Category Archives: Global Warming

To The Ends of the Earth – July Film

July Film:  To the Ends of the Earth

When: Wednesday, July 11, 7:00-8:30 pm   Where: Peacock Hall 

(2016), 82 minutes

Sustainable Rossmoor will show TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH — a new film about extreme oil extraction deep under the Arctic, from the Alberta tar sands, and from oil shale under at the Colorado River headwaters. This award-winning film is narrated by Emma Thompson and details the environmental problems resulting from the use of extreme oil extraction technologies.  It also reveals the struggles of concerned citizens living at the destructive frontiers beyond traditional energy, and interviews those who fight for a different future with environmentally sensitive energy solutions.

In 2005, something unexpected happened, the growth of the traditional fossil fuel energy market stopped. The age of extreme energy was born. Unconventional energy extraction is defined by both the geology and the geography of a resource. All forms are technically difficult, energy intensive (requiring more energy to harvest than traditional methods), expensive, and pose serious environmental risks.

What do you do when the river catches fire?

The film bears witness to humanity’s descent further down the “resource pyramid.” At the top of the pyramid, energy is easy to find and cheap, and it requires minimal labor and has the highest capital and energy return on investment (EROI), as in the case of Saudi oil. In the middle of the pyramid, resources are more difficult and costly to extract, as is the case for mining the Alberta tar sands or hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. “Drill, baby, drill” has become “mine, baby, mine,” “steam, baby, steam,” and “frack, baby, frack.” At the bottom of the pyramid, there are energy resources such as Utah’s and Colorado’s oil shale, the economic feasibility of which, despite billions in investments, remains uncertain. Extreme energy is much less profitable, and there are diminishing returns on investment.

After 10 years of rather intensive global development,

unconventional resources now comprise 42% of the planet’s energy mix.

In the words of interviewee and author Richard Heinberg, “Given that 95% of all economic transactions in our globalized economy bear the footprint of fossil fuels, does this spell the end of economic growth for our civilization?”  We meet the people uniquely positioned to watch this global crossroads unfold, and who are fighting for something different.

The first site of extreme extraction revealed in the film is under the ice . . . at the ends of the earth – the Arctic Sea. The United States Geological Survey has given a 50% probability that there are 90 billion barrels of oil under the Arctic; that’s about 3 years of global energy consumption. With the decline in the price of oil, there has been a decrease in commercial interest, except for those nearby countries whose economies are heavily oil-dependent: Russia, Norway, and Canada. International companies including Chevron and Exxon-Mobile have multiple contracts in the Arctic with these countries.

In Arctic waters, oil exploration starts with seismic testing; large air guns send blasts aimed at the bottom of the ocean to determine the presence of oil. “Aside from nuclear explosions, these are the loudest man-made sounds. These shocks that happen every 12 seconds around the clock for months at a time, can be heard from 3,000 km away —basically over 1/2 of the Atlantic,” reports marine biologist Lindy Weilgart. She has been studying the effects of underwater sounds on whales, dolphins, narwalls, and other sea-life.

We meet the mayor of an Inuit village in Canada’s high Arctic (on Baffin Island) who is concerned that seismic testing for oil in the ocean is blowing out the eardrums of the seals and narwhals that the Inuit hunt to survive. There have been significant die-offs of these animals who are unable to find air holes in the ice or hunt for food when their own sonar systems are compromised. The Inuit people have taken the Canadian government to court for granting permits for seismic testing.

Next, the film tells the story of bitumen and the Albert tar sands oil industry. The Canadian film director, David Lavallee, has experienced first-hand the tragedies of Tar Sands mining. The production of oil there, consumes huge amounts of water and power – more than exists in Alberta. They must frack for natural gas and dam rivers in neighboring provinces for the resources needed to process the dirty tar sands, polluting the territories multi-fold and changing river life forever.  It has halted economic growth in the provinces. A new nuclear power plant is planned in Saskatchewan to keep up the pace.

The Alberta Tar Sands are the major source of oil used in the US and is the second largest source of energy production worldwide.  It is economically unsustainable.

We learn more about EROI, energy return on investment, by following the money and doing the math. The cost of energy investment to harvest oil more than doubled between 2005 to 2013 at the Tar Sands. This does not include the cost of water, or the dumping of tailings, the destruction of farmland, and so on.

