Friday Linkage 7/26/2013

The heat of the last couple of weeks broke over the last couple of days and we have been treated to those perfect Iowa summer days: warm days and cool nights.  It is so nice to be able to open the windows and enjoy the cool fresh air.

On to the links…

Landmark ‘Ag Gag’ Lawsuit Fights Threat to Freedom of Speech—Watch this court case closely because the future of our ability to expose bad practices may be in danger.  Conversely, this may end up like the “McLibel” case where winning the case was not as important as the information that was exposed by the winning side.

Climate Change is Making Poison Ivy Grow Out of Control—If you thought rising seas and weird weather were bad, wait until you get a load of this.  Poison ivy, every hikers friend in the woods, is going gangbusters in the newly changed climate.  Great.

How Do We Use Electricity—If you asked people how they used electricity the answer would probably be “Flipping on a switch.”  That is the amount of thought that most of us put into our energy use on a daily basis.

Americans Continue to Use More Renewable Energy—This report from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has some really interesting charts about the sources of our electricity.

Cool Ways to Save this Season—Does anyone ever really think about how successful of a program Energy Star has been?  I never hear about it.  Here’s a nice little infographic from the folks at Energy Star:

Cool_Ways_to_Save_Infographic

Intermittency Of Renewables? … Not So Much—One of the major problems with renewable energy has been its intermittency.  That is to say, it does not produce power on a steady stream like a coal or nuclear plant.  As the amount of renewable power has increased, however, the intermittency has decreased.  Interesting.

How Twelve States Are Succeeding In Solar Energy Installation—Solar is kicking ass in several states as new and innovative programs are launched to get people access and take advantage of the dramatically lower costs.  In Iowa we are focused on wind energy over solar, but with the state producing over one quarter of its electricity from wind power I am not one to complain.  Much.  I still want solar panels on my roof.

The Community Solar Holy Grail—This idea just might be ticket to get me my solar power.  Interesting.

Zero Carbon Britain Possible by 2030—I see these studies a lot and the key component that is not ever factored in is political will.  The technology exists.  The tools for analysis exists.  The rationale exists.  But no politician is ever going to stand behind such an idea for more than five minutes.

Saudi Arabia to invest $109 billion to get 1/3 of its energy from renewables by 2032—Saudi Arabia has lots of empty land, sun, and money.  Seems like a perfect marriage of factors for a solar revolution.

U.S., Europe Launch Center for Smart Grids and Plug-in Vehicles—Speaking of intermittency.  As plug-in vehicles become more widespread the batteries in these vehicles represent a huge opportunity because taken as a whole they can help regulate the power grid.

Why A Nerve Eating Chemical, Cancer Causing is Still on the Market—This is what I hate about our regulatory regime.  Products that are harmful are allowed to be sold until the harm that they cause is considered so great the product is pulled.  Rather, the products should be proven safe before being allowed onto the market.

Staying Healthy May Mean Learning to Lover Our Microbiomes—There is so much that we do not understand about bacteria because we have spent the better part of the last century conducting all-out war on all bacteria.  The concept that some of these bacteria may be beneficial is gaining a lot of ground.

Nothing to See Here: Demoting the Uncertainty Principle—This article is one of those fun philosophical arguments that I miss so much now that I am no longer in college.  No one in the military-industrial complex has a discussion about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.  Schrodinger’s cat on the other hand…

Re-Imagining Rubber: PLUSfoam’s Flip Flop Recycling Revolution—This product from PLUSfoam is pretty sweet.  Unlike a lot of recycling, where the product is actually downcycled, the foam in these flip flops can easily be turned into new flip flops.  The trick with the Foreman grill is sweet.

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