Tag Archives: Australia

Friday Linkage 11/8/2019

Did Trump suffer the greatest defeat of all time in Kentucky?  Not so much. He was in that state to rally for a horrible candidate who ended up losing by a razor thin margin.  However, Trump is a loser nonetheless. And a clown.

On to the links…

It’s Official: Trump Just Started the Process to Formally Pull Out of the Paris Climate Accords—This is where we are now.  In one year we have the best chance and maybe our only chance to stop this madness.

EPA to Ease Restrictions on How Coal Plants Store Toxic Waste—This is what you get with the Trump administration.  Coal companies want to pollute without regard for anything.  Coal companies get what they want because they are sucking up to Trump and will be with him until the end.

Why Restoring Nature is so Important to Limiting Climate Change—Restoration is the concept we need to be fighting for right now.  If we can restore forests, wetlands, bayous, grasslands, and what not we have a chance.

How To Reach U.S. Net Zero Emissions By 2050: Decarbonizing Industry—Transportation gets all of the attention because cars are part of our national psyche, but industry is a big player in terms of emissions.  Just reducing emissions by concrete and steel producers would do a lot to put us on the path of net zero emissions.

How America Can Reach Net Zero Emissions By 2050: Decarbonizing Buildings—There is a lot of progress that can be made by figuring out how our buildings are using energy and fossil fuels.

Race Heats Up For Title Of Cheapest Solar Energy In The World—This is a race to the bottom that you want to participate in as much as possible.  How is coal and, perhaps, natural gas going to compete with solar at $0.0164 or lower per kWh?

Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas—Peaker plants are going to be replaced by big batteries.  Like replacing coal, these batteries are going to replace the most inefficient and polluting natural gas electricity sources.  Overbuilding renewables and building out a level of storage is how we beat the “duck curve.”

Giant Water Battery Cuts University’s Energy Costs by $100 Million Over Next 25 Years—This is so low tech and cool at the same time.  Why can’t this type of solution be deployed in places like California and Arizona?  Oh wait, it could.

New Lithium Ion Battery Design Could Allow Electric Vehicles to Be Charged in Ten Minutes—This is how EVs get better without a major breakthrough in battery technology.  Improve the charging, increase the efficiency of the components, etc.

Can ‘Nests’ and Eco Bikes Reduce the Environmental Impact of Parcel Delivery in Cities?

—Bikes are amazing and if we are going to insist on buying everything from Amazon at the very least the delivery can be eco-friendly.

Sydney Hints At Electrification Of 8,000 Buses—We are never going to build out rail networks in our cities that are built for automobiles using surface streets.  However, as density increases we can utilize electric buses to utilize the existing infrastructure in a better way.

Backcountry.com Breaks its Silence Amid Trademark Lawsuit Controversy to Apologize and Aay “We made a mistake”–The first rule of being an outdoor manufacturer or retailer should be “Don’t be a dick.”  No one was confusing someone talking about backcountry skiing with an internet retailer.

Friday Linkage 6/14/2019

What the actual shit?  This is the Secretary of State of the United States of America telling the public that the solution to climate change is to move to different places. Oh, and the travel time for goods shipped between continents might be slashed because of the lack of sea ice.  I am sure everyone is going to be comforted knowing that their 65” television from China is getting here a little faster as they roast in a climate hellscape.

On to the links…

Report: Global Emissions At 7-Year High—Well, fuck.

EPA’s 3 Dirty Tricks to Undermine Regulation (and Why They Probably Won’t Work)—  We live in an alternate reality now where dirty is clean, good is bad, and facts are fake.

U.S. Renewable Power Capacity Surpasses Coal For The First Time—Buried in all the grim news are some glimmers of hope.

Here’s Proof That Electric Cars Are Displacing Gasoline—Demand destruction is a bitch.  Once that demand is gone it is not coming back and fossil fuel companies are starting to come to that realization.  These are millions of gallons of gasoline demand just…poof…gone from the market:

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Australia Missing Out on Huge Cuts in Emissions through Energy Efficiency Failure—Basically, if we just were more efficient with the energy that we already produce we could make major headway toward reducing emissions.  Using less energy to begin with is the first step in a net zero emission future.

