New Mexico is burning

Albuquerque, 5,000 feet high, settled by the Spanish five hundred years ago. All around this valley, a mile of green clinging to the edge of the trickle they call the Rio Grande, fires have been raging, and on many evenings the smoke blows across the desert and settles down here in the valley. The six hundred square mile Wallow Fire of western Arizona has been national news, and is as of this posting, “85%” contained. When we returned here from NYC three weeks ago we could hardly see the buildings of Albuquerque from the windows of the airplane. Since then people have been prisoners inside their houses, with the windows closed. A clear morning or day is an opportunity to go outside, and walk, or bike, or carry on, a thing we used to take for granted. No more. With the Wallow fire contained, a fire has broken out above Santa Fe, bringing the smoke into that high mountain city, located there by the Spanish because they thought it was healthy. It’s not healthy today. As they fight to contain that fire, another has broken out in the Jemez mountains, close enough to bring the smoke to where I write in Bernalillo, bring more smoke into Santa Fe and perhaps cause the evacuation of Los Alamos, something the Russians were never able to do, though I’m sure the Chinese are watching.

The fact that it is normal to have thirty five mile an hour winds now makes the fires much worse and very hard, if not impossible, to contain. The wind began blowing here in early Spring, that’s normal. It has not stopped since; that is not normal. Two nights ago a fifty mile an hour burst dropped a two hundred pound branch three feet from my head.

Nor has it rained here at all in eight months. The desert around Albuquerque has the same average rain fall as parts of the Sahara, which is close to none. But it does have rain, or should. But not this year.

So what is to be done? Nothing apparently if you follow the local media, to stretch the use of that word. One column in the Albuquerque Journal pointed out that now we could watch “unusual” red sun sets through the smoke. It didn’t mention that you should wear your gas mask if you go outside to do that.

Where is the relentless hammering away from politicians on climate change? This is a small taste of what we are doing to ourselves, our beloved earth, not to mention our mountains, our front yards, our weekends, and our ability to go outside. What happened to “a disaster is too good to waste?”. This is an ongoing disaster. The new Governor (first Hispanic female elected to this office, yeah!), has cancelled use of our new commutor train on weekends, and on her first day of office tried to de-rail the few environmental laws passed in the previous administration. Then to cover her tracks, she lashed out at Mexican workers (who are probably helping to put out the fires, “illegally.”), saying we should take away their drivers’ licenses, something NO ONE cares about. It is race baiting pure and simple. Let’s pick on the Mexicans, then we can ignore the news that the New Mexico has become unlivable in the summer time.

Well, if you elect idiots than maybe going up in flames is what you deserve.

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