Friday Linkage 12/2/2016

It’s December.  The snowpack is slow to build—damn you climate change—but there is hope that by the holidays lots of terrain in the mountains will be open for skiing and riding.  We still live in Trumplandia.  However, it is important to remember that there are still many good things in this world to celebrate amidst the doom and gloom.  It is also critically important to remember that we need to fight the agenda of man who got over two million fewer votes than his opponent and a man from Wisconsin who wants to roll back the safety net to resemble some sort of Ayn Rand wet dream.

On to the links…

Under Trump, NASA May Turn a Blind Eye to Climate Change—The thing that scares me the most about the next few years is that there is going to a chilling effect on scientific inquiry through the executive and legislative branches use of their budgeting and bullying powers.  The House may not end up holding hearings on Trump’s many conflicts of interest, but I am almost certain that scientists will be dragged before committees to testify about science by people with no knowledge of science.

Outdoor Industry will be Added to the Calculus of the US GDP—Inclusion in this calculation will allow for the outdoor industry to make the same claims to job creation at the national level like other industries.  It is a major win because it gives the industry additional clout when lobbying for legislation.

These 6 Unexpected Countries Are Going Renewable—Despite what happens in the United States over the course of the next two years—I am hoping for some electoral retribution related to an extreme right wing agenda spearheaded by Paul Ryan—the world is moving forward with a clean energy revolution.

What Happened To Germany’s Energy Transformation?—The answer is…nothing.  It is happening.  It just happens to be maturing as would be expected.  In 2015 the entire country generated more than 31% of its electricity from renewables and policies are in place to get to 45% by the middle of the next decade.  Even if growth stops it is not like solar panels and wind turbines stop producing clean electricity.  The demand destruction for fossil fuels has already occurred.

Yet Another Country, and Two Huge Utilities, Finished with Coal—Here is why coal is dead.  No one wants to use the stuff except for ass clowns like Don Blankenship…oh wait, he’s just a convicted criminal living in a hilltop mansion now instead of a coal company baron.

Want to See Why Trump will Struggle to Save the Coal Industry? Look at Michigan.—The real answer to the question is that Donald Trump has no idea how to “save” the coal industry and he has no intention of actually trying to reemploy coal miners.  He cares about himself, first and foremost, with fellow billionaires, assuming he is actually a billionaire before raping the United States from the Oval Office, coming in a distant second.

From Peak Oil to Peak Oil Demand in Just Nine Years—Oh my, how times change.

Have We Reached Peak Gasoline?—As EVs, plug-in hybrids, and more efficient vehicles proliferate combined with fewer miles driven per person the demand for gasoline has to stagnate at some level.  At what point does this stagnation begin to destabilize the fundamental economics of gasoline refining?

Copenhagen Now has More Bikes than Cars—Copenhagen is a dream city for many people.  It can also serve as a model for many urban centers.  It is not a place of ideal mild climate, yet pedal power is becoming the dominant mode of transportation through policy encouragement.

The Colossal African Solar Farm that Could Power Europe—It has been a dream of Europeans for many years to develop massive solar farms in sunny North Africa where land is plentiful for transmission back to Europe.  Maybe now that idea is coming to fruition.

University of Minnesota Study Identifies Key Culprits in Cropland Greenhouse Emissions—Rather than try to tackle all of the sources of greenhouse gasses, why don’t we try and lock up the 60 to 70% of bad actors that will return a great deal of “bang for the buck?”

Canada Just Took a Big Step Toward Banning a Nasty Pesticide—The rest of the world will march on and the United States will stagnate under Trump.  What we can hope for is that a tide of anger will sweep our sclerotic political culture aside, much like the progressives did, and enact truly forward thinking legislation.

Scientists Discover Why Diet Coke Is Probably Undermining You—File this under the “You Can’t Fool Your Body and Expect Positive Results” heading.  Just another reason to stop buying water, which makes up something like 99% of a bottle of diet soda, in disposable plastic bottles.

Paul Ryan Wants to Make Medicare Look Like a Program He Hates

The pressure of having no legislative mandate, losing seats in both chambers of Congress and having a president-elect over two million votes behind his opponent do not make a mandate, and a caucus full of right wing radicals must be getting to Paul Ryan.  The wunderkind of the right wing is proposing to “fix” Medicare by making it similar to Obamacare.