We also learn that the world economy is built on investments dependent on expanding economies. As energy becomes more expensive, an economy built on fossil fuel energies will grind to a halt at some point. It cannot continue expanding. This will happen while there’s plenty of oil still in the ground, but much of the world’s earth, air, and water is fouled beyond repair. We learn about the concept of Degrowth — the slowing of the consumer society that will happen either by design or by disaster.

Burning oil shale, a rock that ignites, is an even more expensive source of energy. It is the resource that exists under the Grand Canyon and similar sites. It’s earned the label “extremely unconventional energy.” It has never shown a net profit.

As is true of every form of extreme extraction, environmental damage is necessary.

As of 2013, 15 million people in the United States lived within 1 mile of a frack well. The number has increased markedly since then.  Many million children attend school near frack wells. Typically, after 2 years, the well’s natural gas (methane) production decreases and it is no longer profitable. New wells are then drilled. All wells invariably leak. The methane can be seen from outer space, with the US fracking operations being the worst. Fracking is also extremely thirsty for water, and highly polluting of it. First Nations have been joined by others to fight pipelines, water permits, and port expansions. Natural gas was once heralded as a cleaner source of energy than coal.

The greenhouse footprint of natural gas is two to three times worse the coal

due to methane release into the atmosphere.

Switching to 100% renewable energy will not be enough. For the world to become sustainable, we’ll need to consume less. The film clarifies the economic effects — not just of energy and its extraction, but of growth and also degrowth. We might want to consider slowing of the consumer society by design rather than by disaster.

Watch the 2 minute trailer:  http://endsofearthfilm.com/

The Making of a Pessimist

One of my main tasks as publicity chairman for Sustainable Rossmoor is to see to it that an Earth Matters column gets submitted twice a month. Several other club members have been helpful by submitting columns from time to time. But when no one sends me a column, I have to come up with something. I can assure you that writing about environmental issues isn’t a happy job. Most of the material I am able to find by research is bad news.

Almost every day, I read of another anti-science crony being appointed to an important position in the Environmental Protection Agency or some other federal government bureau. It is painful to read about the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the concessions being given to the coal, gas and petroleum industries.

Most scientists are in agreement that the earth is unraveling due to human caused global warming. The current extinction rate of species is 1,000 times the historical level. Global wildlife populations have decreased nearly 60 percent since 1970. Coral reefs are dying and the oceans could be completely free of fish by 2048 due to climate disruption, overfishing, pollution and habitat loss. The great Pacific garbage patch is now several times as large as the state of California. Many fish mistake small bits of plastic for food with awful consequences.

In spite of what we are being told by the anti-scientists in Washington, D.C., climate change is proceeding dramatically and abruptly. Hurricane Harvey led to the single largest rain event in U.S. history, which was followed by Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded. In Canada, rapidly melting permafrost is already releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This in turn causes warming, which increases the thaw further. Meanwhile, our forests are being cut down and/or burned. Anyone who has driven to Lake Tahoe has noticed the massive numbers of dead or dying trees. Some of this is caused by draught and much more by the bark beetles, which are pretty much out of control. Dying and burning trees, of course, release tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the cycle feeds on itself.

Now I read that the melting Arctic Sea ice is impacting the Atlantic Ocean water circulation system. Predicted sea level rise will cause devastation for the 145 million folks living on lands less than three feet above sea level. One author suggests that there will likely be 200 million climate refugees from sea level rise by 2050. Authorities are talking about possible sea level rise of 55 feet.

The Trump administration continues to work feverishly to scrub any mention of climate change from government websites. I tend to be a pretty optimistic person, but with regard to the future of the planet, I don’t see much to look forward to. We Depression babies and baby boomers have enjoyed a very good life. It is looking more and more like we have lived in the “best of times.” It may be all downhill from here on out.

Some experts are hinting that if humans continue adding carbon to the air and oceans, a global mass extinction event could be triggered by 2100. I hope they are wrong for the sake of our grandchildren and great grandchildren, but I sure wouldn’t bet any money on it.

This article first appeared in the April 4, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctoroutdoors@comcast.net.

