Tag Archives: aquaculture

Friday Linkage 8/25/2017

You can be sure that wind power is a big deal in your state when the image of a wind turbine is placed on the state’s license plate:

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On to the links…

What Exxon Mobil Didn’t Say About Climate Change—It appears that Exxon Mobil conducted a campaign of deliberate disinformation with regard to climate change.  This was an act that was counter to even their own internal scientists and experts.  If true, and the evidence appears to show just such veracity, it represents one of the most egregious acts of corporate malfeasance in the modern era.

How 139 Countries Could be Powered by 100 Percent Wind, Water, and Solar Energy by 2050—This is the blueprint for the future:

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Fines for Illegal Pollution Plummet under Trump—It’s not just a matter of changing laws, but also of enforcing existing laws.  Trump and his cronies are likely to just let things slide for their friends who like to pollute and sicken Americans.

Trump Thinks Clean Coal is When Workers Mine Coal and then Actually ‘Clean It’—There has never been a person occupying the big chair in the White House with such an absolute disregard for actual knowledge.  Trump seems to be going out of his way to act like a biggest doofus in Washington D.C., which is an accompolishment in a town shared by Louis Gohmert and Steve King.

Coal Plants Might Be Even More Toxic Than We Thought—As if you needed another reason to push for clean power.  When coal plants are literally producing a new chemical compound that is making people sick you have to wonder about the sanity of anyone who would fight to the death to keep burning coal.

In Solar Scuffle, Big Utilities Meet Their Match—Surprise, surprise…people want their solar power and they want it now.

This Is The Future Of Electricity Pricing—As we build out renewable energy we need to create incentives and systems to match that supply with relevant demand.

Global Solar Capacity Set to Surpass Nuclear for the First Time—We came for nuclear and we are coming for coal.  Solar power is the real deal.

India Added More Renewable Energy Than Thermal Power 4 Consecutive Quarters—Renewable energy has conquered the “India price” and it is showing.

Muscatine, Iowa Looks to Turn Food Waste into Fuel—What would it take to site these types of facilities in towns across the country?  Food and yard waste could be collected and turned into energy.  Seems like a winning deal to me.

Can We Feed The World With Farmed Fish?—Just because we might be able to do so does not mean that we should.  It’s one thing when we are raising native catfish in freshwater ponds in Alabama.  It’s quite another thing when we are raising non-native Atlantic salmon near Seattle.

Growing Concern: Organic Farms Need a New Generation to Keep Them Alive—Maybe millennials will give up living in Brooklyn, Austin, and Portland for a life in the country all “Green Acres” style.  Nah, farming is actual work.  So much better to be a YouTube celebrity or Instagram influencer.

Organic Farmers Sprouting up Across Iowa—Maybe the problem is more of a California thing as it seems like Iowa has people willing to take on the organic farming challenge.  Granted, the odds someone in Iowa knows an actual farmer are probably higher than in California so the career choice is not so alien.

California has a Climate Problem, and Its Name is Cars—It’s not just a problem in California, but for the nation as a whole.  If we cannot or will not address the impact of our transportation choices it may not matter what else we do.

Why We Should be More Materialistic—Materialism is different than consumerism, but I am guessing that the subtlety will be lost on most people.

Goodwill is ‘Overrun’ with Stuff Millennials and Gen Xers Refuse to Take from their Parents—I have cleaned out two houses and one condo for relatives who have passed away.  I do not know why these relatives were saving all of this stuff, but a lot of it just ended up getting tossed.  Some stuff got sold, some stuff got taken, some stuff got donated, but most of it went to the dump.

Rich Kids’ Grades are Rising Faster, and Intelligence Probably Isn’t the Reason Why—This pisses me off more than you would guess.  I have spent a lifetime—okay, 39 years—hearing about the meritocracy of higher education.  Guess what?  The game is rigged in favor of the rich.  Always has been.

We Conservatives Champion Local Power. So We Must Respect the Rights of “Blue” Cities.—Right wingers love local control and states’ rights as long as it is in their interest.  Just like they are all about religious freedom as long as it is Christianity.

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Friday Linkage 1/13/2017

Did that circus sideshow…er, press conference actually occur on Wednesday morning?  Is this the beginning of the end for the American experiment?  Or is it the beginning of the end of the Republican Party?  We can always hope.

Furthermore, can someone please tell right wingers to stop making comparisons to Nazi Germany.  One, it is factually wrong on so many levels and right wingers have been getting it wrong for the better part of a decade.  Just because the official party name included the word “socialist” does not mean that the Nazis had anything to do with socialism.  Two, it cheapens the horrors committed by the Nazis and their allies.

