Posts in Category: 2021 NOVEMBER 20 ISSUE

ISSUE 11-20-21 MOVIE REVIEW

Antlers Directed by Scott Cooper. Starring Kerri Russell and Jesse Plemons. Plugs: None. Nearest: Cottonwood Mall.

 Antlers is set in a decaying Oregon town, where a single father, Frank, is seen with his young son, Aiden, outside a mine. What at first seems like an innocent father-son bonding moment turns dark, literally and figuratively, as we see that Frank is involved in a meth lab, and promptly is attacked by, well, something terrifying with the titular antlers. 

This situation comes to the attention of a teacher, Julia (Keri Russell), who lives with her brother, Paul (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff. Julia becomes concerned when she sees disturbing (horror film cliché) drawings of scary monsters from withdrawn outcast Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas), presumably depicting his troubled family life. Julia eventually realizes that Frank is/was Lucas’s father, and Aiden his brother, and that something sinister and supernatural is going on.

The film, adapted from Nick Antosca’s short story “The Quiet Boy,” was completed in 2019 and its opening delayed several times due to COVID. The plot is based on legends of the wendigo, and the filmmakers hired a professor of Indigenous Nations Studies to serve as its advisor on Native American folklore.

It’s an intriguing premise, but one area where the plot falters is in explaining the origin of the menace. We’re told, in an Ojibwe opening verse, of an evil spirit with a ravenous appetite that possesses humans and causes them to kill and eat others. The wendigo is typically associated with winter, famine, need and scarcity.

This is Screenwriting 101: a hero (or heroine in this case) saves the day using important knowledge gleaned from a wise, often reluctant, source in the second act. In this case the wisdom is imparted from Native American actor Graham Greene, best known for his turns in Dances With Wolves and Wind River. Armed with a Cliff’s Notes-inspired, Wikipedia-summarized understanding of the wendigo, plucky Julia goes above and beyond her contractual teacher obligations to face the fearsome foe as mangled bodies pile up.

It’s all well and good to use a creature as a metaphor for social ills; it’s been done before, for example the consumerism-satirizing zombies in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978). But translating folklore into cinema is a tricky task because once a menace is fixed in film it’s crystallized.

The wendigo can be seen as a symbol of social and moral decay, in this case drug addiction, child abuse, poverty, environmental degradation and so on. A folklorist or storyteller can evocatively describe what a monster “means” to the cultures that tell its stories.

A filmmaker —and especially a visual effects supervisor— will reply, “Yeah, yeah, that’s great and all, but how do I show it on the screen? I can’t sculpt or animate an idea or metaphor. What, exactly, am I designing? What are audiences going to see and hear?” In the end, Antlers is a monster movie, and the monster is terrifying indeed, with effective special effects.

Working from the premise of the wendigo, as audiences are required to do in suspending disbelief, the question naturally come up: why now, in the context of the story? There’s nothing new about economic hardship or drug abuse, especially in small rural towns. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if that’s all it takes to create a wendigo, then why aren’t they commonplace? Why isn’t the community’s response a jaded “Oh, another one?” instead of “I’ve never seen anything like this before”?

Questions like these become even more relevant when the film concludes and the conflict is (seemingly) resolved; if the wendigo is indeed possessing people more or less at will then all is lost because it will never be destroyed. You can keep killing its hapless hosts, but that’s not really going to solve the fundamental problem as long as there’s still someone alive to possess.

This leads to a bit of a contradiction (or plot hole, depending on your point of view) at the end. There’s also a bit of a red herring involving native American medicine bags, which are key to the plot because they make the connection between Frank’s death and the wendigo, but whose presence are never explained…

I strongly suspect that important material was cut for a leaner run time of 99 minutes —a common occurrence in films. Around the sixth or tenth edit, and with pressure from theaters and distributors for films to be shorter to allow more screening per day, editors and directors often second-guess their decisions: do we really need to have this dialogue in the film, or does another scene serve the same narrative function?

How many scenes that have the same theme do we need to drive the point home? There’s no right or wrong answer —and finished films are inevitably the result of hundreds (or even thousands) of decisions and compromises made along the way— but it may explain the mediocrity of Antlers. I suspect that a longer director’s cut, if one is ever released, will offer a more satisfying storyline.

The considerable narrative power and potential is squandered a bit in the last act, which abandons its folkloric and social themes in favor of routine horror film cliches. There are a few bits of clumsy expositional screenwriting, such as when dialogue explains things the characters already know (early in the film Frank tells his son that they’re going to pick up “your brother Lucas,” in case the boy wasn’t sure what his brother’s name was, or which of several Lucases they’d be picking up).

But it’s a low-budget horror film so let’s not get too pedantic because there’s a lot to be said for Antlers, starting with the cinematography and setting.

You can feel the grey dampness of rural Oregon creep off the screen. The fog mirrors the gloomy bleakness of the town, shrouded with decay and secrets (a teacher grimly tells Julia that many children in the small community don’t attend school because their parents make methamphetamine and don’t want their kids to smell of it in class, thus triggering a mandatory police check).

It’s an ideal setting for a gothic horror film, and it’s not surprising that that writer/director Guillermo del Toro is a producer on the film, as his cinematic sensibilities are (thankfully) everywhere onscreen. The special effects are impressive, in all their gory glory. The acting is effective, especially from the lead characters including newcomer Jeremy T. Thomas; unfortunately most of the other characters are underdeveloped. In interviews director Scott Cooper lamented that Greene’s part in the film, which was originally more robust, had been significantly cut in the final version.

Like many horror films that end with a climactic battle with some supernatural presence (usually at night, for dramatic effect) and then a short coda or epilogue taking place the next day, I always have to wonder how everything that happened (homicides, monster carcasses, etc.) was satisfactorily explained to authorities. It’s one thing for outsiders to be skeptical of whatever astonishing claims the heroes are reporting until the climax, but the aftermath would typically leave mountains of incontrovertible proof that would raise more questions than answers.

Antlers is a middling monster movie with missed potential, worth a watch on a dark night but wait for a director’s cut if you can.

Benjamin Radford

ISSUE 11-20-21 GOLDEN YEARS VILLAGE IN THE VILLAGE VIV

By Barry Abel

Village in the Village

Giving Thanks

Some of us grew up here, or close enough to want to live here “one day.” Many others found Corrales after spending years and years in other places, often several other places. In other words, Corrales is our chosen place.

But what turns a place into a community, a community into home?

Lots of answers to that, of course. But among them, certainly, is caring – for the place and for the people we share it with.

Certainly, the members of Village in the Village/Corrales (ViV) hold caring for their fellow Corraleños high among their values. Doing something to help enable others —friends, neighbors, others who share our love for the place we call home— is among their foremost motivations.

So, in this time of Thanksgiving, you may join us in honoring and giving thanks to those business owners who feel the same way and have chosen to sponsor ViV and its activities.

ViV’s Joseph Henderson, who interacts with businesses and about joining the ranks of our Sponsors, has a different approach to his mission. He doesn’t talk with them about publicity they will get from their sponsorship of ViV. He doesn’t talk about them getting additional business for their sponsorship efforts.

He talks with them about what ViV is all about, what it does, and how it’s possible for them to play a very important role in helping us accomplish what we do —assisting our fellow Corraleños in continuing to live independently, even as the years go by and challenges arise, just as long as they want to and it is still physically possible.

Joseph tells us it is that to which these community-minded organizations and businesses respond. And they do respond, with their contributions and their hearts.

“As a volunteer with Village in the Village over the last several months I have had the honor and privilege to visit some Corrales area businesses to invite them to participate in our sponsorship program. I want to say that, without exception, these business owners are some the kindest and most compassionate people I have ever met.

“They all exhibited generosity and community consciousness as they joined with us to help provide assistance to that segment of the population, here in our own village,  that needs a little help. They exemplify the true spirit of Corrales, that heartfelt kindness that causes us to enjoy helping each other.

“They have stepped up and committed to be a part of our efforts and deserve to be recognized. They have our profound gratitude and respect. I want to encourage everyone who is reading this article to consider stopping by and thanking them personally. They are truly a big part of what makes Corrales the wonderful place it is.”

While we’re giving thanks in this season, we hope you will join us in expressing our thanks to:

  • 3C’S Bistro
  • Corrales Bistro
  • Corrales Realty
  • Cottonwood Family Medicine
  • Harris Jewelers
  • Ideum
  • Road Runner Hospice
  • SWOP (southwest organic products)
  • Village Pizza

And may we wish you the best possible Thanksgiving season.

ISSUE 11-20-21 LETTERS

Dear Editor:

Climate change is a massive problem among our world making landfills and dumping nuclear waste are not helping. Humankind could go extinct by us destroying rainforests, oceans and making densely-populated cities are having us over-populate and run out of space on earth.

My opinion is that we need to save animals, stop dumping nuclear waste an stop cutting down  trees.

Odin Bader

Fourth grade, Corrales Elementary

Dear Editor:

Is earth’s climate change? Earth’s climate is always changing. There have been times when earth’s climate has been warmer than it is now. There have been times when earth’s climate has been cooler. These times can last over 1,000 years! People who study Earth see that Earth’s climate is getting warmer. Earth ‘s temperature has gone up about one degree Fahrenheit warmer in the last 100 years.

Colter Juan Tacksman

Fourth grade, Corrales Elementary

Dear Editor:

I am concerned about climate change because it is killing all the polar animals. I hope everyone will switch to electric vehicles. I love that out plant is very green. I want t stop climate change to protect my family.

Cam, Corrales Elementary

Dear Editor:

As a businessman and a longtime Corrales resident one of my first priorities for my family and for our community is making sure that we do everything in our power to drive economic development and attract and grow businesses. Access to reliable and high-speed internet has become one of the key drivers of business growth and economic development, which has only been made more important by the need to work and do business remotely during the pandemic. 

 With all of the opportunities to leverage the billions of dollars in federal money that is earmarked for broadband infrastructure —along with the many local providers that have resources to invest in broadband— the prudent choice is to prioritize investing in fiber optic broadband technology wherever it is feasible. 

It’s clear that fiber optic broadband technology is superior to fixed wireless, copper and cable broadband. Fiber optic broadband is faster, offers symmetrical speeds, works even in severe weather events, and has a lower 30-year cost of ownership relative to other broadband technologies. 

I worry that if we in Sandoval County choose instead to install fixed wireless, copper or cable instead of fiber optic broadband, we will be choosing to settle. And I don’t want to settle. Our community deserves the best technology to prepare us for the future. 

We have to seize this opportunity to really invest in this critical infrastructure. I’m hoping you’ll join me in urging our Sandoval County commissioners to prioritize investing in fiber broadband as they determine future investments in our internet infrastructure.

David Smoak

Dear Editor:

I am writing with a suggestion hoping that the Comment might find a way to have a follow-up article on the Bosque clearing topic.  In the last issue there were many quotes from advisory committee members, but none from Village officials. 

In talking with a number of neighbors, all of us are a bit confused as to whether the clearing project might, in fact, be going forward using many of the common sense suggestions from community members.  It could be that the formal approval to go ahead was adopted with an understanding that the Fire Department will have discretion to adopt many modifications. 

For example, will the project simply clear cut all trees and vegetation along the entire length of the levee in Corrales?  Or will this project be implemented with the idea that cuts will be made at periodic intervals to allow access for the fire department to easily access a fire?  Perhaps the village officials could shed some light on this?

Or is the real purpose to eliminate tree roots that could cause buckling and erosion of the actual levee? I and the friends and neighbors who I spoke with are confused as to the exact purpose of this project.  My wife and I live somewhat close to Romero Road at the north end of the bosque and, like so many others, treasure our frequent visits. 

