Friday Linkage 12/23/2011

You know the world has gone all wacky when the EPA releases emissions rules 20 years in the making and people complain about the “invisible boot” of government.  After 20 years you would think that the forthcoming rules were very well understood and that the process had allowed sufficient time to prepare.  Alas, if you do not agree you must be a Republican running for President of the United States.

The world has also gone wacky when the emission of mercury, an extremely toxic elemental metal, is stacked against the cost.  When is it okay to release a highly toxic substance into the atmosphere that endangers the health of all Americans?  That’s right, never.  The public health effects of mercury in the atmosphere cannot be weighed against the economic cost because the two are not comparable.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Fabulous Festivus, and whatever makes your days bright.  On to the links…

I Want a Vertical Bike Rack—For anyone who has ever gotten to campus or work to discover the bike racks overflowing this is for you:

I love how the town of Aalborg has “just” 20% of its trips taken by bicycle.  20% in the U.S. would make the car lovers in the U.S. run to the succor of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to cry of a UN conspiracy.

Darrell Issa is an Ass—In what is getting to be a theme, I am designating someone as an ass on a weekly basis.  Representative Darrell Issa (Republican, California) is using his power as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to inquire into the process by which the new fuel economy standards were reached.  Really?  This is the best use of government resources?  Oh wait, if he actually wanted to root out government corruption he might have to look in a mirror first.  Corruption thy name is Representative Darrell Issa.

States with Most Installed Wind and Solar See Least Increase in Electric Rates—  Portfolio theory says that as you diversify your assets, the amount of risk you carry as an investor decreases because you are increasingly less exposed to the ill effects from one single asset declining in value.  The same thing could be said for power generation.  Increase the availability of multiple generation options and the exposure to swings in the price of generating that power are not amplified.  It’s simple business school education.  You’d think the guys who ladle praise on the “job creators” would have learned this lesson.

Record Year for Scottish Renewables—By the end of 2011, Scotland could produce almost one third of its electricity from renewables.  Yep, one third.  Even more amazing is that the goal of producing 100% of Scotland’s electricity from renewables by 2020 is on track to be achieved.  Renewable portfolio standards in the U.S. of 20% by 2020 seem lame by comparison.

German Renewables Surpass Nuclear and Hard Coal Electricity Production—As if to make us feel even more lame by comparison, Germany now gets almost 20% of its power from renewables surpassing hard coal and nuclear generation for the first time.  Renewable energy is up to 20% share from 16.4% the prior year.  Not too shabby.

Seattle Finally Bans Plastic Bags—After failing in 2009, the city of Seattle has finally banned the scourge of our time—the single use plastic bag.  This ban is a little more far reaching than others because it includes more locations than just supermarkets.  As our retail options proliferate, our regulatory environment needs to adapt to accommodate.

Guerilla Grafting—So many street trees represent so many opportunities to produce food that is hyper local.  Just think about the potential in America’s landscaped boulevards and office parks.  Hmmmm……

Veggie Broth from the Vegan Zombie—When the apocalypse meets the need to make soup, only the mad genius behind the Vegan Zombie can save you.  With my father converting to veganism after turning 63 for health reasons, I am always looking for help trying to figure out how to accommodate his new diet.  If it involves slaying the walking dead, so much the better.

Getting Back into the Kitchen—I think the single most subversive thing that someone can suggest is that we teach ourselves how to handle ourselves in the kitchen.  I am not talking about learning how to unroll some crescent rolls and turn on the oven, but a return to an emphasis on the skills of real home economics.  Our future may depend on it.

53 Years of Backyard Farming—As if gardening on a large scale were something new, these people have been doing it for over one half of a century.  In Iowa canning or gardening is not a trend because people never stopped canning or gardening.  For a lot of people, these skills were never lost.

Eating Well from a Dumpster—Sometimes even my embrace of extreme eco living has limits.  Dumpster diving is one of those things, but the amazing bounty that can be found in what we throw away is truly disheartening.  This is radical home economics at its most extreme and dedicated.

Rebuild the Dream—Sometimes the simplest answers are staring us right in the face but we lack the political will to execute.  When it’s in an infopgraphic it seems even easier:

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One response to “Friday Linkage 12/23/2011

  1. Check out my new blog: http://fighttheplasticbagban.com/

    On my blog I have a downloads menu item. If you click on that there are a number of papers that I have written that can be downloaded.

    One paper titled “Negative Health and Environmental Impacts of Reusable Shopping Bags” deals with the health issues more extensively than you did in the article above. For example, in addition to bacteria, viruses and virus transmission with reusable shopping bags could make other sick. Also, people who have AIDS or a suppressed immune system may be more sensitive to bacteria in reusable bags then people who have normal immune systems. About 20% of the population fit in this category.

    Also, when bag bans are implemented people always complain about all those plastic bags that end up in the landfill. But they have never stopped to calculate all the stuff going into a landfill after a plastic carryout bag ban compared to before. It would surprise you to know that 3 to 4 times the amount of material goes into the landfill post ban than pre ban. Those plastic carryout bags are sure looking good. see my article titled “Fact Sheet – Landfill Impacts” for the details and the calculations.

    There is much more.

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