Opinion: Climate change is a local issue

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In view of the onerous climate threat and the myriad examples of its devastating effects all over the world, it seems it would surely be in Taos’ best interest to seriously consider amending land-use requirements in Taos County and the town of Taos.

The permits need to require that no building take place on arable, acequia-watered land. Not today, but in the foreseeable future, this kind of land will be vital for the health of the people, water, air and the production of food for the local population.

There are two pending proposals that make this change urgent. The Tarelton development and the construction of the Family Dollar on acequia-watered, agricultural land. It’s clear from all the information we have – Bill McKibben’s 40 years of study; Naomi Klein and thousands of other scientists over decades and decades – that this land needs to be preserved and protected.

In many small villages in Europe, this kind of land planning has taken place for hundreds of years. There are green belts around the villages that keep the air and water clean, where animals and food are raised for the local populations. Zoning in these places does not allow building on historically agricultural land.

It seems clear that many residents of Taos understand and are experiencing signs of different climate evolving here and wish our government to acknowledge that we need to alter our planning for this future. Fortunately for Taos, we have had in place for many years a mechanism for landowners to preserve this kind of land – Taos Land Trust.

But the town and county need to acknowledge and put into place official protections for arable land. And, of course, aside from forever destroying arable, acequia-watered land, an entity like Family Dollar only chips away at the unique beauty of the authentic New Mexican village like El Prado.

I urge our land planners to have the foresight to preserve the health of our valley for future generations.

Katherine Bensusen lives in El Prado.

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