Tag Archives: carbon footprint

Friday Linkage 11/22/2019

This week one of the true giants of craft brewing announced a sale to a multi-national beverage conglomerate.  Fort Collins based New Belgium Brewery–the people behind Fat Tire Amber Ale–sold out to the group behind Kirin. This is the fourth largest craft brewery in the United States and the eleventh largest brewery overall.  Middle craft beer is dead. Support your small local brewery. Like today.

On to the links…

Keystone Spill Has Affected Nearly 10x More Land Than Was Estimated–Every time that someone brings up an argument in favor of an oil pipeline, especially the Keystone XL pipeline, just link to this article.  There is no such thing as a perfectly safe and secure oil or gas pipeline. The only perfectly safe and secure oil or gas pipeline is one that is not built.

See How Good the World Could be in 2040—If We Act on Climate Solutions Now–Lost in a lot of the pessimism about climate change specifically and the state of the world in general is that a future dystopia is not the only path available to use if we act.  Sure, right wing fanatics would have you believe that accelerationism–which is really just a pet theory for apocalypse nuts–is driving the world to the end times but they are wrong.

How Much Energy do We Really Need?–This is the kind of question that we need to be asking because it cuts at the very heart of the perpetual growth arguments of modern economic theory.  If we do not need to grow in perpetuity than we will need less energy than forecast in the future.

How to Cut U.S. Carbon Pollution by Nearly 40 Percent in 10 Years–Common sense and simple solutions to accelerate the climate change solution are available.  The problem is that a portion of this country’s politicians have no incentive whatsoever to embrace anything other than reactionary politics.  This is how we got a place where a conservative solution to health care coverage became the right wing’s bugaboo. We are doomed as long as these people are given any agency.

A Carbon Tax Won’t Kill the Economy–When someone at Forbes writes this article you have to wonder if the worm has turned.  It could also be that even the people at Forbes realize that America is relatively undertaxed and a carbon tax would go a long way to addressing destructive behaviors.  Somewhere Grover Norquist is hiding under his bedsheets and crying.

Two of America’s Biggest Coal Plants Closed this Month–This is why we keep pounding away at the problem by increasing efficiency, installing solar panels, and fighting for the true costs of fossil fuels to be included in the price of extraction.  Even with a president in the pocket of coal barons the ancient fuel is dying. Here is the damning paragraph from the article:

Together, the two retirements equal all the emission reductions from coal plant shut-downs in 2015, a record year when 15 GW of mostly smaller and older units were shuttered, reports Scientific American. Last year, 14 GW were mothballed. In 2020, more are on the way, including Kentucky’s Paradise plant.

The Paradise plant in Kentucky represents 1.15 GW of coal fired capacity.  It’s closure and another TVA asset in the region will save customers over $300M.  That is economics, bro!

5 Things to Know about Fighting Climate Change by Planting Trees–Here is the thing that gets me about this debate: the argument is that planting trees is not as good as some people make it out to be.  Okay, but that does not mean it is not beneficial. Just because the upside potential is lower than advertised does not mean that it ceases to be a worthwhile endeavour.  What is the downside?

When Residents Support Solar—Just ‘Not in My Backyard’–This is the worst.  Supposed liberals and supporters of green energy who just want to put energy production somewhere else.  Take responsibility for your consumption.

EasyJet Flights are Now Carbon Neutral–Carbon offsets are kind of the crack cocaine of the climate mitigation movement.  Easy to consume and oh so addictive. “See, we are carbon neutral,” a company can say without really addressing the underlying environmentally destructive behaviors that drive their business.

This Man Wants to Convince America Beef is Healthier than Meatless Burgers–This is also a man who worked for years to convince the American public that smoking was not a public heath crisis.  This is the same kind of man who will tell you industrial pollution is actually good for you. This is the same kind of man who will sell his soul for a few extra dollars in his bank.  This is the kind of man who needs to rot in hell.

There Are 2,000 Untested Chemicals in Packaged Foods — and It’s Legal–In some dark basement somewhere Richard Berman is swimming in his ill gotten gains like an oily Scrooge McDuck wondering if he should contact the packaged food industry to begin a campaign of telling us that untested chemicals in our food are really good for us.  Or, we could just avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store.

