Tag Archives: climate change

Friday Linkage 9/15/2017

The aspens are turning yellow in Colorado and the tulip trees in my backyard are doing the same.  The temps may still be in the 80s during the day, but fall is almost here.  That means on of these weekend nights will be spent waxing skis and checking over the gear.  It is time to start watching Open Snow’s reports and praying for powder.

On to the links…

As Hurricanes and Wildfires Rage, US Climate Politics Enters the Realm of Farce—It is my hope that we look back on the last fifteen or so years of American politics as an embarrassing interlude before sanity regained its footing.

Why Environmentalists Can’t Afford to Wait Until 2018—Too many times I have heard that a forthcoming election was the moment when the coalition of various environmental groups finally got their act together and drove votes to the polls.  Maybe the combination of the worst president in American history, successive natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, and a joke of Congress actually means it will happen.

The World’s Future Energy System: Cleaner, More Efficient and Less Demand—Despite how messed up things seem to be there is actual hope in the air.

Obama’s Solar Goal Has Been Met, Trump’s Energy Department Brags—Trump loves a win even if it is for something he purports to not like and set up by a man he openly loathes.  When are we going to be done with this flaccid cantaloupe and get back to some real leadership?

New Research Shows Solar Energy May Have Been Undervalued—You have to love simulations that do not include the fastest growing slice of the energy production market.  There are a lot of roofs in my neighborhood that do not have solar PV panels on them yet that are better candidates than my roof, which produces more than 100% of my household electrical needs.

Colorado Utility says Odds it will Build a Major New Coal Plant are now ‘Remote’—The key line in this article is when the representative for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association said that some of the costs for the coal plant expansion were unrecoverable.  That means the finance people in the room said that a portion of the project would be a loss no matter what.

Offshore Wind Power is Cheaper than New Nuclear Power in the UK—Coal is dead.  Nuclear is non-competitive on a cost basis.  The future is clean and renewable.

DONG Energy To Build World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm—Hornsea Project Two 1,386 MW of offshore wind power is a lot of wind.  Like one quarter of the state of Iowa’s installed wind power in one installation.  Together with Hornsea Project One the combined wind installations represent more than 2,500 MW of clean power.

GE Renewable Energy Unveils Largest Onshore Wind Turbine—Imagine replacing existing GE 1.5MW turbines, which dominated the U.S. market for many years, one for one with 4.8MW turbines from the same company.

MIT Researchers Propose an Ancient Technology to Store Clean Energy—Thermal energy storage is an already developed and vetted technology that could help us in shifting the demand curve to match the production curve of renewables.

How Does Thermal Energy Storage Reach Scale?—It can reach scale by being mandated.  If you want to build a large building in a hot climate like southern California or Arizona you should be required to use a thermal energy storage system to help regulate the peaks and valleys of energy demand and production.  If you are a grocery store or warehouse with huge refrigerator systems you should be required to install these systems.

If Power Start-Up Drift can make it in New York, it may be Lights Out for Traditional Utilities—Utilities are one of the last great true monopolies left in the United States.  Heck, you can get out from under the thumb of the cable company now by cutting the cord but you cannot pick your power company.

Vivint Solar & ChargePoint Announce Fully Integrated Solar Residential Energy Management Solution—The future will be a place where the solar panels on your house, the battery in your garage, and your EV are all integrated into a single system to maximize performance and stabilize the larger energy grid.  Tesla is trying to get to that point with a closed system of Tesla products.  This partnership may be more effective because it can be open source to a degree.

Wyoming ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Suffers Appeals Court Blow—Ag gag laws have flown under the radar in the age of Trump but there is legal wrangling going on that will decide the fate of such restrictions on the First Amendment.  How anyone can interpret these laws as having anything other than a cooling effect on free speech is beyond me.  The other irony is the same people pushing these laws trumpet anything done by James O’Keefe.

The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial—We are all just living a premium mediocre life now.

