Friday Linkage 7/8/2011

It’s a short week of work following a long holiday weekend.  The July 4th holiday was nothing short of a spectacular Midwest summer experience—sunny days, temperature in the 80s, low humidity, a minor league baseball game…it rarely gets better.

Plan Issued to Save Northern Spotted Owl—No environmental issue was more at the forefront of my formative years than the controversy over the spotted owl.  I was too young to remember the snail darter, so it was the spotted owl.  To see this still playing out twenty years later is sad.

Peak Care Use Already Here?—Maybe just maybe, we are realizing that a lifestyle based on continually and needlessly hurtling ourselves all over the planet by various means is not only unsustainable, but also insane.  Granted, this is just for the developed world and does not apply to India or China.

The Bicycle Dividend—Governments at all levels in the United States spend inordinate amounts subsidizing the use of automobiles, all the while lambasting any spending on mass transit or alternative forms of transport like bicycles.  However, no one really talks about the money it costs to keep our automobile based system going or the true cost of alternatives.  This is the start of a real cost benefit analysis discussion.

Piet Oudolf: Plantsman for all seasons—For anyone who has watched the evolution of the gardens at Millennium Park in Chicago this is an interesting look at the man behind the plants.  The gardens were a surprise on my first visit because there was none of the overwrought neon annuals so common to modern public spaces.  It is a subtle beauty that will age well.

How to Continue “Ferocious Cost Reductions” for Solar Electricity—For anyone who thinks that solar photovoltaic systems are a niche play in the energy mix of the future this is required reading.  Not only are the PV panels getting cheaper, but the balance of system (BoS) costs are being driven down as well leading to dramatically cheaper systems in total.  I read articles like this and I cannot wait to put panels on my house.

First Quarter 2011 U.S. Solar by the Numbers—Required follow up reading to the article above.  Versus the same quarter in 2010: system cost down by 15%, installations up by 66%, total installed solar at 2.85GW, and more.  Solar is definitely part of the mix.

The Eco-Friendly Wallaby—Apparently, if we could somehow get cows to have stomachs that behaved like wallabies a lot less methane would be released.  Maybe we should just skip a step and start eating wallabies.  Or, more radically, just eat a lot less meat.  I know, crazy talk.

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