We have learned that many cottonwoods in the bosque are at risk because of the drought. Will this project spare cottonwoods even if they are close to the east side of the levee? I have the sense that many of your readers would appreciate a follow-up article especially if you were able to get Village officials to clarify some of these and other questions about the clearing project.

Jerry Sterner

Dear Editor:

As a resident that lives on Corrales Road I would like to weigh in on your new proposal.

So far I have received conflicting information about how this came about and am truly fascinated by the run a round.

It was reported by the Corrales Comment that the councilors were looking into this possible change. Then I was told by my councilor that it was because of the scenic byway designation; coming from COG, the Rio Grande Council of Governors, and that the council had nothing to do with this new proposal. Who knew the scenic byway designation was going to affect how rules were applied to just us on Corrales Road. Then I talked to P&Z for the village and was told that the reason the council was looking at this again was because Councilor Zachary Burkett made the request.

See above mentioned run around.

Everyone keeps citing the Los Rancho ordinance on fences, the issue is they only want to apply it to homes on Corrales Road. This is what came up, a decade or so ago, and it was pointed out that we could not be discriminated against. But I guess they can now, using the scenic byway designation. The Los Rancho ordinance applies to the whole village, not just Rio Grande. Although Rio Grande does have a 150’ setback that applies only to Rio Grande, can you imagine applying that here? Think they can take our property and homes away so Corrales Road will be more scenic? What else is in the designation that we don’t know about?

I have a taller fence which I need for my animals plus quite honestly we were tired of staring at an unrelenting parade of traffic. If you think about how Meadowlark got massive speed bumps and a lower speed limit because of traffic, it seems a bit odd and cruel to insist that we on Corrales Road open up our homes, yards and lives to all the noise and sights of traffic.

It is a major thoroughfare, perhaps we would like to think of it being scenic but it is still a major road with some lovely and not so lovely spots. Perhaps we need to leave well enough alone. Please think about how you personally would feel if rules in the village only applied to an isolated portion of the population, which included you. We kind of keeping getting put in this position, ie , the sewer.

I am not wild about the concrete block walls along Corrales Road either but it seems there should be a better way to address this issue.

Ginny and Timothy Lodge

Dear Editor:

What you are about to read is only a short version of what has happened to us in the last four years, and the Corrales Comment says they cannot post our 23-page commentary to them.

We, long time resident Suzanne Huff-Flora and I, her husband Curt Flora, are calling out the Village. Her parents bought their property here in the village in 1953, and she has been a resident since she was born here in 1958.

We have been in a battle with the Village of Corrales for 3½ years, and the corruption has gotten deeper than you can imagine. We were trying to subdivide our property —we have 6.12 acres— in two separate lots. We should have been able to do a lot line adjustment and split one of those using a summary plat. We were forced to do a preliminary plat instead. There was one mistake on the plat that was fixed before we even went to our first meeting. We went to our first Planning and Zoning meeting and were denied to speak in the meeting, and it was tabled because the Village Attorney was not there to render an opinion.

A commissioner asked for Village Attorney opinion during the meeting. The Village Administrator, Suanne Derr, and Laurie Stout, Community Development Coordinator at that time, wrote the Village Attorney an email asking for the Village Attorney to supersede the ordinance we are using. He wouldn’t do it.

The Village Attorney wrote his opinion and gave it to Village Administrator Derr, stating that the Village obey what the ordinance states; that we could subdivide our property using “gross” acre instead of “net” acre. Derr wrote us an incorrect letter saying the Village Attorney denied us using gross acre and we would have to use net.

We filed a request for inspection of public records (IPRA) to get the denial letter; the Village Administrator says they don’t have one (although they really did.) They refused to give it to us for 811 days, after many requests for it.

After finally obtaining this letter, we found a reference in it to what he called a note from Laurie Stout, asking him to override the ordinance. In the meantime, we filed an appeal on the letter we received and paid for the appeal. We were never given an appeal hearing, so we consider the Village to have extorted the money.

After our first meeting, a Planning and Zoning commissioner resigned and sent her resignation letter to the mayor, dated August 4, 2018. In this letter she states, “The lack of clarity and communication on ordinances even affected our last meeting” (meaning our meeting.) “I was personally embarrassed. Anytime I have asked a question about zoning or subdividing I get a roundabout unclear answer.”

She states she expressed this to Laurie Stout and her response was, “I’m taking it on a case to case basis.” The commissioner states “there was no call to the Mayor or the Village Attorney to get clarification.” She also states “I have seen some subdivisions on gross acres approved while others have been aggressively tabled or denied.”

We IPRA requested this resignation letter, and the mayor refuses to hand it over to this day. There is more to this letter.

In the next meeting we fought the “net” vs “gross,” and were then told they wanted opinion letters from our attorney and the Village Attorney on “net” vs “gross.” At this meeting, Stout stands up saying the application is not correct and wants a resubmittal of the application. She doesn’t tell the commission that the application has already been fixed, even before the very first meeting. Our surveyor tells the commission the plat was already fixed, and they refuse to acknowledge this.

Under Ordinance 18-86 and 18-87, also Resolution 16-006, they state you can have three mistakes on a plat before you have to resubmit it. Our surveyor was charged $1,000 and we were charged for the mailing fees to re-submit this new application.

By the Village doing this, they have now extorted more money from us. If you all remember the Corrales Comment article of August 11, 2018, “Amendment tweaks ‘Net vs. Gross”, we fought the Village for all of your rights to build on your gross acres that the Village was refusing to let you do.

We have seen time and again that Laurie Stout’s minutes don’t match what was said in the meetings, so we started getting the audio from the meetings and transcribed them ourselves, to find out she is not correct in her transcribed minutes. Changing words around —for example “we” (referring to the Village), was changed to “They or he” “wanted to wait to fight “Net vs Gross” before there is a resubmittal of the application.” That is not what was said, why would we even think of doing something like that?  

We had over 120 signatures on a petition signed and turned into the Village that they refused to show the commission in the meeting, hiding it in someone else’s packet. In this meeting, our deed was kept out of the packet on purpose as well.

At the next meeting, the Village Attorney agrees on the “Net vs Gross” in our favor. This has now cost us over six months lost time and attorney fees so far, to force the Village to obey its own ordinances.

Then there were hours of argument on our private road easement. We agreed to a “hammerhead”-style cul de sac for the Fire Department, and challenged their Ordinance 18-81 (2)(d) under “Lane” that states we can have a 20-foot road easement. The ordinance reads 20-30 feet for five acres or five dwellings. Even though we have 6.12 acres, we fall under the ordinance having less than five dwellings on our private property.

We thought we won this, as Commissioner Sawina states in his motion he is using the plat dated October 5, 2018. Even before he made the motion, he states two different times that he wants to be sure the commissioners are all looking at the plat dated October 5, 2018, which has a 20-foot road easement. Laurie Stout conveniently left that out of her written minutes.

There were three conditions in the meeting: 1) that the hammerhead be 120 feet long by 26 feet wide; 2) that Laurie Stout learn the weight-bearing capacity of the culvert and 3) that Net and Gross be shown as the same on the plat.

On November 30, 2018, after that meeting, our surveyor received an email from Stout stating the Village expects a 30 foot road easement. Did the Village have a meeting after our meeting to determine this, or is Laurie Stout acting as Village Czar? She refused to work with the MRGCD, and did not tell us. She had since November 14, 2018 to do this. We should have been put on the January 16, 2019 agenda to be heard, so that the Village did not pass its 60-day deadline to have this heard, but apparently the Village does not have to follow its own Ordinance under 18-87.

We were then scheduled for the February 20, 2019 meeting. We were then told that we didn’t get the weight-bearing capacity on the culvert, and now they wanted it certified by an engineer. This was not part of the motion, and they are now trying to force a 30-foot road easement. We appealed this, and next were scheduled to have a special appeals hearing that was set for April 19, 2019. We got to this hearing and were not given the packet for this hearing until almost 10 minutes into the hearing. The Village refused to let Commissioner Sawina testify on our behalf. He was the one who made the motion with the 20-foot road easement.

Their reason was that they have the testimony from Suanne Derr, (the one who wrote the questionable document) and Laurie Stout, (the one who has changed all of our meeting minutes in every meeting, and asked for a resubmittal of the application after it was already fixed.) So they don’t need Commissioner Sawina’s testimony. What kind of kangaroo court is this? Then, they tried to throw in another condition that was not even on the agenda.

We filed an appeal on their decision in the special meeting in district court and had a hearing on June 11, 2020. Right away, the judge says there is a page missing from the Village Finding of Fact, and was apparently told there was no motion made on the 20-foot road easement. I see why the judge doesn’t see the 20-foot being approved in the meeting, as Laurie took the statement Mr. Sawina said in his motion out of her written minutes —to use the Plat dated October 5, 2018— that showed the plat being approved.

By Stout taking statements out of a motion deliberately is “spoliation” and could be considered a felony act, and the mayor is letting her get away with this and a lot more. Not only in our case, but in many other cases being brought against the Village.

Since Stout and the Village Attorney have misrepresented in their records to the district judge, and he believes them, we are now heading to the Court of Appeals.

These criminal acts the Village is doing have to stop. We filed a lawsuit on the Village May 14, 2020, for $350,000 for falsifying documents, extortion, and IPRA and Open Meetings Act violations. This case was stayed until our other case goes to court. As I stated in the beginning of this letter, you are not hearing half of what we have been going through with the Village corruption.   

Curt Flora and

Suzanne Huff-Flora 

            

ISSUE 11-20-21 TOM NIMS DIES

In spite of Covid’s continued bedevilments, Corrales Mainstreet is planning to host the 2021 Starlight Parade this December 4.

Sandy Rasmussen, spokesperson for Corrales Mainstreet, says that the plans have to be very fluid right now because of the pandemic. Even so, the organization is determined to host some sort of celebration.

Ideally, that celebration would look as much like the Starlight parade of carefree bygone days as possible.  Rasmussen says the plans right now include a tree-lighting ceremony, a visit from St. Nick, and “the usual goodies for all!”

Covid accommodations will include masks for anyone congregating in groups, even when outside. “Maybe we can even have a People’s Choice award for best holiday mask!” Rasmussen speculates. “We know people do not like wearing those masks outside, but this is just a way of us continuing to have community activities and hopefully stay safer.”

The parade route is set to begin at Wagner Farm Store and continue south to the Corrales Growers’ Market parking lot. 

Vehicle line up will begin at Wagner’s at 4:30 pm, with Corrales Rd closure starting at 5:15. The parade itself will begin at 5:30.

All side roads between Tenorio Rd and Coronado Rd will also be blocked, so villagers are warned to plan ahead.

Any vehicle is welcome to participate in the parade, however no foot traffic or equestrian entrants are allowed. “It is dark and very hard for the float drivers to see those folks,” Rasmussen warns.

Villagers and visitors are invited to check the MainStreet website, http://www.visitcorrales.com, regularly for updates about the event.

ISSUE 11-20-21 LARRY SALAS DIES

In spite of Covid’s continued bedevilments, Corrales Mainstreet is planning to host the 2021 Starlight Parade this December 4.

Sandy Rasmussen, spokesperson for Corrales Mainstreet, says that the plans have to be very fluid right now because of the pandemic. Even so, the organization is determined to host some sort of celebration.

Ideally, that celebration would look as much like the Starlight parade of carefree bygone days as possible.  Rasmussen says the plans right now include a tree-lighting ceremony, a visit from St. Nick, and “the usual goodies for all!”

