Tag Archives: climate change

Friday Linkage 12/7/2018

France and Paris, in particular, are burning because of a protest movement that started off being about fuel taxes but has morphed into something more.  The anger seen in the streets was sparked by a tax but it represents a question about who the modern state serves.

As we have seen in the United States, time and time again, the state is designed to serve the interests of its most privileged citizens at the expense of everyone else.  Don’t believe me?  Look at tax cuts.  Most of the benefits go to the richest 1%.  Sure, those are the people that make the most money so it stands to reason that they would benefit the most.  However, in order to pay for these gifts to the rich everyone else is asked to take a cut in what the state may provide them.  Food stamps?  Sorry, gotta’ get Bezos his tax cut.  Pell grants?  Sorry, Zuckerberg needs to buy another house.

On to the links…

China Is Both the Best and Worst Hope for Clean Energy—This is the world we live in now as the U.S. has ceded leadership of any kind on global issues because of…reasons?  Europe is a mess which threatens to devolve into its preferred path toward fascism.  So, we are left looking to China.  This is problematic.

Almost Half Coal Power Plants Seen Unprofitable to Operate—Well, I can raise a solar panel or eight to that news.

Wall Street Cleans up on ‘Clean Coal’—What are the odds this scam program gets renewed?  I am guessing 100% because what Goldman Sachs wants, Goldman Sachs gets.

The Most Important Country for the Global Climate no one is Talking About—Deforestation is like the “eat your vegetables” of the climate change action plans.  Everyone likes to talk about coal, renewables, electric cars, etc. but the single biggest thing we could do today would be to stop deforestation.

This New NASA Mission Will Create an Unprecedented, 3D Map of Earth’s Forests—It is hard to save the trees if you do not know where the trees are located.

Video Games Consume More Electricity Than 25 Power Plants Can Produce—At what point do we realize that modern life is just one big energy suck?

THE BIG PICTURE: Wind Turbine Trends—Here is the punch line: Bigger and more powerful.  See for yourself:

bp_windturbinesize_december-2018.jpg

How the Food Industry Uses Big Tobacco Tactics to Manipulate the Public—Here’s a public service announcement: Most of the stuff in the grocery store with an ingredient list more than three items long is not good for you.

How the Indigenous Bison Bar was Appropriated—Big food is stealth.  It is incumbent upon you, the consumer, to be educated and make the right choice.

Altria in Talks to Buy Cannabis Company Cronos Group—This is the moment when you know that the legalization of cannabis in the United States is coming.  Altria would not put its money into a market if it thought that federal prohibition was long for this world.

NRA Cuts More Operating Costs—and Lavishes Executives With Perks—This is what collapse looks like.  An organization faced with dwindling resources lavishes its grandees with perks in a final orgy of greed.  This could not happen to a nicer bunch of a-holes.

Amateur Scuba Divers Train to be “Ghost Net Busters”—Ghost nets are a big problem.  I am happy to see people taking the initiative to be part of the solution, but there needs to be some form of regulation that outlaws this kind of dumping.  Think like a deposit system.

Millennials are Killing Canned Tuna, but the Industry is Fighting Back—Dude, can we quit it with all the stuff millennials are supposed to be killing?  Baby boomers do not get blamed for all the stuff they killed, like the planet.

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An October Surprise for My Solar System

It is five days until election day.  I cannot stress how important it is that everyone who is legally eligible to vote goes to the polls to cast a vote.

October turned out to be a decent month for solar:

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Production for 2018 beat the production from the same month in 2017 by a little bit.   According to my calculations I also ended the month in positive territory (production minus consumption) to the tune of ~45 kWh.  I say it was a surprising month for production because the month started out very gray with a lot of rain.  You can see the low production numbers for several days, but the sun came out at the back half of the month to bring in more than 316 kWh of clean, green electricity.

An unexpected car repair—nothing says welcome home quite like coming back from vacation and having your car not start—got my wife and I thinking about a new car.  Naturally, as someone who has a solar array on top of their house an electric vehicle of some sort is part of the consideration set.  The hard part, beyond the financial commitment of a new car which is something significant to consider after having zero car payments for the past five years, is comparable vehicles.  Is a Chevy Bolt, or Volt for that matter, really comparable to a Tesla Model 3?  Where does the Nissan Leaf fit into the equation?

In the end the part that got me the most excited about this discussion was how much solar photovoltaic capacity I would need to add to my roof to generate enough electricity to account for our annual driving of a single vehicle.  In an average year we drive less than 10,000 miles for either of the vehicles in our garage.  Some years it is quite less if we do not take any extended road trips, which are one of our indulgences.