The Nuclear Option by NOVA (2017)

When: Wednesday April 11, 7:00-8:30 pm  Title: The Nuclear Option by NOVA (2017)

Where: Peacock Hall

Five years after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the unprecedented meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, scientists  wonder: what’s next for Fukushima? What’s next for Japan? What’s next for a world that seems determined to jettison one of our most important carbon-free sources of energy? Despite the catastrophe, a new generation of nuclear power seems poised to emerge phoenix-like from the ashes. NOVA investigates how the realities of climate change, the inherent limitation of renewable energy resources, and the optimism and enthusiasm of a new generation of nuclear engineers is seeding a Renaissance in nuclear technology. What are the lessons from Fukushima and how might we be able to build a safe nuclear future?  (One hour film with optional discussion after.)

Trailer:  http://youtu.be/u1wKpZsU2-o

Q&A Afterwards:  Nuclear energy engineer, Vicki Swisher will be the film’s discussant. She has over 40 years experience in the commercial nuclear industry, and has worked in almost every area of nuclear development including design, construction, plant startup, licensing, and project management during her career. Vicki is a Rossmoor resident and a director in Fourth Mutual.

Recent SR opinion articles regarding concerns about utilizing the Nuclear Power option:

Nuclear Power Is Not Green Energy

Nuclear Power: Salvation or Catastrophe?

This Month’s Featured Films: TIDEWATER and THE BURDEN

WHEN: Wednesday, March 14, 7:00-9:00 pm WHERE: Peacock Hall

There are two short documentaries co-featured for March, Presented by Sustainable Rossmoor and Cosponsored by Informed Rossmoor Voices.  Both documentaries focus to varying degrees on the impacts on military preparedness and national security resulting from fossil fuel dependence and climate change driving rising waters. They highlight how our military is responding to climate change and is at the forefront of innovation and providing leadership to our government. These films have been screened at the White House, the Pentagon, the US War College, NATO Headquarters in Belgium, and are in the Annapolis Naval Academy curriculum. Our special invited discussant, U.S. Marine Major Jonathan Morgenstein (more information below), will be at the showing to respond to your questions. This event is free of charge and open to invited quests.

TIDEWATER won the 1st juried prize as the best environmental film at last year’s San Francisco Green Film Festival. It’s a personal story of a community accustomed to hardship and sacrifice through its military service. Hampton Roads, Virginia, a region relatively unknown nationwide, is especially vulnerable to sea level rise and its effects on military readiness and our overall national security. With 14 military installations spread across 17 local jurisdictions, it has our highest concentration of military assets in the country, where 1 in 6 residents are connected to the military. Their homes, schools, hospitals, and families are increasingly struggling to keep up with the effects of rising waters, and the military and all the surrounding municipalities are working toward solutions.  They are coming together to create a new approach to building a resilient America, ready for the environmental realities of the 21st century. If Hampton Roads succeeds, it will strengthen national security, enhance economic prosperity, and create a powerful template for success — a model other regions can use to prepare for the inevitable.

The second film, THE BURDEN,

has been called the most effective communications tool ever made for shifting the debate on clean energy as one of urgent national security. It is the first documentary to tell the story of our dependence on fossil fuels as the greatest long-term national security threat confronting the U.S., and how the military is leading our transition away from oil. Renewables are redefining the meaning of energy independence. The troops are crying out to unleash us from the tether of fossil fuel. But is Congress listening?

Our special invited discussant, U.S. Marine Major Jonathan Morgenstein

will speak about the issues raised in these films and answer audience questions. He is a specialist in national security policy and conflict-resolution training and has focused on Security Sector Reform, Clean Energy, and Human Rights — particularly in the developing world including the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America. He has appeared on ABC, Al Jazeera, BBC Arabic, CNN, MSNBC, and PBS. He has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Politico, The Hill, and other publications.

Film trailers:

https://www.amresproject.org/tidewater-film/

https://www.amresproject.org/the-burden/

More about the film discussant:

Major Morgenstein has served over 25 years in the US Marine Reserves, including two tours in Iraq and one in Bosnia. He served as the senior policy adviser for Veterans, Intelligence, Foreign, Armed Services, Homeland Security and Foreign Policy for Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). He helped to establish the first Office of Global Strategic Engagement and also the Office of Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy. He served as a human rights advocate for Refugees International in Darfur, and as a High School Social Studies Teacher in both New Hampshire and San Francisco.

