Friday Linkage 11/27/2020

It’s Black Friday and I hope everyone is staying at home as opposed to going shopping.  If there is one thing we could avoid this holiday season it has to be frenzied shopping with lots of other people.

A little light on the links since it is a holiday week.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Climate Crisis: CO2 Hits New Record Despite Covid-19 Lockdowns—It was nice to think that we would see a drop in global CO2.  This reinforces the importance of large scale changes that are structural in nature rather than purely behavioral.

Where the Great American Outdoors Act Stands Now—It was hailed as a major bi-partisan victory before the election, although a lot of observers thought that it was a sop to western senators facing challenges like soon-to-be former senator Cory Gardener.   Now that Trump is on the way out his minions will try and hobble the act just to spite people.

Trump Officials Rush to Mine Desert Haven Native Tribes Consider Holy—These sons-of-bitches are going to try and ruin everything possible before the screen door hits them on the ass January 20th.  My sincere wish is that a Biden administration can unwind the worst of the prior gang of criminals to occupy the White House.

One Change To The Worst Buildings Would Have Big Climate Benefits & Cut Costs-A big problem is that the people who pay for these upgrades—landlords—often do not realize the benefits of lower monthly costs—renters—so improvements are rarely made.

Three Coal-Burning Power Plants in Colorado Face Orders to Close Early. Their Owners Aren’t Happy About It.—For people who claim to be so tough and smart, industry leaders are surprisingly snowflake-esque when it comes to changes in the regulatory environment.  People do not want coal burnt in their communities.  Deal with it.

1% of Farms Operate 70% of World’s Farmland—This is a major problem.

Agricultural Water Contaminated with “Forever Chemicals” could Taint Produce—We are the plastic people.

Fur Industry Faces Uncertain Future due to Covid—There is still a fur industry to have an uncertain future?

Friday Linkage 11/20/2020

It feels like every week is the repeat of a bad dream.

COVID-19 numbers get worse.

Restrictions are put in place.

Donald Trump tweets something ridiculous, but his sons manage to do him one better.

When does the madness stop?

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Climate Scientists Debunk ‘Point of No Return’ Paper Everyone’s Freaking Out About—This is the problem with so-called “pop” science.  It is fairly easy for someone to publish a paper that sounds authoritative that the press will lap up like a thirsty dog and then the Internet does its thing.

1% of People Cause Half of Global Aviation Emissions—This is not surprising.  It is also why taxing flights to pay for mitigation should be popular. 

Renewable Electricity Set To Power Past Coal And Gas By 2025—I guess there is some good news out there after all.

Red State Sees Green Gold In Gulf Of Mexico Offshore Wind—Just like the North Sea towns that supplied the offshore oil and gas industry in the U.K. Louisiana has all of the necessary infrastructure and talent in place to be the hub of U.S. offshore wind development.

Firms Agree Scotland to England Renewable Energy ‘Superhighway’—U.K. offshore wind development should just be the blueprint we need for the United States.

Europe is Planning a 25-fold Increase in Offshore Wind Capacity by 2050—If Europe can do this what could the countries in North America pull off?

Methane Is Low-Hanging Fruit For Biden—The good news is that there are quite a few items on the climate agenda that could be considered low hanging fruit for the incoming Biden administration.

Cleaner Fuel For Aviation And Road Transport Set For Take-Off—Here is a plan: electrify almost everything and use greener fuels for the tasks where electrification does not make sense.  It is not rocket science.

Corn Ethanol Seems to Be a Failure, But We’re Probably Stuck With It— Like ranchers grazing on public land, corn ethanol is welfare for farmers and distillers.  The program makes little sense economically or environmentally, but if you want a chance to win the Iowa caucus in a bid to launch your presidential campaign you must pay fealty to the ethanol industry.

UK To Ban Sales Of Combustion Vehicles By 2030—More please.

Quebec Banning Gasoline Dependent Passenger Vehicles in 2035—Oui.

Increase in Burning of Plastic ‘Driving Up Emissions from Waste Disposal’—The problem is that there is just too much damn plastic.

