Friday Linkage 2/10/2017

The abnormal has become the normal.  The surrogates of the president lie—massacres in Bowling Green, terrorist attacks in Atlanta, who knows that else—with a zeal that makes me wonder if it is overtly encouraged by the current president.  Alternative facts—known as lies to anyone with the sense of a first grader—have become the new currency of cable news.  Have we actually entered the Twilight Zone?

Wake me up in a few years.

On to the links…

U.S. Wind, Solar Power Tout Rural Jobs as Trump Pushes Coal—Trump has a narrative in his simple mind that coal is power and solar is for hippies.  Too bad the reality on the ground—like so many things—does not actually match this narrative.  Maybe it is an alternative fact?

Americans are Now Twice as Likely to Work in Solar as in Coal—If you were going to ask for a group’s support which would you pick: the group with more jobs that is growing or the group with fewer jobs that is declining?  Which one do you think the sitting president chose?

6 Reasons the Clean Energy Revolution Doesn’t need Trump’s Blessing—Trump may think that his perch atop his imperial presidency makes him capable of doing whatever he wants and making it happen via proclamation, but the reality on the ground is very different.

Reasons to be Cheerful: A Full Switch to Low-Carbon Energy is in Sight—I like the positive spin on this.

Cheaper Renewables to Halt Coal and Oil Demand Growth from 2020—This is what the death spiral looks like.  As the technology doing the replacing gets cheaper and easier to deploy there is no way that the displaced technology can compete on either cost or performance, so it’s displacement becomes self-fulfilling.  Once the coal mines shutter who is going to invest in coal?

Electric Vehicles Will Be A Major Oil Price Driver In The Future—The question is how much a disruption in oil demand will be needed to make a major difference in price.  Recently, we have seen swing production of less than 10% cause major price disruptions.

We’re Probably Underestimating How Quickly Electric Vehicles will Disrupt the Oil Market—Disruption can happen fast.  I cannot wait to see what the EV market looks like when both Chevrolet and Tesla are selling EVs at volume for an attainable price.

Californians are Paying Billions for Power they Don’t Need—This story kind of blew my mind.

Rachel Carson, ‘Mass Murderer’? A Right-Wing Myth about ‘Silent Spring’ is Poised for a Revival—With people like Scott Pruitt installed at the EPA and right wing whack jobs in Congress I am expecting this old trope to get a lot of play on the cable news cycle.

L.A.’s Mayor Wants to Lower the City’s Temperature, and these Scientists are Figuring out How to do it—The L.A. Times came strong with some stories this week that I think are of relevance to our understanding of the world.

Invading Pythons and the Weird, Uncertain Future of the Florida Everglades—Florida is a petri dish for everything we have screwed up over the past few decades.  Now it is also a living laboratory for what happens when invasive species change the dynamic.  After reading The New Wild [https://www.amazon.com/New-Wild-Invasive-Species-Salvation/dp/0807039551] I am left to wonder if anything can be considered invasive in Florida anymore given how dramatically that landscape has been changed over the last few centuries.

Stop Buying Water for Your Shower

We all know that bottled water is bad.  It’s usually just tap water put into plastic bottles and dropped off in pallets at our local grocery store.  You end up paying dollars for something that costs cents when it comes out of the faucet in your home.  Add in the plastic waste and you get a bad environmental actor that no one wants to defend.

But what about your shampoo and shower gel?  Look at the first ingredient.  I am betting dollars to donuts that the first ingredient listed is water.  How much water?  Seventy to eighty percent depending upon the formulation. [1]  Shower gel is in the same boat and considering its rise to prominence over bar soap I am guessing that most people have multiple bottles of what is mostly water in their showers. [2]

Every one of those bottles of shampoo and shower gel are just a step up from buying bottled water.  I have always been a bar soap guy finding the entire loofah and shower gel combo unsatisfying on a number of fronts.  Foremost among those is what wondering what is lurking in the folds of that loofah that do not get clean.  Sorry for that image, folks.

Bar soap is the easy answer to shower gel.  Hell, it’s also one of the easiest things to get from a local provider because almost every farmers market I have been to over the past decade has a soapmaker or two.  Or you could get the soap that I like the bestPacha’s Dirty Hippie.

