The Atacama desert in Chile holds much of the electric-car future … The Wall Street Journal



By Ryan Dube Photographs by Tamara Merino for The Wall Street Journal 

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SALAR DE ATACAMA, Chile—Hailed as the Saudi Arabia of lithium, this California-sized chunk of terrain accounts for some 55% of the world’s known deposits of the metal, a key component in electric-vehicle batteries.

As the Chinese EV giant BYD Co. recently learned, tapping into that resource can be a challenge. Earlier this year, after BYD won a government contract to mine lithium, indigenous residents took to the streets, demanding the tender be canceled over concerns about the impact on local water supplies. In June, the Chilean Supreme Court threw out the award, saying the government failed to consult with indigenous people first. 

“They want to produce more and more lithium, but we’re the ones who pay the price,” said Lady Sandón, president of one of two Atacameño indigenous hamlets that filed a lawsuit against the auction. A BYD spokeswoman declined to comment.

Similar setbacks are occurring around the so-called Lithium Triangle, which overlaps parts of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. Production has suffered at the hands of leftist governments angling for greater control over the mineral and a bigger share of profits, as well as from environmental concerns and greater activism by local Andean communities who fear being left out while outsiders get rich.Production of lithium carbonate equivalentSource: U.S. Geological SurveyAustraliaChileChinaArgentina2016’20050,000100,000150,000200,000250,000300,000350,000tons

At a time of exploding demand that has sent lithium prices up 750% since the start of 2021, industry analysts worry that South America could become a major bottleneck for growth in electric vehicles.

“All the major car makers are completely on board with electric vehicles now,” said Brian Jaskula, a lithium expert at the U.S. Geological Survey. “But the lithium may just not be enough.”

In Bolivia, the government nationalized its lithium industry years ago and has yet to produce meaningful amounts of the metal. Mexico, a smaller player, also recently nationalized lithium. In Argentina, output is only starting to take off.

Here in Chile, where lithium is already tightly controlled, President Gabriel Boric’s new leftist government plans to create a state lithium company after criticizing past privatizations of raw commodities as a mistake. A new constitution, if approved in a September referendum, would strengthen environmental rules and indigenous rights over mining.

“This is a strategic resource for the energy transition,” said Chile Mines Minister Marcela Hernando. Ms. Hernando recently told Chile’s congress that while the government didn’t have the know-how to mine lithium on its own, it would insist on majority control of any joint venture with private firms. 

Evaporation ponds at an Albemarle Corp. lithium mine in Chile.

A brine reservoir, a step in the lithium-extraction process. 

A few years ago, Chile was the world’s largest lithium producer, turning out slightly more than Australia. While Chile has expanded output at its existing operations by 80% since 2016 to about 140,000 tons annually, it hasn’t opened a new mine in about 30 years. It now produces about half as much as Australia, which has quadrupled its output in the past five years, according to the USGS.

Unlike oil, which is produced all over the globe, lithium is less common. South America, Australia and China are the key locations. Outside South America, it’s extracted from hard-rock. In the region, lithium is found in salty, underground water that is evaporated by the sun after being pumped into large man-made ponds. South America’s lithium is less expensive to produce, but miners say the drawback is it takes far longer to build a mine—about eight years.

Chilean officials and environmentalists worry about the impact on water supplies. Willy Kracht, Chile’s undersecretary of mining, said recently that up to 2,800 cubic meters of water are needed to produce one ton of lithium in Chile, versus 70 cubic meters for a ton of copper.

Environmentalists believe that mining has caused some nearby lagoons to dry up, harming the population of wild flamingos that rely on them to feed on shrimp and build nests. “The damage is irreversible,” said Cristina Dorador, a biologist who was a member of a special assembly that wrote the draft for Chile’s new constitution.


Extremes on Mont Blanc Prompt Mayor to Seek ‘Funeral Deposit’ for Climbers ~ Gear Junkie

August 4, 2022 | By Sam Anderson

Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn more.


