The Social and Natural Science Nexus


The social and natural science team will develop a cutting-edge multidisciplinary model that links natural and human systems to better understand the trade-offs that occur between different energy and economic development choices while considering the potential for sustainable socio-economics, environment, and water use.

New Mexico's energy industries are important to the economy, yet are constrained by environmental impacts and water resources. Powerful, integrative modeling tools are needed to evaluate energy development and source viability in light of water, environment, and socioeconomic considerations. To create these tools, we will first develop three dynamic budgets that provide the relationships between inputs and outputs of a resource over time:

  • the energy budget based largely on parallel work in other parts of the NM EPSCoR project,
  • socio-economic budgets incorporating a newly developed data gathering mechanism for human perceptions; and
  • a statewide water budget adding other river basins and groundwater basins to the Rio Grande database already incorporated into the existing SD toolbox.

This research considers interactions and feedbacks between the social and natural sciences in order to determine the sustainability and acceptability of energy production and use. The resulting database, models, and Decision Support System will enable policy makers and researchers to compare and/or integrate information across many areas to address questions, such as:

  1. What are tipping points for sustainability?
  2. How do changing social and economic values of water, energy, and the environment constrain or encourage energy production?
  3. What are the social, cultural, and political constraints linked to energy, water, and the environment?
  4. How do societal or physical world boundaries impact energy sustainability?
  5. How might changes in climate propagated through natural and social systems impact energy development?

Creating tools that allow us to address these issues will help NM to develop its energy resources in a sustainable way.

Component Co-Leads



From the 2016 Super Short Film Festival

From the 2016 Annual Report
From the 2016 Annual Report

Albuquerque Journal