Look but don’t touch

Cholla blossomSometimes when I get to feeling that maybe it’s a little too hard living here in my part of New Mexico, particularly at nearly a mile and a half above sea level, the land gently reminds me why I’m here.

Right now we’re all waiting, hoping, praying for rain.  Not too much rain, mind you, not all at once.  That’s a male rain and it leads to floods.  No, we want a daily dose of gentle female rain that soaks into the soil.

When it finally does rain it’s like a miracle how little it takes  for plants to respond.  It’s a desert phenomenon:  The air smells fresh, withered grass turns green in hours, flowers blossom overnight.

Everything is in a rush to attract, to reproduce.  We don’t get all that much rain.  Winters are long.  Strategies for survival are a necessity.

There are the hardy ones, the few plants that gamble on rain to come.  They get going early so they have longer to reproduce and, perhaps, to store up for the coming times of dry and cold.  There are seeds that germinate even though nighttime temperatures are still below freezing and daytime temps aren’t much above.  There are plants with tough stems that put out bits of green and even blossom early on, while the rest of the world is still dust.  Sometimes they die back and come back.  Tough plants for a tough climate.

But critters are desperate for moisture as well.  For every early leaf there is an insect or animal that lusts for fresh, moist, tender greens.  So plants have developed other strategies as well.  Around here it seems everything has thorns, needles, burrs,  prickles, or barbs.  Sharp ones that always end up in me.

They still have beauty, these tough plants.  It’s not always obvious, but it’s there.   I walk carefully through the sere grama grass that can slice the skin, and step around pale amaranth stems that appear so deceptively fluffy.  So intent am I on not getting scratched, pierced, and scraped that I almost miss it: the chartreuse of a fragile cholla blossom nestled in the midst of sharp cactus needles and the barbs of last year’s tumbleweed.

I am once again reminded why I am here.  I am blessed to be reminded every day that all I have to do is look and I will find beauty.  I am blessed to be reminded that treasures are most valuable when they are rare.

And I am so very thankful.

 

The rape of a state

Viewscape pollution - hundreds of wind turbines

Is this really fighting climate change? Or is it just more pollution of a different kind?

I read an opinion article in the Albuquerque Journal this morning, New Mexico out in front on wind power, by Kevin Robinson-Avila.  It made me want to weep.

It seems to me that selling the world on the idea of creating green energy asks us to focus on “green” while minimizing the full cost of increasing energy production.  As if the only important point was that the energy comes from the sun or the wind.  Can we afford to believe that the true cost can be measured solely in dollars that yield immediate energy gain? 

I mean, look who’s selling us the idea: corporations that make big (subsidized!) bucks for creating energy in the name of “sustainable energy”, or “fighting climate change”.  Green energy promoted by oil companies?  By for-profit corporations that have been set up just to create wind farms?  Corporations that are so well known for their interest in saving the environment? Uh huh. 

Here’s the question I have: is “green” energy really green? What are we really being sold?

What’s really going on?

The blind rush to develop wind power in the Land of Enchantment dwells on the wonderfulness of “green” energy and how much money would come from from it. But where is the consideration for the long-term impacts of thousands of square miles of wind farms and transmission towers on residents? Where is the discussion of the impacts on the wildlife of our vast grasslands that will be forced… where? To live in a forest of wind turbines? Or to die, because all their habitat has been stolen?

Where is the disclosure of what covering the open land with wind farms will do to New Mexico’s beauty? Not just the views, but the noise.  A pollution of a whole other sort.

When do we see any analysis of the impact on tourism? I mean, really — who will want to drive around a place where most of what they see looks like New Jersey? (sorry NJ, but my memories of you are of lots of towers and wires everywhere).

Where is the discussion of the non-monetary costs of “green” energy and what these projects will truly do to (not for) our state?

Because forget NIMBY*.  Let’s talk benefits.

Simply speaking:  What do New Mexicans get for giving up what makes our state unique?  I’ll tell you what: not much.

First, let’s remember that most, if not all, of this energy is going out of state. Second, let’s remember that the building rush may require lots of workers, but will they be New Mexicans? Will New Mexicans only be offered the lowest-paying grunt labor?  Third, after construction the only jobs will be in maintenance, and that requires hardly any workers.  We are talking dozens, not thousands of jobs — and will New Mexicans be hired for those jobs or will the corporations send their own trained workers?

Fourth, fifth, and on to infinity, let’s never ever forget to follow the money.  These wind farms proposals are put forth by energy resellers.  They get subsidized to construct wind farms on public land, they get tax breaks for generating green energy, and they turn around and sell the generated energy… to other resellers in other states.  Little, if any, of that energy gets used in New Mexican homes.  Little, if any, of that money winds up in New Mexican coffers.

RIP Land of Enchantment

Land of Enchantment? Let’s also remember that when you fill all the open space with wind turbines and transmission lines, it will no longer be enchanting. It will be the Land of Ugly. And it will still be the Land of the Poor, because most people (including me) feel that caring for the environment, as well as for the greater good of humankind, and for our lovely state, should be a selfless thing, and such people don’t understand that the LLCs and corporations aren’t selfless, but rather are greedy.

And greed, taken to the extreme, is a kind of evil.  To quote a favorite author of mine, Mercedes Lackey in her book Arrow’s Fall, “…evil is a kind of ultimate greed, a greed that is so all-encompassing that it can’t ever see anything lovely, rare, or precious without wanting to possess it.” 

Or, I might add, to exploit it.

It really is sad.  It makes me want to weep.  Our lovely New Mexico, Land of Enchantment, is being raped. Yes, I use that word.  Rape is using force to take what is not being offered.  We want green energy, but are we really offering all that is beautiful and uniquely ours, offering our wildlife habitat, our peace and quiet — everything we love?  Pressure is on us to give in.  To give it all up.

It’s rape all right.  And it seems most everyone is telling us we should relax and enjoy it.

Wind turbines against a sunset sky

Is this the Enchantment you had in mind?

 

*NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard.  Because many New Mexicans would be literally surrounded by these wind farms.  Not just back yards, but in side yards and front yards.  For miles and miles and miles.

If you like my writing, you might consider tipping me by becoming a Patreon supporter (a buck a month is all!).  Just a thought, not a requirement.
CLICK HERE for PATREON