Amid chaotic weather and resulting surface conditions on high peaks all over Europe, one French Mayor takes a stand for his constituent taxpayers.

Accessing “the roof of Europe” has never been so prohibitive during any previous summer climbing season. Now, the mayor of Saint-Gervais, France, proposes to place the onus of rescue and funeral costs on climbers willing to take the risk.

In an Aug. 3 statement, Mayor Jean-Marc Peillex announced plans to levy a €15,000 ($15,341) deposit to climb Mont Blanc (15,771 feet) via the popular Goûter route.

Peillex said €10,000 ($10,227) would cover the cost of rescue or body recovery; the remaining €5,000 ($5,113) would cover climbers who paid the ultimate price. His town rests at the foot of the mountain and serves as its de facto access point for climbers.

It is “impermissible that the French taxpayer be the one to cover such costs,” the mayor asserted Wednesday. “[Summit hopefuls] want to climb with death in their backpack, so they anticipate the costs of relief and burial.”

Heightened Objective Hazards on Mont Blanc

Barbed as Peillex’s terminology may be, the actions of local climbing guides back up his assertion that climbing on Mont Blanc this summer is dangerous to the point of recklessness. The prolific Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix strongly advised staying off the Goûter route 2 weeks ago and ceased its activity there until further notice.

Rockfalls, shifting crevasses, and landslides have become common on the mountain as temperatures continue to soar all over Europe. Echoing the Guides de Chamonix’s protocols, Peillex made his statement on July 15.

“Mountaineers are recommended to postpone their ascent, that is to say, to listen to the mountain, not to want to be stronger than nature,” he urged. “We have significant rockfalls. [T]here is less precipitation, less snowfall, and that is why a crevasse opened on the Bosses ridge this year, which makes the ascent even more complicated.”

mont blanc gouter route

Despite his and the guides’ pleas, the mayor said several dozen “pseudo-alpinists” have sought to climb Mont Blanc this summer. Mountain rescue teams, he said, have counted at least 50 people who have defied their recommendations. He cited one example of several Romanian tourists attempting the summit in “shorts and sneakers.”

Closures Could Escalate

The deposit proposition of €15,000 ($15,341) constitutes one more step toward the Goûter route’s effective closure. Peillex previously stated that his office would shut down the Goûter refuge, a critical waypoint for climbers, if they deemed conditions dangerous enough.

He said, “If it becomes really very dangerous, we will close the Goûter refuge, that is to say, that there will no longer be this possibility for mountaineers to stop there and sleep there.”

For now, the mountain hut and the route to the Mont Blanc summit are technically open.


The iconic Matterhorn: closed to climbing; (photo/Jakl Lubos via Shutterstock)


August 3, 2022 | By Angela Benavides

The sweltering, dry conditions in the European Alps have turned glacier areas and classic routes into deadly traps.

While it’s virtually impossible to ban climbers from pursuing a summit,authorities and guides have had to make some tough recent decisions in the European Alps.

Headlines worldwide describe “closed mountains” this week as temperatures in the country soar, even at altitude. Officials have closed refuges, canceled guided trips, and strongly recommended that climbers don’t go on their own.

Classics Out of Reach

“Conditions are changing fast and not in a good way,” the High Mountain Office of Chamonix reported on July 20. Back then, most guiding companies refused to take clients up Mont Blanc. Meanwhile, because of open crevasses and constant rockfall, climbers turned around on dozens of other famous ascents, from the Aiguille Verte to the Grandes Jorasses.

Even the bergschrund at the base of the Aiguille du Midi opens wider daily. Although local conditions change almost daily, high temperatures have given no respite to an already-scorched Europe.

