Tag Archives: CAFE

Friday Linkage 9/13/2019

On Friday the 13th I want to “pour one out” for a site that has gone dark.  Think Progress and its companion site Climate Progress were linked to frequently from my blog.  The reporting was always well done and backed up by copious well documented sources.  Editorial factionalism and a bitter unionization battle probably contributed to the demise of the site.  The same problems have plagued other “new media” operations as well over the years, but this is a lost nonetheless.

On to the links…

25 Books That Teach Kids To Care About The Environment—The children, they are the future right?  Well, we should be helping them to understand just how amazing, precious, and threatened this planet of our is in the modern age.

There’s a $218 Billion Design Problem Sitting in Your Fridge Right Now—You want to know the real reason why this will not change?  It’s the same reason that I cannot get parts for an appliance that is just a few years old or why a small part for a car costs hundreds of dollars.  The manufacturers of these products want to sell you a new product.

Why Industry is Going Green on the Quiet—This is a sign of the polarized times that we live in.  If a company can produce the same product using less destructive methods why does it need to be kept secret?  Probably because a reactionary slice of the population will react like their hair is on fire at the mere mention of environmental concern.

A Decade of Renewable Energy Investment, Led by Solar, Tops USD 2.5 Trillion—This gives you an idea about the potential scale of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables.  If you want to create jobs in the United States you would support renewables at every juncture.  Imagine trillions of dollars more being spent to deploy solar and wind across the United States.

30 Million Acres of Public Land in Alaska at Risk of Being Developed or Transferred—Your public lands are being sold off by the most corrupt and criminal presidential administration in the history of the United States.

Trump Campaign is Cashing in on the Alabama ‘Sharpie’ Controversy he Keeps Complaining About—Every time I think we have reached the height of Trump’s unique combination of stupidity and hubris I am surprised by a new event.  Remember, Trump totally did not change that map.  Trump totally does not know who drew the limp circle showing Alabama in Hurricane Dorian’s path.  However, you can totally “own the libs” by giving his slush fund…er, campaign $15 for a freaking Sharpie.  Get some Trump branded straws to complete you MAGA look for fall.

Department of Justice to investigate BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen—Remember, the right wing is all about states’ rights as long as those states’ rights are about unlimited access to firearms, restricting access to health care, gutting social programs, and in general making the world safe for rich people.  God forbid a state, which has the precedent to set its own emissions standards, would contradict the federal government.

Hydrogen Could Replace Coke In Steelmaking & Lower Carbon Emissions Dramatically—Steel production, like concrete, is a carbon nightmare.  However, steel is essential to modern civilization so any decrease in its carbon intensity is a win for the planet.

Pulling CO2 Out of the Air and Using it Could be a Trillion-Dollar Business—It is doubtful with Moscow Mitch in power that we will ever see a price put on carbon emissions in the United States.  However, what if we could create a market that placed a value on carbon dioxide.

Renewable Energy At Risk In Rural Electric Cooperative Tax Snafu—The Republican tax debacle of 2017 is the gift that keeps on giving.  So to speak.  This piece of garbage legislation that was rushed through because no one actually wanted the details to be public is creating messes just about everywhere.  Wasn’t this the signature legislative accomplishment of so-called policy wonk Paul Ryan’s speakership?

How Much Photovoltaics (PV) Would be Needed to Power the World Sustainably?—I like the thought exercise, but this is not about a single technology.  Freedom from fossil fuels will come as a result of deploying a portfolio of renewable energy technologies combined with greater efficiency.  It is not rocket science.

50 Years Ago a Nuclear Bomb was Detonated under the Western Slope to Release Natural Gas. Here’s how Poorly it Went.—This was someone’s bright idea.  Heck, it was probably the idea of a group of fairly smart people.

It’s Time We Treat Some Forests Like Crops—Let’s just make sure that we do not treat trees like corn or soybeans.  Those crops have been a disaster for Americans.