Will Plant-Based Meat Become the New Fast Food?—If there is any place that meatless burgers could take over from traditional animal protein it has to be fast food.  This is not the pinnacle of ingredients were are talking about.  A fast food patty is a vehicle for cheese and condiments that provides the most basic of calories.

Tiny Atlantic Island Takes Giant Leap Towards Protecting World’s Oceans—Tristan da Cunha is little, but this is big.

The 39th Avenue Greenway is Now Open for Recreation and Excess Rain—Urban infrastructure with respect to stormwater is often an overlooked component of the built landscape.  This project in Denver is a blueprint for a path forward.

Focaccia Pizza is My Family’s Comfy Weeknight Dinner

2020 is a mess.  However, now that the outcome of the election is known—yes, Joe Biden decisively defeated Donald Trump—it feels like we can get back to talking about other things besides the vote margins in Pennsylvania.  By the way, thank you Gritty

With the coronavirus raging out of control in Iowa—thank you for your “leadership” Governor Kim Reynolds—some old standby weeknight dinners out have been nights at home.  My entire family misses trips to Need Pizza in downtown Cedar Rapids and we eagerly await a time when it is comfortable to return to dining in.  Take out is okay, but pizza is best consumed soon after sliding out of the oven.

Our replacement has become focaccia pizza.  It all started with this recipe from Sheela Prakash at The Kitchn.

It is perfect for the home cook because it does not try to mimic the pizzas made in high temperature ovens with expert hands.  However, it still hits the notes of warm crusty and cheesy goodness that makes pizza a winner with almost every person on the planet.  I do not trust people who do not like pizza.  It is alien to me.

Over the course of the past eight months of safer-at-home—I cannot believe that it has been eight months—I have made a few changes to the original recipe and I will continue to tinker until I feel that it is just right.

The most recent change has been to utilize Red Star Platinum Instant Sourdough Yeast and Sourdough Culture:

Some people complain about the cost of this particular yeast, but I have been picking it up locally for ~$1 as opposed to the more than $3 I see it advertised for online.  Amazon and other online retailers are not always the cheapest option.

After mixing the dough looks like this:

After twenty-four hours or so the dough looks like this:

During my first attempt to make this particular dough I did not let twenty-four hours pass.  Big mistake.  Huge.  The difference that waiting period makes turns the dough from merely a vehicle for the toppings into a co-star.

I use a well-worn 18” by 13” sheet pan that is greased well with shortening.  Just dump the dough and get the spreading it out with your fingers plus a healthy helping of olive oil to keep things from sticking:

From there it is just a question of what you want to top it all off with.  We roll fairly vanilla using store bought shredded mozzarella, jarred pizza sauce, pepperoni, and whatever is left around the house from prior meals:

As you might be able to tell from the image above I cleaned out the refrigerator of some leftover red onions and diced jalapenos.  Given my son’s recent interest in plant-based meat—he has tried every available plant-based burger in the grocery stores this year—I am looking for some suggestions of plant-based pepperoni or Italian sausage to try out.

Some day soon we will return to Need Pizza for our cheese and carbohydrate fix, but until then I will keep slinging the focaccia pizza.

Friday Linkage 11/13/2020

How was your week?  I think I have vacillated between utter despair to euphoria depending upon the headlines.

It is my belief that the next two months are going to suck like you cannot imagine.

The Potemkin village that is the Trump presidency will spend every moment right up until the end of his time in office tweeting, skimming donations from suckers, and trying to establish primacy in the Republican party for years to come.

The coronavirus pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better.  Especially now that anyone in the Trump administration has zero personal incentive to actually try to improve the situation.  Elections have consequences and, unfortunately, one of the consequences is that the extreme sloth of the Trump White House is on full display.

It is always darkest before the dawn.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Renewable Energy defies Covid-19 to Hit Record Growth in 2020—So, despite all the challenges brought on by 2020 renewable energy still saw record growth.  This is the inevitable future and anything contrary is just a rear-guard action.

It’s Time to Ban Stock Buybacks—On day two of the Biden administration I would like to see a repeal of the so-called “safe harbor” rule.  This would not require Congressional approval as 10b-18 is an SEC rule.