Last week, guides working on the Matterhorn (Cervino) between Switzerland and Italy and the Jungfrau at the Swiss Oberland decided to stop guiding these classic peaks as well, reported.

european alps climbing

Guided trips canceled include those to the following:

  • Refuge Gouter on the normal route to Mont Blanc from France
  • The Dente del Gigante (Dent du Géant or Giant’s Tooth)
  • The Matterhorn, either via the Hornli or Lion’s Ridges (the normal routes from Switzerland and Italy)
  • The Castor to Pollux traverse

New Mexican death mud …


The variety of clouds and the spectrum of light and color has been spectacular this summer. Although the roads are New Mexican death mud as I heard it described in the NYTimes a while back..

Crédito total, Eric Ming

Remembering Jack Kerouac – Naropa Conference (July 23 – August 1, 1982) ~ This was a very cool 10 days in Boulder ~ Rōbert


original poster



July 30, 1982

Beat Generation Elders Meet to Praise Kerouac


BOULDER, Colo., July 29 — Nearly 13 years after his death and 25 years after ”On the Road” became his testament for the Beat Generation, young admirers and old comrades of Jack Kerouac gathered here this week to celebrate his life and his legacy.

Hundreds joined in the celebrating, with poetry and debate and sometimes sadly affectionate recollections of the man who was called the ”King of the Beats.”

”We couldn’t have had the 60’s, the decade of social revolution, without the 50’s,” said Abbie Hoffman, who was a prominent figure in the antiwar movement of the late 1960’s. Mr. Hoffman was among the panelists invited to speak here this week on the political effect of the Beat Generation.

”The Beats gave us a choice, showed us we could let our emotions hang out, we could fight City Hall,” said Mr. Hoffman, in a speech to more than 1,000 people crowding an auditorium on the campus of the University of Colorado here. ”The Beats are alive today.”

”On the Road: the Jack Kerouac Conference,” which will continue here through Sunday, has brought together many of the elders of a movement whose followers were once popularly referred to as beatniks and for whom Mr. Kerouac has become not only a symbol but also a figure of almost cultlike proportion.

Legacy of the Beats

In a sense, the conference is not only a celebration of Mr. Kerouac, although he is clearly the central figure, but also a whole fraternity of writers, poets and musicians who rebelled against what they saw as the stifling, conformist cultural values of the 1950’s.

”As a literary generation, the legacy of the Beats seems stronger than ever,” said Allen Ginsberg, the poet and a longtime friend of Mr. Kerouac. Mr. Ginsberg’s 1956 poem, ”Howl,” also became an anthem of the Beat generation. As for ”On the Road,” Mr. Kerouac’s novel, Mr. Ginsberg said that ”it turned on an entire generation.”

In addition to Mr. Ginsberg, who is 56 years old, those here this week include William S. Burroughs, 68, the author of the novel ”Naked Lunch,” and the poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Michael McClure and Peter Orlovsky.

More than 300 people pledged as much as $240 each to attend the conference and workshops, and scores more paid as much as $8 each for tickets to panel discussions that ranged from examinations of Mr. Kerouac’s relationships with women to an afternoon of personal recollections by his friends, many of which focused on his corrosive bouts with alcohol.

Carried ‘Like a Suitcase’


Allen Ginsberg and John Clellon Holmes

Nanda Pivano recalled that on a visit to Naples in the 1960’s to talk about his book, Mr. Kerouac was so drunk he had to be carried around ”like a suitcase.” John Clellon Holmes, a writer and poet, remembered a telephone call that turned out to be his last conversation with Mr. Kerouac, just a month before the writer died in October 1969.

Mr. Holmes said that Mr. Kerouac, who was lonely and probably drunk when he called, reluctantly hung up the telephone at last with the plea, ”If you’re my friend, you’ll call me right back.”

”I didn’t call him back,” Mr. Holmes said, adding softly, ”I’m doing it right now.”

Memorabilia Sells Briskly

In a small room off the lobby of the University’s Memorial Center, conference sponsors were doing a brisk business selling Beat memorabilia, including old copies of Evergreen Review for $5 and brightly colored T-shirts that bear Mr. Kerouac’s visage, for $6 and $7. They sold out their first shipment of 12 dozen T-shirts, as well as all their copies of ”On the Road,” in the first three days.