Covid accommodations will include masks for anyone congregating in groups, even when outside. “Maybe we can even have a People’s Choice award for best holiday mask!” Rasmussen speculates. “We know people do not like wearing those masks outside, but this is just a way of us continuing to have community activities and hopefully stay safer.”

The parade route is set to begin at Wagner Farm Store and continue south to the Corrales Growers’ Market parking lot. 

Vehicle line up will begin at Wagner’s at 4:30 pm, with Corrales Rd closure starting at 5:15. The parade itself will begin at 5:30.

All side roads between Tenorio Rd and Coronado Rd will also be blocked, so villagers are warned to plan ahead.

Any vehicle is welcome to participate in the parade, however no foot traffic or equestrian entrants are allowed. “It is dark and very hard for the float drivers to see those folks,” Rasmussen warns.

Villagers and visitors are invited to check the MainStreet website, http://www.visitcorrales.com, regularly for updates about the event.

ISSUE 11-20-21 STARLIGHT PARADE

In spite of Covid’s continued bedevilments, Corrales Mainstreet is planning to host the 2021 Starlight Parade this December 4. Sandy Rasmussen, spokesperson for Corrales Mainstreet, says that the plans have to be very fluid right now because of the pandemic. Even so, the organization is determined to host some sort of celebration. Ideally, that celebration would look as much like the Starlight parade of carefree bygone days as possible.  Rasmussen says the plans right now include a tree-lighting ceremony, a visit from St. Nick, and “the usual goodies for all!”

Covid accommodations will include masks for anyone congregating in groups, even when outside. “Maybe we can even have a People’s Choice award for best holiday mask!” Rasmussen speculates. “We know people do not like wearing those masks outside, but this is just a way of us continuing to have community activities and hopefully stay safer.”

The parade route is set to begin at Wagner Farm Store and continue south to the Corrales Growers’ Market parking lot. 

Vehicle line up will begin at Wagner’s at 4:30 pm, with Corrales Rd closure starting at 5:15. The parade itself will begin at 5:30.

All side roads between Tenorio Rd and Coronado Rd will also be blocked, so villagers are warned to plan ahead.

Any vehicle is welcome to participate in the parade, however no foot traffic or equestrian entrants are allowed. “It is dark and very hard for the float drivers to see those folks,” Rasmussen warns.

Villagers and visitors are invited to check the MainStreet website, http://www.visitcorrales.com, regularly for updates about the event.

ISSUE 11-20-21 WELL SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE?

What could you, your neighbors, your village, your nation,  do to protect the earth’s ability to sustain a healthy biosphere? Readers’ suggestions, recommendations or pledges are welcome. Send them to Corrales Comment, or better yet, mobilize to implement them.

Here are a few ideas to start.

  • Convince Corrales’ state legislators, Brenda McKenna, Jane Powdrell-Culbert and Daymon Ely, to fund municipalities to buy electric police cars and phase out gasoline-powered patrolcars.
  • Plant three more low-water use trees on your property if you live east of Loma Larga.
  • Persuade the mayor to move ahead with stalled solar electric installations at all municipal facilities, and commission an energy audit so that the Village of Corrales is New Mexico’s first municipality to achieve net-zero energy use. An audit in 2013 demonstrated we were almost there.
  • Use the N.M. Community Solar Act passed earlier this year to install a photovoltaic system for Pueblo los Cerros condos.
  • Buy and use a bicycle to get around the village for errands, shopping —and life-sustaining physical exercise. Participate in the long-delayed planning for a bike and walking path along upper Meadowlark Lane.
  • Personally adopt the City of Albuquerque’s “1-2-3-2-1” landscape watering directive. At a maximum, water once a week in March, twice a week in April and May, and three times a week in the hottest months, June, July and August. Then cut back to twice a week in September and October. In November, it’s back to once a month.
  • Adhere to the City of Albuquerque’s “No Burn Night” rules for use of fireplaces to avoid thermal inversions that cause drastic air quality problems in the metro area.
  • Restrict the number of building permits for huge, energy-intensive “McMansion”-style new homes here; auction off just a few every year.
  • Persuade your representatives in Congress to support former Senator Tom Udall’s “Thirty By Thirty Plan to Save Nature” Resolution. The plan would preserve 30 percent of America’s wild lands and open spaces by 2030.
  • Establish Village government incentives for residential construction projects which incorporate significant passive solar features.
  • If you own a business, or have influence over one, encourage adoption of projects and policies to reduce use of fossil fuels, such as retiring gasoline- or diesel-burning vehicles.

At the international level, the United States has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, pledging to help hold down the planet’s rising temperatures. The United Nation’s climate change “conference of the parties” (COP 26) will convene next month, so Corrales Comment anticipates reporting on it directly from Glasgow, Scotland, as it did for the 2015 Paris conference. COP-26 was postponed last year due to the pandemic.

(See Corrales Comment Vol.   XXXIV No.20, December 5, 2015 “Corrales Confronts Climate Change” and Editor Jeff Radford’s dispatches from the conference found at http://www.corralescomment.com)

On Earth Day 2021, President Joe Biden convened an international conference of leaders from many of the world’s governments to map out a unified strategy ahead of November’s COP-26. As at every COP since 2015, the goal will be to steer governments toward meeting their original pledges to drive down emissions that cause global warming and prod them to take even more ambitious steps.

That preceded a three-week United Nations virtual conference  “to advance the extensive work that needs to be addressed in preparation for COP-26….”

Biden’s primary climate advisor is the former U.S. EPA chief Gina McCarthy appointed by President Barack Obama.  In a speech April 15 this year at an event called by the U.S. information technology industry, McCarthy explained the current situation this way. “Climate change for too long has been seen as some big and amorphous issue scientists talk about.”

But when it is stated as a bread-and-butter issue, trade-offs are usually couched as jobs or environment. “One of the cornerstones of Biden’s infrastructure plan is a recognition that our ability to address climate change should be borne on sound economic policy, because it can he,” she stressed. “Coming out of the pandemic, you don’t just jump to an ‘Oh, woe is me… climate change is happening.’”

The days of fossil fuel corporations blatantly thwarting efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions may be over, or at least waning. Financial institutions around the world have begun pulling support for new mining and drilling while large investors, such as New York State’s enormous pension fund, have declared they will stop putting money into fossil fuel development.

Earlier this year, more than 300 businesses, including Google, McDonald’s and Walmart, signed a letter to President Biden urging the United States to increase its targets for  curtailing planet-warning emissions.

On April 15, draft legislation was introduced in both chambers of Congress to end government subsidies for fossil fuel projects. The End Polluter Welfare Act’s objective is to close tax loopholes and eliminate federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, estimated at more than $150 billion over the next ten years.

While federal and state programs and policies will have a major impact, even more is expected from business and individuals.

The Corrales chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, led by Corrales Elementary School Librarian Josephine Darling, has been working at the state and federal levels to persuade elected officials to implement legislation that encourages businesses and institutions to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVI No.7 June 10, 2017 “Corraleños Respond to Climate Accord Pull-Out.”)

“We need to continue to quietly persuade our members of Congress that there is a bipartisan solution to climate change that all members of Congress can get behind, regardless of political party,” Darling emphasized. “Citizens Climate Lobby has that solution, and we have been working behind the scenes to build consensus.”

She invites others to join the Corrales chapter. She can be contacted at josephine.darling@citizensclimatelobby.org.

 The movement started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s “School Strike for Climate” continues to gain strength globally. Her Fridays for Future campaign mounted an international demonstration March 19 “to demand immediate, concrete and ambitious action from world leaders in response to the ongoing climate crisis.” Their demands can be found at #NoMoreEmptyPromises.

If the challenges are great, Corraleños and other citizens sufficiently concerned about climate change can begin immediately  implementing the following steps as outlined by Jim McKenzie and 350 New Mexico.

  • Switch off and unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Use energy efficient lighting.
  • Buy energy efficient appliances.
  • Insulate, install efficient windows and doors and plug leaks.
  • Install programmable thermostats.
  • Use photovoltaic and solar thermal systems to power your home and heat water.
  • Switch to green electricity.
  • Walk or ride your bike for short trips and commutes.
  • Car share or use public transport.
  • Buy an electric vehicle.
  • Avoid the airport if possible. Try train, bus or carpool.
  • Reduce your meat consumption, since one pound of beef equals 19 pounds of carbon dioxide.
  • Install a clothes line and unplug your dryer.
  • Install low-flow faucets and shower heads.
  • Make your investments fossil fuel free.
  • Tell your local government representatives that you want municipal and county facilities powered by solar or wind energy.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Interagency Climate Change Task Force, established in January 2019, reported that New Mexico produced more than 66 million metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) in 2018. Of our state’s GHG emissions,  an estimated 31 percent is methane, the report said, while nationally it is just 10 percent.

Methane is about 25 times more potent as a GHG than carbon dioxide.

More than 60 percent of that methane released in New Mexico comes from oil and gas operations —which yield so much revenue for an otherwise impoverished state that almost no politicians dare to push hard for reduction of those fossil fuels.

Oil and gas operations here are projected to inject at least $7.9 billion into State coffers last fiscal year.

Even so, the task force reported, New Mexico’s total GHG emissions declined by 5 percent from 2005 to 2018, an improvement almost entirely due to Public Service  Company of New Mexico’s closure of two coal-fired units of the San Juan Generating Station. The remaining units are to be closed in 2023.

“It is not hyperbole to suggest the stakes are higher than perhaps ever before in human history,” the governor wrote for the task force report’s introduction.

Still, New Mexico joined a multi-state organization to  expand exports of natural gas. The increase in liquified natural gas, specifically for export to Asia, would benefit State coffers and local communities, the governor’s office said upon joining the Western States and Tribal Nations organization.

Her administration asserted that New Mexico “is in the forefront of states taking ambitious climate action,” which includes a commitment for statewide reduction of GHG emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

Much of that is supposed to come from implementing the governor’s Executive Order 2013-003 and the N.M. Energy Transition Act.

In its conclusions section, the task force report promised “These policies, which include a methane emission reduction regulatory framework, an update to the state’s building codes, and electricity transmission corridors to transport our renewable electricity resources to market… are already beginning to come to fruition.

“This is only the beginning of our action,” the conclusion continued. “Over the next year, we will refine our policies, accelerate their implementation and acquire modeling data to demonstrate the success of our work.”

The State’s controversial Energy Transition Act  is touted as “one of the most ambitious renewable energy and zero-carbon electricity standards in the United States.”

Among state government’s initiatives is a commitment to substantially increase its fleet of electric vehicles (EV), and to fund installation of EV charging stations.  A goal was set that 75 percent of vehicles purchased by the State each year must be powered by alternative energy sources.

Transportation is the second largest source of GHG emissions in New Mexico.

“The State can spur clean vehicle adoption by incentivizing EV purchases, investing in charging infrastructure, requiring that a percentage of vehicles for sale be zero emission vehicles and regulating vehicle emissions,” the task force report noted.

New Mexico has already joined the Regional Electric Vehicle Plan for the West to create electric highway corridors throughout the intermountain West.

Another incentive with high potential is also underway: shifting to electric-powered school buses in school districts statewide.

Meanwhile, the steady increase in solar electric installations at New Mexico homes, institutions and businesses continues. In Corrales, more than four megawatts were already being generated by photovoltaic arrays two years ago. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVIII No.4 April 6, 2019 “Solar Farm Expanse Will Soon Generate 2 Megawatts.”)

And the state’s largest wind farm has begun generating enough electricity to supply about 294,000 average size homes from 240 turbines near Dora, New Mexico, in Roosevelt County. Other wind farms are expected to connect to the grid in the near future.