Minnesota Named the Happiest State, while Red Ones Roil in Angst—Is anyone really surprised by this?  I am just amazed that people in red states just keep electing the same people while their quality of life sucks and accept that the answer is someone else is to blame for the problem.

Health at a Planetary Scale—Getting people to even say public health is hard.  Republicans automatically think it means socialism because the word public is akin to saying Lord Voldemort.  The rest of the world generally does not know what it means and those that do are prone to wonky discussions about outcomes, policy, and efficacy.

As Bees Die-Off, Coffee Production could Plummet more than Previously Thought—Well, piss in my shoe.

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Friday Linkage 9/8/2017

Labor Day week and the links are a little light.  Maybe I spent too much time reading about DACA, Hurricane Irma, and the forthcoming Iowa vs. Iowa State football game to really get my head into other news stories.

On to the links…

This EPA Statement Reads Like Something You’d Find in Breitbart—In a few years when the Trump Administration is little more than a steaming pile of bad memories the lasting damage will be unwound slowly and shit like this will just make us cringe in collective disbelief.  It is amazing that a group of politicians who accuse everyone outside their circle of being “fake news” is probably the largest source of bullshit every spewed from the West Wing.

Potential Carbon Capture Game Changer Nears Completion—Natural gas as a source of electricity is here to stay for a while, so if we could find a way to effectively and economically capture the carbon released as a result of combustion it could be a pathway to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Power Company Kills Nuclear Plant, Plans $6 Billion in Solar, Battery Investment—This happened in Florida, which is a state as hostile to a good idea as any that exists.  Heck, it’s a state that has elected Rick Scott to be its governor more than once.

How Tennessee’s Taken the Politics Out of Renewable Energy—Make it about choosing economically efficient solutions that provide renewable energy and even red states like Tennessee can get behind the green revolution.

Huge Tunisian Solar Park Hopes to Provide Saharan Power to Europe—The numbers are staggering.  4.5GW of solar is a monster number.  However, the dreams of tapping the Sahara Desert to power Europe always seem to be just a little out of reach.

After its Dams Came Down, a River is Reborn—The Elwha River will be a test case for dam removal going forward and it looks like an amazing success story.  Nature will find a way.

Friday Linkage 8/25/2017

You can be sure that wind power is a big deal in your state when the image of a wind turbine is placed on the state’s license plate:

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On to the links…

What Exxon Mobil Didn’t Say About Climate Change—It appears that Exxon Mobil conducted a campaign of deliberate disinformation with regard to climate change.  This was an act that was counter to even their own internal scientists and experts.  If true, and the evidence appears to show just such veracity, it represents one of the most egregious acts of corporate malfeasance in the modern era.

How 139 Countries Could be Powered by 100 Percent Wind, Water, and Solar Energy by 2050—This is the blueprint for the future:

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Fines for Illegal Pollution Plummet under Trump—It’s not just a matter of changing laws, but also of enforcing existing laws.  Trump and his cronies are likely to just let things slide for their friends who like to pollute and sicken Americans.

Trump Thinks Clean Coal is When Workers Mine Coal and then Actually ‘Clean It’—There has never been a person occupying the big chair in the White House with such an absolute disregard for actual knowledge.  Trump seems to be going out of his way to act like a biggest doofus in Washington D.C., which is an accompolishment in a town shared by Louis Gohmert and Steve King.

Coal Plants Might Be Even More Toxic Than We Thought—As if you needed another reason to push for clean power.  When coal plants are literally producing a new chemical compound that is making people sick you have to wonder about the sanity of anyone who would fight to the death to keep burning coal.

In Solar Scuffle, Big Utilities Meet Their Match—Surprise, surprise…people want their solar power and they want it now.

This Is The Future Of Electricity Pricing—As we build out renewable energy we need to create incentives and systems to match that supply with relevant demand.

Global Solar Capacity Set to Surpass Nuclear for the First Time—We came for nuclear and we are coming for coal.  Solar power is the real deal.

India Added More Renewable Energy Than Thermal Power 4 Consecutive Quarters—Renewable energy has conquered the “India price” and it is showing.