He is a member of Operation Free – a coalition of veterans and national security experts who believe oil dependence and climate change pose threats to our national security. They advocate for securing America with clean energy. http://operationfree.net/

Major Morgenstein is the founding President and CEO of Empowerment Solar. Over the past three years, his company has designed and installed distributed, commercial-scale solar electric systems for Palestinian businesses on the West Bank.

Major Morgenstein has been a fellow with the Truman National Security Project since 2006, and served from 2011-2014 as co-Director of Truman’s Middle East/North Africa Experts Group. The Truman National Security Project is a nationwide organization of frontline civilians, veterans, political professionals, and policy experts who conduct education and advocacy work on national security and foreign policy issues in the United States. It’s in this education and advocacy role that he comes to Rossmoor.

IMPORTANT facts FROM “THE BURDEN” FILM (based on 2014 data)

  • The US consumes 1/5 of global oil.
  • 1/5 of US Oil imports pass through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Sea
  • The price of gas might be $3.40/gal but the true cost is $7-8/gal if cost of US military protection of the world’s “life blood” were factored in.
  • $85 billion is spent by the Pentagon annually to protect vulnerable chokepoints (narrow passes in water ways).
  • For every $1 the price of a barrel of oil goes up, it costs the military $130 million.
  • The Department of Defense consumes 20% of federal budget.
  • “That fuel resupply mission [of oil] came to dominate everything we did.” (quote from the film).
  • The military is the best source of first responders in the world to address global natural disasters: emergency & rescue to recovery every 2 weeks on average.
  • Subsidies (in million dollars annually):  $ 70 Fossil Fuels; $ 17 Ethanol; $12 Renewables
  • “What’s holding us back is that so many of the conservatives, of which I am one, do not see our consumption of oil as a national security issue. If you’ve been in war in the Middle East, as I have, you might see that differently.”  Mayor Greg Ballard, Indianapolis, Lt Col (Ret) from the US Marine Corps.
  • Veterans in Congress:  65% in 1973 vs 19% in 2013
  • “Change is coming. You can either anticipated manage it and shape it, or let it just control you.”  Bob Ingles, (R) Congressman S Carolina (2005-2011) launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative in 2012 — a nationwide public engagement campaign promoting conservative and free-enterprise solutions to energy and climate challenges.

ECO-COMEDY SHORTS

This month’s featured film: ECO-COMEDY SHORTS

A special evening of light-hearted short films on a variety of environmental topics will be presented by Sustainable Rossmoor. Clever, amusing, and funny perspectives on promoting a healthy planet can sometimes give pause . . . and lead to reflection.

A panel of judges has selected from among dozens of nominations submitted by residents as well as culled from eco-comedy film festivals to create a delightful evening while taking a fresh look at a large variety of subjects. You might wonder, what could be amusing about global warming, climate change, solar energy, wind power, plastic, water pollution, air pollution, traffic, landfill, oil spills, concern for other species, food waste, overpopulation, or extreme weather. Come to the theater and find out; see if you agree that these environmental short films provoke thought . . . and chuckles!

A Big Thank You to THE JUDGES

Ellen Bulf

Jo Alice Canterbury

Barbara Coenen

Edie Edelman

Herb Salomon

Lynne Thorner

Carol Weed

Iris Winogrond

Tod Elkins, Digital Editor

Vince Mayweather, A/V technician

And all the Rossmoor residents who sent in nominations

________________

THE LINEUP:

The Plastic Bag Problem

https://youtu.be/gpxEstCqUfY

The Rescue

https://youtu.be/389v2UOpc50

An Energy-Independent Future: A Presidential Perspective, Jon Stewart

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/n5dnf3/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-an-energy-independent-future?xrs=share_copy_email

