By Dylan R.N. Crabb
Upon my 2005 transition from southern California to northern New Mexico, the most significant environmental change for me was the cold. The Los Angeles area has a fairly consistent climate throughout the year and I had never experienced what is generally regarded as a harsh winter. For me, snow was a special occassion, a long drive up in to the San Gabriel Mountains where I could build a fort for a snow ball fight with some imaginary adversary. When my mother and I would get too cold, we would pack up and drive back down the highway, away from the frigid high altitudes and back into the sweltering LA Basin. Now that we live in a mountainous region at a high altitude, frigid winters with snow are a seasonal occurrance; I hate it. I prefer the winter months due to their isolating nature but I hate the snow. I think autumn is my favorite season.
I’ve lived in northern New Mexico for seventeen years now and I have noticed a gradual pattern regarding our climate: our winters are getting dryer and warmer. Each subsequent year, our big snow falls arrive later in the season. We have yet to see our first snow storm for the current year, we most likely won’t see one until the latter winter months. I hear older locals whose families have been in Taos for generations recall memories of their younger years when they would see the first snow storm by October. Today, we are lucky if we get one by December. That is bad news for an economy heavily reliant on tourism, particularly winter sports.
A changing climate is not the only reason Taos should make alterations to its economy. Tourism is volatile and largely unpredictable and serves mostly established families with time and money to travel – few families can make travel plans during times of economic hardship. If Taosenos don’t want their towm to become a playground for the upper class with an undercurrent of poverty, then I suggest they create a more diverse economy that benefits every sector of working America.