Tag Archives: carbon tax

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 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 10/12/2018

There are just 25 days until the midterm elections on November 6th.  If you are not registered to vote, do so as soon as possible.  If you are unfamiliar with the rules for voting in your state, get educated as soon as possible with regard to identification requirements and what not.

It is generally hyperbole to claim that any single election is the “most important election” of our lifetime, but given the absolutely dystopian two years under President Trump and his Republican enablers one has to believe with some temerity the claim of importance.  Nonetheless, get out and vote.  There is no excuse.

On to the links…

A Major New Climate Report Slams the Door on Wishful Thinking—The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is grim as fuck.

10 Ways to Accelerate Progress Against Climate Change—The actions we need to take are not mysteries.  We just need to possess the will to actually demand and implement change.

Trump’s FERC Pick Could Tip Balance in Favor of Coal Bailout—Everyone is pretty much against this silly ass bailout plan for non-competitive coal and nuclear power plants save for Trump and a coterie of people who make money off of ageing coal and nuclear plants.  When you can’t get the result you want make sure you appoint a loyal toadie to make it happen.  It’s the Trump way.

EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler Engaged With Racist, Conspiratorial Posts On Social Media—Seriously, can Trump not find a single person to serve in his administration who is not compromised morally or ethically?  It’s like he has a deck of cards with every rogue who wants to serve in government, but was blackballed by prior administrations for sucking at life.

Science Says Saving the Planet Could Really Be as Simple as Saving Trees—Trees are amazing and as a collective forest these organisms are even more amazing.  In these troubled climatic times, we need an effort to radically and quickly reforest degraded lands and stop the destruction of the forests that remain.

Caution Urged Over Use of ‘Carbon Unicorns’ to Limit Warming—Geoengineering is a slippery slope.  There is a segment of the populace that believes the solution to our climate change challenge lies in developing carbon sequestering technologies that will suck the carbon out of the atmosphere.

No State Has Ever Enacted a Carbon Tax. Washington Voters Might Just Do It Anyway.—The irony of the carbon tax as the “holy grail” of climate policies is that is actually one of the simplest tools to actually implement.

The End of Coal Could Be Closer Than It Looks—Coal may continue down what appears to be a fairly linear decline until it hits a cliff because at a certain point the economics become untenable.  Maybe.

One Of America’s Oldest Coal Companies Just Filed For Bankruptcy—Declaring bankruptcy is something that rich people and corporations do to keep from actually having to pay their debts, see the current President of the United States who loves bankruptcy filing almost as much as he loves divorce court.  However, it is not something that is done by healthy businesses in attractive industries.  Mining coal is anything but an attractive industry right now.

Wyoming Proposes Its Own Methane Regulations As Federal Level Sees Rules Relaxed—Curbing methane emissions from natural gas wells was a central part of the Obama-era climate change action plan that has been gutted by the great cheese puff.  You know that things might be going your way when a state like Wyoming works toward some sort of action on the issue.

Iowa Looks to Take the Next Steps on Storage—Iowa has a lot of wind energy with even more coming on line.  However, intermittency is an issue.  Enter energy storage.

Five Radical Steps We Can Take to Fight Climate Change—It’s not rocket science.  Heck, it will probably look a lot like things in European countries during war time.

Oysters On The Half Shell Are Actually Saving New York’s Eroding Harbor—It’s not all bad news all the time.  This is a great story about taking something that restaurants literally threw away and turning that waste into something beneficial.  Why can’t this program be expanded all along the Atlantic seaboard?  And the Pacific seaboard for that matter?

Friday Linkage 9/14/2018

It’s been seventeen years since the attacks of September 11th.  It is amazing to believe that the students entering college this fall have no personal living memory of that day when it is so indelibly scarred on so many of our consciences.  Time marches on without regard to our humanity.

It is also amazing to think about the path we chose to follow as a country in the aftermath of September 11th.  The administration of George W. Bush, which seems like a gauzy dream during these days of Trump, got us into two wars from which we are not out of seventeen years later.  All for a total cost of more than $1.5 trillion and counting.