Climate Change Is the Symptom. Consumer Culture Is the Disease.—Our modern society is just a joke.  We have become nothing more than money lungs bent on consumption of crap.

US Offshore Wind Race Heats Up, Now Connecticut In The Mix—To get to a zero net emission future offshore wind has to be part of the renewable energy portfolio.

Follow The Money: Global Investors Flee Coal Power Like A Hot Potato—Get used to the term stranded assets.  It essentially means assets that have no value because there is no buyer in the marketplace.  You may have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a coal mine only to find that its value is zero  because there is no other party willing to invest.  What the market giveth the market can taketh away.

Renewlogy Turns Low-Grade Plastic into Usable Fuels—We have a plastic waste problem on this planet.  I do not know if turning plastic waste into a liquid fuel is the right idea, but it is better than anything that we are doing right now.

ALDI Ranks First Out of 20 Retailers for Reducing Single-Use Plastic—This is kind of like winning an ugliest dog contest.  Yes, you are a winner.  However, it is for being an ugly dog.

Processed Foods are a Much Bigger Health Problem than we Thought—Maybe that hokey diet advice about not eating ingredients you cannot pronounce was not that hokey after all.  Maybe there is no reason for PopTarts to exist.

Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?—A bigger house will not make you happier.  A grill with twelve burners and a Bluetooth meat thermometer will not make you happier.  As a matter of fact most stuff will not make you any happier beyond the initial sugar rush of the initial purchase.  Get off the hedonistic treadmill.

Climate Change I Have Known—Climate change is real and its impacts on our lives are noticeable.

Your Coffee-Buying Habit Could Hamper Your Retirement—It is important to think about personal finance in terms that people can understand.  Retirement for most people is something so far away that we fail to understand just how powerful actions taken today can be in setting us up for future success.

Friday Linkage 12/21/2018

Ryan Zinke is not the worst Interior Secretary in history.  That distinction belongs to Albert B. Fall who actually went to prison.  Ryan Zinke is just number two.

At least we now get to say that Ryan Zinke was the Secretary of the Interior in 2019.  Trying to look on the bright side of things.

On to the links…

Ryan Zinke’s Legal Troubles Are Far From Over—The modus operandi of the Trump administration is to get in, get corrupt, and hopefully get out before the posse comes to drag you out of your office.  However, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives in January there is sure to be some uncomfortable hearings with former cabinet officials.  Oh, and resigning does not get you out of investigations into breaking the law.

New Poll Shows Basically Everyone Likes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal—I hope that the Democratic leadership in Congress sees these poll numbers and takes the message to heart.  People like these ideas.  A politician can run on these ideas and win.

The Suburbs are the Spiritual Home of Overconsumption. But they also Hold the Key to a Better Future—I want this thesis to be true on so many levels.  I want to imagine a future where acres of boring suburban lawns are turned into kitchen gardens and food forests.  I want to imagine a time when all of our roofs are covered in solar panels and we glide gently by on bicycles.

Congress just Legalized Hemp. That’s Huge for the CBD Industry.—Think about that headline for a moment.  Congress just legalized hemp.  If you do not think that full legalization will happen soon you are not paying attention.

It’s Time to Stretch Out the U.S. Offshore Wind Pipeline—This is the next boom area in renewables.  As the pipeline for onshore wind matures into its slow growth cycle and solar does its thing, offshore wind will allow communities in places like the heavily populated eastern seaboard to get green power.

New Offshore Windfarms Push UK Renewables to Record—A third—yes, a third—of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources in the period from July through September.  Do you remember a time when critics of renewables said that these sources could never amount to anything more than a few percent?

Solar Power Achieved a New England Milestone on Chilly Thanksgiving—This is a geeky energy graph:

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The dusty rose colored space under the dashed line represents how solar power cut the peak off of the projected demand from the grid.  That is good stuff.

