Tag Archives: bacteria

Friday Linkage 12/6/2019

I drive by the signs advertising Ronald Reagan’s childhood home frequently when traveling to the Chicagoland area.  It is just too delicious that the patron saint of government bashing’s house is going to be administered by the government.

Or maybe the problem is that people really do not care all that much about hypocrites like Ronald Reagan.

On to the links…

The Economics behind Planting Billions and Billions of Trees–To bastardize a saying of Michael Pollan’s, “Plant trees, on appropriate land, mostly native species.”  It is a simple action that really has no downside. If we focus on areas that have been logged, burned over, or denuded by other means it will reintroduce tree cover to appropriate lands.

The World’s Top 10 Carbon Dioxide Emitters–Take a look:

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The future of the Earth rests in the hands of China, the United States, and India.

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why–I applaud Andy Stone for pointing out that the key ingredient missing in the transition to a fossil free future is sufficient political will on the part of all politicians, but particularly those leaning with a conservative bent.  Our politics are bought and paid for by fossil fuels.

Spain Might Be The World’s Most Important Climate Test–How did we end up in an era where our political choices are being defined by progressives facing off against neo-fascists?

CO2-Eating Bacteria Made in the Lab Could Help Tackle Climate Change–Does this sound like the beginning to a young adult dystopian novel?

Let’s Implement a Luxury Carbon Tax, because not all Carbon is Created Equally–Let’s start with first class and business class airline flights.  Say $25 per ticket. All funds to be spent on reforestation.

Renewables are Not Making Electricity any More Expensive–Economics is a health of a thing.

Utilities Running Uneconomic Coal Plants Cost Consumers $3.5 Billion From 2015-2017–Coal is costing you money.

Average Battery Prices Fell To $156 Per kWh In 2019–Here is the key line: “this year the average EV battery pack prices decreased to around $156/kWh, which is some 87% less than it was in 2010 (over $1,100/kWh).”  In less than a decade’s time the average price has decreased almost 90%.

Are Electric Vehicles Really About To Plateau Oil Demand?–Plateaued oil demand is bad enough, but even a lower growth model will doom many higher cost oil plays in the short term.  EVs are part of the problem for oil demand, but just as important are tighter regulations on fossil fuel emissions in general.

Coal Power Becoming ‘Uninsurable’ as Firms Refuse Cover–If you cannot get insurance, you cannot operate.  I am sure that Donald Trump and his coal dust caked cronies will come up with a government backed reinsurance scheme to make sure that people like Bob Murray can profit from killing the planet.

Why Aren’t We Building a Traveling Wave Reactor in the U.S.?–Nuclear power always seems like it is an answer to our electricity problems until you account for all of the problems that nuclear power creates.  I am unwilling to hop on the traveling wave reactor bandwagon, but maybe Bill Gates is on to something. At least he is not spending his money on running for president.

Biofuels Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 96%–If nuclear seems like the holy grail of energy security, biofuels have to be the One True Cross of energy security.  At what point do we give up on the idea of liquid biofuels?

Agriculture is Part of the Climate Change Problem. Colorado Wants Farmers’ Soil to be Part of the Solution.–Improving soil health across grazing and other agricultural lands is probably one of the biggest “gains” we can make in the war against climate change.  Furthermore, increases in soil health and captured carbon will improve our ability to feed more people.

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity–Every kilowatt hour of electricity generated without the use of fossil fuels is a good thing.  Using a waste product to generate that electricity is like a double bonus.

DiGiorno and Stouffer’s Bring Plant-Based ‘Meat’ to Frozen Italian Food–If you do not think that plant based meat stand-ins are mainstream then how do you explain it being available in frozen pizza and lasagna?  Maybe it will be considered mainstream when there is a Jack’s frozen pizza with plant based pepperoni on sale for 4 for $10.

