I felt no smug satisfaction when reading of a recent federal court case involving The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. In March, the company pled guilty to charges that it had knowingly sold poisoned birdseed.
In a shaky, hand-shot video from 2010, Nimish Vyas of the United States Geological Survey pans across a field in Vernon, Colo. Vyas focuses on a dirt mound and then zooms in on a pale spot atop the dry, tawny grass. The spot twitches, and he zooms closer.
Most New Mexicans have never spotted a wild river otter. In the 19th century, the animals were trapped out of existence in much of their historic range. The last one known to have lived—or at least died—in New Mexico was caught in a beaver trap set in the Gila River near the town of Cliff in 1953.
There are a lot of things Edward Abbey didn’t like: dams, fences, billboards—and cars in national parks. Writing of his time working at Arches National Park, in Desert Solitaire, he railed against visitors who never stepped from their vehicles: “Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs—anything—but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out.”
Climate change affects everyone, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve driven through a handful of dust storms that made me feel, even just momentarily, that I wouldn’t find a safe way out of the darkness and stinging grit. Even inside the vehicle, it was hard not to hold my breath.
Don’t believe in climate change? Congratulations. But this isn’t the Rapture. Whether you believe or not, you’re coming along for the ride. This means that, if you live in New Mexico, you’re going to experience higher temperatures, worsening drought conditions, conifer forest die-offs and variable precipitation.
New Mexico is warmer than it was a decade ago. Already this year, 1,242 square miles of New Mexico have burned. Worldwide, scientists are watching their models and predictions play out—and we’re all experiencing symptoms no one expected.
I wish I could recall the first time I heard those sounds of madness in the night. I’m sure they tore a hole in my understanding of all things simple and orderly. A cacophony of blood and wantonness. Coyotes.