In addition, there is a display of films, manuscripts and photographs at a local museum, including a photo of the original manuscript of ”On the Road,” which Mr. Kerouac wrote in 1951 on a single, 100-foot roll of yellow teletype paper.


In an interview, Mr. Ginsberg said that the work of Mr. Kerouac and others of the Beat Generation was ”at the cutting edge of a literary movement that broke the back of censorship in this country.”

”The real legacy of Kerouac and the Beats is one of literary liberation,” said Mr. Ginsberg, whose own work has been frequently decried as pornographic because of its sexual detail. ”And that literary liberation was the catalyst for Gay liberation, Black liberation, women’s liberation and now, hopefully, liberation from the threat of nuclear destruction.”

‘Notre Dame of Buddhism

The conference is sponsored by the Naropa Institute, a small, Buddhist-oriented college above some shops on the second floor of a building in downtown Boulder. The institute, which offers degree programs in the humanities, is sometimes described by its patrons as ”the Notre Dame of Buddhism,” a reference to the Catholic university in South Bend, Ind.

Mr. Ginsberg has been associated with the school since 1974 as a founder and instructor of its Jack Kerouac School of Poetics, which offers courses in creative writing, Buddhist poetry and the literary history of the Beat generation. The institute has about 100 full-time students.

”In Kerouac, there is a gentleness, a basic vulnerability, that puts him somewhere between Buddhism and Christianity,” said Mr. Ginsberg, who said that Mr. Kerouac was, like himself, a student of Buddhist meditation.


Novel Had Critics

”On the Road,” a free-flowing treatise on Mr. Kerouac’s moods, feelings and experiences as he traveled across America, was criticized by many critics as shallow and self-indulgent.

Sex and drugs play a large part in the novel, which was written as if it were one long sentence, with only dashes for punctuation. That peculiar style led Truman Capote, another author, to remark that the book was not writing, but rather ”typewriting.” ”What we are doing here is not just nostalgia,” Mr. Ginsberg said. ”We want to survey what was achieved, and make some prophesy for the future. I think both the Buddhist teaching and the Beat attitude provide us with some useful karma for the moment.”




By William E. Schmidt

  • July 30, 1982

Credit…The New York Times Archives

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Nearly 13 years after his death and 25 years after ”On the Road” became his testament for the Beat Generation, young admirers and old comrades of Jack Kerouac gathered here this week to celebrate his life and his legacy.

Hundreds joined in the celebrating, with poetry and debate and sometimes sadly affectionate recollections of the man who was called the ”King of the Beats.”

”We couldn’t have had the 60’s, the decade of social revolution, without the 50’s,” said Abbie Hoffman, who was a prominent figure in the antiwar movement of the late 1960’s. Mr. Hoffman was among the panelists invited to speak here this week on the political effect of the Beat Generation.


Mexico’s Drought, THE FUTURE … NYT

Photographs by Cesar Rodriguez

Written by Maria Abi-Habib and Bryan Avelar

  • Aug. 3, 2022

Mexico, or large parts of it, is running out of water.

An extreme drought has seen taps run dry across the country, with nearly two-thirds of all municipalities facing a water shortage that is forcing people in some places to line up for hours for government water deliveries.

The lack of water has grown so extreme that irate residents block highways and kidnap municipal workers to demand more supply.

The numbers underlining the crisis are startling: In July, eight of Mexico’s 32 states were experiencing extreme to moderate drought, resulting in 1,546 of the country’s 2,463 municipalities confronting water shortages, according to the National Water Commission.

By mid-July, about 48 percent of Mexico’s territory was suffering drought, according to the commission, compared with about 28 percent of the country’s territory during the same period last year. 

While tying a single drought to human-caused climate change requires analysis, scientists have no doubt that global warming can alter rainfall patterns around the world and is increasing the likelihood of droughts. 

