Page 14


Milagros, Retablos and Arte Popular 0 TRADING COMPANY FOLK ART & OTHER TREASURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD 209 CONGRESS AVEAUSTIN 512/479-8377 OPEN DAILY 10-6, FREE PARKING BEHIND THE STORE will pay the price… Blood will fill the streets. There’s no police force who can stop that.” WITHER THE RIO GRANDE? Recent events probably have you thinking that global warming’s major impact on Texas will be huge hurricanes that frequently storm out of the Gulf and flood half the state. The real danger, however, may not be too much water, but too little. A new report by a coalition of environmental groups argues that the most debilitating long-term threat from global warming will be a steady depletion of the state’s major riverthe Rio Grande. The river and its reservoirs supply most of the drinking water for Texas’ fastest growing cities, including El Paso, Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville. The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, a Colorado environmental outfit focused on global warming, wrote the rather sobering report, entitled “Less Snow, Less Water,” in conjunction with other progressive groups, including the Texas Public Interest Research government climate data in the West’s four major river basins: the Colorado, Columbia, Missouri, and Rio Grande. They found increasing temperatures in all regions. The Rio Grande river basin, according to the report, is experiencing its hottest five-year period in more than a centuryabout 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The warming trend is most severe in January, February, and Marcha finding consistent with climate studies that predict global warming will be most acute in winter. That has reduced the mountain snow packs that supply most of the water to the West’s river basins. Seventy-five percent of the water in the West starts as snow. The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization analyzed snow pack measurements by federal government climatologists going back to 1961 and found a steady decline in snow pack size. The report blames these trends on global warming. “This isn’t just some hot weather cycle,” says Luke Metzger of TexPIRG. “This is the Rio Grande River Basin at its hottest stretch in the last 110 years. This is abnormal. Global warming is here and is something that we’re going to have to deal with.” TexPIRG and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization are part of a coalition called Clear the Air that advocates reducing emissions of so-called greenhouse gasses that climatologists believe are causing a steady rise in global temperatures. The Rio Grandesapped by lengthy droughts and farmers taking too much water for irrigationis already one of the driest major rivers in the country. For five months in 2001, the river ran dry for the first time in anyone’s memory petering out 300 yards short of the Gulf of Mexico. That may become the norm. James Earhart, a climatologist in Laredo with the Rio Grande International Study Center, predicts that, based on the current trends, the river will run dry in Laredo by the end of the century. On the plus side, it will be much easier to cross. A GAY TIME AT ACC Warren Chisum would like you to know that he doesn’t hate gay people. That’s not at all why he co-sponsored Proposition 2, the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions in Texas that will go before voters on November 8. Chisum, a folksy rancher and straight sentative from the panhandle town of Pampa, debated Anne Wynne, an Austin lawyer and gay-rights advocate, about Prop 2’s merits, or lack thereof, on September 15 in front of about 200 people at Austin Community College. Chisum wanted to make clear that the amendment isn’t anti-gay; it’s pro-marriage. Chisum argued again and again that the amendment was needed to protect “traditional marriage” by defining it as strictly between one man and one woman. “My intent is to protect traditional marriage as it has been since the beginning of time in this state,” Chisum said. “You either are a man or you are a woman. You fit under marriage between one man and one woman. You can find a person of the opposite gender and you can be married. It does not discriminate. That’s the facts.” The young audience of mostly left-leaning college students was having none of that. Their derision toward Chisum was apparent in frequent boos and hisses. Chisum was asked, if the amendment was just about defending marriage, then why does it also ban civil unions. In his response, Chisum revealed more than he perhaps intended. “If marriage was just about love, [civil unions] might have some merit,” he said. “But marriage is a lot more than just whether or not you love a person. It’s about respect, it’s about honoring. It’s about marrying for a purpose. If in fact we start degrading that and allow people of the same gender to call themselves married, then we’ve destroyed the institution of marriage and then marriage has no meaning whatsoever. If you start down that road, where do you stop? Do you have multiple partners? Is that possible?” Chisum didn’t say why gay people couldn’t marry out of “respect” for their partners or how allowing gays and lesbians to marry would “degrade” the institution. But he’s not anti-gay. Really. By the end of the debate, Chisum looked like he had been rode hard and put up wet. Asked by a reporter if he thought he had changed any minds, Chisum responded, “It’s not likely.” The odds on election day, however, are on Chisum’s side. Similar constitutional amendments have been proposed in 17 other states, and voters have passed every one. OCTOBER 7, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5