How Our Home Delivery Habit Reshaped the World–In an age of ubiquitous and pervasive shopping opportunities we need to radically rethink our relationship with consumerism.

Green Consumerism Is Part of the Problem–There is no such thing as “green consumerism.”  There is just “less bad consumerism.” Once we understand and internalize the reality that we cannot buy our way out of the problem of climate change, the sooner everyone will be better for it.

Friday Linkage 3/15/2019

It’s Spring Break week…well, it will be.  This will be the last Friday Linkage until the end of the month so please try and make do without.  I promise I will be back.

On to the links…

The First Green Terawatt Was the Hardest—Consider that the first “green” terawatt of power came at the highest average cost.  The next terawatt or more will come at a price orders of magnitude lower because the highest price is today’s.  The prediction is that the next terawatt will be installed by 2023 at half the cost of the first.  So, a little more than a fourth the amount of time at half the cost.  That is change that I can believe in.

Trump’s Monument Review Was A Big Old Sham—Are we surprised that the process was really about allowing oil, gas, and uranium extraction interests get access to sealed off lands? No one else matters in this criminal administration.

Trump’s Climate Policies Face 6 Big Legal Battles this Year—Here is the thing I wonder about.  If Trump loses his bid for reelection in 2020, what happens to all of this stuff in January 2017 when a Democrat walks into the White House and reverses every executive action that the man took over four years?

Five Things a Democratic President Could Do By Declaring a National Emergency Over Climate Change—I would just love to watch Mitch McConnell clutch his pearls and cry about how decorum is gone from U.S. politics even though no one is more to blame for the degradation of politics in this country than he.

Republicans are the Real Threat to Hamburgers, not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—Are Republicans really this stupid?  No matter how genuine the policy proposal, Republicans—goaded by Fox News—will turn the discussion into an argument about something that is not even germane to the discussion.  It is the ultimate “hey, look, a squirrel” kind of distraction to keep people from talking about real change.

Trump said to Again Seek Deep Cuts in Renewable Energy Funding—Trump’s 2020 budget is dead on arrival in Congress.  It is now about the negotiations between the House and Senate as to what the budget will look like.

Cost of Adding New Wind, Solar Energy Continues to Fall in Minnesota—It’s not just cheap, but it is getting cheaper to build out renewables versus continue to operate coal plants.

Harnessing the Sun in Coal Country—Naming the two solar farms Hatfield and McCoy is a little hokey, but I love the juxtaposition of old mountain top removal coal mines being transitioned to solar photovoltaic farms.

Norway’s $1tn Wealth Fund to Divest from Oil and Gas Exploration—This is a little “pot calling the kettle black” as the wealth fund is driven by profits from North Sea oil and gas.  However, it is a positive step forward.

Renewables Generated a Record 65 Percent of Germany’s Electricity Last Week—Say what you will, but that is an impressive number.

Tiny Costa Rica Has a Green New Deal, Too. It Matters for the Whole Planet.—I want to know why the United States is getting beat to the punch by a small country like Costa Rica?  Why can’t we think big when it comes to addressing the problem presented by climate change?

Coal Power Stations Disrupt Rainfall—As if we needed another reason to stop burning coal.

Scientists Capture Bacteria That Eat Pollution and Breathe Electricity—This sounds like something out of a comic book that gets repurposed by a super villain to defeat our intrepid heroes.

America’s Light Bulb Revolution—LEDs are amazing.  How anyone—looking at you Republicans—can be against using less electricity for lighting is beyond me.  Oh wait, Fox and Friends does not like LED lightbulbs because, uh, socialism?

The Backyard Mechanic Who is Taking on Tesla—Trust me, Tesla is painted in a bad light here for refusing to sell this guy repair parts but this is not different from a lot of other car companies.  You might be able to buy parts for more mainstream cars, but the prices are crazy compared to what the replacement parts actually cost.  Just spend some time with Porsche enthusiasts looking at repair parts online.