ISSUE 11-20-21 CHILDREN’S CLIMATE CRISIS LAWSUIT AGAINST U.S.

If nothing more, the teenagers’ lawsuit against the U.S. government for failing to protect them from future ravages of global warming captured the nation’s imagination and sympathy. The 2015 Juliana v. United States suit sought to compel the federal government to take action to limit further changes to the climate that would leave young people at risk for a less habitable environment.

But last year a federal appeals court dismissed the suit brought by Kelsey Juliana and other teens by the non-profit Our Children’s Trust. In a 32-page ruling, Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote

“Reluctantly we conclude that such relief is beyond our constitutional power. Rather, the plaintiffs’ impressive case for redress must be presented to the political branches of government.”

The ruling seemed to beg the question, since it was the  political system that was seen as having failed the youngsters. A dissenting judge in the case, Josephine Staton wrote that “the government accepts as fact that the United States has reached a tipping point crying out for a concerted response, yet presses ahead toward calamity. It is as if an asteroid were barreling toward Earth and the government decided to shut down our only defenses.”

A similar lawsuit brought an almost opposite result in the Netherlands.

A non-profit group, Urgenda Foundation, sued in 2015 insisting that the Dutch government was failing to protect its citizens from climate change risks. Urgenda argued that the government’s initial emissions reduction targets were too low, based on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The court in The Hague found that anything less than a 25 to 40 percent reduction in Dutch greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020 would not be sufficient to prevent dangerous climate change, and therefore constituted a breach of the government’s duty of care for it citizens.

The court ordered the Dutch government to assure that greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere were reduced by at least 25 percent compared to 1990 levels by the end of 2020.

In its online article a year ago, Cambridge University Press published the following legal summary of the case status.

“The judgment in State of the Netherlands v. Urgenda Foundation marks one of the first successful challenges to climate change policy based on a human rights treaty.

“In this case, the Dutch Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s opinion that the Netherlands has a positive obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to take reasonable and suitable measures for the prevention of climate change. Although the Supreme Court recognized that climate change is a consequence of collective human activities that cannot be solved by one state on its own, it held that the Netherlands is individually responsible for failing to do its part to counter the danger of climate change, which, as the Court affirmed, inhibits enjoyment of ECHR rights.

“In reaching that conclusion, the Supreme Court determined the exact level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction that the Netherlands is required to meet to comply with its ECHR obligation, specifically, a 25 percent reduction compared to its 1990 level by the end of 2020.…

“The Supreme Court's reasoning on partial responsibility is at loggerheads with the latest understanding of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as reflected in the Paris Agreement, which declared that a state’s individual obligation is to be determined on the basis of respective national circumstances.

“While each member state is obligated to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change within its own jurisdiction, this obligation is solely to take the best possible ambitious actions to mitigate climate change with the ‘aim to achieve global peaking of GHG’ as set forth in the state’s ‘nationally determined contribution.’ Contrary to conceptualization by the Court, individual state obligations under the Paris Agreement adopted within the framework of the UNFCCC are not understood as a part measured against the whole. For the Paris Agreement, the obligation is not premised on any direct causal link between a state’s emissions and the individual obligation of reduction. Nor does violation of the Paris Agreement give rise to state responsibility for not doing its part as ‘allocated’ based on the particular ‘total’ GHG amount to be reduced.

“While the Paris Agreement’s temperature target is collectively pursued by the member states, it is neither legally linked to nationally determined contributions nor used as the threshold to evaluate the lawfulness of the content of a state commitment. Hence, even if one accepts the proposition that “‘partial fault’ also justifies partial responsibility”, this argument cannot be extended to individual obligations based upon the UNFCCC without creating divergences between obligations applicable to climate change.

“In identifying insufficiency of measures as a violation of the ECHR, the Court ruled that ‘25 percent compared to 1990’ is the bottom line of lawfulness for the Netherlands by reasoning built upon its interpretation of the UNFCCC. Yet, as is alluded to above, the UNFCCC explicitly avoided defining an individual lowest rate of reduction as an international legal standard.…

“Given ongoing and future litigation across the world, it may not be long until we hear what other courts and tribunals think of the Court’s judgment.”

ISSUE 11-20-21 KOMADINA MURDER UPDATE

Corrales Police Detective Sergeant Julie Rogers told Corrales Comment November 11 that a grand jury was set to convene November 18 in Albuquerque to consider charges against Joel Ray, arrested for the murder of Spencer Komadina in Corrales October 30.

A report by Argen Marie Duncan in the Rio Rancho Observer dated November 4, stated that “According to the statement of probable cause filed in Sandoval County Magistrate Court, Corrales police were dispatched to the 300 block of Camino Corrales del Norte just after 6 p.m. Saturday, after a friend of Ray’s called, saying Ray had just shot Komadina.… Ray told his friend that when he got home, something had happened to his dog and people were in his room and eating his food. Ray said Komadina pushed him in the face and he responded by shooting Komadina.”

The Observer reported that “When Corrales police entered the house, they found Komadina lying on the floor near the front door and a silver handgun and two ammunition magazines on the nearby couch, according to the statement. Three bullet casings were on the floor.”

“Ray was booked into Sandoval County Detention Center. According to his public safety assessment filed in magistrate court, he has prior misdemeanor and felony convictions, but none were related to violence.”

Detective Sergeant Rogers said that as of November 11, “drugs and alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the incident.”

ISSUE 11-20-21 CANNABIS DEBATE RAGES ON

The debate about cannabis growing in Corrales will rage on for at least the next three months. At Tuesday’s village council meeting, Resolution 2139 was passed which included a moratorium to pause the processing of all applications for new cannabis-growing permits for 90 days. Village attorney Randy Autio said, “The idea of the moratorium would be to craft the best law we could with all the data we can gather and the examples that we’ve already been identifying from other states.”

Many villagers spoke at this meeting, all expressing their fear and dislike of commercial cannabis farming in residential Corrales areas. Some mentioned odor, others mentioned crime, some talked about nighttime light pollution, and others loss of property value. Their voices seemed to call out in unison with the same basic plea: “do what you can, councillors, to protect us from this frightening development.”

Autio’s response to these pleas was to mention that villagers have the right to grow cannabis as much as they have the right to live in a place that is protected from the negative aspects of cannabis growing.

He also reminded the council, “We are not an independent state, like an Indian reservation might be, within the United States that can pass its own laws. We are a creature of state law.”

He went on to say, “It may not be a good law, that’s not for me to determine, but it is the law of the land at the present time.”

The resolution was proposed and seconded by the council, and Councillor Stuart Murray chimed in, saying the only problem he had with the moratorium is that 90 days only allowed the council to have three more meetings. He proposed extending the moratorium by five days to allow at least four more meetings.

The council’s slightly awkward process of introducing items for discussion and approving items that will be discussed makes it difficult to efficiently pass any legislation in three meetings.

Councillor Mel Knight suggested making the resolution 120 days, four months instead of three, giving the council much needed time to draft an ordinance.

Mayor Jo Anne Roake quickly spoke up, saying the village had consulted with an unnamed state attorney working for the municipal league. The mayor said of this person, “his concept is that 90 days is 60 days too long.” She then referred to attorney Autio to “explain the risk of waiting longer” to the councillors.

Councillor Kevin Lucero raised his hand first, however. He began by reprimanding the state’s cannabis legislation, saying, “the state said it itself, they’re driving the car as they are building it. We are trying to meet some crazy deadlines, trying to put some legislation in place that […] fulfills the will of our constituents and protects this village.” He said he is in favor of extending the period to 120 days. 

Councillor Zachary Burkett agreed, explaining “there is zero point in doing a moratorium if we’re going to do it in such a short period that we can’t improve something during that moratorium.” Councillor Burkett also noted that the areas in discussion are only those zoned A1 and A2, not Corrales’ commercial district. He argued that permits for the commercial areas would still be considered and might be granted during the moratorium, thus further protecting the village from the risk of lawsuit.

Attorney Autio referenced the mayor’s state attorney, saying, “the municipal league also happens to be our ensurer,” implying that the council needs to take its opinion seriously. He went on to emphasize the mainly financial risks from potential lawsuits the village might take if they make a moratorium too long.

After Resolution 2139 passed, the councillors moved on the the next item which was reinstating Ordinance 18-02. This would effectively ban cannabis growing in zones A1 and A2. The mayor, who occasionally appeared agitated during the meeting, seemed to strongarm a motion to table this discussion. 

The vote to table came down to a tie, with Councillors Burkett, Lucero and Murray dissenting. Mayor Roake broke the tie with a vote to table.

Many will be watching to see if fear of a lawsuit from a small, silent group will continue to keep Village Council from passing legislation that reflects the will of the village.

ISSUE 11-20-21 EX NOVO EXPANSION GOING AS PLANNED

By Stephani Dingreville

In the 4 years since Ex Novo broke ground in Corrales, the village has changed dramatically. Joel Gregory, the proprietor, and his plans for the brewery, have not. Gregory has steadily moved toward his goals for the site, in spite of the normal setbacks all service industries face, and the extraordinary ones the pandemic presented. Back in 2018, the plan for Ex Novo had two phases. The first was to build the distribution center and the small taproom. This accomplished, and met with incredible success, phase two began.

Originally, phase two included a beer garden and a restaurant, but Gregory has changed his mind about the latter, saying, “honestly, the food truck thing has gone better than I thought it would.”

“I had heard horror stories, but [the food trucks] have been consistent. I’m not taking the restaurant thing off the table, but it’s not in any current plans.”

“The pandemic was really rough on the Oregon restaurants” he concludes, referring to the other two older Ex Novo locations in Portland and Beaverton, Oregon.

In Corrales, Ex Novo was innovative and flexible during the pandemic restrictions, offering curbside pick up when a steady stream of cans and filled growlers flowed from its taproom, and then opening up a large patio for safe imbibing when restrictions were lifted.

This march of progress led to the completion of phase two, and the ineffable beer garden that has shifted the hub of evening activity in Corrales northward.

With space for 140 people to sit, numerous heaters and shady spaces to cope with the elements, and its own bar, the beer garden, called The Corral by the business, has quickly become the place to be for villagers and tourists alike.

“We hoped [The Corral] would bring more people down here, because it’s a really amazing setting to enjoy a drink and conversation. And with the increased seating, people are more likely to get a spot, so they’ll make the drive.”

While finding a place to sit, even with a large group or family, isn’t a problem at the Corral, finding a place to park might be.

Even though the brewery doesn’t have plans to expand the parking lot, Gregory does encourage villagers to bike and walk, and those who live too far away to carpool. “We’re working on that,” he says in a reassuring way.

There is another thing Joel Gregory is always working on, and that is philanthropy. Since Ex Novo began in Oregon, in 2014, the company has donated over $100k to charities.

Here in New Mexico, the charity Gregory works closest with is Somos Unidos, whose goal, according to their website, is to create “positive outcomes for every New Mexican.”

Ex Novo has developed a beer in collaboration with Somos Unidos, called ‘Stay Golden’, and donates $1 of every pint sold to the charity. As of the end of September, over $6k had been donated.

Gregory wants to do more, and dreams of one day being able to donate all net profits to charity.

This philanthropic mindset is just one of the ways Ex Novo is contributing to the village. It is also one of its largest employers, with 25 people working in the taproom or distribution center, nine of whom are villagers.

Concerns that the distribution center would take more water than it was originally leasing through the San Juan-Chama allocations have been quelled. Gregory says “we have all the water that we need,” and the running count of cans produced in Corrales is now over 2.7 million.