On to the links…

All the Risks of Climate Change, in a Single Graph—Try and think some happy thoughts:

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States, Power Companies Lead in Cutting Carbon; Election Not Slowing Expected 2017 Progress—The Federal government may be screwed for the next several years, but paralysis at the national level will not stop progress by states and utilities.

US Energy Analysis Sees Renewable Electricity Passing Coal by 2030—Granted, natural gas is still going to be getting burnt.  A lot, but there is hope that we can kill the coal beast.

Arab Gulf Firms Set their Sights on the Region’s Growing Appetite for Solar Power—Lots of sunshine…check.  Available land…check.  Urban populations…check.  When oil rich gulf states are realizing the potential you know the jig is up.

Costa Rica got 98 Percent of its Electricity from Renewables in 2016—Costa Rica uses a lot less electricity per capita than other nations, but 98% is a totally rad figure.  Yes, I used the adjective rad.

China Is Pumping Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Into New Renewable Energy Projects by 2020—While the U.S. led by an orangutan dithers on what to do about the next generation of energy, China is blowing everyone’s doors off by investing billions on top of billions into renewables.

Clean-Energy Jobs Boosting Colorado’s Economy—The key element of this report is not the jobs related to energy production like wind turbine mechanics or solar installers, but the jobs around things like energy efficiency.  There is hay to make in driving efficiency into all corners of our economy.

Arizona still a Force in Solar Power, despite Other States’ Gains—The economics must be good because Arizona politicians have definitely tried to kill solar power on a number of occasions.

Infinite Solar Power Technology Could Completely Change Our Future—Headlines like this remind me of old newsreels that proclaimed nuclear power was going to be so cheap that it would be “too inexpensive to meter.”  How did that work out?

The Bizarre and Inspiring Story of Iowa’s Fish Farmers—What if our fish came from aquaculture in the middle of the U.S. instead of dirty farms in South America or Southeast Asia?  What is that fish was raised on plant based meal instead of ground of fish meal?  What if…

Nine Easy Things You Can Do To Save the Ocean—Some of this is obvious, but repetition is not always a bad thing when you are trying to change people’s behavior.

You Must Read—American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood

We are what we eat, we are told. But we Americans do not eat what we truly are. We are an ocean nation, a country that controls more sea than land and more fishing grounds than any other nation on earth. And yet we have systematically reengineered our landscapes , our economy, and our society away from the sea’s influence. As of 2012, Americans ate a little less than 15 pounds of seafood per person per year, well below half the global per capita average and miniscule in comparison with the 202 pounds of red meat and poultry we consume. [Page 233]

Paul Greenberg is familiar to readers of this blog because I was a big fan of his prior book Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food. The author is back with a take on seafood that is closer to home, which is appropriate given the rapid rise in local food movements across the United States.

51dbCQm3YhLAmerican Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood is about the relative dearth of seafood eaten by American diners that is sourced from American waters. Through the lens of three types of seafood—oysters, shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, and Alaskan salmon—Greenberg illustrates the odd market forces at work with respect to American sourced seafood.

Nothing illustrates his point better than the juxtaposition of Alaskan salmon and imported tilapia:

It was then and there that it hit me—the bizarre devil’s bargain that Americans have entered into with their seafood supply. Americans now harvest our best , most nutritious fish in our best-managed Alaskan fisheries and send those fish over to Asia. In exchange, we are importing fish farmed in Asia, with little of the brain-building compounds fish eaters are seeking when they eat fish. [Page 190]

Yes, we basically trade Alaskan salmon for fish that is barely fish. Tilapia is fish with training wheels. It is fish for people who find the flavor of cod, haddock, or Pollock not quite bland enough. My father, who slurped oysters with the best of them, referred to it as “Chinese junk fish” because it offered none of the benefits of fish while serving up a host of economic and environmental concerns.

