sources, but about 87 per cent of the state’s public water supply comes from groundwater. Severe declines in groundwater levels have occurred in some parts of the state, and some municipalities, such as Santa Fe, have seen groundwater well levels decline by as much as 300 feet in the past 10 years, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. In New Mexico, the per capita share of water has declined from 900 cubic meters per year in the 1990s to around 300 meters per year currently.

San Francisco, too, has not been spared from the effects of climate change.

According to California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment, the San Francisco Bay Area’s average annual maximum temperature increased by 1.7°F (0.95 °C) from 1950-2005. Sea level in the Bay Area has risen over 20 centimetres in the last 100 years. Climate impacts, such as earlier melting of the snowpack, increasing seawater intrusion into groundwater, increased rates of evapotranspiration and levee failures or subsidence that contaminate Delta supplies, will affect both the quantity of water available and the quality of supplies.

According to the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and several local studies, sea levels in the San Francisco Bay have risen by eight inches since 1900, and they are projected to rise by an additional three to seven feet by 2100, which is expected to wreak havoc on infrastructure, cause coastal flooding, erode coastal cliffs and beaches, and precipitate rising groundwater levels.

Although each region faces unique challenges resulting from climate change, certain commonalities exist. Water scarcity is a pressing issue in Jordan and New Mexico, with both regions experiencing reduced precipitation and groundwater depletion. In San Francisco, the primary concern is the threat of sea-level rise, which can lead to coastal erosion, flooding, and infrastructure damage.

Overcoming the ramifications of climate change on the agricultural sector is a united struggle for Jordan, New Mexico, and San Francisco.

The agricultural sectors in Jordan, New Mexico, and San Francisco are experiencing unprecedented challenges due to climate change. Despite the geographical distance and differences between these regions, they share common struggles, which emphasises the need for global collaboration and innovative solutions to ensure food security and sustainable agriculture.

In Jordan, a predominantly arid country, the agricultural sector faces considerable challenges due to water scarcity and decreased precipitation, and the sector consumes 50 per cent of available water resources, which represents 60 per cent of its actual needs.

Similarly, New Mexico, which has a long and rich agricultural history with crops ranging from chili peppers and pecans to alfalfa and cotton, the region is experiencing reduced snowpack, declining river flows, and increased evaporation rates, all of which negatively impact agriculture, particularly in areas reliant on irrigation. In fact,

Agriculture is one of the largest consumers of water in New Mexico, accounting for about 78 per cent of all water withdrawals in the state. With climate change impacts such as reduced snowpack and more frequent and severe droughts, farmers are facing declining water resources and struggling to maintain their crops. According to experts speaking to a Jordanian media delegation during a recent trip to the US organised by the US embassy in Amman as part of a programme called “Road to COP28”, 78 per cent of the water resources that are used in New Mexico for the agriculture sector are used for planting alfalfa and corn, which are crops that do not meet the direct needs of the state's residents.

San Francisco is also grappling with the consequences of climate change. California has faced a series of severe droughts in recent years, which have had profound effects on the state's agricultural industry, including reduced crop yields and an increased risk of wildfires.

Adaptation measures have been implemented in Jordan, New Mexico and San Francisco, but more needs to be done. There is a present lack of adaptation project financing, though it has reached the billions of dollars metric, presenting a major challenge.  However, the cost of inaction will be greater as the ramifications of climate change intensify.

Increased funding for climate adaptation measures, cross-regional learning and collaboration by sharing experiences and best practices between Jordan, New Mexico and San Francisco can lead to innovative solutions and foster a spirit of global cooperation.

In addition, encouraging public understanding of the impacts of climate change and the importance of sustainable practices can help create a more resilient society in each region, and implementing innovative technologies for water conservation, renewable energy, and climate-resilient infrastructure can help mitigate the impacts of climate change in each region.

Equally important is strengthening local and regional governance, as effective climate adaptation strategies require strong governance frameworks that facilitate intersectional collaboration and long-term planning. Investing in research and development to identify and promote climate-resilient crop varieties can help farmers adapt to changing environmental conditions, ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture. In addition, adopting nature-based solutions, enhancing the resilience of local communities, and involving them in the process would play a vital role in making such efforts a success.

Impacts of climate change on Jordan, New Mexico and San Francisco serve as a reminder that climate change is a global challenge requiring collective action. By sharing experiences, investing in innovative solutions and fostering a sense of global responsibility, these regions can overcome the obstacles posed by climate change and build a more sustainable future for all.

 

The writer is editor-in-chief of The Jordan Times and regularly writes for international media outlets.

 

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