Why India is a World Leader in Waste Paper—As our trash gets sent around the world, it is important to think about the market forces that drive a country to literally buy something that we consider garbage of little to no value.

Friday Linkage 11/9/2018

The midterm election is over save for the inevitable recounts, runoffs, and lawsuits.  So, it is not really over.  Heck, if you are anything like Donald Trump you will never get over the last election.  Just saying.

If anyone thought that Democrats taking back the House of Representatives was going to serve as a check on Trump’s worst instincts think again.  Within twenty four hours he was already back to his Orwellian self when he held a press conference full of combative lies and followed it up with a Soviet style doctored video to support his banishment of Jim Acosta from the White House.  We live in strange times indeed.

On to the links…

How ‘Makers’ Make the Classroom More Inclusive—Maybe we need to make school a little less about preparing for tests and more about making things.  I do not care if kids are making art or wooden clocks or theater productions because being responsible for the creation of something is instruction in and of itself.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke might Face a Criminal Investigation—Right now is not a good time to be a grifter in the employ of Donald Trump.  Ryan Zinke is not facing an ethics complaint, he is facing a freaking criminal investigation for being a con artist and thief.

UN says Earth’s Ozone Layer is Healing—It was not all political news.  Too bad China is not honoring commitments to phase out certain ozone destroying compounds and is, instead, allowing for unregulated use.

Voters Raise Nevada Renewables Goal to 50%, NV Energy Has $2B Plans—Nevada’s goal of 15% renewable energy by 2025 was rejected by voters in favor of 50% by 2030.  Way to go Nevada.

Navajo Nation Eyes Utility-Scale Solar with Growing Interest—The Navajo Nation possesses a lot of land with a lot of solar potential in the southwest United States.  Think about some of that land being deployed to produce clean, green utility scale solar fed into the grid.

Indiana Utility Submits Plan to Move from Coal to Renewables—Losing Indiana to renewable energy is pretty bad for coal because the Hoosier State is surprisingly reactionary in its right wing attitudes toward anything that might be labelled progressive.  You know that the economics favor renewables when this is the headline.

Scottish Utility goes 100% Renewable, Pushes Electric Vehicles too—If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!  Could not help myself.  I love me some So I Married an Axe Murderer.

British Renewables Hits 42 Gigawatts & Surpasses Fossil Fuels—I am sure that someone will put a half dozen caveats on these numbers, but renewables are a big part of the grid.  There was a time when most “experts,” probably just shills hired by coal and gas companies, said that renewables could not be more than a sliver of the grid because of unreliability, etc.  Reality has proven them wrong.

The Secret Power of the Flexitarian—The power is in being flexible in achieving your goal.

American Diet Changes Gut Bacteria of Immigrants—This might not be so bad, but apparently the resulting changes lead to an increase in conditions like diabetes, obesity, etc.

One Third of Britons has Drastically Reduced Meat Consumption—This was not done in response to any major external stimuli like a war or depression.  Imagine what is possible in this world if we would just decide to live less destructive lives.

Fish Fingers Surprisingly Sustainable, say Conservationists—Fish sticks, or fish fingers to those of you across the pond, are the offal of the seafood aisle.  In my house fish sticks still get some love, but we also happen to be big fans of catfish.

Finland: Where Second-Hand Comes First—Think about the impact if we all thought about buying something secondhand before buying new.  Sure, new stuff would need to be made to feed the consumption cycle at some point but a world of more durable and high quality goods is a better place.

Embracing Inconvenience—We could all use a little more inconvenience in our lives.

Friday Linkage 6/16/2017

What will the mass shooting in Alexandria, VA this week lead to?  My guess is that Republicans will push for less stringent gun laws—although it is hard to see how much less stringent our non-existent gun laws could become—and a crackdown on political speech that is counter to their aims.  Do not believe me?  In the first few moments after the shooter was identified there were Republican operatives calling for the rhetoric regarding Donald Trump and his policies to be toned down.

