How Wolves Change Rivers

I love this video. Short and sweet, it’s a simple statement on the cyclical nature of, well, nature.

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Willie Nelson’s stand

WillieNelsonAmericaw359h202Willie Nelson’s recent video version of America the Beautiful sends a powerful message. Watch it all the way through. (It takes a dramatic turn at around 27.) Glad to see the aging country music outlaw taking a stand for environmental conservation in America. Specifically, he’s railing against mountaintop removal — a mining practice involving  surface clearing and blasting mountaintops or ridge lines for coal.

Nelson’s video was released before a bill was passed by the House of Representatives that allows for the continuation of this environmentally destructive form of surface mining. See more about it in this Huffington post article, and in the National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) “Switcboard” blog–Nina Flournoy


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Environmental Valentine

Here’s an environmental Valentine (published on Feb. 14th) from the Orion blog.  It’s an interview with Dr. Theo Colburn, who has been called the Rachel Carson of our times. She is Founder and President of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, based in Paonia, CO, and Professor Emeritus of Zoology at the University of Florida. As an environmental health analyst, she produced studies on the health effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (released by the extraction and use of fossil fuels).

Also, see her TEDx lecture: “Letter to the president about chemicals disrupting our bodies: Theo Colborn at TEDxMidAtlantic 2012.”


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Animal Conservation: The power of the story

David ManderOne of our guest speakers in Taos, Tara Waters Lumpkin, founder of Iziliwane (now Voices for Biodiversity) shared this TED X video, which emphasizes the impact of story-telling in communicating conservation messages: Modern Warrier: Damien Mander.

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Our Intimate Relationship with Water

Taos Ski Valley We’ve heard it all before — WATER is vital for all known forms of life, right?. So it came as no surprise for our Environmental Comm. class to hear Taos-area advocates emphasize that the health of rivers and waterways is crucial to our survival. Our water supply is in peril, especially where drought conditions worsen. Having an opportunity to come to New Mexico to study environmental issues and how advocates get these vital messages to the world is eye-opening. In Taos where, the water runs down the mountains, through the age-old acequias of the pueblos, and through the Rio Grande and further, presents goose-bump moments, when I consider our ties to the earth and our need to be extremely protective of what we have left. I have gained an appreciation for every drop used.  We can learn much from the Pueblo Indians about respect, reverence and conservation of water, which they deem sacred.

Integrity, and following old traditions while applying new technology can help us take action to prepare and preserve water for the future. No more poor behavior and bad habits. It’s time we think about our daily actions. We’re all connected, regardless of superficial boundaries. The current environmental statistics indicate that humans consume at rates that are unsustainable for the planet.

In taking this environmental class lead by Professor Flournoy,  I have gained a new found passion for my surroundings and have met many leaders who inspire us to take action and make a difference!

Many times the public wants the end result first, the fix, the best outcome for future generations. Moving forward, whether it’s tiny little Taos or big old Texas, how society frames the issue of this diminishing resource, will determine our future. What kind of earth are we leaving our kids? Our grandkids?

Driving into Taos, the Carson Forest Monument says: CARSON NATIONAL FOREST; LAND OF MANY USES. Multiple, sustainable uses, and the action of working and thinking together? It’s as if the wilderness is calling us to recycle and repurpose. To respond to that call, that thought, will no doubt help us address our intimate relationships with water, and other pressing environmental issues.

“What could make a person strong is to understand completely where you come from, understanding who you are. What your village has to offer, your history, your traditions and your customs. That is why the land and water issues and fighting for the acequias is so important for recovering from substance abuse.” by Chellis Glendinning


Tania Santistevan

Communication Studies Major, Law and Legal Reasoning MinorSMU in Taos Creek

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Solar Makes Sense – Environmentally AND Financially

By: Ty Johnson

It’s not just environmentalists fighting for renewable energy anymore. The financial benefits of wind and solar energy are starting to become more apparent — especially if renewable energy were to receive the same government subsidies as the fossil fuel industry. Read more about the financial benefits of solar energy here.

renewable energy is caught in legislative battles that keep fossil fuel America's major energy source - despite the benefits.

renewable energy is caught in legislative battles that keep fossil fuel America’s major energy source – despite the benefits.



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A Glimpse into Renewable Taos

Renewable Taos meetingRenew meeting 2

By Franklin Ortega

This week I had the rare opportunity to sit in on a meeting of Renewable Taos in the Taos County Administration Building. This dedicated group of movers and shakers, on the verge of gaining 501(c)(3) non-profit designation, is determined to see Taos shift to 100% renewable energy.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation by Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) out of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The nonprofit aims to “create the political will for a stable climate” by working “to empower individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power.”CCL representatives Maria Rotunda, Heidi Brooks and Paul Biderman detailed the push to move the state and the country toward legislation that would impose a carbon tax. The CCL proposes placing a tax on fossil fuels, based on the CO2 content of those fuels. Revenue from that tax would be returned to the public as a monthly or annual payment to protect households from rising costs associated with the carbon tax.

Biderman explained CCL’s interest in meeting with Renewable Taos as an example of its foundational approach. By speaking to local leaders like Renewable Taos CCL’s strategy is to go grassroots, “then trickle up to the state level.” Biderman expressed interest in passing carbon tax legislation, “because I have three grandchildren, and I don’t want to see climate change compromise their lifestyle.”

The next agenda item touched on. Tri-State power company, its proposed rate hike and the limitations it imposes against renewable energy, such as solar power. Renewable Taos would like increase the current 5% cap of allowable renewable energy generation.

Among the most interesting agenda issues involved the recent purchase of the Taos Ski Valley. The new owner, billionaire Louis Bacon, has become the talk of the town. As Renewable Taos members see it, Bacon’s plans for the ski valley are in line with their mission.

Bacon, who made the Forbes 400- The Richest People in America list, is a self-made hedge fund billionaire, with a passion for the environment. Renewable Taos board member Bill Brown, who reported on a recent meeting with Bacon at Taos Ski Valley, seemed impressed with Bacon’s willingness to work with local environmental non-profits to create a sustainable environment.

They also mentioned plans surrounding the new national monument: Rio Grande del Norte, established on March 25, 2013 by President Obama. The 242,500 public land, between San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, will be managed by a newly-forming Taos non-profit, The Friends of The Rio Grande del Norte.

Renewable sewed up the meeting with a discussion of steps involved in securing its designation as a 501(c)(3). I’m astonished to see a small grassroots non-profit unafraid of tackling the big issues. To date they can’t to receive any grants, or non-taxable donations, but continue moving forward to become the voice of the Taos community, where issue of renewable sources are a concern.

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