October 2012

Back To The Future

Old Ideas and Modern Technology To Solve the Energy Crisis1

1 Reference: Power TripThe Story of America’s Affair with Energy by Amanda Little, published by Harper-Perennial (www.harperperennial.com), 2009.


Peter Borgo



Taking a trip “back to the future” can put us on track to solve to the “energy crisis” in (1) buildings (to energy-efficient construction and systems), (2) transportation (to electric cars and trains), and (3) electricity generation (to renewable resources and distributed generation).


Solar power dates back to 212 B.C., when Archimedes advised Greek soldiers to use their curved bronze shields to concentrate beams of sunlight on Roman ships. Over 10,000 years ago, More >

Los Alamos Smart Grid Powers-Up


On Sept. 17, a $53-million, state-of-the-art, international smart grid project powered up in Los Alamos. The New Energy and Industrial Technology and Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan, Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil a photovoltaic array, a battery storage system, a smart house and an energy management system that will serve Los Alamos residents.


New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, together with NEDO Chairman Mr. Kazuo Furukawa, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, Los Alamos County Council Chair Sharon Stover, LANL Director Dr. Charles McMillan and Toshiba CEO Mr. Norio Sasaki, along with other More >

The Extraordinary Technology Conference

A Journey into Profound Possibilities


Charles Bensinger



From July 26-29, the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid hosted the annual Extraordinary Technology Conference. And indeed, extraordinary was a good word for the information sharing that occurred during the data-packed conference. Just what was extraordinary in this context? The physics, the chemistry, the math and the many individuals who participated, when taken together, created an experience beyond what one would normally expect from a traditional technical conference.


The conference was sponsored by TeslaTech Inc., of Queen Valley, AZ., whose mission is to champion and nurture advanced concepts and products in science and technology. Many of the concepts they More >

Solar Newsbites


Green Tech Firm to Lease Schott Solar Plant

McCune Works, Inc., an innovative green technology firm, has announced that within six months it will lease Schott Solar’s 200,000-square-foot Mesa del Sol manufacturing plant in Albuquerque for photovoltaic panel production. Because of a competitive domestic and global market, Schott closed the plant, which employed 250 people, in June. Beginning in early 2013, McCune Solar Works LLC will make solar modules under the new logo “Hott Solar PV.” McCune Works also intends to produce other environmentally conscious products at the plant and expects to employ about 130 people, many of them former Schott More >

Carbon Economy Series Back in Santa Fe


Dedicated to teaching sustainable knowledge and practices, the Carbon Economy Series returns to Santa Fe Community College from October 2012 through June 2013. The monthly weekend workshops teach principles and practices for land, soil, water, waste, organic food production, and how to positively affect climate change from a local perspective. There will be opportunities to learn aboriginal living skills, regenerative agriculture, sustainable tourism, Permaculture site design, and creating edible food forests. There will also be a women’s symposium on ranching, gardening and farming.


A partial list of speakers includes: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, who, without pesticides, fertilizers, tractors or More >

Benchmarking Empowerment


Gary Vaughn


Grid integration” is utility-speak for adding photovoltaic (PV) and wind power sources to the traditional fossil-fueled electrical power system. There are very real challenges to adding high levels of PV and wind power to traditional utility grids. These issues are now getting a lot of attention, not only from some of the more progressive utilities themselves, but also from university researchers, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) staff and the US military.


Many traditional ultra-risk-adverse utilities still cling to the belief that even a modest percentage of wind and PV power integration is too expensive, intermittent and unreliable to bank on. More >

Biomass Energy for a Hydrocarbon Earth

Nicholas Chambers


Biomass energy is like a solar battery. Through the process of photosynthesis, the earth’s hydrocarbon economy is constantly banking the sun’s energy as biomass while fixing atmospheric carbon and releasing oxygen. In contrast to other biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, biomass energy technologies are primary energy sources that can utilize the raw, solid and usually by-product forms of organic resources. Two specific technologies that can be extremely compatible to New Mexico’s abundant daytime sunshine and existing solar/wind technologies are anaerobic digestion and wood chip gasification.