WTF?  This is the single person responsible for more coarseness in our political discourse over the last eighteen months than anyone else and we are supposed to suddenly simmer down because of a completely unrelated incident?  Can’t stop, won’t quit.

On to the links…

These Five Charts Show the Seismic Shifts Happening in Global Energy—If there is anything that you can do to accelerate any of these trends do it.  Do it today.

In Trump Country, Renewable Energy Is Thriving—I live in “Trump country” as much as it pains me to say it and I still cringe every time I see someone sporting a bumper sticker, shirt, or freaking red hat.  However, renewable energy is a very big deal in this red state and it is a similar story in a lot of other red states.

When You’ve Lost Iowa: Wind-Loving Heartland State Says “Buh-Bye, Coal”—What allegiance to coal does a state like Iowa have?  We do not mine or produce any coal, so every dollar we spend on coal for power is a dollar that is leaving our state.  On the other hand we have a lot of wind and those dollars can stay home.

Coal Can’t Compete on its Own—Remove the subsidies and preferential policies makes coal an even bigger loser than it already is in today’s marketplace.  Now, supposed free market Republicans will never actually allow the free market to work when it comes to their beloved fossil fuels.

This is How Big Oil will Die—Imagine I could replace an essential machine in your house with over 2000 moving parts and filled with flammable or toxic fluids.  Imagine that the replacement machine would have 20 moving parts and no flammable or toxic liquids.  Oh, and it is cheaper to operate on a per mile basis.

Renewables Provide More than Half UK Electricity for First Time—So, during mid-day renewables were knocking out over 50% of the U.K.’s electricity needs.  Who says that we cannot deploy more wind and solar?

Three Nations Plan 500% Increase in Global Offshore Wind—That is a big increase.  Once the basic technologies are even more mature and cost effective the adoption rates will soar.  What would happen if the people working in offshore oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico were deployed to develop offshore wind?

A Quarter Of EU’s Electricity Demand Could Be Met By Offshore Wind At €54/MWh—The future may be out to sea.

Chevrolet Bolt Will Hit Remaining Dealer Lots in August—It’s going to be available nationwide a month or so earlier than forecast.  Here is to hoping that sales follow availability.

Resistance to Last-Ditch Antibiotic has Spread Farther than Anticipated—This health crisis is happening because we demand cheap meat.  There is no other reason to feed farm animals huge amounts of antibiotics which breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria.  We are literally staring into the precipice of going back to the dark ages in terms of fighting infections.

Trump Wants to Cut EPA’s Scientific Research in Half—Of course the ignorant buffoon wants to cut research staff.  These are people who spend their careers trying to actually discover answers to hard questions rather than watching Fox News constantly.

In Praise of ‘Scruffy Hospitality’—We just need to put the smartphones away and stop posting everything to Instagram or Facebook.  We need to get back to enjoying the analog moments of life.

You Must Read—Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling our Modern Plagues

The truth is always obvious in retrospect. How could people really have thought that the sun revolves around the Earth or that Earth is flat? Yet dogma are powerful and to their adherents infallible. [Page 219]

The complex and true role that bacteria play in our lives as humans is a dark place in terms of knowledge. For most of the period during which we have known of the existence of bacteria our mantra has been, quite simply, the only good bacteria is a dead bacteria. In that vein we have pursued a medical regime that assaults bacteria with broad spectrum antibiotics in the hopes of killing what ails us in a microscopic genocide.

9780805098105However, according to Martin J. Blaser in Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling our Modern Plagues this approach is misguided and may be at the root of many modern ills.