We, as a whole, do not really consider the bounty of the sea. Cattle and the steaks that are cut from their carcasses are the apex foodstuff that comes from American land followed closely by the legions of swine and chickens processed into McRibs and nuggets of various odd shapes:

We need to understand that the marshes of Louisiana are not just an idyll to observe egrets and alligators; they are a food system, one that provides a large portion of the catch in the continental United States. If we choose to , we can support the environment that is home to shrimp, redfish, bluefish, blue crabs, oysters, flounder, sea trout, and others. Yes, there is a small risk of contamination from eating wild seafood from the Gulf. But that risk, when compared to all the other food risks we take as a nation, is infinitesimal. [Page 155]

It’s about consumer behavior and realizing the bounty that is present on our shores. If we could just get out of the whole bland white shrimp, slightly pink salmon, and piles of tilapia complex their could be a huge outpouring of economic support for American seafood. The challenge lies in getting people to accept something that is outside of their comfort zone. Ironically, this has been done already with more familiar land based foods. A few years ago odd cuts of beef like flank or skirt were sold for a fraction of the price of more mainstream cuts, but now those flavorful cuts command a premium. Heritage breeds of pork and poultry populate our palates in increasing numbers every year. Why can’t we do the same with food that swims?

But the future of the American catch depends not only on American governance , but also on the behavior of American consumers. There is no more intimate relationship we can have with our environment than to eat from it. [Page 16]

Take a weekend, read Greenberg’s American Catch, and think about the next type of seafood that you order at a restaurant or buy at the supermarket. Make it Alaskan salmon or Gulf shrimp or an odd filet that the fishmonger at the co-op is all excited about that week. America depends on it.

Friday Linkage 9/4/2015

Damn, I looked up and it was September. Without cable and no more HDTV football season will not be the same. Listening to games on the radio, however, gives me the opportunity to spend some time in the shop working on a handful of projects that have languished most of the summer.

On to the links…

MidAmerican Energy Announces New Wind Farms—By the end of 2015, MidAmerican will get 42 percent of its power from wind versus 36 percent from coal. That is an impressive renewable energy footprint that is only going to get bigger with the construction of these recently announced projects.

Simple Solar From Cedar Falls Utilities — Crowdfunded Community Solar—Iowa has a long way to go with regard to climate change mitigation, but there are a lot of good things happening on the ground. Cedar Falls, famous for its public internet company, is also getting into the community solar game.

Xcel Energy Taking Heat for Slow Rollout of Solar Garden Program in Minnesota—Meanwhile, Xcel in Minnesota seems to be doing everything to kill the community solar project with a thousand cuts.

Solar Power on at Large and Small Scale—Ahhh, infographics. How I have missed thee:

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Solar Energy Means Jobs, Savings, and a Low-Cost Future—Solar is good. ‘Nuff said:

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Hawaii’s Going 100 Percent Renewable, And It’s Not Using Natural Gas As A ‘Transition’—Hawaii is going to try and make the leap to all renewables without taking the baby step of using natural gas as a bridge fuel. I wish them the best of luck because the islands can be a laboratory for the rest of the United States.

Florida Public Service Commission OKs FPL’s Plan To Purchase & Shut Down 250 MW Coal Plant, As Means Of Getting Out Of Costly PPA—This is how you know coal is troubled. It is easier for a power company to buy and shut down a plant as a means of avoiding contractual power purchase obligations than to go ahead with the contract.

Digging into Big Coal’s Climate Connections—The great thing about bankruptcy of a public company in the U.S. is the enormous amount of information that becomes public as a result. Alpha Natural Resource’s bankruptcy is pulling the curtain back on climate shenanigans.

Unicornomics—If you want to understand right wing thinking in the 21st century you need to understand that it is based on the belief that reality and facts are secondary to dogma. I want a unicorn farm, but that does not mean I am going to get a unicorn farm.

Farmed Fish could bring Us Cheaper Food, but is it Ethical?—Aquaculture is the future of the fish on our tables because we have trashed and overfished the oceans. There are a lot of problems with aquaculture, but we can try to work through those for a better system.

9 of 10 Seabirds Have Glow Sticks, Lighters, Toy Cars, Other Plastics in their Guts—We have trashed the planet, the animals are paying the price, and we have to figure out a way to start cleaning up after ourselves.

Climate Change Means One World’s Death and Another’s Birth—The world is going to change. It might change at a pace that is understandable on the human being’s lifespan. This is unprecedented.

The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South—This story kind of bummed me out because kudzu was the plant from a horror movie in my youth. It was the cautionary tale that every biology teacher used to illustrate the folly of trying to mess with nature.

Friday Linkage 8/1/2014

August. Damn. Where did June and July go? It sure does not feel like the “dog days” with night time temperatures in the 50s, which I am digging because I have not had my AC on in weeks. It also makes me very anxious for football to start. Yes, I am that breed of American male that really looks forward to the football season. ‘Murrica!