Getting back to the beer garden, Gregory says Ex Novo is still working out the exact details of when it will be open, but he is pretty sure it won’t be during weekday lunch hours. “It doesn’t make sense to have both sides open on the weekdays, but for the evenings… the space has the potential to stay open all winter.”

For the moment, The Corral is not available as extra taproom seating and is off limits when the bar is closed.

The space can be booked for events. In fact, another reason Gregory wanted to open it is to have the ability to keep the taproom available to the public while The Corral is being rented, and vice-versa.

One such event is planned for Dec. 4 and is open to the public. Ex Novo will be hosting a fundraiser that will include a pay-what-you can Christmas tree lot.

ISSUE 11-20-21 CORRALES HOMES THAT POINT THE WAY TO SUSTAINABILITY

Some of  your neighbors have been committed to renewable energy for more than 50 years. Two of them are Steve and Holly Baer who built their innovative, futuristic passive solar home along the east-west hill now known as Solar Hill below the escarpment. Over the decades, the Baers’ home has inspired dozens of Corraleños who realized the advantages of breaking free from fossil fuels. The Baer home here has been featured many times in publications and documentaries.

A prolific inventor and founder of Zomeworks, a solar energy firm in Albuquerque for many years, Steve Baer is considered one of the founders of “bioclimatic architecture.” In 2010, the government of France gave him a Global Award for Sustainable Architecture. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIV No.22 January 9, 2016 “Bioclimatic Architect, 77 Year Old Steve Baer.”)

“We’re still here, and we still enjoy our comfortable home,” Holly Baer told Corrales Comment October 28.

Among the most innovative features of their home of interconnected domes is south-facing walls that fold down in winter to let the sun’s rays warm barrels of water that heat the structure based on polyhedra domes.

He began experimenting with solar heating for domes in the mid-1960s.  In his 2016 interview, he assured that neither he nor anyone alive had invented solar energy for home heating. “I was not the first solar energy person in New Mexico. God no! Solar energy is all around us, in everything. Early Native Americans placed their cliff dwellings in a carefully plotted place.”

He added “There’s so much energy all around us that we overlook. It isn’t apparent, but we can gather it so easily. It’s surprising when you take these dead materials —this glass and metal and insulation— and place them together in very simple, easy-to-build forms, and in the middle of winter, there’s warmth!”

By Carol Merrill

A couple of our neighbors in Corrales have an electric car, a full solar array and geothermal heating and cooling on the cutting edge of climate-conscious living in their 3,000 sq. ft. home on Bosque Acres. “I want to do the right thing for the planet,” David Caldwell explained in an interview for Corrales Comment. “We can’t wait for the policy makers. We can take positive steps in our own lives right now to lower our carbon footprint.

“We generate our own electricity with our solar array and send it to our geothermal heating and cooling set-up which runs on electricity. Our electric car is powered by the sun. We have achieved 95 percent energy independence.”

The Caldwells’ lifestyle has roots in pre-history 10,000 years ago or more when our ancestors found that cave life and cliff dwellings took advantage of the constant temperature of the earth as respite from the ambient air temperature and weather conditions.

Five feet underground, the earth has a constant 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. The  21st century spin on tapping this energy source is at the Caldwell home.

Accessing this free energy is not inexpensive. David and Ellen Caldwell invested approximately $60,000 to install their geothermal heating and cooling system. State and federal tax credits lowered the total expense to $32,000.

On the East Coast where heating oil is expensive or for those who heat with propane or electricity, this set up might pay for itself in a less than a decade. For many New Mexicans, like the Caldwells, it is not yet cost effective since natural gas is inexpensive for now.

Another factor to keep in mind is that each individual site is different and there are many less costly ways to install a geothermal system that would be cost effective in New Mexico now. For example, installing the system in conjunction with building a new home where the tubing can be laid out in five trenches rather than the three much more costly 300-foot wells at the Caldwells’ house.

Caldwell shared this salient quote from http://www.energysage.com. “One of the biggest advantages of ground source heat pumps is their efficiency. A well-installed ground source heat pump system is capable of providing 3 to 4.5 times the amount of electrical energy it consumes in the form of heat energy for your home. This is possible because ground source heat pumps move heat, rather than burning fuel. As a comparison, the best oil-fueled furnaces can only approach a 1-to-1 ratio of energy consumed to heat energy provided.”

The cost was similar with the Caldwell solar array. The initial expense was approximately $58,000 and then $34,000 after state and federal tax credits.

The upside is that after ten years without an electric bill for their spacious home, the solar array will pay for itself. Soon they will have totally free electricity.

Ellen Caldwell said when they first installed the solar panels on the front of their property, her husband would sit under the portal with his feet up proudly observing the installation. After she persisted, they put up an artful wooden screen so their front yard didn’t look so industrial.

He took care of the research and installation of solar and geothermal, while she is in charge of writing letters to Congress and the press and donating money to organizations and indigenous peoples making a difference in the areas of green energy and climate-conscious decisions.

They keep the temperature at 68 degrees in winter and 76 degrees in the summer. The geothermal system is connected to simple thermostats in their home which control the output of the complex geothermal equipment in a large utility room at the back of their house.

Before they set up the system they had a home energy audit conducted to determine how they could make their home more energy efficient. The audit included a “blower door test” where a door was sealed off except for a big fan blowing air out from the inside of their house. They learned that all the cracks and tiny open spaces added up to a two-foot by two-foot open window.

They tightened up the envelope, so to speak, and insulated the roof carefully. Seven drafty 20-year-old skylights were upgraded and five more replaced with energy efficient solar tubes. The house was cold, hot and drafty before they sealed and insulated it thoroughly. After taking these first steps, it was cozy and comfortable year-round.

Installation of the geothermal equipment took one week to dig three 300-foot water wells and install hundreds of feet of tubing that carrys water with alcohol to circulate to the heat pumps and back deep into the ground.

That process provides a comfortable indoor temperature and domestic hot water. A new high-tech compressor that was supposed to last 30 years went out  after only five years. The industry is a work in progress, David Caldwell observed.

For backup the Caldwells have a pellet stove and a gas fireplace just in case something breaks down. Their lovely home with a vaulted ceiling has the serene atmosphere you might find in a sanctuary. They sit out on their long portal gazing at their cottonwoods, watching the birds, rabbits and other wild visitors, knowing they are doing their part.

A one-of-a-kind pre-fabricated house is going up in Corrales with LEED Platinum credentials. The residence of  Kyrie and Hal Stillman along Mariquita Road is being built with extraordinary attention to sustainably sourced materials and techniques. The Stillmans hope it will inspire other Corraleños and home builders, and so invite anyone interested to follow its progress on Instagram at RIFT_house.

As Hal Stillwell explained RIFT stands for “regenerative ingenuity for tomorrow,” while the acronym LEED, as coined by the U.S. Green Building Council, means “leadership in energy and environment design.”

After starting in 1993, the council established a rating for construction projects aiming for environmental sensitivities and performance, including energy conservation and carbon footprint. Four  LEED certification levels were set: basic, silver, gold and platinum.

According to Stillman, a mechanical engineer, their new home is the first LEED Platinum residence in New Mexico. “We want to change the way people build. A home should use very few resources, it should be extremely energy efficient and it should re-generate, meaning net positive in energy.”

He said their home “will be net positive in energy, thoughtful and innovative in energy and water use, low in construction cost, and the landscape will be managed to make positive contributions to the local ecosystem.”

He described the exterior as Territorial style while the interior is “industrial, minimalist contemporary.”

Architecture is by Equiterra Regenerative Design; the builder is Norm Schreifels’ Sun Mountain Construction.

To highlight a few of the  home’s features, Stillman explained that the exterior walls and roof were produced in a factory as graphite-enhanced structural insulated panels,  with each piece labeled for assembly at the construction site.

“Those insulated panels are like a sandwich,” he explained. “Two sides of oriented strand board which is made from a fast-growing tree —all of which is utilized— cut into thin pieces and assembled into sheets.

“And some of these are very large sheets; some of them are 10 to 12 feet high. In between those sheets is expanded polystyrene. Now that is a chemical, but it is 98 percent air. It is impregnated with graphite, which is a naturally occurring mineral.”

Stillman said the air in the polystyrene is a really great insulator, and that is augmented by the graphite which “acts as an infrared heat mirror” inside the insulation. “So if any heat comes into the stucco from the outside, it reflects the heat back out. This is pretty unusual for an insulation system.”

And, he said, “there’s no thermal bridging,” since there is no direct path for heat to pass through a piece of wood into the structure, or to lose heat out. There’s insulation everywhere.”

The insulation value is R-30 for the walls, the roof R-60… and that’s before another layer of insulation is added in the ceiling.

“So the question arises: why would you go to this extreme? The answer is to absolutely minimize energy use.”

He projects that over the lifetime of his home it will effectively use almost no energy. We’re going to heat and cool it with an air source heat pump. This is the dominant form of heating and cooling around the world, except in the United States where it is now being promoted by the Department of Energy as a really good way to go.”

The windows are designed to bring light into the house but not heat.

The roof has a  highly-reflective  thermoplastic olefin membrane, while windows and doors are insulated to control heat  loss. “The home will have integrated storage systems for electricity, heat and rainwater,” he added. “An array of photovoltaic panels will be sized to provide net positive generation, including vehicle charging.”

He expects to have the home included in the spring 2022 “Parade of Homes.”

Recycled materials are integrated throughout. Counter tops and ceramic tiles are said to contain at least 50 percent “pre-consumer waste.” The floor slab also incorporates recycled material.

The design has a wing for family and guests. “You don’t have to build this home at 3,800 square feet. If you build it smaller, it goes up quicker and simpler.”

He said he got interested in building a home in Corrales after renovating a 1915 mail-order house in Albuquerque last year. “I met a neighbor who suggested I should take a look at Corrales. We know Ann Taylor, so we went to see her and found out this lot was available. This is gorgeous.”

Both the garage and the residence will have roof top solar electric panels, so that the home will generate far more electricity than it uses. “We expect our monthly bill will be the connection fee,  like $8 a month. That will include electric vehicle charging, all the heating and cooling and all the appliances which will be electric.

“Electricity is the way to go for sustainability.”

In his profession, Stillman has worked in environmental and energy systems for  40 years as chief technology officer for a major international corporation. “I’ve also been advising companies around the world about innovation.” He now works with Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago as a senior advisor to Energy and Global Security Group.

“Now, energy and sustainability… that’s global security these days. I understand the climate models that are coming.”

By Meredith Hughes

Back in March 2020, there was no bouncy grassy array on the east side of Pierce Howell’s “passivhaus” in the Corrales sandhills, no line of trees on the north side of the property, and even now, the 30 solar panels intended to provide an 8.1 kilowatt system to power both the house and two electric cars, are not yet erected.

Nor are the cars purchased. The entire building, however, is now skillfully sealed with elastomeric stucco.

And Howell, 85, is doing most of the work himself, his workers having either quit, or been fired. And his enthusiasm for this project —he has constructed over 50 houses, but nothing like this— is unabated.

Even as plans change. The original parallel garages now comprise a workshop, a large light-filled space which will become the studio for Ivana Starcevic, Howell’s longtime partner, a painter and photographer.

But the “shoebox” concept of the living area is unchanged. “It’s a 20 by 60 foot parallelepiped,” Howell explains, unhelpfully. Picture a long hall, off which are the living-dining-kitchen, two baths and two bedrooms, lit by LEDs, everything painted a fierce white, and almost complete.

One sees sinks, and countertops of durable, stain-resistant human-made quartz. A stove, too, in the galley kitchen. Progress! And, he emphasizes, “The roof is 24 inches thick, the doors four inches thick, and the walls 15 inches thick.”