Alcohol and Carbs got America Through Election Night—Let’s be honest.  Alcohol and carbohydrates are what has gotten us through the last nine months.  Election night was just the denouement. 

Election Day was a Major Rejection of the War on Drugs—The only people who want to continue the “War on Drugs” are the people who have a monetary interest in its continued failure.  Everyone else realizes the folly of the last half-century.

Nevada Voters Seal Renewable Energy Goals in their State Constitution—We are marching slowly into the future.  The results from election night continue to be analyzed, but what I see is an embrace of renewable energy.

Massachusetts Passes Right-To-Repair Protections—If you cannot repair something you do not own that thing.  Being at the mercy of the OEM for repairs is not ownership, it is renting or leasing at the discretion of the OEM regardless of the purchase.

In Groundbreaking Move, Colorado Ends Routine Flaring—Step-by-step we move closer to actually regulating the worst practices of the oil and gas industry.

Factory Farm Emissions and Food Waste Could Be Ruinous to Climate-Saving Efforts—We must address the problems of industrial scale agriculture if we are to have any hope of addressing climate change.

McDonald’s Unveils its Own Meatless Burger McPlant—Imagine being able to walk into any McDonald’s or Burger King location in the United States and order a meatless burger from the standard menu.  It’s not the far off future…it’s just 2021.

The Problem with Honey Bees—It is interesting to think of honey bees as an invasive species brought forth to assist industrial agriculture.

2022 Ford E-Transit Revealed, Delivers on an Electric Promise—This type of vehicle is the backbone of commercial fleets.  These vans are so ubiquitous that most people do not even notice them anymore.  From local contractors to Amazon fleets there are a lot of these on the road today.  Moving these fleets to electric is a big deal.

Which of These 6 Time Traps is Eating Up All Your Time?—We are all guilty of some of these during this time of coronavirus.

People Who Eat Chili Peppers May Live Longer — Here’s Why—Pass the jalapenos.

Venn Diagram of Bad Presidents

This Venn diagram has been making the rounds on the internet over the course of the past week:

History is a cruel mistress.

Standing at the center of certifiably bad outcomes for U.S. presidents is one Donald J. Trump.

I have long said that when the dust settles and historians tally up the score the past four years will be remembered as the most corrupt in American history.  This is coming from a country that had Warren G. Harding as a president.  That guy used to be considered the exemplar of bad presidents.

I wonder how long before the imagineers at Walt Disney can get the Hall of Presidents updated to reflect our new reality?

Friday Linkage 11/6/2020

Anything going on out there in the big, bad world?  Oh right, just the future of America being decided.

I went to bed on Tuesday night…kind of…with a pit in my stomach that we were seeing a redux of 2016.  I woke up Wednesday feeling better, but I still went day drinking.  Yes, I scheduled a day of vacation after election day and spent it reading a book while drinking at the bar.  It’s low rent.  Sue me.

I am hopeful that sometime Friday we can start putting a bow on the Trump era in American politics.  Like Reagan, the specter of Trump will haunt America, generally, and the Republican Party, specifically, for years to come.  The question is which one of Donny Two Scoops’ children will be the first to the post for 2024?  No one seems to be putting any money on Eric.  Poor Eric.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

The Secret Political Power of Fossil Fuels—If the current composition of the next Congress and president holds it will be interesting to see how fossil fuel interests fare in D.C.  No one doubts the power, but does it still hold as much sway?

Win Or Lose, The President Has Majorly Damaged ExxonMobil—ExxonMobil is not the canary in the coal mine of fossil fuels’ decline.  ExxonMobil is the coal mine.  It’s fortunes in particular bode poorly for the rest of the industry in general.

Powder River Basin coal facing point of no return—Wyoming is starting to realize what the eastern coal belt states discovered about twenty years ago: coal is an industry in terminal decline.

Covid Cuts 2.5 Years Of Emissions – And Coal Demand Has Peaked—The question for activists is how do we accelerate these trends over the next decade.