First and foremost among those modern ill is the specter of antibiotic resistant bacteria. With the introduction of penicillin, mankind was able to beat back infection for the first time in a safe and systematic way. Until penicillin the leading killer on the battlefield was not directly from enemy action, but through infection. However, modern medicine has perverted the practice of using antibiotics as the time to diagnose patients has decreased, patients seek pharmaceutical solutions, and the threat of litigation hovers. It is easier for a doctor, primarily pediatricians, to prescribe a course of antibiotics for an ailment that may only have a 10% chance of being bacterial rather than to tell the patient that it is likely the antibiotics would be nothing more than placebo.

In conjunction with medical overuse the primary user of antibiotics is agriculture. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has read any book critical of the livestock industry. While animals increasingly require antibiotics to survive the conditions of CAFOs, the original intent of prescribing animals antibiotics was to increase their size in shorter period of time.

Apparently, the same mechanism that allows that practice to work in animals may also work in humans. What works to cause a cow to be fatter for slaughter may be the same mechanism behind our great increase in obesity during the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Surely our diets of crap have contributed and our predominantly sedentary lifestyles contribute, but it is Blaser’s assertion that there is a culprit in the changing composition of our microbiome. No summary could do his analysis and explanation of the published literature justice given the succinct nature in which he writes about the topic in the book. Suffice to say, our conquering—however temporary—of bacteria through the use of antibiotics may have given us a host of modern plagues.

At times I feel like the author is using the change in our microbiome as a panacea to answer our modern ills. So much so that it feels a little new age, but there is a compelling argument made that we have subverted tens of thousands of years of co-evolution with bacteria by conducting a scorched earth war inside our bodies.

If you are not feeling up for reading the entire book—at 220 pages of text it easily fits into a summer weekend of reading—then check out the Daily Show’s interview with the author. It hits the high points with the snark that only Jon Stewart can provide.

Friday Linkage 11/22/2013

The holiday season is almost upon us and that means…shopping!  When did shopping become a newsworthy item that is covered in all sorts of outlets?  I remember people going out the day after Thanksgiving when I was a kid, but now people prepare for the day weeks in advance like armies preparing for an invasion.  Granted, the parking lot of your average big box store can seem like an uncoordinated amphibious landing.

On to the links…

It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System—Corn is king.  Spend any time in Iowa, rural Illinois, or other parts of the middle United States and you will begin to understand the power of King Corn.  However, we should not think of corn as food.  It is primarily grown for fuel and feed.  It’s also time to rethink our obsession with growing the stuff at any cost.

Amendment To Farm Bill Could Be End To Humane Farming Standards—Steve King, from the great state of Iowa, is a complete ass.  It looks like he is further showing how he is a hypocrite and in the pocket of industry.  When it comes to issues that he supports, like denying women choice and being a bigot when it comes to marriage, he wants the states to decide if it favors his position.  On the other hand, he wants to deny states their rights when it impacts his pocket book.

How Industrial Agriculture Has Thwarted Factory Farm Reforms—We live in an era when mega sized agriculture companies ride herd over the interests of public health and safety.  Just look at the inability of anyone to address the rampant use of prophylactic antibiotics in the factory farms of the U.S.  It’s disgraceful.

Kauai County Council Override Frees Way For GMO Bill—The Kauai County Council, which is what the island wide government is called, has overridden the veto of a bill that would place regulations and restrictions on pesticides and GMO crops.  The bill had pretty widespread support on the island and was obviously opposed by the agriculture cartels that have major operations on the island.  In response there was pretty healthy protest.

Hawaii’s Big Island Bans Biotech Companies & GMO Crops—It looks like biotech will have to cross the Big Island off their list of places to operate.  The anti-GMO sentiment on the Big Island is pretty heavy.  Recently, some papaya trees have been chopped down in what is thought to be a protest about GMO crops as most papaya trees are grown from GMO stock.

Google Earth Launched High Resolution Deforestation Map—In business school you are beat over the head with the maxim that “you get what you measure.”  Measurement requires easily accessible tools and it looks like the problem of deforestation just got a powerful new tool in the form of Google Earth.  Never underestimate the power of putting information in the hands of motivated individuals.

