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In a surprise meeting of minds, leaders and citizens of both parties agree: a sustainable future is "off the table"

September 12, 2017


  1. Talk at Jemez Springs Community Library (map), Saturday October 7 2:00 pm, "'Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution:' Roles of Citizen Groups; Key issues"
  2. "To the Ends of the Earth:" more showings?
  3. Massive nuclearization of New Mexico proposed; in a surprise meeting of minds, leaders and citizens of both parties agree: a sustainable future is "off the table"
  4. Nine days: treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons opens for signature Sept. 20. It cuts deeper than jaded eyes want to admit. 
  5. Bipartisan climate conference in Santa Fe, October 28-29
  6. Climate and solar outreach volunteers wanted!
  7. Ask your friends if they want to receive these updates. If so they should write us.
  8. We must now raise money

Dear friends,

1. Talk at Jemez Springs Community Library (map) Saturday October 7, 2:00 pm, "'Remaining awake through a great revolution:' roles of citizen groups; some key issues"


    We live at the end of an age. A huge storm, bigger than any humanity has ever known, is barreling toward us. The wind is rising, the barometer falling. The first bands of rain have arrived. We cannot see into the dark clouds massed on the horizon. Much we have known is changing, radically.
    It is an altogether revolutionary time – more so than in the 1950s and 60s when Dr. King repeatedly posed that challenge. It is night. Our freedom still lies in waking up, understanding our situation, and guiding our actions accordingly.
    Churches and locally-accountable civic groups are critically important now as beacons and guides. Mr. Mello will discuss some roles these groups can play, from direct policy intervention to constructive action to nonviolent resistance. The field of leadership is wide open.
    Mello will address some key peace and security issues in which local groups could play determinative roles. There are, for example, vast investments in new nuclear weapons now underway, in the New Mexico labs and elsewhere. There is an increasing push to store enormous quantities of nuclear waste in New Mexico. And the urgent transition to a fossil-fuel-free future is still a wide-open field.
    Regarding that first issue, the recently-negotiated internationally treaty banning design, production, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons opens for signature on September 20. Amazingly, it outlaws most of the work at the nuclear weapons labs. It will be up to citizens worldwide to enforce this treaty -- directly, and through their governments.
    Despite the loss of democracy on the national level, open-source intelligence and global communication can still defeat pervasive state and corporate propaganda. Small, motivated teams can be powerful on a much wider scale than ever before. Local democracies can be less damaged.
    Needless to say society is fraying, as is the inhabitability of Earth for basically the same reasons. Preserving life while building a more sustainable and nonviolent future is ennobling, joyful, and fundamentally nonpartisan work.

If you live in the area or are otherwise thinking of visiting lovely Jemez Springs, please come!

As our schedule allows, we are happy to talk to churches and organizations, formally or informally, publicly or privately. As we said in our most recent local letter (Aug. 29), we just do not see many sufficiently-serious discussions and actions. Leadership is thin on the ground. The environmental, liberal, and progressive reforms being sought by various well-intentioned groups are generally not going to happen, usually because they fail to face US militarism and empire, or because they fail to see the imminence and scale of the climate and energy disaster, or because of a misplaced quasi-religious faith in technology that can transcend the basic laws of chemistry and physics (or biology), or because of class blindness, or because people are simply naive about the depth of corruption in today's politics. Others imagine that "the personal is the political" when actually, the personal is the opposite of the political. While we cannot ignore the opportunities for reform we have, we are basically not in a "reform" situation any longer. That is the world we have left, or which left us when we didn't stand up when we should have. We dropped the ball. We have to wake up from dreams to the new world we actually have, while we still can.

2. "To the Ends of the Earth:" more showings?

We had a very successful film showing and discussion at the Guild Theater on Sept. 3 regarding, inter alia, our "perfect storm" of energy and economic crises (that affect climate change politics and everything else), as described in Aug. 23 and Aug. 29 local letters.

We bought the film and can now show this one-hour film and discuss its ideas in house meetings and other non-fee, non-theater settings. Organize a group and we will come!

The Berkeley Daily Planet had a very helpful review of the film by Gar Smith; here's the trailer.

Friends, to our knowledge New Mexico environmental groups aren't talking about the implications of these facts. We are hurtling into a new world. Will it be "brave?" Will we? If we aren't, we won't have a world.

3. Massive nuclearization of New Mexico proposed; in a surprise meeting of minds, leaders and citizens of both parties agree: a sustainable future is "off the table"

This is a joke only insofar as no one single person or institution has made such a proposal. It is the composite effect of various proposals.

Promoting and supporting the nuclear labs means promoting nuclear weapons (especially in the case of Los Alamos, which has no significant other mission). With nuclear weapons comes nuclear waste. Accept one, accept the other. It's a package deal.

With them come nuclearized politics, here and in Washington. New Mexico is used to that screw, which is being turned again.

It is being turned as regards waste, as described in bulletins 233 and 234. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times opined that New Mexico was the best place to take commercial spent nuclear fuel (SNF) ("There's no great answer for nuclear waste, but almost anything is better than perching it on the Pacific"). And Holtec and the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) just reaffirmed that they would press ahead with their giant SNF storage facility regardless of congressional action or its lack.