Restaurant Scene: “Water Please”

https://youtu.be/xBAb_uP1FAc

The Climate Change Debate, John Oliver

http://youtu.be/cjuGCJJUGsg   

PLASTIC, an Operetta

https://youtu.be/0g_lpmcOyWk

Alternative Energy, Jimmy Tingle

https://youtu.be/HL49tDG00DQ

The Little Green Man Learns about TV

https://youtu.be/Js-f2jQ9p9A

The Matt Damon Goes on Strike

https://youtu.be/jQCqNop3CIg

Weather Girl Goes Rogue

https://youtu.be/TmfcJP_0eMc

Solar Panels, Tom Gleeson

https://youtu.be/rEqIKAH2KjQ

NEWSROOM: EPA Interview

http://youtu.be/XM0uZ9mfOUI

Skip Showers for Beef

https://youtu.be/jjQhVPkKDcE

Fighting Food Waste, Ed Begley Jr.

https://youtu.be/6UEFJ9moyHw?list=PLYfGAro968uc5M6e9clkX_ah4G8-bzKdJ

Wind Power’s Health Hazards, Steven Colbert

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/wjevw3/the-colbert-report-wind-power-s-health-hazards?xrs=share_copy_email

 5-Day Weather Forecast

http://youtu.be/zbHW1T7boSc

Who Are the Koch Brothers?

Al Franken & David Letterman

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/1d1411374f/boiling-the-frog-ep-2-siegfried-and-roy

Mercedes AA Class

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

SNL sketch

http://youtu.be/0k1tbf8muMc

To make suggestions for the club’s next collection of eco-comedy short films, contact Carol Weed at carol4ofa@gmail.com

How Much Does Global Warming Increase the Power of Hurricanes?

Readers can actually estimate the impact of global warming on hurricanes for themselves. Here we use kitchen measure rather than metric.

In his New York Times editorial of Sept. 12, “Irma, and the Rise of Extreme Rain,” columnist David Leonhardt published a graph of global yearly average surface temperature from 1905 to today. These averages were taken from actual measurements around the world (some scientists, for example Dr. Charles Keeling at the Mauna Loa Observatory, actually spent a lifetime measuring temperature and other atmospheric and ocean data).

Converting Leonhardt’s graph data to Fahrenheit, the ocean surface temperature has increased just a little over 2-degF in the hundred years between 1917 and 2017. The graph is bumpy, but none of the bumps or dips are at all far off the line gradually moving upward.

Now as all of us who watched MSNBC or public television learned during this 2017 rather impressive hurricane season, the energy of a hurricane is gained by heat-transferred from the water over which it travels. This is a dynamic and complex phenomenon, but the weather folks, using super-computers, can model this process sufficiently to reasonably accurately predict the path, the strength and the behavior of a hurricane.

Yes, there were slight corrections that had to be made as the various hurricanes proceeded this August and September across the Gulf and Atlantic to landfall, but the predictions were startlingly accurate. Here we will not attempt anything that complicated. We will simply ask one question: For a 150-mile diameter hurricane, how much difference does an extra 2-degF make in its power?

A water heater measures heat in British Thermal Units (BTU). One Btu is the energy required to raise 1-pound of water 1-degF. If you have a gas water heater, you get your bill in dollars-per-therm, the cost of gas to produce 100,000 BTU. If you have an electric water heater, your bill is the cost of the number of kilowatt hours to do the same work. Here we only consider the extra energy 2-degF warmer water adds to the hurricane. So that comes to 2-BTU for every pound of water at the surface of the ocean.

When scientists make simplifying assumptions, they always simplify in the opposite direction of what they want to show. We know that the ocean also adds heat from below the surface layer, but that requires complicated heat transfer equations and we would need a powerful computer. So we will consider only the surface transfer of heat. Now a pound of water is, the world around, a pint of water. And the volume of a pint is 0.0167-cubic feet. Which tells us that if we consider the top 0.0167-ft (about 1-quarter-inch) of ocean water, 1-square-foot in area, as the source of heat energy for the hurricane – we can roughly estimate the average extra energy gained from every square foot of today’s 2-degF warmer water as 2-BTU extra energy per square foot of hurricane. For a small 150-mile diameter hurricane, that comes to around 500,000,000,000-BTU.

