Friday Linkage 8/23/2013

Here in eastern Iowa we have gone from a very wet spring to a very dry summer.  Where everything was waterlogged a few months ago, it is now dry like hardpan.  The upside is that I do not have to mow very often because my grass has decided to stall out.

On to the links…

Meet The 25-Year-Old Prepared To Spend 10 Years In Jail To Stop Coal—If you remember Tim DeChristopher, then you need to know about Jonathan Moylan.  He is an Australian activist who has been fighting the expansion of coal mining for the past seven years.  Now he is facing a jail term because of a fake press release he concocted that adversely impacted the value of a company’s stock.  God forbid that the paper value of a company went down.  The horror.  The humanity.  How will we survive?

When Will Solar get Cheap Enough for Everyone?—Solar is a truly transformative energy technology.  Unlike almost every other source of power, solar can be deployed on a small scale and distributed way.  You cannot do that with natural gas, coal, hydropower, or even wind.  Once the price gets to a certain tipping point, the dominance of big power may enter into a death spiral.

Why Utilities Are Afraid Of Rooftop Solar—Here’s why, rooftop solar takes control of power generation away from the utilities.  No one who has power wants to give up power.

$77 Billion from the Sun: Solar Industry Facts—Check out this short video from Bloomberg full of facts about the solar industry.  The fact that global solar capacity has increased over 600% in the last five years is kind of mind bending.

Trash Into Gas, Efficiently? An Army Test May Tell—This is one of those ideas that always seems to be on the cusp of possible.  The crazy number in the article was that if California could turn its annual trash output into fuel using this process that all of its oil consumption demand would be met.  Huh?

Pop Science Guide to Corn—Corn is hugely important in the United States.  Spend any time driving in a rural area and you are sure to roll past mile upon mile of corn intended for industrial uses.  Check out this infographic to get an idea about modern corn:


Removing Abandoned Fencing to Help Wildlife—This is one of those things that you do not even really think about impacting wildlife.  There must be tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands or millions of miles of abandoned barbed wired fencing in the U.S.

Deadly Sea Lion Mystery Draws Biologists to Remote Island in Search of Clues—For a while, stories of famished sea lion pups were making the news rounds as images of rescued pups made for high click through traffic.  Now the science to find a reason why there was a crisis begins in a remote section of California’s coast.

Thriving in Cape Cod’s Waters, Gray Seals Draw Fans and Foes—Somehow, I think that decades of overfishing and ocean pollution have more to do with declining fish stocks than the reemergence of gray seals.  You can probably blame the increase in shark sightings near the coastline on gray seals, but look at yourself for the reason why it’s harder to catch a boatload of cod.

Google Street View Comes to Coral Reefs—A lot of people will never get the chance to dive or snorkel around a coral reef.  It’s a damn shame because encountering one of these amazing ecosystems is the first step in becoming a passionate defender of their existence.  Now Google is trying to ease the barriers to that experience by bringing Street View to the Great Barrier Reef.  Dig it.

Congressional Cemetery Goats: Did They Work?—It was good news when the Congressional Cemetery decided to utilize goats to control overgrown vegetation rather than herbicides and machines.  Check out how well the goats did their job.

Comparing the Quality of Crowdsourced Data Contributed by Expert and Non-Experts—I found this paper really interesting.  Non-academic citizen scientists are able to contribute in meaningful ways to our understanding of the world and it is becoming increasingly easier to do so as crowdsourced platforms proliferate.  Here is some evidence to support the continued proliferation and democratization of scientific data.

Five Story All Wood House Built with Zero Chemicals—I just love seeing building being made from wood without the use of chemicals like glues or sealants.  Wood is warm and inviting.


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