Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sky Island -- the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico

Watch the full episode. See more Sky Island.

Watch the full episode. See more Sky Island.

Premiers July 10, 2011 on PBS.

In Northern New Mexico, a range of mountains rises up from the high desert: a wild, rugged land of the Faraway Nearby. The volcanic Jemez are isolated from all other mountain ranges — an island in the sky, surrounded by a desert sea.

In Sky Island, environmental filmmaker John Grabowska (Ribbon of Sand, Crown of the Continent) profiles this captivating landscape and humankind's place within it, examining the global warming effects that have already dramatically impacted the high desert and alpine ecosystems. This exploration of identity, place and perception features breathtaking cinematography, narration by acclaimed actress Meryl Streep, readings by Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday and a sweeping orchestral score by Academy Award winner Todd Boekelheide.

The center of the Jemez Mountains is a slumbering supervolcano that exploded more than one million years ago in massive eruptions, creating a plateau of volcanic ash welded into rock up to 900 feet deep. Through the millennia, water sliced through the plateau, cutting myriad canyons that open onto the Rio Grande, which flows south through a massive rift valley on the eastern edge of the Jemez. From the Rio to the heights of the Jemez, the land rises more than a mile in elevation, creating different zones of life as temperature drops and moisture climbs in the steep ascent from canyon floor to alpine peak.

The Mountains -- and drought -- are a constant fact of life for all of us in New Mexico. Yet here in California and many other areas of the country, people are practically drowning in constant heavy rains, floods, snows in May and June, abnormally low temperatures. And of course, the tornadoes are flourishing like never before.

I may mock The Man in the Chair, Harold Camping, for his nonsense Doomer predictions, and yet, there must be something to this Judgement Day stuff as more and more things seem to fall apart...

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