Fighting climate change means putting the coasts on the same level as the mountains


It’s hard to find states more different than New Mexico and Rhode Island. One is tall, the other small; one is made up of isolated mountain ranges and a high desert, the other of the seaside coast. But both rely on a healthy and clean environment, and each exhibits wonderful natural beauty.

So we both fight tirelessly to defend this environment as climate dangers increase. Whether it’s forest fires or coastal flooding, we recognize the importance of dedicated federal funding to conserve this beauty for future generations.

We both also recognize that conservation funding should be distributed equitably between inland and coastal needs, and that at present the balance is far from fair. As the dangers to both are rapidly escalating, it would be wrong to pit coastal and inland needs against each other. We must do more, to save all that we can, while we can.

In the mountain’s west, fires and droughts are getting worse every year, straining New Mexico’s vital resources. The combination of the shrinking snowpack and the intensification of the fight for water means that some sections of the mighty Rio Grande may never flow again all year round. And shorter winters and drier summers have contributed to dangerous wildfires, like the Little Bear and Las Conchas fires that destroyed homes and threatened lives.

Coastal communities face equally serious challenges. Air and ocean temperatures are rising, chasing iconic Northeast species like maples and winter flounder. Heavy rains trigger more frequent and dangerous floods. Hurricanes Ida, Sandy and Irene provide a glimpse into decades to come, when storm surges and wind damage worsen. And sea level is rising – a danger that will reshape the map of Rhode Island, turning its present coast into an archipelago of islands.

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