The shampoo angle seems a little harder until you do a little digging.  I would not have thought twice about it until a friend re-gifted me a Lush Seanik shampoo bar.   All I could remember thinking was why I did not come across this concept sooner.  Now, I do not care to afford Lush’s products although I do love their ingredients and social bent.  Once the Seanik bar ran out I bought some J.R. Liggett Old Fashioned shampoo bars and I am working through them currently.

Bar soap and shampoo bars come with none of the packaged plastic waste that comes from shower gel and liquid shampoo.  If we really want to make a change in the way we consume things we really need to examine the nature of the products that we buy and the packaging that those products come in.  A little paper wrapper seems like a much better solution than an empty plastic bottle.

 

  1. http://chemistscorner.com/how-shampoos-are-made/
  2. http://fortune.com/2016/08/25/bar-soap-declining-sales/

Friday Linkage 2/3/2017

Well, this week happened.  It was a week in which I found myself agreeing with Dick freaking Cheney.  The man better known as W’s Darth Vader actually came out against Trump’s horrible ban on refugees as “against everything we stand for and believe in.

Never mind the failure to actually limit immigration or entry into the United States from countries that have exported terror to the United States—yes, I am wondering why Saudi Arabia was left off the list and it could not have anything to do with Trump’s sons business dealings.  You remember that Eric and Don Jr. are running the empire now, right?

On to the links…

This Map Might Make You Think Twice About Trump’s Immigration Ban—I wonder why Donald Trump and Steve Bannon did not include Saudi Arabia—home to almost all of the 9/11 terrorists—on their list of countries?  Oh right, conflicts of interest:

sub-buzz-6732-1485814904-2.jpg

Republican Bill to Privatize Public Lands is Yanked after Outcry—Your voices matter.  When a snake oil salesman like Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is forced to back down amid public outcry, you know something is working in this messed up world.  Keep up the heat and make sure that every member of Congress knows that we are watching.

‘It’s A Big One’: Iowa Pipeline Leaks—The number of gallons of diesel fuel leaked is being debated.  Of course the oil company says it is fewer than reported, but who really believes them?  Remember this every time someone says that oil pipelines are so safe.

US Coal Industry Will Continue Historic Decline Through 2017—In spite of Donald Trump’s rhetoric coal will continue to fall out of favor in the U.S.  It is called a death spiral for a reason.

The Great Energy Disruption—When you go back and look at these projections, as the author points out, many of the assumptions driving the models are wrong…to the better.  Renewable energy generation has gotten cheaper, faster.  Energy storage has gotten cheaper, faster.  The beat goes on.

Who Installs More Solar Power? Republicans and Democrats are Pretty Much Tied.—Must not be any of the Republicans elected to Congress.  Those guys hate solar.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt May Be The Start Of The Everyday Electric Revolution—This is why the Chevy Bolt may be the true winner of the electric vehicle war to come…it’s kind of boring, in an everyday get my stuff done kind of way.

The Next EV Revolution: Think Trucks and Buses—If you are looking to get some serious savings in terms of oil consumed in the transportation sector look to heavy duty commercial vehicles.  This quote from the article encapsulates the opportunity perfectly: While medium and heavy trucks account for only 4% of America’s 250+ million vehicles, they represent 26% of American fuel use and 29% of vehicle CO2 emissions.

Chart of the Month: Driven by Tesla, Battery Prices Cut in Half since 2014—Think about that for a moment—battery costs have been cut in half in approximately three years.  This is before the Gigafactory and mainstream EVs really hit the market bringing some true economies of scale to bear:

1 IWOQkF5YxbKykAFypJEmFA.jpeg

Going Local: The Solution-Multiplier—In the age of Trump local matter more than ever.

Diageo Opening Guinness Brewery in US—With all the great craft beer in America, do we really need Guinness to open up a destination brewery?  I have had their rye pale ale and it does not belong on the shelf with a hundred other great American beers.