Muscatine, Iowa Looks to Turn Food Waste into Fuel—What would it take to site these types of facilities in towns across the country?  Food and yard waste could be collected and turned into energy.  Seems like a winning deal to me.

Can We Feed The World With Farmed Fish?—Just because we might be able to do so does not mean that we should.  It’s one thing when we are raising native catfish in freshwater ponds in Alabama.  It’s quite another thing when we are raising non-native Atlantic salmon near Seattle.

Growing Concern: Organic Farms Need a New Generation to Keep Them Alive—Maybe millennials will give up living in Brooklyn, Austin, and Portland for a life in the country all “Green Acres” style.  Nah, farming is actual work.  So much better to be a YouTube celebrity or Instagram influencer.

Organic Farmers Sprouting up Across Iowa—Maybe the problem is more of a California thing as it seems like Iowa has people willing to take on the organic farming challenge.  Granted, the odds someone in Iowa knows an actual farmer are probably higher than in California so the career choice is not so alien.

California has a Climate Problem, and Its Name is Cars—It’s not just a problem in California, but for the nation as a whole.  If we cannot or will not address the impact of our transportation choices it may not matter what else we do.

Why We Should be More Materialistic—Materialism is different than consumerism, but I am guessing that the subtlety will be lost on most people.

Goodwill is ‘Overrun’ with Stuff Millennials and Gen Xers Refuse to Take from their Parents—I have cleaned out two houses and one condo for relatives who have passed away.  I do not know why these relatives were saving all of this stuff, but a lot of it just ended up getting tossed.  Some stuff got sold, some stuff got taken, some stuff got donated, but most of it went to the dump.

Rich Kids’ Grades are Rising Faster, and Intelligence Probably Isn’t the Reason Why—This pisses me off more than you would guess.  I have spent a lifetime—okay, 39 years—hearing about the meritocracy of higher education.  Guess what?  The game is rigged in favor of the rich.  Always has been.

We Conservatives Champion Local Power. So We Must Respect the Rights of “Blue” Cities.—Right wingers love local control and states’ rights as long as it is in their interest.  Just like they are all about religious freedom as long as it is Christianity.

Solar Power is Scary for a Reason

Solar power should scare the daylights out of anyone who generates electricity from coal, natural gas, and/or nuclear.  Why?  It works like some sort of middle ages alchemy.

After two half-days of work, a grip load of procedural hoops, and about $11k in cash I had my solar system installed on my roof:

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Now, it just sits there generating what I hope will be more than 100% of my annual electricity needs.  More so, it does it in the most unspectacular way.  The panels just sit on my roof, unseen from the front of the house, soaking up the sun silently day in and day out.  When I go to work the panels just sit there soaking up the sun without any intervention on my part.  When I go on vacation the same deal applies.

If you take into account the tax credits that I will receive from the federal and state governments, I am looking at a net cost of approximately $6k to generate all or more of my electricity needs from the sun via solar panels on my roof.  I keep looking around wondering if there is a catch that I missed somewhere that states this is not really possible.

Solar power used to be the stuff of Mother Earth News and Homepower, both great magazines but hardly the harbingers of mainstream adoption.  Sure, the hippie dippie science teacher at your middle school had solar panels, biked to work, and wore tie dyed hemp shirts but he was an outlier.  Solar power is no longer an outlier.  It is something that nearly everyone, including someone like me who lives in a very “basic” suburban home in a nondescript development in eastern Iowa, can put on their roof and break free of the fossil fuel monopoly.

These are seemingly dark times.  The threat of climate change is real.  Our government is led by a cadre of profiteers in the pocket of business interests with a nominal figurehead who is the single most unfit human to ever hold that office.  Our civil society seems not so civil anymore as polarization and animosity appear to be at extremely high levels compared with the relative calm of the recent past.

However, I hold out hope because solutions to some of these problems seem so close at hand.  We have the tools to create lasting and meaningful change that will lead to a resilient and abundant future.