That is a big number, but energy can be expressed in all sorts of ways. If you look around on the Internet, you can find a conversion of energy in BTU to energy in kilotons of TNT explosion. I ran the conversion and came up with 126-kilotons. The Hiroshima bomb, called “Little Boy,” was estimated as 15-kilotons TNT. So the extra energy gain from 2-degF water warming a 150-mile hurricane is roughly the equivalent of eight atom bombs.

Of course, hurricanes do not stay in one place. They move across the water slowly. So if we stay with our simple model, every 150 miles a 150-mile diameter hurricane moves adds another extra eight atom bombs of destructive power.

This article first appeared in the October 11, 2017 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Wayne Lanier can be emailed at wlanier@pac-bell.net.

Global Warming and India

Now that Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, concerned environmentalists are wondering if the conference goals can be achieved. Progressive states like California hopefully will step up to take actions where Washington is ducking out. Individual actions by folks like you and me are also important and may help make up for the nation’s lack of responsibility.

A lot of attention is being paid to what China will or won’t do … much less to another important living lightly on this small planet Earth Matters player – India. India, with well over a billion people, could soon compete with China for the dubious distinction of being the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gasses. The country is rapidly evolving from a place where few people had electricity to one where everyone enjoys the comforts of modern living.

Today, India badly needs a green revolution. Most of its electricity production is coming from coal. Coal is cheap and abundant, but the worst source of greenhouse gases. At present, about 120 coal burning power plants are being constructed there.

At the climate change conference in Paris, it was India, rather than the United States or China that was the bogeyman. If any scientist at the conference were asked to define the biggest threat to the global environment, he or she would automatically say “India.”

India’s pursuit of the China experience would be a nightmare scenario for global warming. China’s annual emissions per person are 7.1 tons. In India, it is only two tons. If India continues to go the coal route, they will catch up with China in terms of emissions in a generation or two.

Climate scientists agree that the success or failure to achieve temperature goals will depend more on India than on any other nation. Over 300 million Indians are not yet on the grid, but will be soon, one way or the other. Fortunately, India has good potential for developing power from wind and solar instead of coal and oil. All that they need is a trillion or so dollars of green development. India will have to up its game if it wants scads of private financing for wind and solar. It will need a fair tax structure, governmental incentives and land use policies designed to encourage renewables.

Indians, of course, have no interest in feeling guilty to please the developed world. They argue that North America, Japan and Europe have built their national wealth on the back of cheap oil and coal and that denying India that same opportunity would be morally wrong. But implicit in India’s argument is a pledge verging on blackmail … pay us or we will embrace a high-carbon future. They have less to lose than most other nations.

It clearly is in the interest of the developed world to help India go the route of renewables, rather than coal. Hundreds of billions of dollars in private or public funds will be required if that is going to happen.

Wouldn’t it be great if the United States and the other countries of the world that are spending massive amounts of money on weapons of war would realize that spending some of that money on solar panels and wind generators for South Asia would help save the world from the consequences of global warming?

This article first appeared in the August 2, 2017 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author, Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctorindoors@comcast.net.

World Population and Me

Ever drive down the 24 freeway and get the feeling that there are just too many people around? I remember learning in high school that there were about 2 billion people in the world. That seemed a lot at the time. Now I hear we are sharing the planet with around 7.5 billion others. Experts say that number could be up to 24 billion by 2050.

Each night there are over 240,000 more mouths to feed than there were the night before. Should we be concerned? You’re darn right! Those of us in the upper one percent of the world’s population, income-wise (meaning you have a household income of $34,000 or more) probably will always be able to have food on our tables and water in our taps. How about the 99 percent? Right now we are hearing of wide-spread famine in many parts of Africa and some parts of Asia.

This will only get worse as the numbers grow. This earth we live on is a terrific place, but never designed to be home for unlimited numbers of humans with modern day consumption habits.

Climate change is global and even if we in affluent Walnut Creek aren’t likely to be directly affected by it (Tice Creek isn’t likely to get up to Rossmoor Parkway), boy, are those of us who will be around for a while going to feel effects of it indirectly. Our president thinks immigration is a problem now … just wait a few years. Pacific Islanders are already looking for new homes and half of Bangladesh will likely be under the sea.