Los Angeles Places Largest Single Electric Bus Order In US History — 130 BYD K7M Buses–I am really waiting for the day when orders like this are just commonplace.  Or when orders of a much larger magnitude are what we report about. Still, progress.

Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Program Offers Valuable Vehicle-to-Grid Lesson–When electric buses are idle those big batteries can be part of the solution in shifting the mismatch between the supply of renewable energy and the demand for electricity.

Thermal Camera Reveals Efficiency Gap Between EV And ICE–About this time of year I wished I had a little bit of that wasted energy for heating my Nissan Leaf.

The U.S. Natural Gas Boom Is Fueling A Global Plastics Boom–Cheap natural gas equals cheap plastic.

Fast Shipping isn’t Great for the Environment— 7 Ways to Cut the Carbon Footprint on your Amazon Deliveries–Until Amazon is rocking a fleet of Rivian electric delivery trucks you are stuck with getting stuffed shipped the old fashioned way–heavily carbon intensive.  The advice is really simple: ship it together and ship it slowly. Or just stop buying stuff online.

Friday Linkage 4/26/2019

Steve King, the white supremacist representative from northwest Iowa, is not a man of faith.  He uses his so-called faith as a shield for his vile beliefs and his lack of a record in Congress.  He is not like Jesus Christ, but he will waste no time in making the comparison if he thinks it will help him get elected.

This is the same strain of “faith” that allows people like Michele Bachmann to claim that Donald Trump is “godly.”

It is the same strain of “faith” that allows hucksters like Jerry Falwell Jr. to claim that Donald Trump can do no wrong in his eyes.

It is not faith.  It is naked lust for power.

On to the links…

Interior Department Watchdog Opens Ethics Probe Into 6 Agency Officials—Repeat after me, “This is the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States.”

This GIF Captures Just How Gigantic the U.S. Carbon Footprint Is—It’s kind of alarming to see this play out.

There’s an Amazingly Simple, Beautiful Way to Fix Midwestern Farmlands—This is the most impactful potential change I have seen proposed and it makes so much sense.  For too long the modus operandi has been to encourage farmers, at their own economic risk, to plant as much acreage as possible. What if the solution is to maximize the efficiency of capital relative to planted acreage?

10 Ways to Accelerate Progress Against Climate Change—We know what we can do in the near term to accelerate the fight against climate change.  None of these actions require breakthroughs in technology.  It just requires political will.

7 Things We’ve Learned about Earth since the Last Earth Day—Knowledge is power.

How America’s ‘Tree-to-Toilet Pipeline’ is Destroying Forests—We are literally wiping our asses with boreal forest.  There is a better way.

Eco-Friendly Solid Could Replace Conventional Refrigerants—No one talks about the damage refrigerants can cause because we think we beat this beast in the 1990s with bans on certain CFCs.  Nope and in a world where air conditioning becomes more prevalent the damage will be greater.

Could Hawaii Be Paradise For Hydrogen-Powered Public Transit?—Hawaii is our energy laboratory.  The hydrogen economy never really got off the ground because it was just a better idea to feed renewable energy into the grid instead of converting it to hydrogen and dealing with the attendant losses.  However, what if you have too much renewable energy at certain times?  Now it makes sense to think about hydrogen as a chemical battery of sorts.

The Problem with Online Shopping—I think the article could have stopped at the “problem with online” and answered a lot of questions.  The most frightening passage in the article is this:

Consumption has reached an all-time high in the United States. In 2017, people spent $240 billion on random stuff like clothes, shoes, phones, books, and toys – double what was spent in 2002, despite the population growing by only 13 percent.

What the hell?

Why You Should Join the ‘Do Nothing’ Club—Maybe we should all aspire to be Peter Gibbons.

Back to Earth: Washington Set to Allow ‘Human Composting’—Ashes to ashes and dust to dust…yeah, this is the way I want my family to deal with my mortal remains in the end.

