Friday Linkage 6/22/2012

What a difference a couple of overnight storms can make.  This week we had two decent overnight storms that drenched eastern Iowa and tipped the scales away from drought.  Everything was much greener by Thursday afternoon and the air had lost its arid edge.  It was like a return to a normal and pleasant Iowa summer.

On to the links…

Gardener Sues City of Tulsa for Tearing Up Her Garden—Lawns blow me away.  It’s okay to have a landscape that requires constant attention and is frequently doused in nasty chemicals, but if someone dares to do something different the city comes down like Thor’s hammer.  WTF?  Then again, this is Oklahoma.   I guess it’s not just the wind sweeping down the plains but the city’s scythes as well.

What to Buy Organic—This story got a lot of play, but it makes people’s decision easier at the grocery store.  Here is a list of the produce to buy when it is available as organic because the pesticides and other chemicals used are so bad or used in high quantities.

How Climate Change is Fueling Western Wildfires—Unless you are an ass like James Inhofe, it is staring you right in the face that our changing climate is fueling ever nastier western wildfires.  Granted, part of the problem is a hundred year legacy of not allowing any fires to burn so the hillsides are full of tinder and the encroachment of development means these fires now threaten homes where before there was no damage to private property.

Renewable Energy in the EU—The Guardian in the United Kingdom has an excellent look at the state of renewable energy in the European Union.   In 2010 the EU 27 got 12.4% of electricity from renewables with Norway leading the pack at 61.1%, which includes hydropower.  Those crafty Norwegians are always up to something.

U.S. Renewable Energy Future—The National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a study showing how the U.S. could greatly increase the share of renewable energy.  Senators from oil and gas states will fight any mention of this report tooth and nail.  Why?  Because they are bought and paid for.  Ass clowns.

German Solar Installation Cost at $2.24 per Watt, the U.S. is at $4.44—Here is why the U.S. is going to have a hard time getting critical mass on solar—the balance of system costs are driving the installed system costs too high.  It used to be the panels were too expensive, but that is no longer the case as the price per watt of a panel has come down immensely.  Now it is all the other equipment and, more importantly, the red tape.  For once I will agree with Republicans—there is too much regulation and red tape surrounding getting solar installed.  Somehow I do not see Mitt Romney taking up that banner anytime soon.  No Koch money in it.

Let’s Add a Little Dirt to Our Diets—I am not advocating a lunch of top soil and compost.  Neither is the author.  Rather, the central thesis is that our increasingly clinical and clean world is depriving our bodies of the bacteria that have evolved to ward off various maladies.  With the recent completion of a census of the bacteria on the human body it will become increasingly clear that we need a little filth.

Battery Costs Down to $250/kWh by 2015—This is one of those boring but important kind of stories.  Due to improving technology and a glut of capacity, industry analysts are predicting that lithium-ion battery packs will cost just $250 per kilowatt hour by 2015.  Currently, a lithium-ion battery pack costs approximately $700 per kilowatt hour.  This is a great reduction in cost that will allow electric vehicles to come down in price and, thus, speed adoption.

Oil Rig Reef—The dormant offshore oil platform High Island 389-A is supposed to be demolished soon.  However, its structure beneath the surface of the water has become a wonderland for aquatic life.  It’s even becoming something of a reef:

Isn’t there a better fate than destruction?

Why Wooden Bikes Ride Better and Look Stunning—Just reading this article made me want to get a wooden bike.  Until I saw the price tag.  The sunk coast of my sixteen year old Bontrager is looking better and better.   I feel like I should apologize to my old bike for even looking at a younger model.

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