“Must get the building inspector in here soon so we can plan our move here from Albuquerque,” he adds.

The shoebox entry way, incidentally, has a low, long shoe shelf built in.

“The tenet here is that each space works for more than one thing,” says Howell, and each space has its own water heater, and wall-mounted air condition/heat pump. So instead of waiting a possible 5-10 minutes for hot water to reach your shower from a hot water heater in a garage, you wait three seconds. “It’s ‘point of use,’ because the water is heated very near where you will use it.”

Another tenet in place is that Starcevic handles all landscaping or outdoor decisions, while Howell does indoor, within reason. She explains that the grassy area, not “a water saver,” is “a park blend and is watered every second day, once a week during fall and winter.”

It was planted so that the couple’s five dogs “have a place to safely play and also for cooling down during the summer. The grass also is shared with rabbits,” but Starcevic plans “to have some areas sectioned off with a fence to allow for rabbits and birds to have areas safe from our dogs.” A similar plan works well at their house in Albuquerque.

She stresses that a healthy and thick lawn, created with natural fertilizers, mowed only with electric tools, “helps clean the air, traps carbon dioxide, reduces erosion from stormwater runoff, improves soil, decreases noise pollution, and reduces temperatures.”

Planted now are junipers, emerald green and green giant thuja arborvitae, apple, plum and cherry trees, and Arizona ash trees.

In addition Starcevic will plant more trees, including more fruit trees, a wildflower meadow with bee-attracting plants; a veggie garden, some in raised beds, some in the ground; and roses “which require little care and produce flowers from May to late November.” Anything not planted will be covered with chipper mulch, “to prevent sand and dust from flying into our faces.”

Howell pointed out a door to the outside in the long hall, that Stracevic had insisted on, rightly so, he admitted, and the canine members of the family also have their own exit, a dog door built in Detroit, that will allow the critters to zoom out onto the lawn.

Another element coming is likely a Murphy bed for the former studio/now office, in the box-like structure covered in non-wood paneling which Howell built first.

But maybe hauling and installing those solar panels stored at the Albuquerque  house will come first. Howell notes that Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law a solar bill, granting tax credits of up to $6000 for New Mexicans.

Howell admits he is again seeking a helper, “someone smart, reliable, who really likes construction, and is an all-round ‘good egg.’” And reiterates his loathing of Public Service Company of New Mexico, PNM, “that ruthless monster run by Shell Oil.

“Climate change is a real and present danger that is making us dead. And yet, we don’t have to do it that way.

“Fifty percent of the electricity used in Germany as of 2020 was generated by solar, as compared to two percent in the United States in 2019….”

He remembers well when Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels from Jimmy Carter’s White House in 1986. As reported by Scientific American Magazine in 2010, “The White House itself once harvested the power of the sun.

On June 20, 1979, the Carter administration installed 32 panels designed to harvest the sun's rays and use them to heat water. Here is what Carter predicted at the dedication ceremony: "In the year 2000, this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy.”

In 2013, the Obama administration began reinstalling White House solar panels.

You can read the first story about Howell’s sandhills house in the Corrales Comment articles archive at http://www.corralescomment-archive.com/71-2020-vol-xxxix-nos-1-24/5230-passivhaus-inspired-project-goes-up-in-the-sand-hills.

Howell’s favorite go-to construction experts and a website for “green” buiding are: GreenBuildingAdvisor.com; Joseph Lstiburek, PhD, described by Howell as “a consummate buiding scientist, but brilliant wise-ass;” Will Prowse. DIY Solar System video guy; and Matt Risinger, Texas homebuilder, a producer of helpful videos.

You can visit Pierce Howell’s website  at piercechico.weebly.com.

ISSUE 11-20-21 HOW TO GET TO ‘NET ZERO’ CARBON EMISSIONS BY 2050

A report earlier this year by the International Energy Agency (IEA) based in Paris spells out what will need to happen to halt the climate crisis now recognized around the world. Issued in May 2021, the IEA report outlines what is needed to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050. Portions of the report, “Net Zero by 2050: a road map for the global energy sector,” are published below.

“The energy sector is the source of around three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions today and holds the key to averting the worst effects of climate change, perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has faced.

“Reducing global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050 is consistent with efforts to limit the long-term increase in average global temperatures to 1.5˚C. This calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, transport and consume energy.

“The growing political consensus on reaching net zero is cause for considerable optimism about the progress the world can make, but the changes required to reach net-zero emissions globally by 2050 are poorly understood. A huge amount of work is needed to turn today’s impressive ambitions into reality, especially given the range of different situations among countries and their differing capacities to make the necessary changes. This special IEA report sets out a pathway for achieving this goal, resulting in a clean and resilient energy system that would bring major benefits for human prosperity and well-being.

“The global pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050 detailed in this report requires all governments to significantly strengthen and then successfully implement their energy and climate policies. Commitments made to date fall far short of what is required by that pathway. The number of countries that have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions has grown rapidly over the last year and now covers around 70 percent of global emissions of CO2.

“This is a huge step forward. However, most pledges are not yet underpinned by near-term policies and measures. Moreover, even if successfully fulfilled, the pledges to date would still leave around 22 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions worldwide in 2050. The continuation of that trend would be consistent with a temperature rise in 2100 of around 2.1°C. Global emissions fell in 2020 because of the Covid-19 crisis but are already rebounding strongly as economies recover. Further delay in acting to reverse that trend will put net zero by 2050 out of reach.”

The IEA is an autonomous agency established in 1974 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development based in Paris.

“In this Summary for Policy Makers, we outline the essential conditions for the global energy sector to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.…

“Getting to net zero will involve countless decisions by people across the world, but our primary aim is to inform the decisions made by policy makers, who have the greatest scope to move the world closer to its climate goals….

“In the net-zero emissions pathway presented in this report, the world economy in 2030 is some 40 percent larger than today but uses seven percent less energy.… Emissions reductions from the energy sector are not limited to CO2: in our pathway, methane emissions from fossil fuel supplies fall by 75 percent over the next ten years as a result of a global, concerted effort to deploy all available abatement measures and technologies.”

The IEA report is bullish on the strides made in generating electricity from renewable sources.

“Ever-cheaper renewable energy technologies give electricity the edge in the race to zero. Our pathway calls for scaling up solar and wind rapidly this decade, reaching annual additions of 630 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) and 390 GW of wind by 2030, four-times the record levels set in 2020. For solar PV, this is equivalent to installing the world’s current largest solar park roughly every day.

“Hydropower and nuclear, the two largest sources of low-carbon electricity today, provide an essential foundation for transitions. As the electricity sector becomes cleaner, electrification emerges as a crucial economy-wide tool for reducing emissions. Electric vehicles (EVs) go from around 5 percent of global car sales to more than 60 percent by 2030.  

“All the technologies needed to achieve the necessary deep cuts in global emissions by 2030 already exist, and the policies that can drive their deployment are already proven.…”

“A transition of the scale and speed described by the net zero pathway cannot be achieved without sustained support and participation from citizens. The changes will affect multiple aspects of people’s lives —from transport, heating and cooking to urban planning and jobs.

“We estimate that around 55 percent of the cumulative emissions reductions in the pathway are linked to consumer choices such as purchasing an EV, retrofitting a house with energy-efficient technologies or installing a heat pump. Behavioral changes, particularly in advanced economies —such as replacing car trips with walking, cycling or public transport, or foregoing a long-haul flight —also provide around 4 percent of the cumulative emissions reductions.

“Providing electricity to around 785 million people that have no access and clean cooking solutions to 2.6 billion people that lack those options is an integral part of our pathway. Emissions reductions have to go hand-in-hand with efforts to ensure energy access for all by 2030. This costs around US$40 billion a year, equal to around 1 percent of average annual energy sector investment, while also bringing major co-benefits from reduced indoor air pollution.

“Some of the changes brought by the clean energy transformation may be challenging to implement, so decisions must be transparent, just and cost-effective. Governments need to ensure that clean energy transitions are people-centered and inclusive….

“In the net zero pathway, global energy demand in 2050 is around 8 percent smaller than today, but it serves an economy more than twice as big and a population with 2 billion more people. More efficient use of energy, resource efficiency and behavioral changes combine to offset increases in demand for energy services as the world economy grows and access to energy is extended to all.

“Instead of fossil fuels, the energy sector is based largely on renewable energy. Two-thirds of total energy supply in 2050 is from wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal and hydro energy. Solar becomes the largest source, accounting for one-fifth of energy supplies. Solar PV capacity increases 20-fold between now and 2050, and wind power 11-fold.

“Net zero means a huge decline in the use of fossil fuels. They fall from almost four-fifths of total energy supply today to slightly over one-fifth by 2050. Fossil fuels that remain in 2050 are used in goods where the carbon is embodied in the product such as plastics, in facilities fitted with carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS), and in sectors where low-emissions technology options are scarce.

“Electricity accounts for almost 50 percent of total energy consumption in 2050. It plays a key role across all sectors —from transport and buildings to industry— and is essential to produce low-emissions fuels such as hydrogen. To achieve this, total electricity generation increases over two-and-a-half-times between today and 2050. At the same time, no additional new final investment decisions should be taken for new unabated coal plants, the least efficient coal plants are phased out by 2030, and the remaining coal plants still in use by 2040 are retrofitted.

“By 2050, almost 90 percent of electricity generation comes from renewable sources, with wind and solar PV together accounting for nearly 70 percent. Most of the remainder comes from nuclear. 

“Emissions from industry, transport and buildings take longer to reduce. Cutting industry emissions by 95 percent by 2050 involves major efforts to build new infrastructure.…

“Policies that end sales of new internal combustion engine cars by 2035 and boost electrification underpin the massive reduction in transport emissions. In 2050, cars on the road worldwide run on electricity or fuel cells. Low-emissions fuels are essential where energy needs cannot easily or economically be met by electricity. For example, aviation relies largely on biofuels and synthetic fuels, and ammonia is vital for shipping. In buildings, bans on new fossil fuel boilers need to start being introduced globally in 2025, driving up sales of electric heat pumps. Most old buildings and all new ones comply with zero-carbon-ready building energy codes.

“Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required. The unwavering policy focus on climate change in the net zero pathway results in a sharp decline in fossil fuel demand, meaning that the focus for oil and gas producers switches entirely to output  —and emissions reductions— from the operation of existing assets.

“Unabated coal demand declines by 98 percent to just less than 1 percent of total energy use in 2050. Gas demand declines by 55 percent to 1,750 billion cubic meters and oil declines by 75 precent to 24 million barrels per day (mb/d), from around 90 mb/d in 2020.

“Clean electricity generation, network infrastructure and end-use sectors are key areas for increased investment. Enabling infrastructure and technologies are vital for transforming the energy system.

“Annual investment in transmission and distribution grids expands from US $260 billion today to US $820 billion in 2030. The number of public charging points for EVs rises from around 1 million today to 40 million in 2030, requiring annual investment of almost US $90 billion in 2030. Annual battery production for EVs leaps from 160 gigawatt-hours (GWh) today to 6,600 GWh in 2030 —the equivalent of adding almost 20 gigafactories each year for the next ten years. …

“The contraction of oil and natural gas production will have far-reaching implications for all the countries and companies that produce these fuels. No new oil and natural gas fields are needed in our pathway, and oil and natural gas supplies become increasingly concentrated in a small number of low-cost producers.

“For oil, the OPEC share of a much-reduced global oil supply increases from around 37 percent in recent years to 52 percent in 2050, a level higher than at any point in the history of oil markets.