A few years ago, I happened to get into a discussion with a couple of young Mormon missionaries. I shared my concerns with them regarding families in their church having large numbers of children. They assured me that there is no cause for concern … that everyone on the earth could easily fit into the state of Texas. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Most developed nations have lowered their birthrates to the replacement level. Today, 80 nations are at or below replacement level fertility. Birth control has made that possible. However, the remaining 140 or so countries are lagging behind. For the most part, these nations are part of the Third World and lack the financial means to provide their citizens with family planning services. It is estimated that for a ridiculously low $4 billion a year we could provide contraception for the 222 million women with a current unmet need. I think that is less than half the cost of one new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier or about what will be spent on the new football stadium in Las Vegas that will house the Raiders.

The current U.S. Congress can be counted on to cut funding for international population control efforts … not expand it. So, if our government isn’t about to try and save the world from the ravages of over-population, what can we do? One option would be to just lament, complain and hope that the next Congress and administration will take the problem seriously.

A better solution, I think, is for those of us who appreciate the severity of the situation to dig into our deep pockets and send a check to one of the several organizations working to provide reproductive services to the women of the Third World. Four fine groups are valiantly working on the issue. The first one is the United Nations Population Fund (www. UNFPA.org). The second is the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF.org). Number three is the Population Connection (www.popconnect.org). Last, but not least, is Engender Health (www.engenderhealth.org). I invite all of you to check out their programs on the Internet and if you are impressed, hit the donation button. They are all doing terrific work and all need our giving dollars.

I know it is always a tough decision who to support and who to say “no” to. For me, the top two priorities of giving are organizations dealing with population issues and anti-nuclear weapons groups. The success of both groups is essential if our great grandchildren are going to inherit a livable world.

This article first appeared in the May 10, 2017 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctoroutdoors@ comcast.net.

SYRIANA – a geopolitical thriller about Big Oil

Sustainable Rossmoor will present the movie SYRIANA on Wednesday, October 11 at 7 pm in Peacock Hall.  The movie focuses on petroleum politics and the global influence of the oil industry. Big Oil’s political, economic, legal, and social effects are felt worldwide from the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. This thriller weaves together multiple storylines that show the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power.

A career CIA operative (George Clooney) uncovers the disturbing truth about the work to which he’s devoted his life. An up-and-coming oil broker (Matt Damon) faces an unimaginable family tragedy and finds redemption in his partnership with an idealistic Gulf prince. A corporate lawyer faces a moral dilemma as he finesses the questionable merger of two powerful U.S. oil companies, while across the globe, a disenfranchised Pakistani teenager falls prey to the recruiting efforts of a charismatic cleric. Each plays their small part in the vast and complex system that powers the industry, unaware of the explosive impact their lives will have upon the world.

Credit: Photo by REX/Snap Stills 5

Clooney won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role, and Stephen Gaghan’s script was nominated by the Academy for Best Original Screenplay. The film is R rated for violence and language. Subtitles in English. An optional discussion follows.

SYRIANA: Behind the Film.

Stephen Gaghan, Academy Award-winning screenwriter & director of Syriana, talks to Charlie Rose about learning from the real-life CIA protagonist how Washington D.C. orchestrates coupes, etc. (4 min video).

“The Oil business and the Arms business are the same business” Gaghan heard this repeatedly (1.5 min video).

Audiotape, 9 min with Gaghan about why he wanted the first half of this post 9/11 film to be confusing, why he doesn’t consider the film depressing, and where the “voices” in the film come from.

Credit: Photo by REX/Snap Stills 5

Why does the US need Middle Eastern oil? Still? We have oil wells. We’re energy independent now, . . . aren’t we?

Our “energy independence” refers to electricity generation only. In 2016, U.S. net imports (imports minus exports) of petroleum from foreign countries were equal to about 25% of U.S. petroleum consumption. The world’s top three oil producers are Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the US – in that order.

Petroleum includes crude oil, natural gas plant liquids, liquefied refinery gases, refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel. About 78% of gross petroleum imports were crude oil in 2016. The majority of that is refined in the US, and then exported. That is to say, US refineries “need” Middle Eastern oil much more than US consumers. The price US citizens pay in pollution, corruption, wars, the international arms industry, . . . is all for the benefit of Big Oil. All this continues despite the drop in oil prices and production which began in 2013.

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