The Navajo Nation is a perfect place for many things, such as taking a scenic drive or buying authentic native jewelry.
Now we can add an important scientific study to the list.
Atmospheric data collection equipment recently was installed on Roof Butte, putting Diné College's Diné Environmental Institute on the global map.
The instrument, called Rocky RACCOON No. 6, is the sixth to be installed on planet Earth through a program at the National Center for Atmospheric Sciences.
Rocky will collect carbon dioxide information that can help scientists study global warming.
With power plants in the West and climate change getting so much attention, such information can be a powerful tool for the entire world. It can be a step in helping with new emissions standards and with finding new green technology to protect our planet.
For the Nation, it's important, too.
The Nation sees potential positive outcomes from carbon trading on the horizon, said Marnie Carroll, the Diné institute director.
Not yet implemented in the United States, carbon trading is based on greenhouse gas emissions set by the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which assigned monetary value to shares of the Earth's atmosphere. Trading allows countries that have carbon emission units to spare to sell them to countries that generate more than the Kyoto Protocol allows.
With two coal-fired plants — the main human-generated source of carbon dioxide — so near each other in the Four Corners, the data accumulated can help arm researchers with data to make changes that will benefit the environment.
The Diné institute will benefit, too. This project is a chance to bring recognition to its work.
Among plans for the Institute are the incorporation of renewable energy at the school and increasing jobs on the Nation through a small business development office.
And who knows? Maybe the Four Corners could become a home to more scientific efforts, which would only help to diversify our economy and give people another reason to put us on the map.