Wait a second.  I thought that Paul Ryan and his free market flunkies hated Obamacare.  Well, they all liked it when it was Mitt Romney’s plan for health care in Massachusetts.  However, once a Democrat proposed something similar for the entire United States it was a bridge too far.  Cue the Tea Party to bring out signs like this:


So now Paul Ryan and his coterie of hate want to change Medicare from something that guarantees care into a handout for insurance companies.  They will tell you that the goal is let the free market work its miracle powers.  The free market and the baby Jesus serve the same function as the salve to make unworkable plans or fantastical stories possible.

Remember, Paul Ryan and his Tea Party totalitarians do not think Obamacare works.  They want to destroy Obamacare and Medicare at the same time.  In the process they want to replace Medicare with something that looks just like the system they feel is broken and needs to be replaced.  Talk about keeping your government hands off my Medicare.

Friday Linkage 11/25/2016

This post written a couple of days ago because I am planning on spending the Thanksgiving holiday doing nothing in particular, save for not thinking about the disastrous potential of the bloviating orangutan poised to run the United States.

On to the links…

Trump and His Key Advisors Stand to Profit from the Dakota Access Pipeline—This is a president-elect who has said that there can be no conflict of interest with his business empire simply by the fact that he is president.  It is a further perversion of executive power that began with Nixon, see how that ended, and reached its nadir with the second Bush, who used the logic to essentially justify creating a modern security state because, um, terror.

Trump Supporters Are Boycotting Starbucks By Heroically Purchasing Its Coffee—Remember, these are the people who elected the next President of the United States.  Also remember, that as it stands right now Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 1.5 million votes.

Canada Phases Out Coal As Donald Trump Aims To Revive It In U.S.—I hope that Canada can spend the next four years being a giant middle finger pointed at the United States.

France to Shut Down all Coal Power Plants by 2023—This is not as big a leap as it would be for some countries given France’s heavy reliance on nuclear power, but it will close another export market for American coal.  It is going to be really hard for Herr Trump to “bring back coal” when no one actually wants to buy any coal.

Alberta: The New Texas of Wind Development?—Fossil fuel cronies can stomp their feet all they want in the U.S. because there is a lot of momentum behind renewables in the rest of the world.  Instead of leading the U.S. is planning to get the hell out the way led by the kind of isolationist in chief.

Zero-net, Low-income Homes Offer Glimpse of Grid Transformation—Usually, well designed and energy efficient prefabricated homes are the stuff of glossy coffee table magazines and highbrow design web sites.  Bringing those ideas into the mainstream at a more affordable price point is a good thing for everyone.

Cheap Ice Energy Storage for Solar Homes—Using cheap power to “store” energy as ice is a fairly well developed idea on a commercial scale.  New Belgium Brewery has had a large system like this installed for years now.  Something at the consumer or home level is something new.

Paul Ryan Sets His Sights on the Social Safety Net

Editorial cartoonist Steve Sack perfectly summed up Paul Ryan’s legislative agenda at the moment in a recent illustration appearing in the Star Tribune:


Make no mistake, our social safety net is under threat.  The Republicans in Congress are already talking about a mandate even though Trump did not win the popular vote, by over a million at current counts, and lost seats in both chambers of Congress.  By those standards President Obama should have been allowed to do anything he wanted, but he was a Democrat who happened to be black so there was a whole other set of rules to follow.  When a white man from privilege who has never held public office gets elected with less than a majority it is time to shred the foundations of modern civil society according to Republicans.

Orrin Hatch Wants to Help Paul Ryan Kill Medicare

Republicans have set their sights on killing Medicare.  Before it was just Paul Ryan and his merry band of Representatives.  Now it looks like Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican from Utah) is going along for the ride:

I think we’re going to have to do that. We’re going to have to make it better. So it will take care of people because the current system is not working.

It is important to note that Orrin Hatch is currently the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which is sure to have a say on any changes to either Medicare or Obamacare.

What planet do these people live on?  There are a lot of government programs that people do not like or that do not deliver services in an efficient manner.  Medicare is not one of those programs.

Then again, the GOP is struggling with the reality of even repealing Obamacare so maybe Medicare is off the table for the time being.

People actually like being able to get insurance that actually covers them for medical issues.  It’s a novel concept for Republicans to understand.  That will not stand in the way of House Republicans who are already positioning the requisite parliamentary shell game to avoid the filibuster.