Next-gen EV Charger Adds 62 miles of Range in Three Minutes—This is the missing link for a lot of people unwilling to adopt an electric vehicle.  Now imagine plugging you EV in, going to get a latte, and coming out to another couple hundred miles in range.

Can Cross-Laminated Timber Save the World?—Probably not save the world, but it would be a lot better if we built more things out of wood as opposed to steel and concrete.

Australia Cuts 80% of Plastic Bag Use in 3 Short Months—This just shows that if you cut things off at the source big changes follow.

Our Lock-and-Leave Culture: The Rise of Self-Storage and Clinging to Stuff We Hardly Use—I hate mini storage with a passion.  It is one thing if you are storing stuff because of a move to a far away location or as a temporary solution, but if you are renting one of these off-site closets to store whatever then the problem is you.

The Spare Button Represents all the Ways We Fail to be Good Consumers—The saddest thing to me is that we think of ourselves as consumers first and foremost.  Not humans, but consumers.

Friday Linkage 11/2/2018

It is four days until election day.  I will start every post for next eleven days with the same message.

I just spent a few days in central Florida—hence the light linkage this Friday—and I do not remember ever being assaulted with that many political ads.  It’s not just the headliner races for Senate and Governor, but down ballot races were all over the airwaves.  It actually continued during my time driving south from Minneapolis where ads for the state’s attorney general race were omnipresent on the radio.

Thinking I escaped it all was but a wispy dream when I opened my mailbox to a flood of mailers for Iowa races.  Damn, I cannot wait until Wednesday.

I understand that it is hyperbole, to some extent, in claiming that this is the most important election in history.  However, I do believe that this may be the most important election in my lifetime.  At least until 2020.

On to the links…

Zinke and Trump Are Ignoring the Public—One of the tropes of the 2016 election was that of the “liberal snowflake” who was too brittle of psyche to handle direct criticism of foundational beliefs.  Does anyone find it funny just how scared of the public that Republican leaders are right now?  Who was really the “snowflake” all along?

‘Unfit to Serve’? US Interior Secretary Faces Fresh Ethics Scrutiny—Is “unfit to serve” going to be the term that describes the Trump era in American history?

A Guide to the Ryan Zinke Investigations—Just a handy breakdown of the corruption at the head of the Department of Interior.

The Older Kids Get, the Less Time They Spend Outdoors—This is probably true for most of us.  As we get older we spend less time outdoors.  Maybe that is a reason why we, as a society, are so broken.

Electric Vehicles are Going to Render the Fight over Fuel Economy Standards Moot—Trump can try and turn back the clock for automobile fuel efficiency, coal, or whatever strikes his Diet Coke addled brain at the moment but the march of progress is constant.

7 US States Set To Double Their Wind Capacity—These are good numbers, but not great.  I would like to see Iowa get back on the list of states deploying a lot of wind although I believe that the numbers for the fourth quarter of the year will be strong because of a few projects coming on line.

Is Australia on the Verge of Having too Much Solar Energy?—In short, no.  Do you notice a trend with these arguments?  First, it was renewables would be too small a percentage of the overall electricity supply to be relevant.  Second, it was renewables were too intermittent to be a reliable source of power.  Now, it is the threat of too much renewable energy.  If someone keeps moving the goal posts for measuring success you know you are doing something right that scares the shit out of them.

Coal Report says Australian Exports have Peaked and are in ‘Terminal Long-Term Decline’—My dad used to say that these large industries are like dinosaurs.  Even though they may be dead it takes a long time for them to roll over so that anyone actually notices.  The best thing we can do is find ways to hasten the decline.  Push that snowball downhill.

Tall Wood gets Green Light from Building Code—From the boring but important files.  Building codes are boring.  Like, very boring.  However, so much of what we build is determined by how building codes are implemented and adopted.

Low Cost, Low Energy Cooling System Shows Promise—On a hotter planet reducing the energy need for cooling will be a critical pieces in the fight to erase climate change.