Invasion of the ‘Frankenbees’: The Danger of Building a Better Bee—What could possible go wrong?  It’s not like scientists have been wrong about making drastic changes to our environment before.

Today’s Special: Grilled Salmon Laced With Plastic—Our love affair with plastic and our inability to deal with its waste is a great, unregulated public health experiment.

The Definitive Superfood Ranking—Can we just stop with the superfood nonsense?  Seriously, you can eat all the kale you want and you will still not be healthy.

Chicago’s New Tool Library Is Awesome, Exactly What It Sounds Like—I own a lot of tools—some bought and some acquired through family—but a lot of my tools just sit for extended periods of time.  This is true even though I use my tools a lot to build furniture and fix things.  For the average user my guess is that tools get used a couple of times at most.

mountainFLOW Launches Plant-Based Ski Wax—I want some.

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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 8/3/2018

Election Day is 95 days away.  On November 6, 2018 the people of the United States have the best chance to show the world that Donald Trump and his coterie of right wing, e.g. Republican, enablers do not represent America.

Here in the 1st district of Iowa we have a chance to eliminate the stain of representation that is Rod Blum, a parody of late stage capitalist politician if ever there was one.  He has the benefit of being from the same state as Steve King so no one ever calls him the worst politician from the state of Iowa.

On to the links…

Friendly Policies Keep US Oil and Coal Afloat Far More than We Thought—This is where the fight needs to be in the near future.  Eliminate all subsidies for energy sources that contribute to climate change.  Seriously, do we need to spend public money to subsidize energy companies that have made more money than any other type of company in the history of mankind?

Congress Tries, Fails, to Destroy ANOTHER National Monument—Remember, this is a Congress led by Republicans in both chambers and they still cannot get anything done.  Government is not inherently incompetent, it is just incompetent when run by right wingers.

Dozens Of Lion Trophy Permits Issued To Hunters As Trump Rolls Back Import Hurdles—Donny Two Scoops is really looking out for the interests of the American people with this one.  How soon before Don Jr. or the goblin shark Eric come back from Africa with a mounted lion?

The EPA Just Undid Scott Pruitt’s Final Act in Office—This is why the election in November is so important.  Without a compliant Congress, any changes made by the corrupt Trump administration will be swept away with a change in the Oval Office.

Andrew Wheeler is Afraid to Revoke California’s Fuel Waiver. He Should Be.—The Trump administration is itching to fight over anything that even hints at the previous administration.  They should be careful about what they wish for when it comes to legal cases.

Coal Mining Has Destroyed 1.5 Million Acres of Appalachian Forest—Imagine if someone came up with a plan to restore these 1.5 million acres to something resembling a forest?  Imagine hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into a region for the largest environmental restoration project in the history of mankind?  I can imagine it being possible, can you?

From Coal Mines To Solar Farms: It’s Complicated, But Doable—The landscapes of coal country have been scarred by an extractive industry, see above, that has no interest in the long term viability of the communities or the health of the people left behind.

US Wind Installations To Surge Before PTC Phase-Out In 2021—We can all hope that by 2020 or so there is a more visionary government installed in the U.S. that extends these tax credits to continue one of the few positive developments in our energy infrastructure.

The $3 Billion Plan to Turn Hoover Dam Into a Giant Battery—The era of “big” public works seems to be over, but what if we could use all of that infrastructure to help the transition to a 100% renewable economy?

‘Peak Coal’ is Getting Closer, Latest Figures Show—This is why the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, and demand destruction are so important.  Coal is teetering on the edge of economic relevance and we can topple the beast with a concerted effort.

Energy Dept. Coal and Nuclear Subsidy could Cost Average US Household $160 to $500 Per Year—As coal and nuclear are no longer competitive in the electricity generation marketplace it is now the responsibility of the American people to ensure that these companies make money.  Why?  Because they donate a lot of money to people like Donald Trump.  This is not about national security, it is about keeping coal companies humming along.

