Thursday, March 18, 2010

OPINION: The Water And Breath Of Life

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

This year’s Summer Reading Program at the Magdalena Public Library will include not only the usual activities for kids but an adult program as well. The topic for both programs this year is “Water.”
I just finished the selection recommended by the New Mexico State Library: The Secret Knowledge of Water by Craig Childs. It’s cram-filled with information about the water that is found (or not found) here in the Southwest. It’s also quite an adventure story as Craig hunts down hidden pockets of life saving water in the desert, finds streams and life forms that appear and disappear and finally, runs ahead of a thundering flash flood just to see how the water will behave.
Childs is certainly in touch with the spiritual qualities of water found in the desert. Not only does it sustain all of the life forms found here, but it has a memory, a purpose and a plan as it carves out our landscape and waits and moves below the surface. I would certainly recommend this book to all participants of the State Engineer’s Office up coming hearing regarding the application by the San Augustin Ranch LLC to drain the aquifer west of us.
The purpose and intention of this tens of thousands of years old Ice Age water is not only to slowly seep into the Alamosa Creek and eventually feed the Rio Grande but also to support the water table of rain and snow-melt recharge, keeping it available for the use of us humans and other life forms. Without it, this area will shrivel to a dust bowl.
Multiple copies of this book will be available for reading and for discussion groups. I’ll pull together a list of other books on our water resources. Let me know what other programs or resources you would like or that might be available. Sign up for the adult program here at my e-mail address or at the Magdalena Public Library.
I just ran across an interesting chart of geologic time scale at Wikipidia, as supplied by the International Commission on Stratigraphy. It’s not only a handy reference for “what-the-heck-happened-when” and shows just how recently we have arrived here on this earth but also tracks the concentration of CO2 through the ages.
The earth’s climate has always been one of extremes, mirrored by the amount of CO2 available to trap our sun’s heat. Hot and steamy was just fine for the dinosaurs (with CO2 at 1200 - 1500 ppmv). The Mastodons were very happy with the Ice Age conditions after extensive forests had absorbed and fixed massive amounts of CO2, driving the concentration down to 100 ppmv. We humans, having burned all the oil and coal that we can get our hands on and cut down all of the forests that we want, have pushed the CO2 concentrations back up to 385 ppmv.
Humanity has a very narrow range of comfort zones and most scientists agree that if we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere, dinosaur friendly, hot and sticky will become the climate du jour. Take a look at the receding glaciers and disappearing ice caps and decide for yourself. This is why I’m following with great interest the lawsuit that the Electric Cooperative and others have filed against the Environmental Improvement Board. The Big Question at the moment is whether the Board has the jurisdiction to regulate CO2 emissions or not. If not, who does?
Here again, the defenders of the earth and of the environment are at odds with the interests of business and profit. It’s going to be a painful choice. Don’t rely on all of those glossy special interest ads for the information that you need to make a responsible choice. It’s your future and your children’s future that we’re talking about here.
On a lighter and more creative note, you only have until March 28 to finish decorating your eggs for Magdalena’s Eggsibition. The show of completed eggs will be held at the Bear Mountain Gallery & Coffee House throughout the month of April. The Café will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more information, please call Yvonne Magener at (575) 854-2151 or visit

If you have any Comments? Problems? Solutions? Up coming Events? Unhatched Dinosaur Eggs for Decoration? Contact me at or (575) 854-3370.

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