Friday Linkage 8/24/2018

I came back from London to a world where “Truth isn’t truth.”  Maybe so, but felony convictions and guilty pleas are pretty much fact.

I thought that we had reached peak semantic games when Bill Clinton tried to debate what the meaning of the word is was under a given context, but Donald Trump and his minions have come along to upset the entire apple cart of human decency.

We now live in a country and, maybe, a world where a large segment of the population does not believe in objective truth unless supported by Sean Hannity and Alex Jones—who, by the way, tried to argue in a custody case that he was a “performance artist” and therefore his speech was “art.”  You get the idea.

On to the links…

Trump Administration Scraps Plan To Sell Land Cut From Utah Monument—It is all a grift.  Everything these criminals do is in support of the con to loot the American public of every last nickel and dime before the authorities finally start actually locking people up.

Ryan Zinke Would ‘Sell His Grandkids For Big Oil,’ Says Washington Governor—Jay Inslee forgot uranium mining and coal mining and mineral extraction…

Trump Administration Hit With 7 Major Environmental Setbacks In Court In Past Week—Granted, the impact of this administration will be felt for decades as Republicans in Congress have finally decided to fill long empty court seats because they like a white guy picking judges as opposed to a black guy.  If you think their reticence to confirm Obama’s nominees has anything to do with anything other than naked racism you are delusional.

Trump’s Attacks on Public Lands Could Help the Democrats in These States—Surprise, surprise…people in western states like public lands and understand when a politician is just shilling for the oil and gas industries.

Talk About “Losing Money” — US Shale Gas Will Crash … Hard—This is not a really bold prediction for anyone who has followed the boom and bust cycle of the U.S. oil industry for the past fifty or so years.  Remember Denver in the late 1980s?  No one really does because the crash turned the city into a ghost town.

New 9.8 Megawatt Solar Farm In Gallup, New Mexico, Will Save City $785,000 In First 8 Years—Keep pushing coal Donny Two Scoops.  Meanwhile, the rest of the world will move to cheaper and cleaner sources of energy.

Bitcoin’s Annual Carbon Footprint Is Equal to One Million Transatlantic Flights—I admittedly do not really understand bitcoin, but the carbon footprint is out of control.

The Conflict of Interest That Is Killing Recycling—It is the fox guarding the hen house.  Landfill operators and trash haulers want to pick up rubbish and dump it in a landfill.  That is where they make their money.  Recycling is just something that municipalities have burdened them with and they are failing to make the entire endeavor work.

New York’s Push to End Inequality Extends to Garbage—Environmental justice is social justice.  The story of garbage collection and transfer in New York City is the story of how rich people or, at the very least, not poor people have paid to have their trash sent to places where the residents did not have the money and/or clout to prevent the operation of transfer stations.

Report Finds Traces of a Controversial Herbicide in Cheerios and Quaker Oats—Who does not want a little Roundup in their breakfast cereal?  Seriously, we need to stop indiscriminately spraying chemicals on our land.  It is wrong.

Piles of Peer Reviewed Research Show How Bad Cooking with Gas is for Your Health—I have always been a fan of a smooth top electric range because of how easy the top is to clean, but now it looks like I was making a healthy choice as well.  I have always kind of wondered about the wisdom of having an open flame burning in my kitchen.

In Praise of the Dumb Box—I don’t know if calling it the dumb box is the right idea.  Simple.  Austere.  Nordic?  For every “starcitecht’s” whack ass vision in curves and angles there is a basic box doing yeoman’s work housing people.  We tend to actually like basic boxes because it provides us actual space to put our touch on things rather than living in a prefab module.

Norway Has A Radical Approach To Plastic Pollution, And It’s Working—On top of dealing with climate change, we need to deal with the scourge of plastic pollution.  Maybe the Norwegians have figured something out.

Indian Man has Planted a Tree Every Day for 40-Years and Now has a Thriving Forest Larger than Central Park—Maybe we should all just wake up tomorrow and plant a tree.  Turn off the news, put down the phone, and plant a tree.

