Friday Linkage 12/13/2013

Baby, it’s cold outside.  Two weeks into the most recent cold snap and it feels like it’s the middle of February.  Too bad this is still December.

The thing that blows my mind is the media’s coverage of snowstorms.  If there is 4 to 6 inches of snow in the Midwest, it might get a mention on the news in terms of cancelling flights.  For the most part we clear our driveways, go a little slower, and everyone accepts being a little bit later for everything that day.  If the same storm gets to New York City you would think that it was the start of the zombie apocalypse.  There will literally be live stringers showing the first snowflakes falling.

On to the links…

F.D.A. Restricts Antibiotics Use for Livestock—This story cannot be overlooked and it needs to be followed because I am certain that industry will try to weaken every part of this new policy.  The prophylactic use of antibiotics to make animals grow larger is ridiculous and a giant risk to public health.

329 U.S. Coal Plants are No Longer Cost Effective—As the cost of natural gas continues to fall, renewables become increasingly cost competitive, pollution controls warrant upgrades, and the public is no longer willing to bear the cost of externalities related to coal powered electrical generation expect this number to increase.  Now if we could only take more of the plants off line sooner.

Eastern States Press Midwest to Improve Air—Here’s a potential solution to the problem of coal fired electrical generation.  In general, a lot of the states that generate electricity this way do not realize all of the damaging effects because the pollution is carried eastward.  Apparently, the states on the eastern seaboard are pissed about that fact.

How We’re Destroying Our Kids’ Brains—If you wanted another reason to clean up pollution here it is.  Apparently, pollution may be damaging the brains of our children.  Man, we really suck balls as a species.

In South Africa, Renewables Vie With the Political Power of Coal—Coal is a big bad all over the world.  In a country like South Africa, blessed with abundant wind and sunshine, it must overcome the entrenched political might of king coal. Ugh!

Do Solar Thermal Hot Water Heaters Still Make Sense?—When I first started following the solar industry, solar thermal made the most sense in terms of payback versus photovoltaic because of the price differential.  Now that the price of solar PV panels has come down the benefits of being tied into the grid make a lot more sense.

How Marijuana Prohibition Drives Up Energy Costs And Warms The Planet—Add this to the list of things that an end to the prohibition on marijuana would solve.  It’s stunning to think about the resources devoted to covert indoor growing operations.

Why Farm to School Will Save Our Food System—Tying school food programs into more sustainable and local food systems is a major win because these programs buy so much food.  It’s a classic case of getting a large, single actor to move that makes a huge impact.

Supermarkets Selling Chicken that is Nearly One-Fifth Water—Dude, the chicken in those little foam trays is just nasty.  If it is not a den of microbes trying to kill you, up to twenty percent of it might be plain old water.  Now you know why so much liquid is in the pan when you brown those flaccid hunks of meat.

How to Grow Chickens without Buying Grain—If you do not want watery supermarket chicken, you might want to consider some backyard chickens.  Granted, it’s usually for egg production but those hens will get old sooner or later.

World’s Largest Palm Oil Company Commits To Zero Deforestation—I do not put a lot of stock on these kinds of promises, but I do believe that grassroots pressure to limit the impacts of palm oil cultivation is having an impact on practices.  A few years ago if you had asked someone about palm oil they would have looked at you with ignorance.  Now, quite a few people would know it is a bad actor ecologically speaking.

Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink—It’s tough to be in the business of selling big beer these days.  People’s tastes have evolved and craft brewers have moved to fill those niches.  Pretty soon only college kids motivated more by cost per ounce than anything else will the ones lining up for cases of Milwaukee’s Best.  Wait a second, aren’t they the only ones who drink that stuff now?

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