On to the links…

Brewers Association Reports 18% Production Growth for U.S. Craft Brewers in First Half—Let’s start with some good news. Craft beer is kicking ass:

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10 Reasons to be Hopeful that We will Overcome Climate Change—Maybe, just maybe, there is hope that we can figure out a way to combat the coming climate change in a way that is not akin to sticking out head in the sand. I am cautiously hopeful as I see the deployment of renewables, the retirement of coal power plants, and the increasing efficiency of automobiles. It might not be enough, but it is a start.

Delaying Climate Policies Could Cost U.S. Economy $150 Billion Each Year, Report Shows—The big bugaboo with climate skeptics and outright deniers is that the cost of doing something is super high. What is the cost of doing nothing and seeing what happens? Really freakin’ high.

How to Power California with Wind, Water and Sun—People act like it is a fantasy that we could deploy renewable energy in such a way that could power entire states or countries. Blueprints exist people!

Danish Wind Power to Be Half The Price of Coal and Natural Gas by 2016—Go Denmark!

As U.S. gets Greener, it is Sending Dirty Coal Abroad—So, we now are exporting our dirty fuel instead of keeping it in the ground. Ugh.

Midwestern Waters Are Full of Bee-Killing Pesticides—We have laced the environment with a toxic legacy that will take a long time to figure out. Why can’t we just stop using these chemicals that are obviously so dangerous?

Feds Consider Ban On Bluefin Tuna Fishing As Population Dips 95 Percent—Our voracious appetite for this amazing fish is going to cause the species to go extinct. Stop eating Bluefin tuna people!

Farming The Bluefin Tuna, Tiger Of The Ocean, Is Not Without A Price—I applaud these efforts because it might mean the survival of the species in the wild, but we need to question the wisdom of raising such a voracious predator for wide consumption. Maybe we are the problem.

Be a Patriot, Eat Less Beef—Cows are horrible for the environment, especially when raised in feedlot conditions, and too much red meat is bad for our health. We just need to eat less meat, beef or otherwise.

Produce from School Gardens Increasingly Ends up in School Cafeterias—It’s so cool to see programs where kids grow vegetables for consumption on premise. Too many people do not understand how food is grown or raised. Ask them where a tomato comes from and you will get told, “the grocery store.”

Heard on the Street: E-I-E-I-O—If New York City can adapt and adopt backyard agriculture, well any place can probably do it. Although I am thinking that New Yorkers will somehow find a way to claim that they came up with the idea of urban agriculture first, that they do it better than anyone else, and that you are stupid for thinking otherwise.

Your Giant American Refrigerator Is Making You Fat And Poor—Refrigerators in the U.S. are huge and a lot of people have more than one and a deep freeze in the garage. What the hell are we doing with so much space? Take a minute and really look at all the old food in your refrigerator. It’s probably disgusting.

You Must Read—Just Food

No matter how “primitive” or “pure” the operation may seem, every farm on some level is a factory. (Page 67)

Food is critically important to the survival of human beings. That is the one salient point that everyone with an interest in food, that is to say every living person, can agree upon.  Once we get past that point, opinions diverge into a million streams of thought and arguments ensue.

9780316033756The usual breakdown occurs across common fault lines: organic versus conventional, GMO versus non-GMO, vegan versus meat eater, etc.  There seems to be little middle ground in between these fractious camps, but James E. McWilliams tries to tread such a space in Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We can Truly Eat Responsibly.

McWilliams, an associate professor of history at Texas State University-San Marcos, has a problem with food miles:

Food miles are readily popular primarily because they’re easy to grasp and calculate. (Page 46)

I agree with the author that judging the eco-grade of a food based solely on the miles it travels to store or plate is erroneous because it fails to account for so many variables.  Transportation costs, in terms of energy and money, are quite small in proportion to the other costs associated with our food’s production.

Where I disagree with the author is that he fails to address some of the larger aspects of the local food movement.  It’s not just about bringing production of food back to a local foodshed.  It’s about rediscovering local traditions and methods that are lost in a homogenized world.  It’s about accountability in a food system where a single company may be responsible for half or more of a single commodity.

His belief in genetically modified organisms (GMO) I am hesitant to endorse.  It’s not that I do not believe in the ability of GMOs to address problems that arise in agriculture.  It is rather that the efficacy and safety of GMOs does not have to be document before the organisms are allowed out into the wild.  This is an indictment of the regulatory regime surrounding GMOs rather than the product themselves but it is an indictment nonetheless.