UPS Partners with L.A.-Based Startup Thor on Electric Delivery Truck—Electrification of the heavy and medium duty truck market would be a more cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trying to goose adoption through personal automobile electrification.  These commercial vehicles are driven a lot more, bought in large quantities by a single user, and can make an economic case better than personal automobiles.

Have We Reached Peak Storage?—I truly hope we have reached a point where we no longer need to build storage units external to our home to store stuff that we use so infrequently that it can be stored at a remote location.

Marie Kondo Wants You to Buy More Boxes—What the shit?  Is this when you know a trend has really “jumped the shark?”  I thought the idea behind this was to buy less stuff?  We’re all just pimps for something.

Why Your Kid Needs Time Just to Be—As parents we are a seriously neurotic bunch worrying about our kids future.  Maybe, just maybe, the key to raising a happy child is to let them be a kid once in a while.  Or, letting them just be a kid a whole lot.

The Best Way to Cut Your Emissions is to Stop Driving and Start Biking

Depending upon how you calculate the numbers transportation is now the greatest source of emissions in the United States:

Transportation Emissions

No matter the degree to which we decarbonize are electric grid the effort will be for naught if we do not begin to address the emissions that are a result of our transportation choices.  Transportation emissions come from a lot of sources—personal automobiles, delivery vehicles, mass transit, etc.  The most direct control that we have over transportation emissions is to control how much we drive personal automobiles.  If we do not drive our vehicles do not produce emissions.  It is a fairly simple calculus.

A gallon of gasoline produces approximately 20 pounds of carbon dioxide when combusted. The average fuel economy for a new car is 23.4 miles per gallon.   Simple math gives you 0.85 pounds of carbon dioxide produced for each mile driven.  Considering that the U.S. is such a truck/SUV/crossover/whatever market I am going to round that up to one pound of carbon dioxide produced for every one mile driven.

Do not drive a mile, save a pound.  It is a direct, one-for-one relationship in my mind and it makes for a fairly simple accounting of progress.

The average American drivers puts 13,474 miles per year in behind the wheel or, according to my simple math, creates 13,474 pounds of carbon dioxide via combustion to drive.  That is a lot of carbon dioxide.  To put it into comparison, the solar array on my home that went active last August is calculated to have saved approximately 3,350 pounds of carbon dioxide in just over seven months.  If the average driver reduced miles driven by approximately 25% the savings would be roughly the same.  This is why we have to address our addiction to fossil fuels in the transportation sector in order to have any significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and arresting climate change.

My goal for the next nine months is to drive less than 2,500 miles in total.  Why 2,500 miles?  It’s the length of time, in miles, until my next oil change.  Why nine months?  It’s the length of time, in months, before my next trip to Colorado. Everything seemed to line up in such a way to make this an easy target to measure and understand.  This would also put me on pace to drive approximately 5,000 miles per year including regular trips to Colorado.

A goal of 5,000 miles per year or less would mean a reduction of almost 63% versus the average American driver and a similar reduction in carbon emissions.  Now imagine a world where the United States reduced its emissions from transportation by 63%.  Wow.

It is not just a story about emissions.  Personal automobiles are expensive.  Most people do not realize the full costs of driving in a way that is easily quantified.  You could spend a lot of time calculating the actual cost per mile of driving for your particular situation or you could just let the IRS do the leg work.  For 2017 the IRS has set the “mileage rate” at 53.5 cents per mile.

In my particular case nine months of driving will cost $1338.  However, every trip to work that I replace with a bicycle trip will save me $6.  Greenhouse gas emissions are hard to imagine.  Six dollars in my pocket every time I decide to commute to work on the dirt wagon is concrete.  Somewhere along the way I am going to translate these savings into a Chris King headset for my bike.

I anticipate a degree of failure, but I feel that I will make little progress toward an ambitious goal unless I make some sort of public proclamation.

MPG (Beer Equivalent)

The comments were lobbed across the common table at the local taproom:

How many miles per gallon do you get on your bike?

Is it really that efficient to ride a bike?