An $11 Trillion Global Hydrogen Energy Boom is Coming. Here’s What Could Trigger It—This song and dance has come and gone before.  During the 2000s everyone was talking about the hydrogen economy until everyone realized that producing hydrogen took energy that was going to come from fossil fuels.  Now that renewable energy is so cheap there is talk of using excess capacity to produce hydrogen.  I just do not know if it is closer to reality this time around.

Victoria Plans 300MW Tesla Battery to Help Stabilise Grid as Renewables Increase—This is really a similar story to hydrogen as hydrogen is really just a chemical battery for other energy sources that cannot be stored directly.

Why ‘The World’s Largest Recycling Plant’ Won’t Solve The Plastics Crisis—The problem is that we use and dispose of too much plastic regardless of where it comes from.

France Hits Record 11.8% Plugin Share In October – Up 3.5x Year-On-Year—And when it is over 20% next year someone will crow that it is not possible to be more than 50%.  And when it is over 50%…you get the idea.

Sweden Hits New Record With Massive 36.2% Plugin Market Share In October—Sweden’s auto market may not be large, but over one third plug-in vehicle share is great news.

Can the Bike Boom Keep Going?—I sure hope so.  This riding season I saw so many more people out on the trails than in any year past.  It was like everyone decided that things just seemed better on a bike.

Denver Voters on Track to Approve Measures to Raise Funds to Address Climate Change and Homelessness—Watch what happens in Denver with regard to these types of taxes.  It might be something that will spread nationwide over the next decade.

End of Season WTB Venture 40 Tire Check-In

That’s all folks.  3,500 miles for the season—which is 1,000 miles more than my original goal—on a single set of WTB Venture 700×40 tubeless tires.  Below you will see how my tires have weathered the entirety of the 2020 riding season:

Overall, I am fairly satisfied with the WTB Venture tires over the course of a season.  The performance early in the season was great and the loose, mixed surface handling was exceptional.  On paved surfaces the tires felt a little slower than my prior set of Donnelly X’Plor 700×35.   Granted, the X’Plor USH has a solid center profile, was a thinner tire, and was tubed.  Perhaps that is not the best comparison.

I was fairly surprised by how quickly the tires wore, particularly the rear tire, over the first 1,500 miles or so which led me to rotate the tires.  There are those who will say that you should never rotate tires…blah, blah, blah…I did it.  Deal.  As the center section wore down the tread profile became somewhat squared away and reminded me of mid-90s mountain bike tires.  With a square profile there tends to be a resistance to lean until there is a moment where the tire “flops” into the lean.  It took a little getting used to after all these years.  Nothing quite like memories of running a Panaracer Smoke as a front tire until the Dart was an option.  Ah, the 1990s.

At about 3,400 miles the rear tire started to have some problems with staying sealed.  You can see in the final picture some dark or wet spots where sealant is coming through pinhole leaks in the tread.  To keep pressure I added about 4 ounces of Orange Seal Endurance, pumped them up to 50 PSI, and rotated them over the course of an afternoon while working in the garage.  The tires held pressure after that but every ride seemed to bring out more little leaks.  It was like the tires were starting to delaminate or something.  Maybe taking these tires past 3,000 miles was an exercise in courting disaster.

Needless to say, I did not have a lot of faith in the tires after this point and given the end of the season I did not decide to mount the replacement tires that I have in hand.  Next season I will be trying a set of WTB Byway 700×40 tires.  Given how much of my riding is now paved with more to come next season as paving projects are completed in my area I thought the more road oriented tread would be a welcome change.

Note: I bought these tires with my own money and I bought the set of tires for next year with my own money.  WTB is in no way affiliated with my writing on this topic.

October Solar Production and EV Efficiency

Is there something happening this week that has everyone’s attention?  Oh right, the fate of the Western world might hinge on what voters in a few states decide.  Nothing quite like staring the end of the world as we know it in the face.

The production from my solar photovoltaic array in October was good:

Unlike the prior two months when a derecho knocked out production in August and a roof replacement knocked out production in September, October was a full month of productive days.  It just so happens that those days are less intense when it comes to the sun.

Regardless, I ended the month ~2 kWh “in the red” in terms of production versus consumption.  So close to net zero for the month.  So close.