“Yet annual per capita income from oil and natural gas in producer economies falls by about 75 percent, from US $1,800 in recent years to US $450 by the 2030s, which could have knock-on societal effects.

“Structural reforms and new sources of revenue are needed, even though these are unlikely to compensate fully for the drop in oil and gas income. While traditional supply activities decline, the expertise of the oil and natural gas industry fits well with technologies such as hydrogen, CCUS and offshore wind that are needed to tackle emissions in sectors where reductions are likely to be most challenging.”

ISSUE 11-20-21 WHY UN COULDN’T TAKE STRONGER ACTION ON GLOBAL WARMING

Two days before the United Nations conference in Scotland on climate change was to end, negotiators from nearly 200 governments had tentatively agreed on on a joint resolution aimed at tamping down global warming due to emissions of greenhouse gases, especially from burning fuel.

If successfully concluded, the agreement would be the next step beyond the  landmark Paris Accord signed by countries at the end of 2015, but like the earlier one, the pending Glasgow accord would not be binding —even in the face of rising dissatisfaction with the slow pace of decision making and lack of concrete requirements.

The draft document released by the UN secretariat for the Framework Convention on Climate Change late Tuesday night, November 9, was labeled a “framework to guide in shaping a final decision,” rather than a actual decision. Wordsmithing and insertions of caveats had occupied negotiators from most of the world’s governments for more than a week, yet the draft framework still contained many bracketed paragraphs and phrases indicating that no consensus had been achieved.

In UN procedures, such wording within prominent brackets indicates that one or more delegates were holding out for terms more to their liking, or the sticky provision was held hostage for concessions elsewhere in the long document.

The drawn-out, stifling process repeats that of the ultimately successful negotiations for the Paris Accord, but this year the world’s citizenry is in no mood for foot-dragging and indecisiveness. A binding treaty to stop burning fossil fuels and releases of hyper-potent chemicals such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons is being demanded in the wake of successive disasters such as climate-related hurricanes, unprecedented droughts and extraordinarily severe rainfall.

For context, one of the climate experts reported earlier in the week that the sizes of storms previously designated once-in-a-hundred-years events now occur every other year in some part of the world.

It’s likely that pressure for the United Nations to take more decisive action on climate change could lead to renewed efforts to reform its decision-making processes. For example, that could mean further constriction of signatory parties to an agreement. In the past, UN diplomats bent over backward to be inclusive; getting everyone, or nearly everyone on board was paramount even if the necessary compromises left the final agreement nearly meaningless.

Or as Bernice Lee, of the British think tank Chatham House of International Affairs put it after the new draft was released, “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

At that point after 10 days of wordsmithing negotiations, the crucial elements of the still-to-come Glasgow Climate Pact that were not agreed included: what human rights needed to be respected, particularly indigenous rights;  how to compensate for already occurring loss and damage from climate change; transparency; and commitments for climate mitigation.

The president of COP-26, Alok Sharma, implored the diplomats and negotiators “to please bring the currency of compromise with you” to the final round of discussion the following day, Friday, November 12. “The world is watching. We cannot afford to fail.”

See excerpts of the draft declaration text below to understand what the negotiators were hung up on and what was, presumably, easy to find consensus. But even a cursory reading will demonstrate why observers and intensely interested  leaders of nongovernmental organizations  have expressed deep disappointment, frustration and anger.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

“Recognizing the role of multilateralism in addressing climate change and promoting regional and international cooperation in order to strengthen climate action in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty,

Acknowledging the devastating impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and the importance of ensuring a sustainable, resilient and inclusive global recovery, showing solidarity particularly with developing country Parties,

Also acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity,

Noting the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including in forests, the ocean and the cryosphere, and the protection of biodiversity, recognized by some cultures as Mother Earth, and also noting the importance for some of the concept of ‘climate justice’, when taking action to address climate change,

Expressing appreciation to the Heads of State and Government who participated in the World Leaders Summit in Glasgow and for the increased targets and actions announced and the commitments made to work together and with non-Party stakeholders to accelerate sectoral action by 2030,

Recognizing the important role of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society, including youth and children, in addressing and responding to climate change, and highlighting the urgent need for multilevel and cooperative action,

  1. Science and urgency
  2. Recognizes the importance of the best available science for effective climate action and policymaking;
  3. Welcomes the contribution of Working Group I to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report and the recent global and regional reports on the state of the climate from the World Meteorological Organization, and invites the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to present its forthcoming reports to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice in 2022;
  4. Expresses alarm and utmost concern that human activities have caused around 1.1 °C of warming to date, that impacts are already being felt in every region, and that carbon budgets consistent with achieving the Paris Agreement temperature goal are now small and being rapidly depleted;
  5. Recalls Article 2, paragraph 2, of the Paris Agreement, which provides that the Paris Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances;
  6. Stresses the urgency of enhancing ambition and action in relation to mitigation, adaptation and finance in this critical decade to address the gaps in the implementation of the goals of the Paris Agreement;
  7. Adaptation
  8. Notes with serious concern the findings from the contribution of Working Group I to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report, including that climate and weather extremes and their adverse impacts on people and nature will continue to increase with every additional increment of rising temperatures;
  9. Emphasizes the urgency of scaling up action and support, including finance, capacity- building and technology transfer, to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change in line with the best available science, taking into account the priorities and needs of developing country Parties;
  10. Welcomes the adaptation communications and national adaptation plans submitted to date, which enhance the understanding and implementation of adaptation actions and priorities;
  11. Urges Parties to further integrate adaptation into local, national and regional planning;
  12. Requests Parties that have not yet done so to submit their adaptation communications in accordance with decision 9/CMA.1 ahead of the fourth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (November 2022) so as to provide timely input to the global stocktake;

III.  Adaptation Finance

  1. Recognizes the importance of the global goal on adaptation for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, and welcomes the launch of the comprehensive two- year Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation;
  2. Notes that the implementation of the Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme will start immediately after the third session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement;
  3. Invites the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to present to the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement at its fourth session the findings from the contribution of Working Group II to its Sixth Assessment Report, including those relevant to assessing adaptation needs, and calls upon the research community to further the understanding of global, regional and local impacts of climate change, response options and adaptation needs;
  4. Notes with concern that the current provision of climate finance for adaptation remains insufficient to respond to worsening climate change impacts in developing country Parties;
  5. Urges developed country Parties to urgently and significantly scale up their provision of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity-building for adaptation so as to respond to the needs of developing country Parties as part of a global effort, including for the formulation and implementation of national adaptation plans and adaptation communications;
  6. Recognizes the importance of the adequacy and predictability of adaptation finance, including the value of the Adaptation Fund in delivering dedicated support for adaptation, and invites developed country Parties to consider multi-annual pledges;
  7. Welcomes the recent pledges made by many developed country Parties to increase their provision of climate finance to support adaptation in developing country Parties in response to their growing needs, including contributions made to the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund, which represent significant progress compared with previous efforts;
  8. Urges developed country Parties to at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing country Parties from 2019 levels by 2025, in the context of achieving a balance between mitigation and adaptation in the provision of scaled-up financial resources, recalling Article 9, paragraph 4, of the Paris Agreement;
  9. Calls upon multilateral development banks, other financial institutions and the private sector to enhance finance mobilization in order to deliver the scale of resources needed to achieve climate plans, particularly for adaptation, and encourages Parties to continue to explore innovative approaches and instruments for mobilizing finance for adaptation from private sources;
  10. Mitigation
  11. Reaffirms the Paris Agreement temperature goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels;
  12. Recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared with 2 °C and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C;
  13. Recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid- century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases;
  14. Also recognizes that this requires accelerated action in this critical decade, on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge and equity, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty; …”

And then farther into the text one finds the touchy subject of whether burning of coal should be phased out. At the last moment, a compromise was made to satisfy countries that now rely heavily on coal. The all-but completely agreed to draft called for coal to be phased out, but the final wording is that coal use is to be “phased down.” It reads as follows.

“36. Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated  coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards a just transition; coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards a just transition; [emphasis added]

  1. Invites Parties to consider further actions to reduce by 2030 non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions, including methane;
  2. Emphasizes the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring nature and ecosystems to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goal, including through forests and other terrestrial and marine ecosystems acting as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and by protecting biodiversity, while ensuring social and environmental safeguards;
  3. Recognizes that enhanced support for developing country Parties will allow for higher ambition in their actions; …”

ISSUE 11-20-21 IN GLASGOW AND WORLDWIDE, YOUTH DEMANDS CLIMATE ACTION NOW

If representatives of national governments could not achieve much success at the Glasgow climate talks earlier this month, young people stand ready to act. Well away from the Scottish Event Centre where COP-26 convened, a youth power rally attracted tens of thousands. “The climate and ecological crises are already here,” said Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, a stand-in for Swedish teen Greta Thunberg at the mass demonstration Saturday, November 6. “Leaders rarely have the courage to lead. It takes citizens, people like you and me, to rise up and demand action.

“And when we do that in great enough numbers, our leaders will move. Until then, we must demand that our leaders treat the climate crisis like a crisis.

“We must demand that our leaders stop holding meaningless summits and start taking meaningful action.”

Their defiance was in stark contrast to the collegiality and soft-spoken diplomacy inside the COP-26 plenary halls.  But it was not just the youth who demanded direct and immediate action. Twenty-one scientists blocked a major bridge near the event center in a deliberate move to force police to arrest them.

Scientists Rebellion activists chained themselves together across  King George V Bridge to block traffic, protesting the lack of urgency among representatives of nearly 200 governments.

“Scientists have spent decades writing papers, advising governments, briefing the press… all have failed,” the group said in a statement. “What is the point in documenting in ever greater detail the catastrophe we face if we are not willing to do anything about it?”

Two days later Scientists Rebellion returned to the “scene of the crime” or at least nearby to stage a teach-in. They exposed what they considered the   major fallacies of the UN process meant to address the climate problem.

One of those was that planting huge new forests will solve the problem. Another is that new carbon capture technologies can make a big difference. Chief among those fallacies is that governments will enact measures to effectively halt global warming.

The UN COP process “is a pacifying tool that serves to bail out the existing power structure and prevent the radical change  that is necessary,” a spokesman for the rebellion explained.

Much the same point was made at the Saturday youth rally at Glasgow Green park.  One of the speakers representing  indigenous groups put it this way. “We are  not here to offer our indigenous solutions to your climate problem that colonialism created. We are not here to fix your COP agenda. We are here in spite of it. We are here to disrupt it.”

In fact, since the beginning of the COP (conference of the parties) process at the Earth Summit in 1992, inclusion of indigenous interests has been problematic. Why that is so may be obscure until the process is seen from a colonial perspective.

Native groups, or nations, may not concede that the official national governments that have signed on as “parties” to the UN process are legitimate representatives of their interests as well. Must a tribal government, for example, agree to obligations incurred through a supra-national entity?

That is, does a U.S. commitment to bring down carbon dioxide emissions bind the Navajo nation?

ISSUE 11-20-21 GOV. LUJAN GRISHAM TAKES STAGE AT UN CLIMATE VENUE

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham joined four other Democrat and Republican governors attending COP-26 in setting goals for moving toward net zero carbon emissions next year.

She was among the sub-national leaders at COP-26 in the “U.S. Climate Alliance” who have vowed to “keep 1.5 alive” amid growing concerns that governments everywhere are failing to do what’s needed to slow the relentless increase in global worming.

Lujan Grisham met with Governors Jay Inslee of Washington State, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, David Ige of Hawaii and Kate Brown of Oregon to “demonstrate a critical mass of high ambition states” intent on moving just as relentlessly toward keeping global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Centigrade compared to the pre-Industrial Era climate.

