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An opportunity and an imperative: Chapter 11 in United States-Mexican Borderlands: Facing tomorrow's challenges through USGS science

March 12, 2013

Along the nearly 3,200 kilometers (almost 2,000 miles) of the United States–Mexican border, we are witnessing the expression of the challenges of the 21st century. The Borderlands have become a microcosm for the entire United States and Mexico; the issues faced in that region are felt throughout both nations—water availability and quality, ecosystem health, natural resource needs, safety from natural hazards, and human socioeconomic well-being. If these issues were not challenging enough, we now recognize that the difficulties of addressing them are exacerbated by the onset of climate change, and as we come to better understand the complexities of the components of these challenge themes, we discover that each part is inextricably intertwined with other overarching issues. Further, because we are a creative and progressive society, we all seek to understand and appreciate the natural environments associated with the Borderlands while at the same time benefitting from the region’s many social and economic values. It is little wonder that we as a society find it increasingly difficult to ask the right questions, much less find suitable answers to the questions we do ask. For the many scientists who have worked in the Borderlands and contributed to the preceding chapters, this circular is a way to describe to the two nations of the region the capabilities the U.S. Geological Survey can provide to assist in that quest for knowledge and understanding in preparation for the future.