Across the border in recent years, most of the Western half of the United States has been in drought, with conditions ranging from moderate to severe.For the region, this period is now the driest two decades in 1,200 years. 

The water level under the Rodrigo Gómez Dam in Santiago, Mexico, is so low that people can get to it on foot or by car.
The water level under the Rodrigo Gómez Dam in Santiago, Mexico, is so low that people can get to it on foot or by car. 

The crisis is particularly acute in Monterrey, one of Mexico’s most important economic hubs and where the entire metropolitan area of about five million people is affected by drought, according to officials. Some neighborhoods in Monterrey have been without water for 75 days, leading many schools to close before the scheduled summer break.

The situation in the city has gotten so dire, a visiting journalist could not find any drinking water for sale at several stores, including a Walmart.

Buckets, too, are scarce at local stores — or being sold at astronomically high prices — as Monterrey’s residents scrape together containers to collect water supplied by government trucks sent to the driest neighborhoods. Some residents clean out trash cans to ferry water home, children struggling to help carry what can amount to 450 pounds of water.

While Monterrey’s poorest neighborhoods are the hardest hit, the crisis is affecting everyone, including the wealthy.



With visitation up 300% in last decade, forest management plan calls for limiting camping, permits in some areas

By Erin McIntyre on Thursday, May 5, 2022

  • Lower Blue Lake is located at the base of Mt. Sneffels in the Uncompahgre National Forest, southwest of Ridgway. A new plan unveiled by the U.S. Forest Service proposes limiting visitors in a newly created Mt. Sneffels Wilderness Zone and requiring permits for overnight use in some areas. Adobe Stock/Krzysztof WiktorLower Blue Lake is located at the base of Mt. Sneffels in the Uncompahgre National Forest, southwest of Ridgway. A new plan unveiled by the U.S. Forest Service proposes limiting visitors in a newly created Mt. Sneffels Wilderness Zone and requiring permits for overnight use in some areas. Adobe Stock/Krzysztof Wiktor
  • Vehicles crowd the parking area at the Blue Lakes trailhead last summer. Erin McIntyre — Ouray County PlaindealerVehicles crowd the parking area at the Blue Lakes trailhead last summer. Erin McIntyre — Ouray County Plaindealer

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect there is a proposed permit system for hiking the Blue Lakes Trail. While the trailhead for Blue Lakes is NOT in a permit-required area, the trail itself is located inside the wilderness zone and would require a permit for day use.

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing use restrictions on the area around Blue Lakes, in response to impacts from increased visitation and impacts from more people using public lands.

The proposed management plan would require permits for hikers on the Blue Lakes Trail, as has been implemented for some other popular trails. The plan also proposes limiting camping, requiring permits for overnight use in some places, and other ways to mitigate the impacts of visitation.

The Blue Lakes area receives around 35,000 visitors per year, with the majority of those visitors flocking to the trails from June to September, according to the Forest Service.

The increased visitation, which exacerbated during the pandemic, resulted in various recreation-related impacts, including, “human waste (unburied waste and trash), vegetation loss from campsite expansion, dogs off-leash, illegal campfires, unintended wildlife encounters, social conflicts (loud music), overcrowding, and parking issues,” according to the agency.

The plan proposes management of 16,200 acres within the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness and the surrounding areas – dividing the area into five zones that have different levels of restrictions, depending on the impacts in those areas and how they’ve been used for recreation. Those zones are referred to as the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness Zone, the Mt. Sneffels Peak Zone, the Yankee Boy Zone, the Lower East Dallas Zone (which includes the main access to the popular Blue Lakes trail) and the Blaine Basin Zone. The Mt. Sneffels Wilderness Zone does not include the trailhead for the Blue Lakes Trail, but it includes the majority of the trail itself.

In all the zones, camping would be limited to designated sites or campgrounds to minimize resource damage. Camping near the lower and upper Blue Lakes has been of particular concern in the past. The proposal would limit camping within the wilderness zone to Lower Blue Lake.

