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August 12, 2017 

Bulletin 234: Quick update  

Dear friends –  

This Bulletin will be brief. We are on a short vacation with family after the successful conclusion of our whirlwind 10-week summer internship program on climate and renewable energy last week. (A few written traces and pictures are here.) We will return to work shortly.  

Volunteers wanted

We see climate and energy issues as key facets of the emergency community awakening we seek across the spectrum of more conscious organizations, businesses, and churches. We are looking for local outreach volunteers to join those who are already working with us, to build on the foundation laid by our interns this summer.

Upcoming talk 

I wanted to let you know about an upcoming talk and discussion hosted by Taos United, “‘Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution:’ The Crucial Role of Citizen Groups; Key issues for New Mexico,” talk by Greg Mello, 9:30 am Saturday, August 19, 2017 at the Kit Carson Electric Co-op, 118 Cruz Alta Road, Taos. 

There may be groups elsewhere which would like to invite us to lead similar discussions, or to address some of the underlying topics, all of which we believe are best addressed within the context of an organization, or a church.  

Nuclear waste 

As a follow-up to the complicated Bulletin 233 (“Please take action: Congress, White House, nuclear industry renew effort to store, process, and dispose of various nuclear wastes in New Mexico and Nevada,” Jul 29, 2017), you may find this open letter to our congressional delegation useful: Publicly oppose consolidated interim storage of spent nuclear fuel, as well as H.R. 3053, Aug 2, 2017.

The one-sentence summary: the New Mexico congressional delegation should speak out against the very dangerous idea of opening a remote “parking lot” – in New Mexico or anywhere – for spent nuclear fuel and other highest-level wastes before a) taking proper care of these wastes where they are now and b) opening a final disposal site.  

For some excellent background on these issues please see board member Bob Alvarez’s new piece in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “Pushing the storage horse with a nuclear waste cart: the spent fuel pool problem,” Aug 9, 2017), and this presentation (“Spent Power Reactor Fuel: Pre-Disposal Issues, Apr 29, 2017). 

North Korean crisis

This is too complicated a subject for a “vacation letter,” but too urgent not to mention. It is also important in that it embodies and illustrates the dangers created by a weakening empire (the U.S.) that, in its blindness and “fury,” cannot accept a less hegemonic position.

The escalating war of words between the Trump Administration (itself divided) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is deeply concerning, but not really because any part of the U.S. itself could be struck directly by miniaturized nuclear weapons on long-range ballistic missiles. Every day I get a digest with at least 50 mediocre-to-bad articles on this crisis. The media is ratcheting the fear level very high in the U.S., generally for the wrong reasons. There is also rarely any objective context or history supplied.

China has now said it would intervene against the U.S. and South Korea if these states were to attack the DPRK in a bid to change the “political pattern” on the Korean peninsula. Hopefully this message will shock some people into a measure of sanity (which is increasingly scarce in U.S. foreign policy and elite media circles, not just in the Trump White House).

To a great extent the present predicament has grown from the U.S. attempt to contain China, which has (among other measures) involved intentionally maintaining a crisis on the Korean Peninsula. As the U.S. has done and is doing elsewhere.

Needless to say, another Korean war would kill millions of people. It could involve Japan. Nuclear reactors could be targeted, which if hit could create vast uninhabitable zones. The world economy would collapse to a greater or lesser degree. North Korea could also strike the U.S. many ways that do NOT involve long-range missiles, at the time or later, at a place of their choosing, which could include any U.S. port. No one could “win” such a war – that concept has no real meaning anyway. The whole world would lose – immensely. As many commentators have pointed out, the DPRK has already achieved the deterrent it has sought.

It is not amusing to get (many!) emails from various nonprofits and NGOs which seek to raise funds on the back of this crisis. This is not the time or place for that.

And to those who are considering trying to foment more flash-in-the-pan mass demonstrations against the Evil Trump Administration, please explain, in your own echo chambers at least, why such demonstrations would be valuable or effective. We need to look at our lives and undertake a deeper political awakening, because the interrelated crises we face are not going to be touched by transient, superficial, feel-good marches that deepen political divisions or have any kind of partisan character.  

Business-as-usual is ending in America

We’ve said it in many ways in many places (one example; scroll down for several more) and we will say it again in detail in the next Bulletin: we, and living nature, are now in an existential crisis, the greatest crisis in all of human history. All our plans and hopes must yield to this reality. We see far too little sign of this awakening in our communities, unfortunately. Few understand the immediacy and non-optional character of the crisis. It is coming to us now, with a speed, immediacy, and magisterial power that few realize – especially in the details, where the opportunities lie. To respond appropriately, we have to stop lying to ourselves and others about all this, as Chris Hedges recently put it. Only then can we grasp what needs to be done. It will not be a stale repetition of the same kinds of political engagement that brought us the Trump Administration – and the sorry Obama Administration before it.

More next week,

Greg Mello, for the Study Group

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