What could we have done with $1.5 trillion in the United States?  Remember, this money is gone and what it bought is used up, blown up, stolen, or just plain abandoned in the desert.  In essence, we have gotten nothing for our blood and treasure.

On to the links…

The Most Ambitious Climate Plan In History—In the coming years the battle lines will be drawn over a carbon tax.  All the other mechanisms, carrot and/or stick, will be shelved in favor of a simple carbon tax.  As they say on sports talk radio, book it.

U.S. Budget Deficit Widens to Fifth-Highest Ever, CBO Reports—Any time a Republican says “Tax cuts pay for themselves” please ask them for evidence to back up that claim that does not come from the Heritage Foundation.  It is not that the United States does not have enough money for a progressive agenda, it’s that America is being looted by the right wing for corporate interests.

Trump Administration Rushes To Lease Federal Lands—These bastards know that they are living on borrowed time, so they better get while the getting is good.  Teapot Dome scandal will have nothing on these grifters when the final accounting is complete.

The E.P.A.’s Review of Mercury Rules Could Remake Its Methods for Valuing Human Life and Health—In Trump’s America your life is worth less than a coal baron’s ability to make a lot of money.  There is no other reason to change this rule except to mollify the retrograde coal companies that are one of the last groups to actually like Donald Trump.

Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air—Oh wait, oil and gas bros also still like Donald Trump because his administration is doing yeoman’s work for them.

Scott Pruitt in Talks with Coal Company for his Next Job—Nothing says looking out for Americans’ interests quite like taking a job with the type of company you favored over the aforementioned Americans’ interests not three months after leaving office in a cloud of scandal.  Maybe they offered him a Trump mattress and some of that special lotion as a signing bonus?

Cover the U.S. In 89 Percent Trees, or Go Solar—Why not do both?  I love trees and I love solar.  Until every south and west facing roof is covered in solar panels we have not done enough.

California Commits To 100 Percent Clean Energy By 2045—It’s big and it’s bold.  Is it possible?  I don’t know, but watching California lead the pack will be interesting.  I would love to see Iowa go 100% wind powered and beat everyone to the punch.

For States That Have Already Met Their Renewable Energy Goals, A New Question: Now What?—If you do not think local and state elections matter then consider this possibility: states that have met their RPS could just stay put and do nothing more going into the future if there is no push from local constituencies.  Or, these same states could do more.  Your call.

Sony Vows to Use 100 Percent Renewable Electricity by 2040—If your state won’t commit to renewables maybe your favorite company can.  Heck, some of these companies have a carbon footprint of small countries.

How Solar Power Saved $6.7 Million on a Tuesday—It got really hot in the Northeast U.S.  However, solar power pushed peak demand pricing to later in the day when things cooled down by providing up to 20% of the electricity on the grid.  What did coal do for you today?

Coal-Dependent Utility Fights Efforts to Reveal Whether Power Plants are Cost-Efficient—These are the boring but important stories to watch.  State utility boards are the definition of boring government business.  That being said, these same utility boards hold hearings that can eviscerate the economic basis for continuing to use coal.

Largest Offshore Wind Farm Opens off England’s Coast—I have to imagine that offshore wind is a Republican nightmare.  It is wind power, so they hate it.  However, it is offshore so any protest about appearance or the environment would also argue against offshore oil and gas drilling.  What is someone bought and paid for by Exxon cash to do?

Coal-Killing Energy Storage Grows By 200% In US—The last thing coal has going for it is that it is baseload power.  It can be counted on to deliver power when it is scheduled to deliver power.  However, the intermittency of renewables can be mitigated with some measure of storage.

Fossil Fuel Demand Set To Peak In The 2020s—It should be our mission in life to see that this peak happens sooner than forecast and that demand declines at a precipitous rate thereafter.

