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Upcoming film and discussion Sept. 3; volunteers wanted; fundraising

August 23, 2017


  1. Ask your friends if they want to receive these updates. If so they should write us.
  2. We are looking for volunteers to help with climate and solar outreach
  3. On September 3, 1:00 pm, at the Guild Cinema, Albuquerque, we are showing "To the Ends of the Earth," with discussion
  4. Thank you, Taos United
  5. We must now raise money

Dear friends,

1. 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.

2. 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.

Friends, this is easy as well as critically important. A high degree of grid penetration by distributed, renewable energy is among the first steps toward sustainability and survival, not a distant goal.

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

For groups of young persons -- at schools or churches, for example -- or for individuals that feel particularly strong callings in this area, we will try to work creatively with your circumstances.

Many don't see the gravity and urgency of the crises at hand, in part because our legacy news media, politicians, academics, and the "nonprofit-industrial complex" provide precious few clues amid the near-total "eclipse" of reality (h/t J.H. Kunstler) generally on offer from mainstream sources. The climate crisis, and the (intimately-related) civilizational energy crisis (see 3. below) are maturing at frightful speed.

And when these sources do inform us accurately, we all too often ignore them.

The "governmental reform" paradigm in which the nonprofit community almost exclusively works is necessary, but will not avail. An entirely different paradigm, emergency mobilization, is necessary. Some form of mobilization, civil strife, or collapse will sooner or later come, like it or not. We can partially shape its nature -- positive, or negative, for us and for others -- if we seize the day now.

We offer a community of somewhat enlightened thought and action -- not, as Rumi put it, "a caravan of despair." If you can, join us.

3. On Sunday September 3, 1:00 pm, at the Guild Cinema, Albuquerque, we are showing "To the Ends of the Earth," with discussion

Perhaps this merits a bit of background -- just a partial glimpse.

The 2010 Joint Operating Environment (JOE) report from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (signed by none other than the current Secretary of Defense, James Mattis), correctly noted (see pp. 26-31) that there will soon not be enough oil to satisfy the world's needs. Not by a long shot.

That [looming oil] production bottleneck apart, the potential sources of future energy supplies nearly all present their own difficulties and vulnerabilities. None of these provide much reason for optimism. At present, the United States possesses approximately 250 million cars, while China with its immensely larger population possesses only 40 million...

Assuming the most optimistic scenario for improved petroleum production through enhanced recovery means, the development of non-conventional oils (such as oil shales or tar sands) and new discoveries, petroleum production will be hard pressed to meet the expected future demand of 118 million barrels per day [MBD] [by 2030]...

A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India. At best, it would lead to periods of harsh economic adjustment. To what extent conservation measures, investments in alternative energy production, and efforts to expand petroleum production from tar sands and shale would mitigate such a period of adjustment is difficult to predict. One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest...

To generate the energy required worldwide by the 2030s would require us to find an additional 1.4 MBD every year until then. 

So, how are "we" doing, seven years later? (Leaving aside for a moment the vital question of just who this "we" might be.)

In 2010 the world produced 74.6 MBD of crude oil (including extra-heavy oil, field condensate, and tar sands bitumen); in 2016, 79.9 MBD -- only a 0.9 MBD average annual increase, not Mattis' "1.4." To the extent there is growth at all, it will soon stall.

Other important factors notwithstanding, this is not enough to grow the world economy like in "the old days," especially considering the cost of this oil in energy and in dollars.

Almost all the net growth in oil production since 2005 has come from U.S. shale oil and Canadian tar sands -- that is, from unconventional, expensive, energy-intensive, and especially-destructive sources.

Canadian tar sands production is at a standstill. U.S. shale oil may have peaked in 2015 (time will tell). Meanwhile the annual depletion rate from existing U.S. shale oil wells has risen fast, as was expected, to 94% of total shale oil production, meaning nearly all incremental growth in shale oil (now slowing despite massive investment in the Permian Basin) must come from new wells. The U.S. shale oil "miracle" (a credit-driven Ponzi scheme with exponentially-increasing environmental cost) is in trouble (the single best overview may be here).

As the "JOE 2010" report illustrates there is a hidden oil crisis with very dangerous implications, that is far better understood by governments (and their militaries) than by the "happy-motoring" U.S. public.

Please come if you can to the Guild Cinema in Albuquerque on Sunday, September 3 at 1:00 pm for a showing of "To the Ends of the Earth," followed by discussion.

4.Thank you, Taos United

As described our Aug. 7 letter, Trish and I headed up to Taos this past Saturday. I spoke on “'Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution:' The Crucial Role of Citizen Groups; Key issues for New Mexico."

We are grateful to Taos United for hosting us and look forward to further interactions with our Taos friends new and old.

We did not have time for everything we had hoped to say in that talk, which ended up focusing more on current nuclear issues and somewhat less on the crucial roles of citizens groups. Fair enough. 

One of those issues is the coming nuclear ban treaty, which opens for signature on September 20 and which aims to make much of what our New Mexico nuclear labs do illegal under international law. Stay tuned. You will hear more from us soon on this.

There may be groups in other New Mexico places which would like to invite us to speak or simply to answer questions on the issues we have been working on. We prefer the context of an organization, or a church. One way or another, we believe face-to-face meetings are essential to any real progress on the issues.

5.We must now raise money

Friends, now that our summer internship program is over and we have the freedom to re-focus somewhat, one of those foci must be fundraising. 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.

Our foci for the remainder of the year will be, first of all, U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Many of you have already "got the briefing" on this. In brief we would like to realize the opportunities listed in Bulletin 229: Overview of some NNSA issues. This is primarily an effort on the national stage. NNSA, LANL, and our congressional delegation and candidates please take note: with the help of our many committed friends, we will do whatever it takes to defeat plutonium warhead core (pit) production, as we have done before.

Our second focus will be in continuing the "community awakening" efforts begun in the summer internship program, discussed above in items 1-4. This is primarily a regional effort. We are in an emergency, as noted above. In New Mexico, we have unique technical insights and experience in this arena.

Our third focus lies in "bringing the ban home." On September 20 at 6:00 am MDT, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opens for signature at the United Nations. Signing ceremonies will continue all day. This treaty, when it enters into force, declares the core mission and activities of our nuclear weapons laboratories and plants illegal and requires signatories to pass national legislation criminalizing their work. Some 122 countries voted to adopt this treaty. We worked hard to bring it about and now we want to use it.

What does this mean in the U.S.? Trump's top nuclear advisor, Christopher Ford, said yesterday "during an unapologetically blunt address" that "the treaty would prohibit governments that ratify it from having a 'security relationship' with any country that relies even in part on nuclear weapons for national defense" ("Trump Official Blasts U.N.’s Nuke Ban," Exchange-Monitor Morning Briefing 8/23/17). In Chris Ford's perspective that's a worst-case scenario. In ours, a best case. He's exaggerating but the point is, there will be leverage. Will democracies use it? Will we in New Mexico? That's the question. We answer in the affirmative.

Our final focus will be in expanding and supporting this organization and ensuring its continuity and effectiveness.

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. 

Stay tuned for more, and thank you,

Greg Mello, for the Los Alamos Study Group

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2901 Summit Place NE Albuquerque, NM 87106, Phone: 505-265-1200

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