As regards weapons, see the introductory fact sheet "Expansion of Los Alamos Plutonium Warhead “Pit” Factory Eyed." Since that was written in June 2016, there has been little overt "progress" in producing new pits and building the proposed new underground workshops to augment current facilities (see this page for more). Behind-the-scenes efforts to get ducks in a row continue, as do efforts to build facilities at Los Alamos to process tens of tons of waste plutonium in the same facilities at the same time. With Trump, the "warheads" now largely in charge of nuclear issues have a near-perfect patsy. We expect trouble, starting this winter. The interregnum is coming to an end.

The "agreement" that a sustainable future is impossible is also a composite of decisions being made -- actively by some, passively by others. The agreement is surprisingly broad and includes many progressives and environmentalists who don't know what they are agreeing to.

George Orwell got it very right when he said, in 1984, “They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.”

4. Nine days: treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons opens for signature Sept. 20. It cuts deeper than jaded eyes want to admit.

Stay tuned!

It is fashionable for many sophisticated foreign policy liberals to follow the lead of the Trump administration on this matter. That makes good career sense for them -- as does the notion that the US, with its many nuclear allies, is now and will always remain "the indispensable nation.

5. Bipartisan climate conference and training in Santa Fe, October 28-29

The Santa Fe chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby, a national organization with local chapters tightly organized around a revenue-neutral carbon tax and 100% rebate, is planning what looks like an interesting conference in Santa Fe on Saturday, October 28, from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm at the Monte del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe. The day-long symposium of speakers and panelists, which will be skyped among conference locations in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Taos, is CCL's New Mexico State Conference: Plugging Into Solutions (more details at link). On Sunday, October 29, the conference will continue with "Climate Advocate Training," a 3-hour training provided by Bill Barron, CCL's regional coordinator.

We have no personal experience with CCL but we do very much support the concept of a carbon tax and rebate and associated tariffs, when (and only when) it is generalized into a comparable greenhouse gas tax and rebate. CCL's structure is right for what they are trying to do, and CCL's on-line materials are very thoughtful and well-organized (see especially the bottom of their home page, and their "laser talks.")

We do not however see any comparative reference on the CCL web site to the "Republican Elders" "carbon dividend plan" (plan; Ted Halstead TED talk), which in our view merits serious discussion along with CCL's approach. Charles Komanoff and his colleagues at the Carbon Tax Center (CTC) have been analyzing carbon taxes for a long time. His comments therefore carry weight ("Don’t Fear Exxon’s Endorsement of the Baker-Shultz Carbon Tax"). Importantly, CTC has analyzed the potential for carbon taxes at the state level ("Opportunities for Carbon Taxes at the State Level," April 2017).

Both the CCL plan and the "Republican Elders" plan offer far more carbon reductions than did the Obama "Clean Power Plan" (CPP). (We understand the CPP was part of a larger suite of proposed actions but the comparison would still, we believe, be accurate for the larger suite. Obama talked big and did little of positive consequence on climate.)

To repeat, only a "greenhouse gas dividend," not a "carbon dividend," makes sense. (For part of the reason why, please see 2017 Study Group summer intern Tatianna Vereschagin's fact sheet "The myth of methane: why we must end our reliance on natural gas - Natural gas is not a “bridge fuel!").

We are not optimistic that the federal government will enact any sufficient climate measures -- especially via standard lobbying such as that of CCL and Mr. Halstead's "Republican Elders" group, the Climate Leadership Council (CLC). It is however important to try, and to build bridges between people and organizations undertaking these reforms and the more radical approaches (and events) which are necessary -- and willy-nilly coming our way -- that complement them.

That said, all approaches to climate and energy which assume First-World living standards will fail. Such are naive and insufficiently informed by science, let alone justice and what will happen -- what is starting to happen -- when justice is absent. Militaries and police understand; climate activists generally do not. There will be no successful "100% renewables" transition except to much simpler and more strenuous lives, which need not be unhappy. Quite the contrary. We are entering the "Long Emergency" (Kunstler).

6. We are looking for volunteers to help with climate and solar outreach

As explained in letters of July 20 and July 25 and in Bulletin 232 ("Nuclear power for your home and business." July 19), we seek climate and solar "ambassadors" who would like to work with us in reaching out to friends, neighbors, organizations, churches, and networks to galvanize discussions about the climate crisis AND to promote solar energy.

If you want to get involved, call us at 505-265-1200 or email Trish or Greg. Some of you are already involved -- thank you.

7. Ask your friends if they want to receive these updates. If so they should write us.

We would like to recruit people to our mailing lists. Please ask your friends. We offer two levels of engagement. 

  • Our main listserve, which receives bulletins (roughly monthly) and press releases (also about monthly, apparently). Send a blank email here to subscribe. This list is open to all.
  • Our four New Mexico mailing lists (Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and everywhere else), which get less-formal letters like this roughly twice per month (increasing to weekly we hope, with more useful local information). To get on one of these lists, email Trish or Greg. Everybody who is on these local lists is also on the wider, main list.
8. We must now raise money

Friends, now that our summer internship program is over and we have the freedom to re-focus somewhat, we must raise money. We really need your help. Our fundraising appeal of late 2016 is still germane; you can find more information about us and our accomplishments in similar end-of-year letters from 2015 and 2014.

There are many ways to contribute. See the header of this message for some. Call (505-265-1200) or write. We will be broadening this appeal, using not just via email but through social media as well. Any help you can provide is welcome. 

Thank you!

Greg and Trish, for the Los Alamos Study Group

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