Friday Linkage 2/14/2014

During the winter residents of the Midwest who have lived here more than a few years are pretty stoic about the cold and snow.  This winter, with its epic cold snaps and constant moisture events, have made people look toward days where the temperatures sneak above 32 degrees Fahrenheit with a hunger bordering on salacious.

Next week’s anticipated temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit will feel downright tropical.

On to the links…

Sustainable Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough Raises Hopes for Ultimate Green Energy—Nuclear fusion is the holy grail of green energy development and would alter the face of the world if it could be made to work at a scale that was economical.  Every step forward toward that goal is important, even if it is incremental at best.

Company Has Yet To Stop Leaks That Have Been Spilling Tar Sands In Alberta For 9 Months—Do you want to know what the future looks like if we fully exploit Canadian tar sands?  Look no further than this leak in Alberta that has been occurring for the past nine months.  Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. should be ashamed but they will probably just use it as an excuse to push for more development in some twisted logic that only an oil man would understand.

Pipe Break At Coal Facility Contaminates West Virginia Waterway—Can’t West Virginia catch a break.  Not when your state is owned by coal interests.  It looks like Patriot Coal, the spinoff of everyone’s favorite coal villain Peabody Coal, is responsible this time.  The company will find a way to weasel out of paying any damages.

6 Ways Ted Cruz Wants To Increase Carbon Pollution, All In One Bill—Ted Cruz is really swinging for the fences as he attempts to position himself as the presumptive wingnut nominee for President of the United States.  Please run.  It could be worse, we could be hearing from Rick Santorum.

U.S. Average Fuel Economy Increases In January—Not all U.S. energy news was bad this week.  Fleetwide U.S. fuel economy increased to 24.9 miles per gallon in January 2014.  The surprising part of the statistic is that “green” cars like hybrids and EVs actually saw sales fall, but high mileage traditional engine cars made up for the decline with marked improvement in fuel economy.

Wind of Change Sweeps Through Energy Policy in the Caribbean—Aruba was spending close to 16% of its annual income on fuel imported from outside the country.  By 2020, the island nation hopes to be free of fossil fuel imports.  If a small island nation can commit to the transition why can’t more countries?

India Wants To Switch 26 Million Water Pumps To Solar Power Instead Of Diesel—We all love the idea of rooftops covered in solar panels, but there so many applications for solar that do not involve residential electricity.  What is the market for 26 million systems look like?

Interactive Map Shows 47,000 Onshore Wind Turbines in U.S.—Maps are cool.  Maps that show wind turbines are really cool.

California has One-Third of Nation’s Solar Jobs—This is not surprising given the scale of California’s solar programs and companies like SolarCity being established in the state.  It also gives hopes to other states that have great solar resources to exploit in experiencing job growth associated with a new industry.

I Spent 28 Hours on a Bus. I Loved It.—Meteorologist Eric Holthaus decided to reduce his personal carbon footprint.  The most significant single driver that he could impact was to cut out flying.  Read about trying to travel long distances in this country without using air travel.

14 Food Waste Facts That Will Make You Want to Change the World—One of the easiest changes that we can make on a personal level to reduce our carbon footprint is to stop wasting food.  The statistics about food waste are kind of mind bending.

7 Things Republicans Would Be Shocked to Learn About Ronald Reagan—For most Republicans Ronald Reagan stands atop the their personal Mount Rushmore even though a lot of his actions in office run counter to their current crop of ideals.  Taxes?  He raised them.  Illegal immigrants?  Amnesty.  Guns?  Regulated.  Tear down this myth already.

Amid Elephant Slaughter, Ivory Trade in U.S. Continues—Yes, the idea is that the ivory predates rules about the traffic in illegal ivory but it is impossible to enforce.  There should be a complete ban on the sale of ivory goods in the U.S.  Plain and simple.

Camels Had No Business in Genesis—One can never make the “Bible is literal” crowd believe because their default retort is impossible to assail even as it is the most asinine belief system in the world.  Science is just a lie to these people.  What amazes me, however, is how prominent many of these whack jobs have become.

Brewing Beer to Save the Planet

Okay, maybe I am not going to save the planet by brewing beer.  I am, however, going to reduce my carbon footprint and make a product more suited to my tastes by taking control of the means of production.