Together, the five states represent 55 percent of the U.S. population and 60 percent of the U.S. economy as expressed in gross domestic product (GDP). They said they are committed to achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

But the name of their nascent club, the “Under 2 Coalition,” seems a little less ambitious. A two degree Celsius average increase would engulf the world in devastations to crops, wildlife and scarcely habitable human living conditions.

On the governors’ Sunday, November 7 schedule was a “Net Zero Futures Initiative” that would “set the 2030 agenda for transformative climate action... starting with objectives for action in 2022.”

Lujan Grisham was an active participant in several side meetings and panel discussions in Glasgow. Those included sessions with John Kerry and Gina McCarthy, President Joe Biden’s envoys to the UN conference, although she was a no-show at an earlier session on “Making the Transition to Clean Power a Reality” where the plenary hall’s overhead big-screen electronic billboards displayed her photo and name. A chair on the podium where she would have been seated was vacant; the moderator gave no explanation.

Among other announcements that day,  more than 20 nations and 15 major institutions had committed to ending financing for more fossil fuel projects. As Denmark’s Minister of Foreign Affairs chimed in “Luckily renewable energy is realistic as a replacement. The coal phase-out is affordable. Let’s together consign coal to history.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm called for even more ambitious measures to end the use of coal in the United States and around the world, saying that renewables could “leapfrog over coal.”

During a panel discussion later that day, Norway’s minister of international development offered the welcomed news that 80 percent of her country’s new automobiles are now electric, rather than gasoline powered.

Norway has also launched the world’s first zero emissions ship, and is erecting the world’s biggest floating wind farm.  Minister Anne Beathe Tvinnereim ended on a cheerleading note that “Either we break through together or we break down separately.”

The UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action, Selwin Hart, warned that “keeping 1.5 alive” is necessary, since the world is now on a path for global temperature to rise to 2.7 degrees C.

“This is a fight we cannot afford to lose,” he stressed.

ISSUE 11-20-21 WORLD COMMITS TO SLOW GLOBAL WARMING…SORT OF

Demand was high, but expectations were low. Nearly 200 governments from around the world concluded their two-week conclave in Glasgow, Scotland without a binding treaty to stop pouring greenhouse gases into the planet’s thin atmosphere. They were not expected to do so.

In their “Glasgow Climate Pact,” they did not swear off starting new projects to burn fossil fuels to generate electricity; they did not sign agreements to ban future gasoline-guzzling automobiles from rolling off assembly lines; they did not set punishments for ongoing destruction of forests so crucial to absorbing excessive carbon dioxide from burning those fossil fuels.

Going into the last days of COP-26, negotiations had led to a pledge that the burning of coal to produce electricity would be phased out, but at the last minute India and other governments managed to change that to “phased down,” rather than out.

What they did do at COP-26, this year’s intergovernmental conference on climate change, was “increase ambition” to slow the worrying trend of global warming. The mantra from leaders of United Nations agencies, scientists and non-governmental organizations was to “keep 1.5 alive,”  the global  average temperature expressed in Centigrade over that of pre-industrial times.  If those temperatures could be stabilized at 1.5 degrees C above the carbon emissions that began roughly with Scottish inventor James Watt’s introduction of the steam engine in 1776, the earth’s climate probably would remain habitable. But, as scientists today warn, greenhouse gas emissions are on a trajectory to rise steadily to 2.7 degrees C by 2100 —an impending catastrophe for most living things on the planet, including ourselves. A somewhat better projection has been issued by the Carbon Tracker website: perhaps it will rise only by 2.4 degrees C compared to pre-industrial times within the next 79 years.

What’s not obvious to most people, including many who follow the developing climate crisis, is that those three-tenths of a degree would make an enormous difference in life on earth, if only due to frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as extended droughts accompanied by successive year crop losses, hurricanes, unprecedented flooding, spread of diseases and unmanageable wildfires. Think back to 2020 and this past year: the flooding of low-lying areas of Manhattan and New Jersey, destruction of wide areas of California and Washington State and the accelerating loss of the world’s glaciers and polar ice caps. All of that is reliably attributed to a rise of just 1.1 degrees C.

Demand was high that COP-26 produce tangible results, measures imposed by national governments or at least international sanctions against institutions that flagrantly aggravate the climate crisis. Ahead of the conference, key governments did issue more ambitious promises to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, sometimes earlier than already promised. The United States was among them, as was New Mexico, which assumed a leadership role in commitments to reduce methane releases, chiefly from the flaring of oil and gas production and processing sites.

And New Mexico’s main producer of electricity, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), announced last year that it would stop burning coal for its generators, setting 2040 or before to be coal-free. PNM said it would divest from the San Juan Generating Station next year, and replace that with 650 megawatts of new solar generating capacity and 300 megawatts of battery storage.

But a significant part of PNM’s plan is to substitute some of that coal power with gas power. And that’s a big caveat in the widespread praise at COP-26 for the shift away from coal. At a press briefing November 10, five representatives of Citizens Action Network (CAN), made up of more than 1,500 climate-related non-governmental organizations around the world, said promises to stop burning coal were welcome but not nearly sufficient. The shift away from fossil fuels needs to include abandoning use of natural gas as well, they insisted. “We need to phase out oil and gas as well as coal, and we need to do it fast and fair,” said Mohamed Adow, director of PowerShift Africa.

The press briefing assessed progress at COP-26 mid-way through the conference’s second week. Panelists said they were heartened  that more ambitious de-carbonization goals had been announced in the governments' new “nationally determined contributions” to efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, and that delegates had finally included in COP-26’s main negotiating product the need for immediate action on damages that have already occurred around the globe due to climate change. Time and again over the previous 10 days, prime ministers and presidents stressed that their countries have already suffered enormous losses… not computer-modeled simulations of rising seas, eroding shorelines, flooding, persistent droughts and potential crop losses but billions of dollars in damage already sustained.

It is the difficult issue referred to as “loss and damage,” that surfaced at COP-21 which produced the 2015 Paris Accord, only to be shunted aside so that at least some international agreement could emerge. The obvious was asserted in Glasgow again and again: the peoples of the world who have produced the least greenhouses gases have suffered the greatest damage. 

How should they be compensated, by whom, and how can they be assisted proactively since the calamities that have befallen them will grow more frequent and more intense? It’s a matter of liability which the developed countries such as the United States are not anxious to see addressed.

At a session on loss and damage during week two of the conference, one of the negotiators expressed certainty that such claims eventually will go to the International Court of Justice In The Hague, Netherlands.

Inclusion of the need for the international community to address loss and damage in the draft text for an agreement to come from COP-26 was welcomed but also largely discounted by the CAN panelists. “These are just words that will make no difference to the people hardest hit by climate change,” said Teresa Anderson, of Action Aid International. “This text gives the illusion of progress when there really is none. You will search in vain for any radical change in the way loss and damage is addressed.”

Another panelist in the press conference, Tzeporah Berman, who leads the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty movement, decried the fact that projects already underway or approved around the world will increase 110 percent more fuel than can be burned and still keep the climate below 1.5 degrees C. “We already have enough oil and gas under development to take us past two degrees,  so we cannot allow the marketplace to solve this problem. It’s not working fast enough to keep us safe. That’s why we’re seeing real anger and frustration.”

The final, official document adopted at COP-26 on Saturday, November 13, included the following in an introductory section labeled “Science and Urgency.” The U.N. “Expresses alarm and utmost concern that human activities have caused around 1.1 degrees C of warming to date, that impacts are already being felt in every region, and that carbon budgets consistent with achieving the Paris Agreement temperature goal are now small and being rapidly depleted.” It also noted that its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this year had reported that “climate weather extremes and their adverse impacts on people and nature will continue to increase with every additional increment of rising temperatures.” (For the text of that report, see series starting in Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.13, August 21, 2021 “Text of UN Climate Change Report.”)

“To mitigate the effects of that documented change in global climate, the Glasgow Pact said the UN “Reaffirms the Paris Agreement temperature goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels;

“Recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 degrees C compared with 2 degrees C and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C;

“Recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid- century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases;…”

Some breakthroughs on the international effort to hold down global  temperature came in the lead-up to COP-26. After the United States and the European Union pledged they would achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, China, the second biggest emitter,  promised to do so by 2060.

Then in Glasgow, the other big hold-out, India, said it would be net zero by 2070.

For many observers, those targets, even if realized, are too little too late. But two other factors offer more hope. New Mexico is expected to play a significant role in one of those, a promised dramatic reduction in methane releases.   This state leads the nation in methane emissions due to production of oil and gas. Cutting methane releases would have a big impact because that gas is far more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so that would produce a rapid improvement.

The second factor is the global commitment to halt destruction of forests. One hundred thirty governments promised in Glasgow that they would stop the wholesale clearing of forests within the next nine years.

Despite those promises extracted in Scotland, the threat of systemic climate collapse remained. As United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe.”

ISSUE 11-20-21 CONGRESS CONSIDERS BILL DEALING WITH RADIATION EXPOSURES

A new bill has been introduced in Congress to strengthen the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to cover people working in uranium mines or living downwind from nuclear weapons tests. U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján and Mike Crapo of Idaho introduced bipartisan legislation designed to strengthen the act in the U.S. Senate while U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House. Earlier this year, Luján testified in a key House subcommittee hearing on the urgency of passing updated legislation.  The bill would update the current program by expanding the geographic downwinder eligibility to include then-residents of New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho and Montana. 

This bill would expand eligibility for certain individuals working in uranium mines, mills or transporting uranium ore. It would also increase the amount of compensation an individual may receive and extend the program another 19 years following enactment. The program is scheduled to expire in 2022.  Updates made to this version of the bill include an expanded list of radiation-related cancers deemed eligible for compensation, added cost-savings for those attempting to file a claim, and improved date ranges for downwinder eligibility.  “Former uranium miners who are sick and dying, and downwind communities whose air and water were poisoned, deserve to be treated fairly by their government,” said Luján. “For over a decade, I’ve been fighting alongside impacted communities to extend and expand RECA. This is about justice and doing what’s right, and there’s no time to waste.”

ISSUE 11-20-21 ADOBE THEATER PRESENTS CHRISTMAS COMEDY DEC. 2-19

The Adobe Theater will stage a comedy for the holiday season ahead. Starting on December 2, the theater presents “Greetings,” about what might have been a traditional Christmas dinner. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The December 16 performance is “pay what you will.” That begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, see http://www.adobetheater.org, call 505-898-9222 or contact by email at info@adobetheater.org.  An older couple and their developmentally disabled, 30-year-old son, Mickey, await the arrival of their other son and his girlfriend for Christmas dinner. “Traditional beliefs are tested and expectations challenged,” the show’s promoters explain. “In a surprising twist of fate, Mickey is the catalyst who brings them all together, and the family realizes the most important thing in life is love and acceptance of others.” Acting in the production are Georgia Athearn, Daniel Anaya, Tim Reardon, Levi Gore and Jennifer Benoit.

ISSUE 11-20-21 THANKSGIVING DAY RACE

The 20th annual Albuquerque Turkey Trek 5K Run, Fitness Walk and kids 1K event returns on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 25. “Finish your year strong with a (personal best time) on New Mexico’s fastest USAT&F certified 5K race course or build up your calorie busters for your Thanksgiving Day dinner,” race organizers say. If you registered for the 2019 canceled Turkey Trek (snowpocalypse) your 2021 registration will be honored. An email will be sent with a unique online code which will allow you to register online at no cost.

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