And so on and so forth.  The topic of conversation was the next step in the #myPersonalParis evolution.  In order to reduce my personal emissions of greenhouse gasses I have set the goal of riding my bike to work three days a week through the fall.  Sixty percent of my commuting trips by bike might seem a little aggressive, but I feel that doing more than half will be a sort of tipping point in my daily behaviors.  It’s a theory and I am going to test that theory in practice.

The miles per gallon question is a constant because there is always some smart ass in the room who says, “You aren’t carbon free because you are breathing.”  Sure enough, but I had to be breathing anyway so I consider that a moot point.

However, let’s spend a moment to ruminate on the relative efficiency of riding a bike to work versus commuting in my truck.

A gallon of gasoline contains 7,594 kilocalories of energy and a gallon of e85 contains 5,463 kilocalories of energy. [1]  On average my truck—a Ford F-150 equipped with a flex-fuel V-8 engine—achieves 15 miles per gallon using e85 fuel.  Simple math says that my truck uses approximately 364 kilocalories to travel one mile.

What about the bike.  Based on over 1,110 miles of riding tracked via a Garmin vivoactive HR the kilocalories expended to travel one miles via a bicycle is approximately 65.  The range is anywhere from 60 to 75 with the high end representing some serious pedal mashing on a long distance ride.

Based purely in terms of kilocalories the bicycle is around six times more efficient just to transport myself from point A to point B.

How does that translate to miles per gallon?  I do not care because I am not fueled by gasoline.  Beer on the other hand?  The average pint of beer—not the light lager swill—contains 200 kilocalories.  A gallon therefore contains 1,600 kilocalories.  [2] Therefore, I achieve approximately 25 miles per gallon beer equivalent or MPGBE.

It’s a ridiculous comparison, but sometimes we need a little folly.

 

Friday Linkage 11/13/2015

Apparently Starbucks destroyed Christmas with its minimalist holiday cup. I did not know that the final straw to break the back of Christmas celebration in the United States was the lack of an overt Christmas message on the cups of overprice coffee. I guess I missed Jesus’ teaching on that issue. Damn.

On to the links…

Satellites Expose Just How Bad Indonesia’s Fires Are—Will climate change lead to a world on fire? If Indonesia is any kind of harbinger we better be ready for a smoky world.

Congress’ Chief Climate Denier Lamar Smith and NOAA Are at War—I applaud NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan for responding to Texas Republican Lamar Smith’s bluster with simple steely determination. It is high time that Congressional Republicans be called out for the chilling effect their rhetoric is having on scientific speech in this country.

Average US mpg for October falls—Gas is cheap, so people bought big cars that get bad mileage and drove more. We are so short sighted.

Bankruptcy Expected for Arch Coal, A Reflection of Industry Woes—Alpha Natural Resources declared bankruptcy and Arch Coal is expected to follow. Arch Coal used to have a stock price of over $3,400 per share. As of Thursday the stock was trading at ~$1.50 per share. Coal is dead.

One of the World’s Largest Coal Companies Misled Investors About Climate Change Risk, Investigation Finds—Coal companies lied and people died. Simple enough.

Solar Cheapest Electricity Option In Chile—Solar, and wind in a lot of countries, is now the cheapest option when it comes to installing new electrical generating capacity. Here is to hoping that the cost curve keeps bending downward and we can deploy even more demand destroying solar.

Prefer Your Meat Drug-Free? You’re the “Fringe 1 Percent”—Here is the playbook from the right wing: Label someone’s personal choice that is completely rational as something originating from the lunatic fringe. That way it sounds like it comes from the same pool of thought as the anti-vaccine movement and those creepy quiver full people. Oh wait, those are right wing pet causes. Whoops.

When a Supermarket Changes How a Neighborhood Feels About Itself—Interesting stuff about how small changes can lead to indirect changes in people’s behavior and attitudes. It makes you think about how the built environment contributes to attitudes and behaviors.