Friday Linkage 9/21/2018

It is just 46 days until the midterm election.  If the Keystone cops routine led by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley with regard to the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh is anything it is motivation to get another party in power as a check or balance to the Trumpian instincts of the Republican Party.

The midterms are not about impeachment.  The midterms are about rescuing a sense of common decency that is lost when people like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump control all the levers of power.

On to the links…

Why Growth Can’t Be Green—I do not know if I agree with the entirety of the thesis that growth cannot be green, but I do agree that we need to rethink our entire economic paradigm.  It is leading us to ruin.

Here’s A Radical New Plan To Tax Carbon And Give Everyone In America $2,237—A carbon tax is coming.  Once the basic mechanism is in place it will be the most powerful ecological and economic tool in the recent history of the United States.

Trump’s Methane Rule Rollback Burns the Natural Gas Bridge—Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.  Natural gas wells and pipelines that leak methane might as well be coal plants shooting dirty flue gas into the sky.

U.S. Cities, States, and Businesses can Nearly Hit the Paris Climate Goals–Without Trump—Action on a state, local, and corporate level can make a difference.  Our federal government may be an obtuse retrograde comedy of errors, but we can make progress in the interim in other locales.

Renewables = 43% of New Power Capacity in USA in 1st Half of 2018—I wish it were closer to 100%, but baby steps.

Utilities have a Problem: The Public Wants 100% Renewable Energy, and Quick—You would be hard pressed to find a more hide bound and conservative industry than utility companies.  These companies make banks and insurance companies look like early stage tech startups run by nineteen year olds living on Red Bull and Taco Bell.

Australia on Track to Miss Paris Climate Targets as Emissions Hit Record Highs—Just when I think we are doing the worst in the United States, Australia seems to jump out of the corner of the room and yell, “Look at me!”  Government instability, coal industry trying to run things, etc.

Steep Emissions Reductions Targets Won’t Drive Up Power Bills, Modelling Shows—We can do right by the planet and it will not cost us an arm or a leg.  Or both.

EIA Report Says Coal Still King on State-by-State Basis—Despite all the progress made in reducing coal’s role in electricity generation, it is still the dominant form of electricity generation in most states.  More work to be done folks.

“Golden Sandwich” Photoelectrode Harvests 85% Of Sunlight—Wow.  Just wow.  How can we find money to deploy into making this a commercially viable product?  Imagine my smallish 4.69 kWh solar array suddenly being able to produce over 20 kWh in the same area. Talk about repowering.

This Breakthrough in a Type of Photosynthesis could Provide the World with Unlimited Energy—This reminds me of 1950s newsreels that promised nuclear energy would produce electricity that was too cheap to meter.

Bombardier Revives the Battery-Powered Train—For the short haul train routes between urban locales doesn’t using this type of train make more sense than stringing high power lines all over the place?

Tenfold Improvement in Liquid Batteries mean Electric Car Refuelling could Take Minutes—Liquid or flow batteries have been touted as an alternative to lithium ion batteries for a long time.  The energy density has always been too low to make the debate serious.  Maybe times they are a changing.

What Bison in South Dakota can Teach us about Fighting Climate Change—More effective rangelands policy could help the world sequester carbon in soils, improve water quality, and produce animal protein at the same time.  Now, the impediment would be that we would probably have to get rid of the cows and sheep on rangelands.

Frisco Leads Water Efficiency Charge, Reduces Municipal Consumption by 30 Percent—Drought will become the new normal for much of the American west.  However, our profligate use of water continues unabated.  This does mean that we have a long way to go with efficiency as a way of reducing our demand on precious water resources.

Why Fashion Brands Destroy Billions’ Worth of Their Own Merchandise Every Year—What a freaking waste.

20 Habits of Frugal People—There is an intersection of frugal people and environmentalists that is not really discussed.  Frugal people, generally, are not big consumers and environmentalists should also not be big consumers because of consumption’s ecological footprint.  The best part is that being frugal is a cheap way to be an environmentalist.