Friday Linkage 7/28/2017

I have been a little lax on posting some things lately and I have no excuse other than work, children, life in general…you get the idea.  My hope is to have an update on my upcoming solar photovoltaic system soon and some thoughts on other ways to really embrace a lower carbon life here in middle America.

On to the links…

Vail Resorts Promises to Eliminate Emissions, Waste and Offset Forest Impact by 2030—Welcome to the party Vail Resorts.

Trump Nominates Sam Clovis, a Dude Who Is Not a Scientist, to Be Department of Agriculture’s Top Scientist—This is what happens when you elect people who profess to hate government and expertise in general to run the government.  You get people who are unqualified for the job screwing up and then claiming afterwards, “I told you government does not work.  See?”

The Quieter Monument Battles to Watch—Donald Trump and Ryan Zinke’s assault on our national monuments is, to put it mildly, monumentally unpopular.  Remember, this is a man who can lose the popular vote  by nearly three million votes and claim with a straight face that he had the most lopsided electoral victory in history.  Nothing is beyond the pale for these people.

As Outdoor Retailer Show Packs up for Colorado, Industry Flexes Political Muscle in U.S. Land Fight—The people who love the outdoors are being heard.  The companies who make money off the people who love the outdoors are making their voices heard.  This is no small change and it represents a viable path forward to protect our access to public lands.

Are Renewables Set to Displace Natural Gas?—Europe and the U.S. are very different places, so extrapolating upon trends from on to the other is dangerous.  However, I wonder what will happen if natural gas experiences price spikes like it has in the past.  Will renewables rush to fill the void left by coal as the second choice when natural gas gets pricey?

Seven Charts Show Why the IEA Thinks Coal Investment Has Already Peaked—Coal is in all kinds of death spirals right now.  The decline in investment is a long term impediment to their being any revival in coal’s fortunes.

“Clean Coal” Is A Political Myth, Says Coal Company Owner—Robert Murray is the gift that keeps on giving.  After John Oliver went after him using public statements and other records that were readily available he just keeps on opening his mouth.  Gotta’ love a rich man with no filter…oh wait, that is the clown we have in the White House.

Peeling Back the Red Tape to Go Solar—The run around and red tape dance has been the most frustrating part of getting my solar photovoltaic system installed on my roof.  Yet, I still have more hoops to jump through once the system is actually installed.  None of it is value added and all of it costs either money or time.  Ugh.

Straus Family Creamery Powered by Cow Gas—Why don’t we have a government program to install one of these systems at every dairy farm or other large livestock operation in the United States?

This Beautiful but Toxic Weed Could Make you go Blind—Giant hogweed is no joke.  I have friends with the burn scars from the sap to prove it.

Minimalism Is Just Another Boring Product Wealthy People Can Buy—I have always found it ironic that people buy books or attend seminars about minimalism.  Shouldn’t the idea be somewhat self-apparent with a little reflection?

Debunking What the Health, the Buzzy New Documentary that Wants You to be Vegan—Veganism has become the new snake oil for a lot of people.  It will not cure all that ails us and to pretend otherwise is to traffic in the same dreck that has gotten us into this mess.

Beer Sales are Down…Especially Among the Millennials—Millennials are trying to wreck everything.

A Cut Above: Two Axe-Throwing Venues Carve Out a Niche in Denver—Axe throwing venue?  Peak hipster?

Friday Linkage 7/7/2017

Altitude really kicked my rear end last week.  I normally have no trouble travelling to the high Rockies and partaking in all manner of activities with just a day or so of acclimation.  This trip I struggled mightily until the final day.

What this means is that my quest to hike a 14er is on hold until next year.  On a warm up hike near Breckenridge I barely got to 12,000 feet and felt like dirt the next day.  I hope that this is not a harbinger for my physical condition during ski season.

On to the links…

Court Rejects Temporary Block to the Methane Rule—This is the best that we can hope for right now with the current political leadership in Washington D.C.   Thankfully these hacks do not understand that there is a process in place to manage the rules making process.  Incompetence on the part of Donald Trump and his allies is our greatest source of hope right now.

