What’s in your back yard?

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By The Staff

We’ve all heard the phrases “Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)” and “Think Globally, Act Locally.”


But have you ever considered how the phrases might apply to you?  Let’s take NIMBY, for example.   


None of us would want a junk yard, pig farm, or coal-fired power plant in our backyard. But how do you define backyard?  


If a coal-fired power plant were literally sitting in your backyard it would have quite an impact on you.  But if it were out of sight but still affected you, would it still be in your backyard, figuratively speaking?


 Is there any doubt about the pollutants being dumped into our atmosphere from coal-fired power plants? The effects of the released green house gases are well documented.


You’ve heard the warnings about eating fish from certain areas because of the mercury risk. The mercury comes from burning coal.  There are no power plants in the streams or lakes but the lakes, streams and fish are affected nevertheless.  


We have exactly these power plants in the Farmington area with plans underway for another. Will that affect you; is it in your backyard?  


China is currently meeting its energy needs with coal-fired power plants and is planning and constructing many more to meet its skyrocketing future need. That collection of power plants will be dumping tremendous amounts of green house gases into the air which will have world-wide impacts.  


Since we have only one earth and it has only one atmosphere, that pollution will affect your atmosphere and your health. Will those power plants be in your backyard?  


Around the world in Brazil, forests are being cleared at an alarming rate to convert the land to farming and ranching. These forests help clean the green house gases from the atmosphere, but less forest, less cleaning.  


How much influence do you have over China’s energy decisions or Brazil’s farming practices? Realistically, very little. But as residents of New Mexico, you can exert some influence over plans for power plants in Farmington or farming practices in New Mexico, which brings us to Think Globally, Act Locally.  


While you can’t do much about what happens in China or Brazil, you can help avoid some future global air pollution by acting locally for cleanup of air emissions from the existing power plants and stopping the building of yet another one.  




You can write to state and federal elected officials and agencies and ask them to support cleanup of existing emissions and to oppose the building of another power plant. To reduce the demand for coal-fired power, you can sign up for LA Green which will provide part of your electricity from renewable sources.  


Contact Los Alamos County utilities Conservation Officer Matt Dickens (Matthew.Dickens@lacnm.us, 662-8234) for an energy and water audit of your home or business to be sure you’re using your energy and water effectively.  You can buy sustainably grown farm and forest products.


The coal-fired power plant has been used to illustrate the concepts of NIMBY and Think Globally, Act Locally but that is certainly not the only issue to which they can apply.  


You can act to support rather than oppose something.  We have, virtually in our backyard, a jewel in the Jemez Mountains – the Valles Caldera National Preserve.  


This could actually be the opposite of NIMBY since this is something you do want in your backyard.  In support of quality public open space, get involved with what goes on in the Valle.


What’s happening at the Valle?  What’s being planned for the future?  Get involved. There are two local organizations that focus on these questions.  


Visit Los Amigos de Valles Caldera (http://www.losamigosdevallescaldera.org/) and Caldera Action (http://www.caldera-action.org/) to see their positions and what they offer.


So how big is your backyard? As we’ve seen, if it includes everything that affects you, the whole world is your back yard.  


If you’re interested in what goes on in your literal back yard, you should also be interested in what goes on in your figurative backyard.  


Get involved with issues in your local back yard in order to influence those issues in your world-wide backyard.