There is one place where I agree with McWilliams completely: our love affair with land based protein or meat is the single most destructive dietary decision that we make on a regular basis.  If you chose to do only one thing to benefit the planet, it would be to forgo any meat that comes from a land animal.  Given the state of our oceans and the destructive fishing practices employed it might also be advisable to give up all types of meat.

Meat is inefficient and exacerbates the worst of our agricultural practices.  In the U.S. over half of our two primary commodity crops—corn and soybeans—are turned into feed for animals.  McWilliams asserts:

If once could wave a magic wand and radically reduce meat consumption, all discussion of fertilizer abuse would come to an abrupt halt.  (Page 77)

The key aspect to McWilliams’ book and something that is absent in the majority of writing about food where it seems diametrically opposing views are the only acceptable means of discourse is that a middle way might be possible.  In his own words:

I believe in the notion that a rational and achievable middle ground exists between th extremes of abundance and deficiency. (Page 185)

As the world faces the challenge of feeding ever more people on the same amount of land or less, as arable land becomes degraded, utilizing every option at our disposal may become the default.  What McWilliams proposes in Just Food is that we can produce more food and do away with the more damaging aspects of modern agriculture, but that the current focus on local and organic is a fool’s errand.  It’s an interesting proposal that is worth your time to examine.

Friday Linkage 10/29/2012

Two solid days of rain this past weekend and two more this week have really changed the drought landscape in eastern Iowa.  More than twelve percent of the state was classified out of the “severe” drought category this week.  That is a good thing looking forward to the 2013 growing season because a lot can depend on the soil moisture before winter sets in.  Here is to hoping that the forecast that calls for rain continues to be accurate.  Even if it makes for a miserable night game against Penn State on Saturday.

On to the links…

Ten Charts that Show the Planet is Warming—As if anyone needed any more proof about human driven climate change…oh wait, is that the crickets I hear chirping when looking for major political parties’ stance on climate change?  Yep.

Larry Ellison Plans to Turn Lanai into an Eco-Lab—I have always wondered why Hawaii is not even further down the road to energy independence through renewables.  The state has an isolated electrical grid.  The electricity rates are some of the highest in the nation.  Most of the power is generated from imported oil that is an accident waiting to happen.  Maybe good ol’ Larry Ellison can make some things happen.

The Great White Whale of American Cheesemaking—This is an interesting profile on someone trying to recreate Italy’s buffalo mozzarella in the United States.  No easy task.  The entire set of articles in the food centric article of the New York Times Magazine are pretty excellent.  Take a moment to read them all.

Eat the Goats to Save the Goats—It may seem counter intuitive, but when goats are raised as a dairy animal approximately 50% of the goats born in an operation will be of no use, i.e. the newborn goats are male.  With little economic value in the U.S. because there is a limited market for goat meat these animals are frequently euthanized.  What a waste!

Is the Search for the Perfect Aquaculture Fish Over?—I remember reading about barramundi in Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.  Oh snap, I said people should also read his book.  The moral of the story is that instead of trying to engineer or breed a fish for aquaculture systems, maybe we should find a fish that does well in aquaculture.

Seed Diversity In Pictures—Farmers breed resilience into the system because they understand at the lowest level what resilience means for their own survival.  The more varieties of plants that we lose to neglect because Monsanto and their ilk are successful in destroying these systems the greater the chance for an epic collapse of a particular crop.

Inside Google’s Kitchen—All you have to do is move the M&M’s into the dark corners of your cafeteria and maybe your employees will eat better.  Or they will turn into characters in a zombie survival movie hunting down the last Twinkie on Earth.  Just saying.

By the Numbers, the Facts about Gasoline Prices—Mitt Romney is a serial liar.  Think Progress did a great piece running down the numbers about gasoline prices, oil production, and Mittens’ attempts to obscure the truth.  Or was he trying to disguise the fact that he has no plan?  I get so confused.

The Failure of “Drill, Baby Drill” as a Policy—Oil is a global commodity thus prices are the result of global supply and demand. I know this is hard for the sound bite portion of the Republican Party to understand, but merely increasing U.S. production will not necessarily provide price relief although it will enrich their donors.  What is the real game here?

Hybrid and EV Sales are Up—Each year brings more news about the success of hybrid and electric vehicles in the market place.  As these vehicles become more spread out across vehicle types and manufacturers the growth is only sure to continue.

Will Algae Ever Power Cars—Along with hydrogen, fuel from algae seems like the Holy Grail of transportation fuels in the United States and, perhaps, the rest of the world.  But will we ever actually fill our gas tanks with bio-diesel made from algae?  Good question.