Friday Linkage 8/10/2018

I watched the returns from Tuesday’s primaries and special elections with a special glee.  It seems that Republicans under Trump are hoping to keep a coalition stitched together that consists of white nationalists, plain old racists, and older less educated white people.  This seems like a recipe for failure when the head cheese puff is not on the ballot.

It is hard to imagine that the same people who would wear a shirt declaring “I would rather be Russian than a Democrat” are going to go to the polls in the midterms to vote for an establishment Republican if their spirit animal in an ill-fitting suit is not headlining the ballot.

Needless to say, Democrats and their allies on the left need to remain energized, get allies to the polls, and pull across the finish line strong.  America may literally depend on it.

On to the links…

The Whole Republican Party Seems to Be Going to Jail Now—The Republican Party under Donald Trump is nothing more than a country club for corruption that happens to be located in Washington D.C.  If these guys were all based in Hoboken, N.J. there would be a major racketeering investigation happening.

Bribery Trial Reveals Jeff Sessions’ Role in Blocking EPA Action Targeting One of His Biggest Donors—It is going to take years to unpack all of the corruption done by these people in the name of making America “great” again.

Coal Industry on Steady Decline under Trump’s Leadership—This is what you get with Donald Trump.  A few guys will make a lot of money—probably people like Robert Murray—while everyone else gets screwed—usually the employees who actually need the jobs.  Coal will be no different.

We’ve Been Talking About a National Grid for Years. It Might be Time to Do It.—All this talk of energy storage like batteries or pumped hydro misses the biggest “storage” opportunity of all—the gird.  Think of the grid as a battery and a national grid as the biggest battery of all.  Instead of balancing loads across a region you would have the benefit of balancing loads across the country and maybe even parts of Canada or Mexico.

Negative Electricity Pricing Abounds As Wind, Solar Flood the Grid—This is power so cheap that companies are paying people to take it.  This is why we need a national power grid.  When California is over producing that power could be “sent” to states where the wind is not blowing or vice versa.

Analysis Reveals That World’s Largest Battery Saved South Australia $8.9 Million In 6 Months—Now, imagine scaling this type of solution.  Saving money and greenhouse gas emissions.  Win, win.

Permian Decline Rate May be Steeper than Thought—There has been a new school of thought in oil markets that the U.S. is the new swing producer able to bring wells online in places like Texas and North Dakota to ameliorate price increases.  It now looks like the modeling behind the production assumptions of the Permian Basin may have been too optimistic.

Lloyd’s Bank to Ditch Financing New Coal Plants—Bankers are a conservative lot and if their peers stop doing something most of the mainline, reputable banks—e.g. the ones not involved with people like Paul Manafort—will generally cease those activities as well.  Coal projects may have to start looking at the loan sharks of the finance world.

1st Big US Offshore Wind Farm Scores Record-Low Price—Remember, offshore wind in the U.S. is not a mature industry with established cost estimates, employee knowledge, etc.  These costs are likely to come down in the coming years.

Surprise! Electric Buses are Significantly Greener Across the US—I do not know if I would say “surprise” but it is a good outcome nonetheless.  Instead of focusing on personal automobiles we should be putting our resources into electrifying public transit and commercial vehicles.

Explore the Largest Coastal Restoration Project Completed In Louisiana’s History—On an Earth where we, humans, have changed every landscape to some degree the conversation needs to pivot from preservation to restoration.  How do we restore natural ecosystems that have been damaged by humans?

Postcards from the Edge—The Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana is what the current administration would like most of America to look like save for the views from Trump’s own golf courses.  Remember, solar panels and wind turbines are a blight but toxic open pit mines are tremendous.

Nuclear Wasteland: The Explosive Boom and Long, Painful Bust of American Uranium Mining—If you want to wonder what will become of places like Bear Ears and Grand Escalante Staircase under a Ryan Zinke and Donald Trump regime just look at the history of uranium mining in the western U.S.  Many of these landscapes and communities have not recovered from the damage done over thirty years ago.

Meet America’s Elite Farm Subsidy Club—It’s Farm Bill time which means that Republicans are going to whine about cutting SNAP benefits for poor people because we all “know” that food stamps is what is bankrupting the United States.  It could not possibly be that we allow rich people to loot America.  Not at all.