Look Who’s Eating Your Plastic Now: A Whole Unprecedented Ecosystem—I would like to say I am surprised by this development, but nature was sure to respond in some way to the glut of discarded plastic that is mucking up the planet.  The scary part is that this new ecosystem might wreak massive changes to the existing order.

A Carbon Tax Would Cut The Deficit By $1 Trillion—These numbers are nothing new.  The problem arises from the fact that obstructionist Republicans, owned outright by anti-tax zealots like Grover Norquist, won’t even entertain the idea of a tax on something because they fear losing a primary battle to someone even more extreme.  It’s hard to imagine some candidate more extreme than most of the Republicans in Congress but just wait until the primary season prior to the 2014 midterms heats up.

WalMart’s Carbon Emissions Soar Despite all the Green Talk—I would like to see WalMart be a good actor, but let’s just call it like it is…WalMart sucks at life.  No matter what changes this company makes it will be a community and planet destroying menace until it goes the way of so many retail giants before it.

Country’s Largest Public Power Provider Takes Next Major Step to Move Beyond Coal—When a large player in the power market makes a move away from coal it’s a big deal because their absence from the market reduces the demand for coal which starts the supply chain down a death spiral.  As more coal plants shut down it becomes harder for the existing supply chain to produce coal at an attractive price which leads to more shutdowns and so forth.

Too Much Public Funding Is Going Into Coal Projects in Key Countries—Why are countries still subsidizing coal?  Developed countries are investing billions in coal projects worldwide and that is a damn shame.  There needs to be a global moratorium on the development of coal.

Arizona Solar Energy Fight Ends With $5 Monthly Fee—Rooftop solar in Arizona was fighting a pitched battle with the utilities in the state.  In the end, a small concession was made to the utilities in the form of a $5 fee.  This is a big win for distributed solar in the southwestern U.S.

Can We Eat Our Way To A Healthier Microbiome? It’s Complicated—The composition of the bacteria in our stomachs has gotten a lot of attention lately and the research coming forth shows that a great deal of our current health malaise may be related to changes in that composition.  The problem that is being discovered is how to reverse the trend.

Splenda’s Dirty Little Secret: It’s Terrible for the Environment—Put down the little packet of artificial sweetener!  All artificial sweeteners are a fool’s errand in trying to fool our bodies that we are eating sugar.  Too bad it turns out that you get the bad effects of sugar without actually getting to eat something sweet.  Oh, and it’s accumulating in our water.  Great.

How Can Deserts Turn Into Grasslands?—The ideas presented here are interesting.  The other component to remember is that these are environments that have already been severely impacted by humans already.  Using livestock to remediate our damage is interesting.

‘Digesting’ Food Waste Can Turn Trash Into Money—Why we even have trash is beyond me?  We pay to throw away something that could be used to generate electricity.  Silly.

Biofuels and Climate Change: Pulpwood to the Rescue?—I am still hopeful that developments in second and even third generation biofuels will prove fruitful.  As much as I want to see the future of personal transportation electrified I know that the adoption curve will never be fast enough to mitigate the horrors of climate change.

Why Toyota Constantly Improving the Prius’ Fuel Economy is Something of a Fool’s Errand—I would not say it’s a fool’s errand as long as the technology utilized in the Prius flows down into more mass-market and less fuel efficient models.  I think of the Prius not as the answer, but as the vanguard of the technologies that will proliferate making all vehicles more efficient.

Friday Linkage 9/6/2013

Some of these links may be a little dated given that it is the news that I have been interested in over the past couple of weeks.  Obviously, I had some stuff going on at the homefront.

On to the links…

Beer vs. Oil: Beer Wins—Enbridge Oil is a ship of fools.  First, they spill a bunch of nasty tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River.  When they get ordered to clean up their spill completely, which they probably tried to get out of using some technicality, the plan was a joke.  At least the good guys won this one.