Nation’s Bacon Reserves hit 50-year Low as Prices Rise—In case your week was not crappy enough there may not be enough sweet, savory, delicious bacon to salve our wounded souls in the era of Trump.  WTF?

What is Rod Blum Hiding?

A while back I called Rod Blum a coward.  I stand by that assertion because as the current presidential administration has shown itself to be nothing more than a totalitarian farce masquerading as a modern democracy he has remained silent.

How quiet?  Just try and find something that Rod Blum has said about anything that has transpired over the past couple of weeks.

His Twitter account is basically a bunch of motherhood, apple pie, and America content for the right wing set.  About the only topical tweet was a comment on the March for Life.

His Facebook page is more of the same minus a recent comment about the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to take the vacant seat on the Supreme Court.

I think it is high time that we up the pressure on the Congressman from the 1st District of Iowa to start answering where he stands on positions taken by the leader of his party—Donald Trump—and actions taken by his party.

I will call his office in Washington D.C. and Cedar Rapids, IA every day until I receive adequate answers to the following questions:

  1. When will Rod Blum hold a public forum in Cedar Rapids—the largest city in his district—to answer constituent questions?
  2. Does Rod Blum support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act?
  3. Does Rod Blum support proposed changes to Medicare?
  4. Does Rod Blum support proposed changes to Social Security?
  5. Does Rod Blum support the recent restrictions on entry into the United States put in place by executive order?
  6. Does Rod Blum support a congressional investigation into the Russian hacking that may have influenced the U.S. electoral process?
  7. Does Rod Blum support a congressional investigation into Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interest?

I will provide updates, including the most recent comments from staff and additional questions, on the following linked page.

If you want to make calls yourself use this handy website to assist you.  Let me know where your representative stands on these issues.

Friday Linkage 1/27/2017

Just think, we are a little more than three years away from the 2020 Iowa caucuses.  Let that thought warm your soul as you watch Donald Trump soil the office of the President of the United States and his minions essentially crap on America.

On to the links…

Inside Trump’s Holdings: A Web of Potential Conflicts—The man is the living personification of potential political scandal.  Remember when Hilary Clinton’s problem was that there was perceived “pay to play” with regard to the Clinton Global Initiative, which was debunked in short order?  Where is the outrage at a sitting president who refuses to do anything substantive about his conflicts of interest?

President Trump Will Love This New Wind Energy Farm: It’s Huuuuuuger Than Anything In China—I prefer to think of this wind farm as yuge.  I wonder if renewables can get backing from Trump because they are amazing, so amazing.  The best in the world, really.  Big league.

What Would The Economic Impact Be If Everyone Installed Solar Panels?—Boy, wouldn’t this be a problem to have?

Turning Point: Solar Cheaper than Wind—This is for unsubsidized large scale or utility scale solar.  Amazing that power from the sun is now cheaper than wind and possibly cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Scotland Eyes 50% Renewable Energy by 2030 in Shift Away from North Sea Oil—Scotland is basically forced to do this because the North Sea oil fields are running dry.

Japan’s Solar Boom Is Accelerating—It’s like solar is reaching a tipping point where there is a positive feedback loop.  More installed solar leads to even more installed solar and so on and so forth.

Big Changes Brewing in the Wasatch—Even in deep red Utah, which has given us that rat fink Jason Chaffetz, a compromise has been reached with regard to development that most people in the area seem to be agreeable with.  Is this the new future?

Buffalo to be First Major American City to Eliminate Parking Requirements—Do you want to know why every place in America has huge parking lots that only seem full a couple days a year?  Zoning requirements.  Changing these requirements could mean building more dense developments and having actually walkable communities.

Hot Red Chili Peppers may be the Secret to Longer Life—If this is the case I should be doing well.

Rod Blum is a Coward

Rod Blum is scared of his constituents.  According to his website he has zero events scheduled.  None.  The last event that is listed occurred in October. Not one town hall.  Not one silly tele-town hall or Facebook event or “ask me anything” digital event.  Nothing.

Recently, constituents in Cedar Rapids—which is the largest city in Rod Blum’s district—protested in front of his office downtown.  Naturally, Rod Blum was not available for comment or anything really.  Why?  He is a coward.