The plan also calls for permits and reservations in certain areas – including the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness Zone – from May 1 to Sept. 30. These permits would limit group sizes to 10, among other rules, and would be limited to no more than 40 permits per day for day use and 24 permits for overnight camping. That means the limit for the number of people hiking the Blue Lakes Trail would be 40 permits, with 10 people per permit in a group.

Permits would also be required for overnight camping in the wilderness zone with an online limited permit, reservation and fee system from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Those permits would limit campers to two nights per stay, with no more than four nights total in a season for a permit holder. Only six people would be allowed per campsite, among other rules.

Permits would also be required for the Mt. Sneffels Summit Zone – but those permits would not be limited.

During the pandemic, locals who were concerned about overuse and preserving the natural resources at Blue Lakes launched a campaign to help educate visitors about “leave no trace” principles. Volunteers staffed the trailhead during heavy-use periods of the summer, providing information on everything from proper human waste disposal to other best practices to lessen the impact of their recreation. The “Save the Blues” campaign, launched in partnership with the Ridgway-Ouray Community Council and the San Juan Mountain Association with the Forest Service’s blessing, had a goal of educating the public to lessen impacts, as the federal agency collected more information and started drafting a proposed plan.

Last year, Western Colorado University master’s student Abraham Proffitt conducted a study on usage and impacts to the area. He recently finalized the report, and its findings include:

– Roughly 300% increase in visitor numbers at the Blue Lakes trail since 2011.

– Approximately 3,000 monthly vehicles were observed on off-road trails in the area. The busiest route is Camp Bird Road, and the highest recorded number of vehicles was on July 3, with 5,051 vehicles counted in one day at the summits of Camp Bird Road, Black Bear Pass, Corkscrew, Imogene Pass and Ophir Pass.

– The Blue Lakes Trail has an average of 164 hikers per day, with the busiest traffic on Saturdays. The highest recorded number of hikers was 509, on Sept. 5, and the total number of hikers counted from June through October was 22,402.

– There was a 740% increase in the number of campsites from 2010 to 2021, in dispersed camping areas in the Blue Lakes areas.

– Trash and human waste are significant problems at Blue Lakes. Profitt documented several examples of found items, including: feces, sleeping bags, a family-sized tent, socks, plastic bottles, soda cans, cotton balls, food wrappers and a hammock.

Profitt used infrared trail cameras, campsite inventories and water tests to help inform his report. His research found “a substantial increase in ecological damage in the Blue Lakes area and the OHV trails system compared with prior smaller-scale studies.” His work is the most tangible evidence the Forest Service has of current usage and impacts on the area.

His recommendations included instituting a permit system; restricting areas for rehabilitation; updating infrastructure, including better parking, toilets, campsites and signs; and increasing backcountry education.

Profitt noted in his report that he also collected comments from users, many of whom were surprised there wasn’t a permit system already in place.

“Nearly every visitor I spoke with, whether on the trail or virtually, was unhappy with the conditions of the trail and its impacts on the camping area,” he wrote. “Many people commented on the abundance of human waste and trash scattered throughout the campground and often asked why we did not have a compost toilet at the campground.”

He also noted there was a divide between hikers who said they lived here and others, in regard to opinions about a possible permit system.

“Most people in favor of a permit system claimed to be residents of the area and argued that only tourists should be required to buy a permit,” he wrote. “While this might limit the influx of visitors to the Blue Lakes area, I am not sure preferential treatment is the best solution because it could cause resentment between tourists and residents.”

The public has until May 20 to comment on the Blue Lakes Visitor Use Management Plan #61979, available online at There will be another opportunity for public comment later, when a preliminary environmental assessment is ready for review. There are no public meetings scheduled at this time.

Comments on the proposed plan can be made online or sent to Ouray District Ranger Dana Gardunio, 2505 S. Townsend Ave. Montrose, CO 81401. Anyone with questions can contact Natural Resource Specialist Julie Jackson at 970-240-5429.