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Bulletin #109: Weekly seminars resume (“Converging crises, shared responses”)

April 3, 2011

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Dear members and friends –

Tomorrow evening – Monday, April 4th, 7:00 to 9:00 pm – the Study Group will resume weekly public seminars on practical policy responses to our converging environmental and resource crises and their related economic and social impacts. 

Our first meeting in the new series will take place tomorrow at the Albuquerque Mennonite Church, 1300 Girard Blvd NE (map), from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.  Our first topic will be: “Low-Carbon Energy Investment and the Future of New Mexico.”  We’ll also provide a vignette on taxpayer subsidies of nuclear power (which are vast), as an introduction to comparing low-carbon (?) electricity generation technologies.  We’ll take these complex topics slow and easy and we hope to have a rich discussion. 

We will focus on aspects of energy and climate-protection policies because of their centrality, their overwhelming importance, and the imminence of their impacts. 

We hope to provide not just useful information and an interesting discussion but also a forum where citizens, policy professionals, journalists, and others can share ideas, perspectives, tools, and enthusiasm.

We said we’d critique the Administration’s energy policy in this first seminar -- given Obama’s recent speeches -- but it isn’t clear if there is much of a real policy proposal at the moment.

We’ll discuss the same topics in Santa Fe on Tuesday April 5th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at St. John's United Methodist Church, 1200 Old Pecos Trail, Room 116 (downstairs) (map).

On subsequent weeks we will meet in the same places and times.  We will announce other public presentations in late April.

In the last half-hour of each meeting we’d like to discuss ways each of us can be more involved and effective.  I don’t need to reiterate how dire the need is. 

As I write, the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues, only partially abated.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it a "catastrophe of apocalyptic dimensions."  The heavy costs – human, environmental, economic – are still rising and their full extent will not be clear for a long time.  Many of us have been deeply involved in learning and speaking about this catastrophe, but we can’t affect events there.  We can affect events here – wherever we live – and that’s the point of course. 

The following week (April 11th and 12th) we will take up the relative merits of nuclear power in greater depth, partly in preparation for an upcoming nuclear industry conference which will explore possible construction of small nuclear power plants in eastern New Mexico.  The conference (“Will New Mexico Lead the Way in Nuclear Energy?”) will be held on April 27th and 28th in Hobbs, NM. 

Just to be clear, the Los Alamos Study Group is not an antinuclear organization.  We don’t have an ideological “set” against nuclear power.  Nuclear power has a host of unique and very serious problems and hazards (insert a long list here, which we will discuss in depth on April 11th and 12th); it is also very expensive and it’s cost, long lead time, scale, and project management risks cause it not to be a low-carbon technology, which may surprise some of you. 

We will follow up this short bulletin with another one midweek which will update some of the ways available for you to get more involved, should you wish to do so. 

Best wishes,

Greg Mello

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