Something Very Confusing

Mass Development, Jerk Face Littering and Life as Pollution

Why is this allowed?
Why is this allowed?

We* had a car when we moved to Albuquerque this summer, but its undercarriage fell out -- which is a ridiculously expensive problem to fix -- and so we decided** we could handle being without one. We're fortunate to live in a great spot for riding mass transit, in a little house that's plopped perfectly, equidistantly between Central and Lomas. Turns out, we sleep pretty well at night knowing that we're sharing our commutes' carbon footprints with other transit riders instead of making our own.

It's not often that either of us feels particularly deprived by not having our own vehicle. Except -- ironically, I suppose -- when we want to go into nature, which is pretty hard to do on the bus/rail lines. This weekend, after a particularly tricky and trying last week, we felt like getting out of town and walking off some steam. So we rented a car.

On Saturday, not wanting to risk getting trapped in our non-weatherized rental car on snow-covered mountain roads, we walked 7-ish-miles-round-trip along the Bosque. On Sunday, we hiked a surprisingly strenuous 5-ish-miles-round-trip-up-and-back to the McCauley Hot Springs outside of Jemez. It was all so beautiful. New Mexico's landscapes are stunningly diverse. Awe inspiringly so, in fact.

Don't let the pristine appearance fool you. There are beer bottles smashed up and down the whole of the mountain.
Don't let the pristine appearance fool you. There are beer bottles smashed up and down the whole of the mountain.

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel some anger as we explored these environments. The side of the Bosque we wandered was open and wild (save the occasional monitoring station surrounded by chain-link). Yet across the water, houses sprawl endlessly; big ugly developments and monstrous McMansions subsume the riverbanks. At the hot springs, some jerk face(s) had left beer bottles and soda cans and odd articles of clothing littered across the mountainside.

I know that the litter may seem less offensive than the mass development, but when it's all boiled down, it's all part of the same problem. Leaving trash behind is an indication, a symptom maybe, of the attitude that allows houses to smash entire ecosystems out of existence, that allows ease and earnings to trump conscientiousness.

This has all been on my mind pretty constantly lately, as over the last however many weeks, I've watched/encountered an unusually high number of environmentally-centered films, plays, exhibits and installations. And the more I think about it all, the more I engage with the problem, the more perplexed I am. I just don't know how we can do what we need to do to protect/save the planet when we can't even get people to pick up their own fucking garbage. Let alone change their entire day-to-day routines.

Especially because people (people like me and maybe you) who do pick up after themselves, who do think about how their actions affect the environment, who do make efforts to reduce their impact, do damage daily anyway. It's like it's inbred in us... Work. Pollute. Relax. Pollute. Eat. Pollute. Drive. Pollute. Live. Pollute... Pollute. Kill.

The growing local movement seems like the best possible solution to the problem. So that's how we've been trying to operate. It's admittedly difficult at times. And we end up doing things like renting cars. But we're trying. And hopefully we'll continue to improve.

And I'm no less confused now than I was at the beginning of this blog. But at least I've gotten all of this out of my head. However incoherently.

Thanks, guys. You're saving me a fortune in therapy bills.

*We = me + Alex, my fiance
** By "decided," I mean that we made a choice to eat instead of buy a new car.