25 Sneaky Names for Palm Oil—Palm oil is bad stuff. It is driving deforestation in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, which is imperiling orangutans and other at risk species. The problem is that stuff is in a lot of the products we use and producers are sneaky about not actually calling it palm oil, lest Girl Scouts get all nasty on them.

24 Mind-Blowing Facts About Marijuana Production in America—Marijuana is going to be mainstream in the United States within my lifetime. Heck, it may get there in the next couple of election cycles. Here are some facts about the production of your weed that may surprise you.

Friday Linkage 6/26/2015

So much rain and a lot of miles. Rain and miles occupy much of my thoughts lately. To get to my seasonal mileage goal on my bike I have to time a lot of rides around when it is going to rain. When an area sees storms drop multiple inches of rain in an hour or throw hailstones the size of golf balls and larger this is a harder task than it seems at first blush. First world problems, I guess.

On to the links…

The Economic Limitations of Wind and Solar Power—Most of the time we get focused on the technical limitations of renewable energy without really thinking about the broad economic limits. This piece is a well-reasoned look at those limitations.

Europe’s Emissions Decreased Another 5% in 2014—Some of this is a function of a mild winter, which reduces the demand for natural gas and heating oil, but there is something to this trend. If only the U.S. could actually follow suit and find a way to reduce its emissions.

Texas Enjoys Record-Breaking Quarter As New Solar Capacity Soars—Texas now has ~379 MW of installed solar—adding up utility, residential, and commercial—with 2015 looking like a big year in terms of cumulative additions to this total. Remember, every solar panel is less fossil fuel that needs to be burned. It’s demand destruction lone star state style.

India Expects 52% Jump In Annual Wind Energy Capacity Addition—India is looking to have 60 GW or more of wind energy installed by 2022. Now, if we could just retire some of those old coal fired power plants.

Pakistan Solar Park Plugs In 100 MW To Grid—I probably should not follow a story on India about one on Pakistan, but it looks like these two blood rivals are in the renewables news.

Renewables will Supply Majority of Australia’s Electricity by 2040—Now that there is a study showing a roadmap of getting to majority by 2040 how does Straya accelerate that into 2030 or sooner? These are the questions we need to be asking. Stretch goals.

50% Renewable Electricity Passed By California Senate—50% is great, but why stop there?

For Automakers, Fuel Economy Targets May Be Less of a Stretch—When the new mileage targets came out a few years ago all the commentators howled that it was impossible to meet these targets without every vehicle becoming some sort of punishing econobox. Guess what? Innovation happened.

One Container Ship may Cause as Much Cancer as 50M Cars—Shipping is a dirty business because these massive container ships use bunker oil. Just think of it as the sludge that is left over when everything else of value has been extracted from oil. You are left with the shit. It’s cheap, plentiful, and really dirty. If there is a low hanging fruit, in terms of emissions and pollution reduction, it has to be switching ships off bunker oil.

Recycling is Stalling in U.S., and Big Blue Bins are One Reason—Recycling bins have just become trash bins we do not feel guilty about. It’s recycled, we say, throwing packaging and what not into one big bin. Guess what? It’s likely to become trash.

Once And Future Nut: How Genetic Engineering May Bring Back Chestnuts—Chestnuts are an acquired taste. Roasted chestnuts may be sung about every holiday season, but how many people actually know what those taste like? I remember getting a bag every year after Thanksgiving when I would take a trip into Chicago with my parents. It’s but a memory now that chestnut trees have been obliterated by blight.

General Mills to Remove Artificial Colors, Flavors from Cereals—While I applaud this move, did anyone ever really buy a box of Trix and think, “These are natural, right?”

Why did this businessman buy 53,000 acres in Florida?—Usually when you read about someone buying a bunch of land in Florida it is about subdividing that land and turning it into a retirement community. Apparently someone has a different idea about how Florida should look.

Corona Is Expanding Its Breweries to Keep up with Demand—Dear god why? How much of this stank beer can bros drink? Seriously, is there a worse beer that people think is premium and drink with such vigor? Why?