Anaerobic digestion is a wet, bio-chemical process that harnesses a primeval consortium of More >

Building a Community Food System


IAIA Demonstration Garden


Seth Roffman


Although the faculty had integrated agricultural curriculum into the Indigenous Liberal Studies and Museum Studies departments, opportunities for hands-on student agriculture and scientific research at the Institute of American Indian Arts was lacking until two years ago, when a garden was planted to demonstrate and promote Indigenous agricultural methods for food and medicinal crop cultivation. The garden includes corn, beans, squash, peaches, lettuce, onions and other fruits and vegetables, some of which are used in the school’s cafeteria.

The plot is designed and maintained by the school’s Center for Lifelong Education, local tribal members, students and faculty. More >

A Visit to China Opens Doors to North Korea through Sustainable Agriculture


Don Bustos


In August 2012, I had the opportunity to travel to China as part of a farmer-to-farmer cultural exchange program. The farmers I met there were able to sell what they grow in the open markets, and after they make their state quotas, have brokers sell the larger amounts. Wholesalers drive their trucks to the farms, buy directly from the growers, and then transport the produce to the city to sell to restaurants and stores. On several occasions, I saw vendors selling directly to the hotel where we were staying. Also, each day, local street markets sold live seafood. What More >

Farming for a Sustainable South Valley Community


Patrick W. Staib and Sayrah Namaste


“We wanted to dispel the myth that you can’t make a living farming,” says Don Bustos, director of the New Mexico program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). AFSC is an international nonprofit organization and Nobel Peace prize recipient that has worked in NM since 1976 tocreate economic viability through training small farmers in sustainable agricultural practices, thereby protecting land and water rights and traditional cultural practices.


AFSC’s hands-on, farmer-to-farmer training program teaches beginning farmers high-value-crop selection, sequential planting, crop aggregation, year-round production in passive-solar cold frames, and managing a farmer network. Teaching farmers to More >

The Story Behind the Wildfires


Maceo Martinet


While the mainstream media has grudgingly begun to talk about the connection between global warming and destructive wildfires, there is an important connection not being made. Today’s wildfires, now often called megafires, are much worse than those of the past due to human mismanagement of the forests. This mismanagement is based on how humans relate to fire and how we relate to the communities that depend on the forests.


The US Forest Service (USFS), the agency tasked with managing approximately 100 million acres of public forest throughout the West, believed from its inception in 1905 until the 1980s, that More >

Wildland Fire Science at Northern New Mexico College


Lisa Mednick Powell


On June 26, 2011, lunchtime patrons at Española’s La Cocina emerged from the restaurant to see a thin plume of smoke rising from the Jemez Mountains into the afternoon sky. Less than 24 hours later, the ragged plume had become a raging wildfire covering 43,000 acres of northern New Mexico. It would continue spreading untilAug. 2, when it was finally contained; by then the Las Conchas Fire had gained the distinction of being the largest wildfire in NM history at 156,000 acres.


Some wildfires begin with a spark from lightning or from a careless smoker’s smoldering match. The Las More >

Responding to Instability


Jack Loeffler


Consider this. We became who we are as a species around 200,000 years ago, responding to some greater urge to evolve that prevails within the biotic community. By the end of the Pleistocene, we practiced a time-honored hunter-gatherer lifestyle, relying on our individual and collective wit to survive by reaping the bounty offered by the flow of Nature. The whole of our planet was a wilderness where sometimes we ourselves provided a wholesome meal for other predators, our decomposed remains enriching the soil to provide nutrients.

During the warming trends of the early Holocene, we began to develop agriculture, and More >

Faren Dancer’s… Unicopia Green

The Prodigious Power of Our Beliefs


Many of us have noticed the rapid acceleration of change that is occurring both individually and collectively. You don’t have to watch the news to perceive that various aspects of our culture that previously seemed tolerable, or perhaps held in denial, appear to be crumbling as a result of unsustainable foundations. It is a time to become witness to our patterns of behavior, to confront the imprints of our social conditioning and to take responsibility for the outcomes precipitated by our actions. This is especially worthwhile, given that these actions are often driven by subconscious More >

Start Today Before Tomorrow Is Gone


Victoria Gonzales and Elizabeth Sanchez

Santa Fe High School students


Think of our world. What are its issues? What are its needs? We, living in a First World country, tend to believe that the world’s needs only revolve around us. Have you ever imagined homeless children or global warming right outside your front door?