How does 10,000 miles equate into electricity?  Based on a cursory search of various message boards for EV owners I am going to use a figure of 3.5 miles per kilowatt hour of electricity.  Therefore, a system would need to produce ~2,850 kWh per year to account for 10,000 miles of driving.  Based on the actuals from my current solar photovoltaic array I figure that I would need to add 9 or 10 290 watt panels, which are equivalent to what is on my roof today.  At a cost of $2.5 per watt installed I would be looking at $7250 before state and federal incentives.

Does anyone realize how scary that idea must be for oil companies?  With just 10 panels on a west facing roof in Iowa I can account for 100% of my annual miles driven at a cost of little more than seven thousand dollars.  No gas stations, no wars in the Middle East, no refineries…yeah, that is truly scary for oil companies.  The revolution will be powered by the sun!

Friday Linkage 10/26/2018

It is eleven days until election day.  I will start every post for next eleven days with the same message.

This week has seen a terrorist send pipe bombs to the same people that Donald Trump demonizes via tweets and whatever air time the media will allow him these days.  Coincidence?  I am fairly confident in saying that the odds the terrorist owns a MAGA hat are good.

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…

The Most Important Science Policy Issue in Every State—I can almost guarantee you that whatever state you live in that the Republican candidate for national office is on the wrong side of this issue.

The Midterms Have the Power to Usher in an Era of Climate Action—Vote in eleven days to make this a reality.

Why Conservatives Keep Gaslighting the Nation about Climate Change—It is not really a secret.  People care about climate change and want action.  Republicans are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel lobby, so Republicans listen to their paymasters.

By 2035, the ‘Great Fuel Switch’ will Mark the End of the Age of Oil and Gas—The question is not if such a switch will happen, but how do we accelerate the timeline?

Zinke is Latest Trump Cabinet Member to have Abused Travel Privileges—Scandals that would have had Sean Hannity palpitating and salivating at during the Obama years are just another day in D.C. when the cheese puff is in charge.  Imagine what the investigations will be like when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.

In Response to Trump Administration Efforts, Oregon Moves to Ban Offshore Drilling—What this fight not be about state’s rights, but the power of the federal government to determine oil and gas policy.  Remember, Republicans love state’s rights as long as it is about suppressing the votes of minorities, banning abortion, and generally being shitty to regular people.

14-Year-Long Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico Verges on Becoming One of the Worst in U.S. History—If someone back up a tractor trailer and dumped 500 barrels of sludge a day into a river that person would go to jail.  However, because this was done by a corporation there is no recourse for the lasting environmental damage.  The next time someone tells you about the great safety and environmental record of America’s gas and oil industry send them this link.

This Is The Deadly Ocean Plastic Pollution You Never Hear About—Ban plastic straws all you want, it is not a bad idea but it is kind of small potatoes, because abandoned fishing nets are a much bigger problem.

US Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement Hits Record Levels—It is hard to comprehend how big many corporations are, but they exert the same influence as most nation states are able to bring to bear.  If these corporations move to renewable energy, it is by default that the countries that they are based in will move to renewable energy.

The True People of the Amazon Help Save the World—Save the forests, save the world.

As Climate Change Worsens, Trees may be the Key to Saving our Future—The geography is different, but the story is the same.  Save the forests, save the world.

The Battle to Curb our Appetite for Concrete—Concrete is an emissions disaster.

Could We Grow All the Food We Need in Our Yards?—It may sound like the premise for a dystopian young adult novel, but the question remains.  Just how much food could we grow in the space occupied by our lawns?

Dig for Victory: 16 Posters from When our Food was Fighting—It is no secret that I love war time homefront posters.  These show you that maybe “victory is in the kitchen” via the garden.

Friday Linkage 10/19/2018

It is eighteen days until election day.  I will start every post for next eighteen days with the same message.

If you care about the outdoors, whether it is just to appreciate nature or to recreate, you need to read this guide to the midterm election put together by the Outdoor Industry Association.  Let me skip to the punch line: most, if not all, Republicans are bad for the land.

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…

8 Things You Need to Know About the IPCC 1.5˚C Report—The IPCC’s report is not getting the attention it deserves because the United States is run by an orange monster who fills our heads with childish insults and ridiculous lies that a fourth grader using Google can debunk.