Large Trucks are Biggest Culprits of Near-Road Air Pollution—This is just one of the many reasons why electrification of transportation should focus on commercial trucks and busses first.

By 2040, Most of the World Won’t Have Enough Water to Meet Demand Year-Round—If you do not things are going to get turbulent and violent in the coming decades just wait until the taps run dry in many parts of the world.  Do you still want to be watering a lawn in Utah?

How to Eat Well – and Save the Planet—Most of these ideas are not rocket science.  Eat less meat.  Avoid high fructose corn syrup.  It it’s processed, leave it on the shelf at the store.  And so on…

Fundraisers for Sick Restaurant Employees Represent the Failure of American Health Care—The other battle line in America, in addition to a carbon tax, is with regard to health care.  The right wing does not care that you cannot get health care.  The right wing wants you to get sick and die, but only after spending all of your assets to obtain some measure of care.  They want you to die with a single red cent left to your name.

More Older Americans Are Turning To Marijuana—If you have any doubts about the future of marijuana legalization in the United States imagine what the situation will be like when AARP and baby boomers get behind the trend?  Federal legalization is a fait accompli.

Airbus SeaWing Kite Sails To Cut Fuel Costs For Cargo Ships 20%Haven’t we seen this idea before?

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 11/23/2012

Well, it’s Black Friday.  Are you avoiding the insanity of America’s unofficial holiday devoted to shopping?  I know I am.

Talking Turkey with Michael Pollan—Michael Pollan may be one of the most “overexposed” members of the modern food movement, but what he says is usually insightful.  On a day when most people are out hoarding consumer goods and stuffing their mouths with nasty fast food it’s a nice reminder of some other avenues.

Film Documents Americans Who Reap an Amazing Harvest from Waste—It’s Black Friday, but it’s also the perfect time to think about just how much stuff we waste in the United States.  The documentary “Spoils” shows this waste in Technicolor.  Dig it.

Ten Reasons a Carbon Tax is Trickier than You Think—A carbon tax, in my honest opinion, is a non-starter in the U.S. because taxes have become a dirty word in politics.  Never mind that we currently use the tax system to discourage certain behaviors and promote others already.

Why Hundreds More U.S. Coal Plants are Ripe for Retirement—Maybe some real progress can be made in the coming years to shut down some of these behemoths.  Granted, the replacement capacity will probably come from natural gas generation due to the death of the wind production tax credit.  That is unless Republicans get their heads out of their own asses and do something…oh wait, the leadership is still comprised of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

India’s Solar Revolution: Why Small is Big—I have seen a lot of stories and analysis that point to India as an emerging lab for solar technologies that are distributed because India’s grid is creaky, unreliable, and run by corrupt companies.  In essence, the hope is that India can leapfrog the centralized grid entirely for large swaths of its undeveloped countryside.

Feed Your Passion for Fixing Stuff with Sugru—I do not know if I would actually use this stuff or how it even works, but I am intrigued.  I might just have to buy some for my toolbox.

Where Will the Money Go from the BP Settlement—Besides to the lawyers.

Let Go of the Weedkiller and Learn to Love Weeding—Weeding never seemed like much of a chore to me.  You get the spend time outdoors in a generally low key way.  When you are done there is a bucket of material for the compost bin and the garden beds look nice.  Where is the problem here?

Utah State Goes Ahead with Wireless EV Charging—Damn, if you do not think that this is cool…well, I don’t know what is cool.  It finally seems like we are getting some momentum on having a portfolio of options for transportation power other than unleaded or diesel.

Innovative Projects Show the Promise of Geothermal—This really gets to the idea of finding the highest returns possible for an investment in technology.  Sure, slapping photovoltaic panels on a roof seems like the best way to deploy capital but there are a host of other technologies that might save more money and reduce impact more.

The Extraordinary Effort to Save Sockeye Salmon—This is a really fascinating look into the entire regime dedicated to preserving the salmon species in the northwest U.S.  Maybe the solution of returning our rivers to their more natural state is a better deployment of capital.  Just saying.