What do you get when you contact Rod Blum’s office and ask when his next face-to-face with constituents will occur?  Nothing.

What do you get when you contact Rod Blum’s office and ask if he supports a Congressional investigation into Russian interference in our nation’s electoral process?  Nothing.

What do you get when you contact Rod Blum’s office and ask if he supports a Congressional investigation into the current President’s potential conflicts of interest?  Nothing.

What do you get when you contact Rod Blum’s office and ask if he supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act?  Oh, he supports that one but his office is fuzzy on the details of what to do about the millions of people who will lose health insurance coverage.  I am sure it is going to be “beautiful coverage” like our new orange overlord has said.  Too bad he is on the wrong side of his constituents on that issue.

You get the idea.  Rod Blum is afraid to actually tell his constituents where he stands on issues because he is afraid that people will realize that he does not represent their interests.  He represents Rod Blum getting elected to future terms as a member of Congress.

Friday Linkage 1/20/2017

It will be official in a little bit, but Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States.  If the recent confirmation hearings are any indication we are in for many years of incompetent officials, corrupt hangers on, and a Republican led Congress that cares more about scoring long sought after political points rather than actually helping people.

Get used to it because according to experts the spate of gerrymandering in 2010 will continue in 2020.  To actually flip control of Congress to Democrats would take an estimated Presidential election vote share of approximately 60%.  The best that we can hope for is a prevention of the most extreme Republican agenda via the filibuster and that the Trump administration is so horrible that people actually wake up.  I am not holding my breath.

On to the links…

Iowa to See Fewer ‘Nice’ Days—Freaking climate change.  Yuck it up all you want about global warming making winter milder—which sucks for people who actually like winter—but a world where Iowa is more humid in the summer is the definition of hell.

People Still Don’t Know Obamacare is Just a Nickname for the ACA—Jimmy Kimmel may be doing it on late night television, but there are a lot of voters looking around wondering when Trump is going to repeal Obamacare and what that means for their state exchange or Medicare expansion. Guess what morons?  It’s going to suck.

Lessons for Navigating the Trump Economy — Drawn from the Developing World—Get ready for corruption on a yuge scale.  Imagine if any of Hilary Clinton’s potential cabinet secretaries had been accused of making stock purchases and writing favorable legislation?  Republicans would be livid. Now that it is their guy all we hear are crickets.  What a joke.

Trump’s Tax Trumpery—Get ready for the tax cut idol to make its appearance and for Republicans to prostrate themselves before its purity.  However, as this article lays out, tax cuts do not produce widespread economic growth because the benefits are concentrated on a few individuals.  You know, like the 8 people who have assets worth as much as half of the world’s population.

China Halts Over 100 Coal Power Projects—China is trying to kick its dirty coal habit.  It will be hard.  It will probably be expensive.  It might just be the last hope we have for the climate.

The Year Coal Collapsed: 2016 was a Turning Point for Britain’s Electricity—Few countries are as tied historically to the industrial revolution and the concurrent rise of coal power as the United Kingdom.  That same United Kingdom now gets less than 10% of its electricity from coal.  It can be done.

World Needs to Invest $25 trillion in New Oil Capacity over Next 25 years—That number is crazy.  Why not invest $1 trillion per year in renewables?  Oh right, this is coming from the guy running Saudi Arabia’s state owned oil company.

The Sleeping Giant Stirs: Russia Revs Up Renewable Tech—I suppose with the incoming administration that Russia is our new bae.  At least the news is not all bad in Putin-land.

When Will the Chevrolet Bolt Glide Into Your State? Find Out Here—Do you want a Chevy Bolt?  Get ready to wait unless you live in a state that did not vote for Donald Trump:

Chevrolet-Bolt-2017-distribution-plan-610x373.jpg

Go Ahead, Wander Your Way—I spend a lot of time outdoors and there is a lot of judgment by people enjoying the outdoors.  Does it really matter why you are getting outside if you are still getting outside? I say that it does not.

The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science—I wonder if true eccentrics are gone from our lives forever in a world where everything is documented on Facebook or Instagram.  Long live the freaks.