Fascinating Look at How America Uses its Land—Just take a moment to see how we use land in aggregate in the United States and think about how your personal choices play into this land use.  Think of all the opportunities for restoration:

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Friday Linkage 4/20/2018

4/20…heh, heh,heh…

Sorry, I had to because every year around this time the Denver Post turns into a newsprint edition of High Times.  It blows my mind that we now live in a time and place where people openly purchase, possess, and consume marijuana in multiple states.  Sure, reefer madness will never truly leave us until the generation that elected Donald Trump makes their last trip to the Cracker Barrel but the time is coming.

On to the links…

White Castle Goes Highbrow? Now Famous Slider can come with Fake Beef—We also live in a time where there is a vegetable based burger patty being served at White Castle.  Oh yeah, your favorite stoner dream food is now plant based.  And how does it taste?  Apparently, it works.

Trump may Greenlight an $8 Billion Attack on Competitive Energy Markets—Trump, his Trumpkins, and the rest of the right wing love free markets right up until free markets ding the pocket books of the barons—that feels so Into the Badlands to say—who pay to keep them in office.  This is an idea supported by Rick Perry.  Yes, the same Rick Perry who could not remember the name of the three government agencies he was committed to eliminating.  One of which he currently serves at the helm.  Irony.

Trump’s EPA Embraces an Odd Argument against Fuel Economy: It will Kill People—No, this is not your Grandpa Earl telling you how much safer cars were in the 1950s because his Bel Air was made with thousands of pounds of good ol’ American steel:

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Grandpa Earl is wrong.  Trump is wrong.

Former Administrators say Pruitt’s Impact on EPA can be Reversed—The end of the Trump administration, whether it comes in January 2021 or sooner, will feel like waking up from the flu after a week of shuffling around the house.  Everyone will feel better, but it will take time and some effort to feel right again.

UK Emissions are Falling Fast. Now the Country might try for Zero.—By 2017 the U.K.’s CO2 emissions are 42 percent below 1990 levels:

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Imagine if the U.S. had pulled this off?

173 Countries Agree to Slash Shipping Industry Emissions in Historic Deal—If you do not think that your buying stuff is driving a lot of emissions just think about what it costs in terms of energy to move goods from China to the United States.

Renewable Energy Meets 100% Of Portugal’s March Electricity Needs—This is damn impressive.  Even more impressive to me is that the low for a percentage of production was 86%.

China made Solar Panels Cheap. Now it’s Doing the Same for Electric Buses.—I know that we all love rail mass transit, but the humble electric bus may be the way to slash transportation emissions for hundreds of millions if not billions of people.  China spent a lot of money to make solar panels cheap and now they are on the same path for busses.

These Huge New Wind Turbines are a Marvel. They’re also the Future.—Bigger wind turbines make more power and are more efficient.  Plus, we can begin replacing existing turbines—which already have the infrastructure in place for power transmission—with bigger turbines to produce more power.  And there is that whole offshore wind thing as well.

New 3 in 1 Roof Solar Tiles Power your House for Half the Price of a Tesla Roof—These may be a little clunkier than the Tesal roof tiles but if they can actually deliver them for half the cost and similar performance it will be a winner.  I would like to add some more solar photovoltaic capacity to my roof—it’s never enough once you get some solar PV—but I really like the idea of covering my roof in solar roof tiles.

Sydney’s First Battery Powered Apartment Block Halves Residents’ Power Bills—Australia feels like the future of solar.  It’s like they are living in tomorrow and we are all waiting to get there soon.

6 Solar Roads Shaking up Infrastructure around the World—With so many roofs and parking lots that could be covered in solar panels are solar roads even something we should care about?

Scientists Accidentally Produce an Enzyme that Devours Plastic—This feels like the plot to a bad science fiction movie from the mid-1990s.  You know, attractive female scientist and roguish male outsider team up to figure out why the world’s plastic is disappearing.