Michael Reynolds did. In the 1970s, he invented what are known as earthships. Earthships are eco-friendly homes constructed from recycled materials. They can produce much of their own food, heat and water supply. This is made possible through the use of innovative design that includes solar panels, rainwater harvesting More >



Sustainable Building Tax Credit Fund Almost at Annual Cap

Due to the popularity of new energy-efficient homes, the Sustainable Building Tax Credit for residential building in NM is nearing its annual $5 million cap. Once the cap is met, builders or homeowners who expected to claim the credit for green-certified construction on their 2012 taxes will have to wait until next year. This is likely to have the effect of depleting the funds available for issuing credits in 2013, the year the tax credit is due to end. However, a proposal to extend the program is being developed. It will need More >

What’s Going On? – Albuquerque



Through Oct. 28

Transforming the Human Spirit

Natl. Museum of Nuclear Science & History, 601 Eubank, SE

Imagine a world where the interconnectedness of humans across the globe is paramount and a peaceful world is possible. Exhibit by Soka Gakkai Intl., a lay Buddhist movement. Admission: $8/$7.



Through Oct. 31, Fri-Sun.

Maize Maze

Los Poblanos Fields, 1701 Montano NW

Rio Grande Community Farm’s corn maze, partnered with ABQ BioPark, features amphibians and farm animals. Family-friendly activities. $7/$5. Info: www.riograndefarm.org/events/maize-maze


Through Feb. 2013

100 Years of State & Federal Policy: Its Impact on Pueblo Nations

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St. NW

Exhibition reflects on the human experience behind enacted More >

What’s Going On? – Santa Fe


Through Oct. 18

Sustainable Land Development Code Public Review Meetings

Various Locations

For info or to obtain a copy of the SLDC, visit www.santafecountynm.gov/sidc or call 505.955.2717.

Oct. 3, 4-5:30 pm

Rally at the Roundhouse

Join Physicians for Social Responsibility-NM, NM Interfaith Power & Light and others to show support for a transition to clean energy. People from across NM will deliver a petition with thousands of signatures to the governor. Info: 330.304.2074, http://act.350.org/signup/NM_RoundhouseAction/?akid=2194.767631.msZVsh&rd=1&t=2


Oct. 4-Nov. 8, Th. Evenings, 5-7:30 pm

Mystery and Magic of Soil Preparation for Vegetables

Dandelion Ranch, 1212 Don Gaspar

With biodynamic teacher/master gardener Juaquin Lawrence Hershman. $20/class; $90 series. 505.660.3171, luminous@cybermesa.com, http://juaquinlawrencehershman.blogspot.com


Oct. 5-6, 13-14, 10 More >

What’s Going On? – Here & There


Through Oct. 7

Taos Fall Arts Festival

Convention Center and Galleries. Taos, NM

Includes Wool Festival (www.taoswoolfestival.org), installations, awards and activities.


Oct. 5, 8 am-5:30 pm

Renewable Energy & Clean Technology Conference 2012

Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave., Las Cruces, NM

NM’s Clean Energy Future. Address by Sen. Jeff Bingaman. Green Business Expo free to the public. Registration: $65/$40/$20. Info: 575.323.1575, carrie@nmgreenchamber.com, nmgreenchamber.org


Oct. 6, 12-6 pm


Espanola Skate Park

Live painting, poetry, music, skate and BMX competitions. Food & information booths from local organizations & nonprofits. Info: 505.927.9631 or spanapalooza@gmail.com


Oct. 9, 5-6:30 pm Reception; 6:30 book signing

Amy Goodman and Denis Moynahan

Old Martina’s Hall, Ranchos de Taos, NM

Reception, talk More >