My path towards homebrew stems from two nagging concerns.  First, spending about $8 per six pack of beer is fine but when I dislike a majority of the beers for a variety of reasons it starts to bug me.  In particular, craft brewers tend to think that more “hoppy” flavors and aromas signify a superior product.  It has gotten so bad with the last couple of six packs that I thought I was getting smacked in the face with a hop clad fist.

Second, the environmental footprint of my beer drinking has to be large.  Here is something that is mostly water and shipped across the country in glass bottles that may or may not be recycled.  New Belgium Brewery, who make some of my favorite widely available beers, conducted an analysis into the carbon footprint of a six pack of Fat Tire Amber Ale.  Four areas—retail operations, glass, distribution, and paper—account for 60.4% of an average six pack’s carbon footprint.  Therefore, by brewing my own beer in reusable glass bottles I am going to have a crack at reducing my beer drinking habit’s carbon footprint by approximately 60%.  Considering that I have made the step of making my own soda at home to reduce my carbon footprint, beer seemed like the next logical step.

What pushed me over the edge is that Northern Brewer, a homebrew retailer in Minnesota and Wisconsin, recently had an offer of 40% off their deluxe starter kit if you bought the Better Bottle carboys.  Carboys are the primary vessels used in the fermentation of beer and are generally made of glass.  The Better Bottle is an non-permissible plastic bottle, which means that oxygen will not seep into the beer through the carboy’s walls.  I would have preferred glass carboys, due to glasses inherent recyclability and durability when cared for properly, but the discount was enough an inducement to get me to jump.

Coming back home from an unplanned trip to Ohio for a funeral, a mountain of boxes from Northern Brewer were waiting for me on the front step.  After unpacking and watching my daughter go hog wild with some bubble wrap I was left with this:

In addition to the deluxe starter kit, I purchased two 64 ounce jug bottles, three cases of 22 ounce glass bottles, and two recipe kits.  The recipe kits are to make American wheat and honey Kolsch beer varieties.  This weekend I will make my first attempt to brew beer and document the process.

Stuff I Like: Sodastream Genesis

The bottled beverage aisle in the grocery store blows my mind.  It is essentially an aisle of disposable—hopefully to be recycled—cans and bottles that are filled with water and maybe a few ingredients.  Bottled water is the silliest item in this aisle of the grocery store because it is often no more pure than tap water and costs an exorbitant premium compared to tap water.

I, like so many other eco-minded people, use my Camelbak bottle a lot.  I take it with me to the office and it is a constant companion at home as well.  However, I also like fizzy water.  It is a silly thing, but I like bubbles in my water and little else.  Carbonated water is one of the craziest items in the beverage aisle because it is usually imported and it is usually in glass bottles.  Transportation and packaging are huge contributors to an item’s carbon footprint.  Just see what Coca-Cola found out.

The solution is simple: make fizzy water at home.  The product: a Sodastream Genesis.  I found it in a local Bed, Bath, & Beyond where it was bundled with a package of flavor additives, two bottles, and a carbonator for about $100.  The great thing about Bed, Bath, & Beyond is that I get a 20% off one item coupon every other day in the mail.  So, for approximately $85 I walked out the door with the ability to make my own fizzy water.

The operation of the device could not be easier.  Chill a bottle of water—I usually let it spend some time in the freezer prior to carbonation—and hit it with three or four shots of gas…voila…fizzy water.  I found the flavors to be a little sweet and I do not drink soda much anyway, but I have come to like putting a little lemon juice in for a refreshing summer drink.

I have had the Sodastream Genesis for about a year now and I hardly ever buy a soda or carbonated water anymore.  I imagine that I have stopped buying a six-pack of 20 ounce sodas or carbonated water.  Doing the simple math I have saved over 300 bottles from being made and I am still going.  Pretty easy eco-argument in my opinion.

The only problem I have with the Sodastream product is that the carbonators do not last very long.  I have yet to record how many bottles I get out of one 14.5 ounce bottle.  The claim is that one carbonator of that size can complete 60 bottles.  That number seems high.  I need to get one of these.