Improved Representation of Solar Variability in Climate Models—The models of climate change keep getting better with more data, but the climate deniers keep yelling louder.  At what point do we put climate deniers in the same room as perpetual motion machine hucksters, flat Earth proponents, and John Birch Society members?

The Energy Secretary Is Wrong: The Grid is Ready for Renewables—The energy secretary is wrong.  Get used to saying that as long as Rick Perry is holding that position.  Do you remember when Ernest Moniz was in that position and statements were made with a deliberate foundation in good science?  Yeah, not so much anymore.

Even as Renewables Increase, Fossil Fuels Continue to Dominate U.S. Energy Mix—There is a long way to go:

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Check out the decline in coal.

Renewable Energy Generates More Than 25% Of UK Electricity In 1st Quarter—The United Kingdom has now had multiple quarters where renewables have accounted for more than 25% of electricity generation.  The future is now.

Johnson County Adding to Solar Grid—The same guys who are putting in my solar system, Moxie Solar, are contracted to build this 75.5 kWh array.  This is in addition to existing 85.8 kWh and 159.6 kWh arrays nearby.  Why aren’t all large buildings taking advantage of solar?

Study Shows That Electric Cars Could Help Kill the Duck Curve—The “duck curve” is one of the most pernicious problems with respect to renewable energy production and grid demand.  When the sun is shining and the wind is blowing are not the same times that residential demand peaks.  Hence, a curve that looks like a duck.  EVs could provide an energy storage solution that could help smooth the duck.

The Chevy Bolt & The Tesla Model 3: The Solar-Powered Restoration of American Energy Independence—Are mass market EVs and cheap renewables, which are finally available to consumers in a broad based manner, representative of a turning point?  I hope so.

Here’s A Huge Reason Why We Need Electric Trucks—Check out this GIF and tell me that electric semis are not the future:

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Oil Got Trounced And Solar Soared In The First Half—Only two of the top 50 oil and gas producers had a positive return on stock in the first half of 2017.  Renewable producers did much better.  When the markets turn on you there are few places to hide.

McDonald’s Brings Foam Cups Back to Chicago Despite Shareholder Pressure—This is such a blast from the past.  I remember the push to get McDonald’s to get rid of foam clamshells as one of my formative moments in environmental awareness.  Be nice, it was the 1980s.

7 Reasons to Rant about Fireworks—After decades of banning fireworks, Iowa’s legislature led by freedom loving Republicans pushed a bill to legalize fireworks because…’Merica?  It is the worst.  The actual July 4th holiday was reminiscent of a war movie with an acrid haze hanging over our neighborhood and explosions throughout the night.  Why?

Friday Linkage 6/30/2017

This is going to be a little light since I am in Colorado prepping for my first 14er.

On to the links…

Rick Perry Loses his Cool When Confronted by Sen. Franken on Climate Science—Who would have guessed that when Al Franken won his election years ago that he would turn into one of the most reasoned and well informed voices in the entire Senate?

New Database Shows Trump is Filling the Government with Fossil Fuel Lobbyists—Drain the swamp?  Trump just covered the swamp in oil and coal ash before pouring it back out onto America

World’s Largest Coal Company Will Shut 37 Coal Mines That Are Not Economically Viable—Coal is not economically viable.  This is the fundamental problem with El Trumpo and his allies arguments about saving coal.  Progress killed the economic argument for coal in the U.S., India, and other countries.

First-of-Its-Kind Clean Coal Plant May Not Burn Coal at All—There is no such thing as clean coal.  Less dirty at the point of combustion perhaps, but considering the impact of the entire process—mining, waste disposal, etc.—there is no way that coal could ever be considered clean.

Mayors Could Shift Nearly 42 Percent Of U.S. Electricity To Renewables By 2035—Cities, where most of our economic activity happens, will be the locus of change when it comes to climate change.