Can Consumer Choices Ward Off the Worst Effects of Climate Change? An Expert Explains.—We are told that our choices do not matter, but that is bunk.  Some choices matter more than others.  It is okay to get down in the dumps a little bit about climate change.  However, it is not all right to do nothing.

What Tiny Bhutan can Teach the World about Being Carbon Negative—I want to see a movement where people start saying, “Be like Bhutan.”

The Best Way to Reduce Your Personal Carbon Emissions: Don’t be Rich—Well, that is some advice.

How Much Energy is Used to Heat, Cool, and Light our Homes in Different U.S. Climate Regions?—Where we live goes a long way in determining our energy usage patterns.  However, I would argue that this analysis is incomplete without looking at transportation emissions by climate region. Someone in New York City may use more energy to heat and cool their residence than someone in Orlando but that Floridian sure as hell uses a lot more energy for transportation.

Even Trump is Beginning to Realize that He can’t Save Coal—Coal is dead.  Trump, in some ways, hastened its demise because political opponents have no need to even attempt to cater to a craven interest group that will utilize all the political chicanery of nationalism to achieve its financial goals.

White House Shuns Energy Secretary’s Coal & Nuclear Bailout—The plan was shit, but that did not stop Rick Perry from trying to accomplish the goals of his buddies in the coal industry with the nuclear boys along for the ride.  When even Donald Trump’s administration realizes that something is a bad idea you know it was really bottom feeding.

Hawai’i Looks To Add 260 Megawatts Of Solar & 1+ Gigawatt-Hour Of Storage—If there is one U.S. state that can go completely renewable in the short term it is probably Hawaii.  The state’s residents pay a lot for electricity and it is disconnected from any larger electrical grids as each island is basically its own mini-grid.

Sony Brings its 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goal Forward a Decade—The federal government and many states may be absent from going after ambitious goals, but large private companies that are bigger energy users than some small countries are making a commitment to renewable energy.

40% Of China’s Coal Plants Are Losing Money, Reports Carbon Tracker—Is China the great economic bubble of our time?  I am beginning to wonder if the entire economy is being run like a giant Ponzi scheme that everyone is afraid to question because the impact of collapse would be so damaging to the world economy.

Global Warming to Leave us Crying in our Costlier Beer—Global warming has come for chocolate and coffee.  Now it is coming for our beer.

Beyond Meat’s Veggie Burger Produces 90% Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions than Cow-Based Burgers—You can question the health benefits of an ersatz beef patty.  You can even question whether the effort to mimic animal protein is worth the effort when high protein, meat free dishes can be ultra-appetizing without resorting to culinary trickery.  You cannot deny that on a emissions versus emissions basis there is no question replacing a beef patty with a veggie patty is a winner.

New Study Suggests it’s Time to Replace Modern, Grassy Lawns—If there is one change I wish every homeowner, regardless of climate, would do it is taking out as much of their home’s lawn as possible.  Yes, it is hard work to initially remove lawn and replace it with something more planet friendly but think about the benefits.  No more mowing.  ‘Nuff said.

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 10/5/2018

A little light on the links this first week of October.  I think almost everyone has been glued to the circus that is the Trump administration.

On to the links…

Chuck Grassley Plans to Take Trump’s Federal Farm Bailout Cash, Calls it ‘Equal Treatment’—Nothing says fiscal responsibility like making sure you get your bailout cash from an unnecessary trade spat.  Where was Chuck Grassley when homeowners were taken advantage of by mortgage lenders in the mid-2000s?  Where was Chuck Grassley when people lost their homes to illegal foreclosures?  People in Iowa would elect the corpse of Chuck Grassley.

Trump’s Plan to Scrap Mercury Regulations Won’t Save Coal But It Will Cost Lives—This is America under Trump.  It is a hellscape of increased deadly emissions from ageing power plants propped up by government largesse to line the pockets of a few coal barons.

Trump Administration, EPA say Radiation is Good for You—It is getting downright Orwellian.

U.S. Power Producers’ Coal Consumption Falls to 35-year Low—Every new solar photovoltaic array and wind turbine that I see is another shovel of dirt on the grave of coal.  If we can weather the interminable Trump storm of the next couple of years we can truly put the United States on a clean power path.

Germany’s Coal Habit Proves Hard to Kick—Germany wanted to transition away from coal and to renewables.  The problem with this plan was that Germany also wanted to eliminate its reliance on nuclear energy as well.

Banks turn their Back on Coal amid Emissions Concerns—Modern commerce runs on credit.  If banks are unwilling to lend most schemes are incapable of operating at any scale.  This is bad for coal and good for the planet.