The Untold Story Of Western Ranchers And Their Epic Battle Against Coal—Has the coal industry found a way to piss off everyone in the U.S.?  Now it looks like they have lost the rugged ranchers of the western U.S.  Who is left on their side?  Congress.  Damn.

Climate Change’s Original Sin—There is no discrete “environmental” journalism anymore because climate change is the single issue that is enmeshed with every decision that we will make for the foreseeable future.

Cattle—not climate change—killing the Great Barrier Reef—It looks like the obsession with eating meat is the primary cause of destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.  Enjoy the hamburger, mate!

The Real Reason Kansas Is Running Out of Water—So, we suck water out of the ground to grow corn that we stuff down the gullets of feedlot cattle.  Great system.

A Nevada Tribe’s Epic Battle To Replace A Deadly Coal Plant With Solar—Even if the Moapa Paiutes are successful in cleaning up the Reid-Gardner power plant there is a chance that natural gas development will follow.  Given the history of suffering of native people, is there an end in sight?

The Fracking Rig Next Door—Do you wonder what it would be like to have a fracking rig move in down the street?  Well, here are the photos.  Think about what it would be like before you spout off that fracking is our pathway to energy independence.

Four New Wind Farms In The Upper Midwest Could Power 750,000 Homes— Every week or month seems to bring news of a windfarm development in my neck of the woods that is bigger and badder than the prior announcement.  One of the numbers in the article that is crazy is 1,650.  That is the number of windpower megawatts that Xcel is awaiting on approval.  Blow, baby blow!

With Rooftop Solar on Rise, U.S. Utilities Are Striking Back—Utilities are scared of the rise in rooftop solar because it shakes their business model to its very foundations.  They also like total control.  Bullies don’t like it when someone takes away their toys and control.  Get ready for the playground fight of the next decade.

The Latest Clean Energy Cocktail: Bacteria And Fungus—It is crazy to see what scientists are doing with simple organisms in the pursuit of biofuels.  As the technology develops and matures there may be a hope for next generation biofuels to fulfill the promise of the current generation of biofuels.

Why Pushing Alternate Fuels Makes for Bad Public Policy—John DeCicco makes a salient point that there is no environmental reason to make a headlong rush into promoting alternative fuels for transportation use.  His point is that cleaning upstream power generation—in terms of both pollutants and carbon dioxide—is more important than cleaning up downstream users—e.g. you and I.  I am down with this point to a certain level.  I believe that we need to attack the problem from both ends, but the political reality is that there is only so much political capital to tackle these problems.

The United States uses 39% of the energy it produces, wastes 61%…—If you thought that there was not room for efficiency in the portfolio of climate change solutions, I give you this graphic:

llnl-usa-energy-usage-2012.png.0x545_q100_crop-scale

Six Tips to Buying Better Olive Oil—Olive oil is such a huge part of my culinary regime that it is hard to read an article like this and not wonder about the liquid in my cabinet.  Of course, I try to buy oil sourced from U.S. farms so some of my concerns are overblown. As it says in the final tip, “If there’s a shorthand way of looking for quality, reach for olive oil from the Golden State.”

Building a Better Mass-Market Tomato—There is not better way to improve the lot of grocery store vegetables than to finally develop a tomato that actually tastes like something more than acid water.  We can all hope, right?

The Obesity Era—This has to be one of the most thought provoking and depressing things that I have read in a long time.  Do we live in the obesity era?

Where Sand Is Gold, the Reserves Are Running Dry—Is there a more unsustainable state than Florida?  It’s beaches are eroding, the ground literally swallows buildings, and the landscape is a haven for invasive species.  Does it ever end?  I cannot wait for vacation in Orlando.

After the Fire: The Uncertain Future of Yosemite’s Forests—Our management policies and climate change may have conspired to create a fire regime that now threatens to permanently alter the landscape of the western U.S.  Uh oh!