Friday Linkage 7/20/2012

The drought that is gripping the U.S. is now the worst since the 1950s.  The Dust Bowl seems just around the corner.  Maybe not.

On to the links…

U.S. Leads the World in Cutting Emissions—Yep, the U.S. is leading the world in cutting its emissions of carbon.  A lot of it has to do with the recent recession, but there are other positive trends at play like the decommissioning of coal fired power plants, increased vehicle fuel efficiency, and a general reduction in transportation fuel demand as a result of changing habits.  I wonder why no one is making a bigger deal out of this?  It’s not like the recession was a secret.

What’s Killing Coal in West Virginia?—How about we finally realize that this is an environmentally harmful way to generate electricity that harms just about everyone who touches it along the way?  Just saying.

Denmark Ups Its Wind Power Ambition to 50% by 2020—Not to make the rest of the world feel like slackers by comparison, but Denmark is ahead of itself on its goals for wind power as a percentage of total generation.  So, what do they do?  Up the target.  Go Denmark!

Why We Pay Double for Solar in the U.S.—Basically, the balance of system costs in the U.S.—non-panel hardware, permit fees, installation, etc.—drive the price of residential solar higher than anywhere else in the world.  This sucks.

Nevada Plant Combines Solar and Geothermal—This just seems like one of those sensible ideas that everyone smacks their forehead after seeing it in operation.  Why didn’t I think of that?

New Biofuel Process Dramatically Increases Yield—Researchers at Michigan State University have created a process that can increase the energy recovery of biofuel processes by a factor of 20.  Not 20 percent, but 20 times.  The key here is obviously scale.  However, if biofuels are to become a critical piece of our energy future—which I believe is necessary—then innovations like this are critical components.

The Corn Identity—Just take a moment to ponder this infographic:

The U.S. will make ethanol from corn that would be capable of feeding over 400 million people.  This is why ethanol, as it is currently produced, is not a viable solution.

Fracking in U.S. Lifts Indian Farmers—An unintended consequence of the fracking boom in the U.S. is that Indian farmers in Rajasthan have a newly lucrative market for their guar.

Has Organic Been Oversized?—A good article on the divergence of the organic food movement from its origins to its current corporate state.  It poses the really good question of the rule of the law versus the spirit of the law.  No earth shattering or ground breaking insight, just a solid look at a disheartening development.

Jump Starting Urban Agriculture in San Francisco—I am all for producing as much food as possible in every location possible, but have we blown the potential for urban agriculture up just a little bit?  A few books and blogs make everyone think that they can have a little homestead on the freeway.

Bronx May Get 5 Acre Rooftop Farm—Maybe I was being a little cynical about the potential of urban agriculture.  Five acres in town has a lot of potential to put fresh, local produce in people’s hands.

Small Scale Grains a Part of the Locavore Puzzle—One component of our food system that is hard to source locally is grain.  Mass industrial production was almost perfectly suited to these plants as opposed to tomatoes or peppers or even corn.  It’s hard to grow a row of wheat in your home garden.  It looks like some people are out to solve that riddle.

Fermented Food Big on the DIY Scene—Without going all Portlandia on you…we can pickle that!

Otter Attack—I guess the otters in Minnesota did not get the memo about being nice.  How rude!

Zubaz Unleashed—This has nothing to do with the environment or greener living.  It’s just an amazing story.  When I was a kid these pants were huge.  Everyone wanted a pair and if you had a pair you wanted two.  Then one day the things just disappeared only to be seen on gameday parking lots worn by overweight, middle aged white men in team colors.  Even then it was considered in poor taste.


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