For the year, however, my household is “in the black” ~1,591 kWh.  Given how past years have gone my household should end up net positive in terms of solar electricity production for the year by quite a bit.  That is assuming I do not do anything stupid like leave a garage heater on for a couple of days when the temperature is below freezing.

In terms of EV numbers, we drove 557 miles at an average efficiency of 5.5 miles per kWh.  This is down from 5.8 miles per kWh in September and 6.1 miles per kWh in August.  It really shows you just how much of a difference running a heater—my Nissan Leaf has the capacitive heater as opposed to the heat pump—can make in terms of efficiency.  I would be curious to see if a heat pump would make that much difference, but I am not about to head out an buy a new EV.

Compared to driving my truck, we saved ~641 lbs of CO2 assuming that all of my EV’s electricity was pulled from the grid at an average carbon intensity.  For the year, we have saved ~5,866 lbs of CO2 from being emitted using the same metric.  In total, since early January 2019 we have saved ~14,985 lbs of CO2 from being emitted by driving the Nissan Leaf.

Even crazier is the impact that coronavirus and the subsequent changes in daily life have made to our driving.  For the year so far we are down ~36% in terms of miles in the Nissan Leaf, but this does not tell the whole story because that car is now the primary driver for two people in my household.  This summer we sold my wife’s Subaru Outback since it was collecting dust and costing us insurance money each month.  All of those miles have been shunted to the Nissan Leaf and we are still down more than a third.

As of today, we have worked from home for 138 working days.  This represents almost 5,500 miles and ~7,322 lbs of CO2 saved by not commuting.  I do not know what the final accounting for the year will look like in terms of decarbonizing but I have to believe it will be a big one for my household.

Stay safe out there and please make sure to vote.

Friday Linkage 10/30/2020

Just.  Days.  Away.

I am hopeful that on Tuesday night we can go to sleep assured that our long national nightmare will be scheduled to end in January 2020.

Oh, I am very worried about what an unbound Trump will try to do with a few months in power.  However, it is my belief that any bad behavior will further reinforce the fact that Republicans are just enablers of naked power.

If you have not voted, please vote.  If you have voted, please make sure that everyone you know has voted.  Once that is done, sit back, and watch what happens.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Denver’s Unique Sales Tax to Fight Climate Change could be a Blueprint for Future Action Nationwide—Watch what happens in Denver on this ballot measure on Tuesday.

White House Says Trump Has Saved Environment. His Record Says Otherwise.—This is some next level Orwellian shit.  Just keep telling the lies until everyone believes you.  Or you lose the election and have to figure out how to avoid the creditors beating down your tacky gold door.

While We Focus on COVID-19, Trump’s EPA Is Quietly Killing Us—Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Trump’s Pullback of Pollution Controls is Even More Hazardous than You Think—No matter how bad you think things are the reality is probably a little worse.

Republicans Put the Oil Industry Above Economic Growth—These guys have to make sure that the campaign contributions keep coming in so that they can double down on culture war issues while reaping the profits.  Rile everyone up about guns, gays, and God while on the other hand putting in place policies that harm the economic interests of the people who put you in office.  It’s the modern Republican electoral strategy.

As Trump Dismisses Renewables, Energy Sector Doubles Down—Who would you listen to: people with real money on the line or an orange buffoon who’s business experience includes bankrupting multiple casinos?

Report Reveals Auto Giants Knew About Car Emissions and Climate Change — in the 1960s—Color me shocked.  Oh wait, I am not shocked.  In the slightest.

It’s Official: Solar Is the Cheapest Electricity in History—Here is the scary thing.  Solar energy can get cheaper.

Electric Vehicle Market Hits Its Tipping Point—EVs are a better driving experience.  The two things holding back mass adoption have been cost and perceived range.  Cost has been coming down and almost no one needs the max range of even an older Nissan Leaf on a daily basis.  The future is now.

Big Oil’s Hopes are Pinned on Plastics. It Won’t End Well.—Plastics are oil rendered solid.  The derivative products made from refining (e.g. chemical feedstocks or plastic feedstocks) are actually the products that make oil refining so profitable.  Take away that profit center and the house comes tumbling down.