China to Add 259 GW of Coal Capacity, Satellite Imagery Shows—This is bad.

Our Fertilizer Is Killing Us. Here’s A Fix.—Synthetic fertilizer has allowed for billions of people to escape famine.  It is also one of the drivers of bad global impacts like dead zones.

More than 1 in 3 Americans Eat Fast Food on a Typical Day, and We Eat it All Day Long—Is our fast food consumption a cause of our modern problems or is it a symptom?  Do we eat fast food because our modern lives do not allow enough time or flexibility to eat actual food?  Or, do we eat fast food because it taps into some primordial desire for salt, sugar, and fat?  Either way, it is bad for us all.

14 Food Waste Facts That Might Change The Way You Cook, Shop, And Eat—I believe that in order to get our planet right, we need to first get our households right.  The first step to get our households right is to fix our kitchens.  Victory is in the kitchen.

Pertinent Lessons from Our Recent Past

A little off the beaten path for tourists in London is the Imperial War Museum.  It’s still a quick tube ride from the central part of the city and it is just a two stops away from the always tasty Borough Market.  Plus, depending on the line you take you will get to stop at the Elephant & Castle station.  I think that name is just smashing.

The museum has all the usual exhibits that glorify the British Empire—one quarter of the world’s landmass, one quarter of the world’s population, the sun never sets on the British Empire, etc.—through World War I and II with a small, yet quite impactful, exhibit on the Holocaust.  However, the part of the museum that I found most interesting dealt with the home front during World War II.

The home front usually gets short shrift in any analysis of a war effort.  World War II in Britain was a little different because the horrors of war made it across the English Channel in German raids on London and other cities.  Children were shipped to the countryside where it was deemed safer and Londoners huddled in shelters as bombs or rockets rained down.  With a stiff upper lip, so to speak, the nation kept calm and carried on.

My daughter and I probably spent close to an hour in the home front exhibition looking at the types of food that were available or not available and why or the measures taken by households to conserve materials in order to supply troops.  The impression that my ten year old daughter was left with was how little a house could make do with if it had to. Her seven year old brother, naturally, loved the display of World War I grenades.

As we face an uncertain climate in the coming decades and the attendant consequences of that climate change we may be forced into a situation where our everyday begins to resemble the home front during an armed global conflagration.

Victory is in the Kitchen

Victory is in the Kitchen

It is my belief that we can make some of the biggest impacts from the comfort of our homes and the center of our homes is the kitchen.  It is the place where my family spends the most time together and it is probably where I spend the most time teaching my children.  Some parents play catch or go on hikes, I teach my kids how to dice onions, mince garlic, deglaze pans, and build flavors.

Change starts at home.  The food we choose to make and eat forms the core of our value system as self-described environmentalists.  If you are not trying to be a better human in the kitchen you might as well stop sweating the other stuff.

Food: Don’t Waste It

Food Dont Waste It

In the United States it is estimated that 30 to 40% of food goes to waste.  Given the impact of agriculture on climate change this is unacceptable.  Furthermore, given that in this age of abundance when we are dealing with diseases of over consumption, e.g. obesity related illnesses, there are still millions of people that go hungry every day.

Make Do and Mend

Make Do and Mend

Repair is the forgotten action that we can take to conserve.  Almost everything, save for our homes and automobiles, is basically disposable in modern capitalist economies.  Even big ticket items like appliances are seen as disposable, which blows my mind.  Here’s the thing, repairing stuff has never been easier.  The internet is literally chock a block full of people posting repair instructions, wiring diagrams, parts lists, etc. that can help even the least handy of us repair many of the items we once viewed as disposable.

Can I do Without It?

Can I Do Without

Is there a better question to ask yourself about any purchase that you make?  The most environmentally conscious purchase is usually one that we do not make.  Sure, there are the obvious wins like replacing high usage light bulbs with the most efficient LED bulbs or replacing a fifteen year old refrigerator with a more efficient model.  However, many of the “green” purchases we make are just adding consumption to the system that is destroying our planet.  It may be made of organic cotton, but do you really need another t-shirt?

Self-Indulgence at This Time is Helping the Enemy

Self Indulgence

I just love how direct some of the messaging was during World War II.  This poster is basically saying, “Don’t be a dick, we’re fighting a war here.”  How many of our problems, with regard to climate change, could be solved if people were just somewhat less self-indulgent?  I will let you stew on that thought for now.