For a Healthier Planet and People: Don’t Have a Cow, Man

2013-07-05 12.02.27Numerous questions have been raised in recent years about animal-based farming and the consequences for people, the environment, and the animals themselves. The news about pending recommendations to eat less meat for environmental reasons may now bring this issue to the front page. Continue reading

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Where Have All The Rivers Gone?

shutterstock_107999030 The US The US southwest and west are experiencing severe drought – in some cases, perhaps, the worst ever recorded.  For example, in California experts have characterized it as a 500-year drought.   Over 40,000 people in California will have no water supplies in the next few months, and state officials acknowledge the figure will rise.  While this is a drought-driven problem failure to anticipate and prepare for drought is also playing a role . This is a major threat to the farming industry of the state – and to the agricultural production of the US as a whole given that California’s output is a substantial portion of US total output.   Winter-based industries such as ski resorts are also facing a declining future as snowpack falls – only 15% of normal in the Sierra Nevada, to take one US example.   (This is happening worldwide, highlighted this year by the Winter Olympics in Russia, made possible only by saving snow from last year and by massive snow-making.) Continue reading

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Gone With The Wind–The Asarco Stacks Are No More

A belching giant among pigmy water cannons

A belching giant among pigmy water cannons

On April 13th, early in the morning, a major portion of El Paso’s skyline for almost fifty years, the Asarco stacks,  disappeared and,  literally, were “gone with the wind.”  First the 620 ft. smaller stack and then the larger 828 ft. iconic stack were felled within seconds of the detonation of hundreds of pounds of dynamite placed in both of them.  Hundreds (if not thousands) of witnesses got up early for the pre-dawn event, occupying key points around the Asarco plant to watch the historic demolition of these majestic stacks.  For some it was a moment of joy, a closing of an era with bad memories of pollution, bad smells and an old, dirty industry.  For many of us though it was a sad occasion, signaling an end to an era rich in history, good and bad, but also removing from our landscape a major symbol of that history and the cultural heritage it represented.   For those of us who wished to preserve the stacks it took away an opportunity to not only celebrate our past but to use the stacks as a lodestone to point our way forward into a new, vibrant future.  Unfortunately, it also continued a legacy by many associated with Asarco, including some of our local officials, as well as state and federal agencies to misrepresent, to obfuscate and to outright withhold facts and information from the public critical to their well-being, health and long-term safety. 

Despite pronouncements to the contrary, the felling of the stacks did not go well.  It was not a “clean drop” as predicted.  Continue reading

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Getting Old on the Border

An Alma de la Casa in Mexico

The US-Mexico border region has long been known as a region with a young and rapidly growing population.  But the border population is aging, a reflection of national trends in both the U.S. and Mexico.  Given population aging we must re-examine most of what we think we might know about border region development, trans-border interaction –including cross-border trade, and regional environmental issues.  The following looks at these population trends and some of the consequences that follow1. Continue reading

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