Will the Extraction Industry’s Economic Turmoil Blight Colorado?—This is what oil and gas companies leave behind.  There is no honor with these people.

Wyoming Is Using Dark Money To Help Keep Coal Plants In Other States Open—Remember this the next time you see a campaign to support coal fired power plants in your state.

Beef is bad for the planet. Can we make it better?—Or, can we just eat less beef?

Restoring Seagrasses Can Bring Coastal Bays Back to Life—The next step is restoration.  The opportunities are damn near endless.

The Nightmare Scenario for Florida’s Coastal Homeowners—Maybe we should not have built billions of dollars of real estate in an area we knew was susceptible to any number of climate change related phenomena.

Ted Cruz is Asked Why National Debt is Paramount to Republicans only when a Democrat is in the White House—This question needs to get asked of every “deficit hawk” Republican who will come out of the woodwork in January after spending four years licking Trump’s boots.

‘King of the Coal’ Robert Murray Dies at the Age of 80—Nothing else to say:

Friday Linkage 10/23/2020

There is a moment in most B-grade epic fantasy movies where a wizened character will state, “The end game has begun.”

I feel that way about the forthcoming federal election that is set to culminate on November 4th.  We are watching, in real time, the end game.  I am just unsure at this moment whether it is an end game for the President and his Republican enablers or for America in general.

My hope is that by the end of election night the results are so overwhelming against the worst president in the history of the United States that no amount of “boogaloo” boys or whatever other halfwit militia shit will just wither in the cold fall air.  Maybe Don Jr. can make a career out of speaking at militia gatherings with the other horrible people who have been given agency over the past four years.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

The Cheapest Climate Solution? Return Half of the Planet to Nature—It is so simple that it is almost diabolical.  Imagine a global campaign of work to give degraded areas a hand up on the path toward being wild again.

How Maverick Rewilders are Trying to Turn Back the Tide of Extinction—Today’s maverick is tomorrow’s genius.

Woodland Trust to Plant 50 Million Trees over 5 Years to Fight Climate Crisis—I applaud these efforts, but the dollar figures are just pathetic.  An emergency fun with just one million pounds to help ameliorate the impacts of climate change?  Most Premiere League teams will spend more in a few weeks on a transfer for a washed up former star in the hopes of making the top four.  Why not 50 billion trees over five years?

A Bold Plan to Protect 30% of Colorado Lands and Waters by 2030—I remember a time when Colorado was a land of gun toting ranchers and reliable Republicans.  This is still true on the Western slope and Eastern plains, but the state is all about protecting its outdoors.

Healthy Forests do More than Just Prevent Wildfires—There is so much more to forests than just beautiful vistas and trees.

Sorry, Coal: 66% Conversion Efficiency Eyeballed For Next-Gen “Hot Carrler” Perovskite Solar Cells—These kind of numbers will blow fossil fuels away.

Why Does The Pandemic Not Seem To Be Hurting Renewables?—One word: business.  I mean that it just makes business sense to deploy renewables.

What Is Happening With Solar Energy?—Here is the line that should scare anyone who drills, fracks, or mines for energy:

According to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2020, photovoltaic solar energy is already the cheapest source of electricity in history. We are not talking about the future, but about the present, about current installations.

Damn.

More School Districts are Turning to Solar Energy—Solar energy is like running downhill.  Everything keeps going faster and faster.

How The Oil Industry Fared Under The Last Nine U.S. Presidents—A little historical perspective and hopefully the last time I link to an article with Trump’s smug grin.

Geothermal Energy is Poised for a Big Breakout—In the bid to add carbon free baseload energy to the grid, geothermal may be the ticket.  And it comes without all of the problems associated with current generation nuclear power.

Understanding How ‘Overdispersion’ Works is Key to Controlling Covid—There is just so much that we do not know and trying to figure things out is complicated by stupid people with political agendas that force bad outcomes upon us.  Yes, I am looking at anyone who is an anti-vaxxer or Trump supporter.  This is your fault.