Nevertheless, you need to make sure that your elected representatives are hearing your voice about any potential changes to our health care.  The pressure needs to be real in order to save Medicare.

Friday Linkage 11/18/2016

I was going to start out apologizing for being so political lately, but…screw that…because if you are not angry and doing something about it then I have no patience for your apathy.  Now is the time to be informed about all the issues and hit your members of Congress with your opinions at every opportunity.  Trust me, I am waiting for the day when staffers at my local Congressman’s office groan.

On to the links…

How to Effectively Lobby Your Congressperson—Take these suggestions to heart.  More importantly, do it.

Here are Six Reasons not to Give Up Hope.—It is easy to get down.  Hell, I am down.  But the future can be bright if we pick ourselves up off the mat and get to making real change.  The momentum for real progress on climate change is there and we just need to keep on pushing.

Green Groups Prepare to Fight under President Trump—President Trump is bad enough, but a Republican led Congress is even worse.  We must fight them at every chance and make them own every action that they take.  Transfer public lands for private gain?  Make them own it.  Gut the Endangered Species Act?  Make them own it.  You get the idea.

Total Installed Solar PV Reaches 228 GW In 2015—Solar penetration is real.  Every panel that is installed represents demand destruction for coal fired power.

Declining Coal Means Flat Emissions for a Third Year Running—Like the sub-headline says, thanks China.

Old and Worn Out, U.S. Coal-Fired Power Plants Easy Prey for Gas—Here is another thing that is killing coal.  A power company does not want to upgrade or replace a coal fired power plant when it comes to the end of its usable life.  Fewer coal fired furnaces mean less demand for coal.

Mirroring a Drop in Emissions, Mercury in Tuna also Declines—It’s not just about CO2.  Burn less stuff and you release less nasty stuff like mercury or arsenic.  No one thinks mercury in the atmosphere or food chain is a good thing.  Except maybe Republicans.

Renewable Energy is Seeping into Small-Town America—Here in Iowa, a state that went big for the orange man, people could not imagine large swaths of the western part of the state.  Lease payments have allowed many people to maintain a life on the farm that would not have been possible with the boom or bust in farm commodity prices.

Renewable Energy Made Up Record 21.7% of Australia’s Electricity Market in October—This is a reason why coal is dead.  It’s not regulation.  It’s not environmentalists.  It’s freaking economics on the most truly macroeconomic scale.  The world just wants less coal because renewables are cheap, clean, and growing.

The World’s Cheapest Offshore Wind Farm is Coming to Scandinavia—What happens when offshore wind is cost competitive with coal, natural gas, or onshore wind?  You can put offshore wind turbines near the bulk of population that lives near the coast at a price that obliterates fossil fuels.

Biofuels Turn Out to be a Climate Mistake—I have always been an ethanol guy and had a lot of hope for second generation biofuels to alleviate some of the concerns with first generation biofuels.  Maybe we should just abandon the idea altogether.

The Catastrophic Consequences Of Peak Oil Demand—There is a downside to peak oil demand.  As demand peaks and prices drop there is a high probability that shaky regimes or regions that depend on oil revenue for stability fail.  Imagine a series of Venezuela like crises across the globe or concentrated in the Middle East.

Renegade Facebook Employees Form Task Force to Battle Fake News—If Facebook is the primary source of news for a great many people it is incumbent on Facebook to edit that news to some degree.  Otherwise they might as well just slap a Breitbart or Infowars logo on their site and be done.

Glenn Beck: The Alt-Right is Truly Terrifying—I know that the apocalypse might actually be upon us because I find myself agreeing with Glenn Beck.

There’s Another Type of Rural/Urban Divide in America: Teens Having Babies—Urban areas are not the blighted hellscapes of Donald Trump’s fever dreams.  Ironically, many of the worst performing areas in regards to a lot of lifestyle metrics are rural areas.

Here’s Why Coffee Pods are Pure Evil—Can we just all agree that the convenience of coffee pods is not worth all of the downsides?

Paul Ryan Wants to Kick this Many People off Medicare in Your State

As you contact your members of Congress please remind them of how many people are currently enrolled in Medicare in their respective states:

Medicare Beneficaries Table.png

Your members of Congress need to know that they are going to dramatically alter the lives of a great percentage of eligible voters if they so choose to follow Paul Ryan down a path of killing Medicare.

The data to make the table above was acquired from the following sources: