Tag Archives: coal

Friday Linkage 3/24/2017

I find it interesting or, rather, frightening that poll after poll indicates a super majority—as in greater than 60%–of Americans believe climate change is real and driven by human activities.  However, we manage to have an elected government at state and federal levels that fails to do anything other than obfuscate the issue with right wing rhetoric and outright lies.

Now, I understand that this is a dynamic driven by gerrymandering which has led to elected officials that care only for satisfying the core interests of a very skewed base.  It just seems like there should be enough reasonable people to sway the pendulum toward reasonable action.  Granted, we also saw this same electorate put Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office.

On to the links…

A Trump Budget Would Hurt Americans’ Access To Our Public Lands—Trump and his cronies, Russian or otherwise, like access to land as long as no one who is not a member of the club can access the land.  In practice this means that the rich get access and the rest get screwed.  It’s the oligarchs’ way.

The Crazy Theory About Smog That’s Gaining Ground in the White House—When you spend all your time denying science I guess it was going to come to a point when you started to deny common sense as well.  We are so doomed.

CO2 Emissions Flat For Third Straight Year, Still Decoupled From Economic Growth—When economists say economic growth is decouple from emissions growth they are really trying to say that the relationship is less positively correlated.  It used to be something that marched in lockstep, but as the world has cleaned up power generation the relationship has frayed.  This trend destroys the argument that a transition to clean energy will destroy economic growth.

UK Carbon Emissions Fell 6% in 2016 after Record Drop in Coal Use—It may be very difficult over the next few years to achieve broad based success on environmental initiatives, but retiring coal plants can be something that could be achieved given all the impediments faced by coal.  Just retiring these dirty power plants and replacing them with natural gas is a short term win.

Coal in ‘Freefall’ as New Power Plants Dive by Two-Thirds—The export dream of American coal is dying because no one is going to want the coal.

Google’s Project Sunroof Claims 80% Of US Roofs Analyzed Are Suitable For Solar Panels—Let’s get cracking on installing solar panels.  A world where hundreds of thousands of people are employed installing solar panels on 80% of our nation’s roofs is a vision that I think most Americans can get behind.

NASA Finds Biofuels Make Air Travel 70 Percent Greener—I believe that we should try and electrify surface transportation as soon as possible reserving biofuels for applications where energy dense liquid fuels are essential like aviation.

Japanese Company Develops a Solar Cell with Record-Breaking 26%+ Efficiency—This is boring but important.  Advances in solar cell technology are leading us to a point where we are bumping up against the theoretical limit of efficiency.

Huge Plastic Waste Footprint Revealed—We use and throw away too much god damned plastic.  Simple.  Use less of the stuff.

Chesapeake Bay’s Booming Oyster Industry Is Alarmed By Trump’s EPA Budget Cuts—Oysters and the attendant reefs are a big part of the biodiversity of the Chesapeake Bay.  After decades of work these systems are being put back into balance and there are now jobs associated with working the bay.  Too bad Scott Pruitt will lead the charge to destroy the progress.

Small-Scale Farming Could Restore America’s Rural Towns—Small scale agriculture is almost by definition labor intensive, so a return to a patchwork of smaller, diversified farms would lead to a growth in demand for people to work the land.  Why would giant corporations be against that?  Oh wait…

Churchyards are Our Forgotten Nature Reserves—Small, forgotten plots of land are a surprising source of biodiversity.

Friday Linkage 3/10/2017

There will be no Friday Linkage next week since I will be in Colorado enjoying all that Beaver Creek has to offer a low-rent skier like myself.

On to the links…

Iowa Sees Second Warmest February in 145 Years—Nothing to see here, right?

These Photos Show How the EPA Transformed America—Now that the fox is in charge of the hen house it is important to remember what America was like before the EPA and other agencies focused on cleaning our air and water.  No one wants to bring disco back and no one wants to bring 1960s style pollution back either.

Scientists Are Standing Up to Trump Because They’ve Always Stood Up to Bullshit—The right wing loves people to be active in politics as long as they agree with their narrow world view and, generally, assume positions that are free from a factual basis.  “But, Jesus said so in the Bible!”  Scientists and scholars are duty bound to resist this shit.

Yet Another Energy Company Bails On Canadian Tar Sands Oil — Is Koch Next?—Tar sands are too expensive to extract under the current market conditions, too dirty for most people to accept as a fuel source, and stuck in Canada.  So why exactly are people in the fossil fuel industry and the White House so hell bent on the Keystone XL pipeline?

California Just Hit an Incredible Solar Power Milestone—It was for just a moment, but California was producing some serious solar power in the middle of the day.

Colorado’s Solar Power Capacity Jumped 70 Percent in 2016—The best part for me is that even though Colorado added 70% more capacity its relative ranking compared to other states feel because it did not add enough capacity.  When you add 70% more capacity in one year and lose ground you know that something is happening that is going to be hard to stop.

Solar Now Cheapest Electricity Option On Average In 58 Emerging Economies—The new guard of electricity is here and it is based on the sun.  These countries have no incentive to build out a fossil fuel based grid because they have no capital investment tied to legacy systems.

Chinese Coal Draw-Down Gathers Pace—China is always the savior of some down-on-its-luck industry.  Guess what?  China does not want our coal anymore.

Coder Creates Ultimate Tesla Model S + Home Solar Data Visualization Tool—I cannot create the fuel for my truck at home, but I could create the fuel for a Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt at home.  The future seems to be happening right now.

America’s Television Graveyards—When the apocalypse comes in the next couple of years I imagine people will roam the shattered United States and happen upon one of these warehouses full of old CRTs.  It will be a gigantic metaphor for how we got into this mess.

General Mills Boosts Eco-Friendly Grain Kernza—What if we could replace a portion of destructive annual wheat production with perennial Kernza?  What is wide strips of Kernza were planted along streams to slow runoff and deter erosion?  Imagine the potential.

Climate Ecoforestry—Let’s look to restorative ecology to rebuild our planet’s lost resilience.

This Man is Cloning Old-Growth Redwoods and Planting them in Safe Places—Imagine efforts like this replicated on a larger, dare I say nationally mobilized scale, and imagine what we could achieve in a short period of time.  This requires no new technology or process.  It would simply require political will and capital.

You’re Using Recipes Wrong—I have this complaint with cookbooks and recipes because I feel like I am buying bespoke ingredients only to repeat effort time and time again.  Ugh.  An efficient kitchen in terms of time and money should be one of my 2017 goals.

Friday Linkage 2/17/2017

Is this what it looks like from the inside of a failed state?  The current president cannot go a day without an unforced error blowing up in his face, leaks are rampant, confidantes are completely off message, and the orange master of ceremonies cannot let the smallest slight go unnoticed.  Is it the sign of a completely unhinged personality to respond via Twitter to every perceived challenge to his authority?

On to the links…

Coal-Fired Electricity is at its Lowest since Officials Started Keeping Track—Natural gas and cheap renewables are killing coal.  No one wants to live downwind from a coal plant and the death spiral is on.

The West’s Coal Giant is Going Down—You would be hard pressed to find a more controversial symbol of the coal industrial complex than the Navajo Generating Station, a giant coal fired power plant in Arizona.  With decades of life left in its boilers, its operator is scheduling the beast for shutdown in 2019.  This is a coal plant that burns upwards of 24,000 tons of coal per day.

Wind Energy is Setting Records in the U.S. and Around the World—Wind is cheap, a lot of people work in the industry, and even Republicans are behind the sector as they realize the political suicide of condemning something so popular.  The future may not be as bright, but there is potential for hope.

New North American Wind Power Record Set In Central United States—Over 50% of the electricity served came from wind. Yes it was overnight, but it’s a start.
China Doubled Its Solar Capacity In 2016—No matter what the base, doubling the capacity of anything is a big deal.  There are a lot of problems with China—one party state, authoritarian rule, etc.—but when they decide to go for something, solar in this case, they go big.

U.S. Solar Installations Jumped 95 Percent Last Year—China is not the only one to go big on solar.  We were yuge!

Low Carbon Technologies Now Cost-Competitive With Fossil Fuels—Low carbon technologies are basically mainstream.  Right wing reactionaries can try and stop the flood, but it is over.

5 Possible Futures for the EPA under Trump—This assumes that the Trump administration is not a flaming crater of incompetence by the end of March.

The United States of Oil and Gas—There are some amazing images that show the pervasiveness of oil and gas in our lives.

To Save The Planet, Give Cows Better Pasture—Managing productive rangeland for grazing may be on the lowest hanging fruit we have for helping to mitigate the near term impacts of climate change.

Outdoor Rec Industry Defends Public Lands—Outdoor recreation is a huge—sorry yuge—economic activity that needs to be taken into account when changes to our public lands policy are proposed.  Your elected representatives need to understand the value that you place on these lands.  The companies you patronize need to be reminded of the value that you place on these lands.  The time is now.

This Heatless Habanero Packs All Of The Flavor With None Of The Burn—I am really intrigued by this idea.  Bringing the flavor of a pepper without the heat might convert some of my family members.

The Best Trick for Cutting Down on Sugar—After getting some exercise there is no better or bigger change you can make in terms of your health than cutting down or eliminating added sugar from your diet.

Friday Linkage 2/3/2017

Well, this week happened.  It was a week in which I found myself agreeing with Dick freaking Cheney.  The man better known as W’s Darth Vader actually came out against Trump’s horrible ban on refugees as “against everything we stand for and believe in.

Never mind the failure to actually limit immigration or entry into the United States from countries that have exported terror to the United States—yes, I am wondering why Saudi Arabia was left off the list and it could not have anything to do with Trump’s sons business dealings.  You remember that Eric and Don Jr. are running the empire now, right?

On to the links…

This Map Might Make You Think Twice About Trump’s Immigration Ban—I wonder why Donald Trump and Steve Bannon did not include Saudi Arabia—home to almost all of the 9/11 terrorists—on their list of countries?  Oh right, conflicts of interest:

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Republican Bill to Privatize Public Lands is Yanked after Outcry—Your voices matter.  When a snake oil salesman like Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is forced to back down amid public outcry, you know something is working in this messed up world.  Keep up the heat and make sure that every member of Congress knows that we are watching.

‘It’s A Big One’: Iowa Pipeline Leaks—The number of gallons of diesel fuel leaked is being debated.  Of course the oil company says it is fewer than reported, but who really believes them?  Remember this every time someone says that oil pipelines are so safe.

US Coal Industry Will Continue Historic Decline Through 2017—In spite of Donald Trump’s rhetoric coal will continue to fall out of favor in the U.S.  It is called a death spiral for a reason.

The Great Energy Disruption—When you go back and look at these projections, as the author points out, many of the assumptions driving the models are wrong…to the better.  Renewable energy generation has gotten cheaper, faster.  Energy storage has gotten cheaper, faster.  The beat goes on.

Who Installs More Solar Power? Republicans and Democrats are Pretty Much Tied.—Must not be any of the Republicans elected to Congress.  Those guys hate solar.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt May Be The Start Of The Everyday Electric Revolution—This is why the Chevy Bolt may be the true winner of the electric vehicle war to come…it’s kind of boring, in an everyday get my stuff done kind of way.

The Next EV Revolution: Think Trucks and Buses—If you are looking to get some serious savings in terms of oil consumed in the transportation sector look to heavy duty commercial vehicles.  This quote from the article encapsulates the opportunity perfectly: While medium and heavy trucks account for only 4% of America’s 250+ million vehicles, they represent 26% of American fuel use and 29% of vehicle CO2 emissions.

Chart of the Month: Driven by Tesla, Battery Prices Cut in Half since 2014—Think about that for a moment—battery costs have been cut in half in approximately three years.  This is before the Gigafactory and mainstream EVs really hit the market bringing some true economies of scale to bear:

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Going Local: The Solution-Multiplier—In the age of Trump local matter more than ever.

Diageo Opening Guinness Brewery in US—With all the great craft beer in America, do we really need Guinness to open up a destination brewery?  I have had their rye pale ale and it does not belong on the shelf with a hundred other great American beers.

Nation’s Bacon Reserves hit 50-year Low as Prices Rise—In case your week was not crappy enough there may not be enough sweet, savory, delicious bacon to salve our wounded souls in the era of Trump.  WTF?

Friday Linkage 1/20/2017

It will be official in a little bit, but Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States.  If the recent confirmation hearings are any indication we are in for many years of incompetent officials, corrupt hangers on, and a Republican led Congress that cares more about scoring long sought after political points rather than actually helping people.

Get used to it because according to experts the spate of gerrymandering in 2010 will continue in 2020.  To actually flip control of Congress to Democrats would take an estimated Presidential election vote share of approximately 60%.  The best that we can hope for is a prevention of the most extreme Republican agenda via the filibuster and that the Trump administration is so horrible that people actually wake up.  I am not holding my breath.

On to the links…

Iowa to See Fewer ‘Nice’ Days—Freaking climate change.  Yuck it up all you want about global warming making winter milder—which sucks for people who actually like winter—but a world where Iowa is more humid in the summer is the definition of hell.

People Still Don’t Know Obamacare is Just a Nickname for the ACA—Jimmy Kimmel may be doing it on late night television, but there are a lot of voters looking around wondering when Trump is going to repeal Obamacare and what that means for their state exchange or Medicare expansion. Guess what morons?  It’s going to suck.

Lessons for Navigating the Trump Economy — Drawn from the Developing World—Get ready for corruption on a yuge scale.  Imagine if any of Hilary Clinton’s potential cabinet secretaries had been accused of making stock purchases and writing favorable legislation?  Republicans would be livid. Now that it is their guy all we hear are crickets.  What a joke.

Trump’s Tax Trumpery—Get ready for the tax cut idol to make its appearance and for Republicans to prostrate themselves before its purity.  However, as this article lays out, tax cuts do not produce widespread economic growth because the benefits are concentrated on a few individuals.  You know, like the 8 people who have assets worth as much as half of the world’s population.

China Halts Over 100 Coal Power Projects—China is trying to kick its dirty coal habit.  It will be hard.  It will probably be expensive.  It might just be the last hope we have for the climate.

The Year Coal Collapsed: 2016 was a Turning Point for Britain’s Electricity—Few countries are as tied historically to the industrial revolution and the concurrent rise of coal power as the United Kingdom.  That same United Kingdom now gets less than 10% of its electricity from coal.  It can be done.

World Needs to Invest $25 trillion in New Oil Capacity over Next 25 years—That number is crazy.  Why not invest $1 trillion per year in renewables?  Oh right, this is coming from the guy running Saudi Arabia’s state owned oil company.

The Sleeping Giant Stirs: Russia Revs Up Renewable Tech—I suppose with the incoming administration that Russia is our new bae.  At least the news is not all bad in Putin-land.

When Will the Chevrolet Bolt Glide Into Your State? Find Out Here—Do you want a Chevy Bolt?  Get ready to wait unless you live in a state that did not vote for Donald Trump:

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Go Ahead, Wander Your Way—I spend a lot of time outdoors and there is a lot of judgment by people enjoying the outdoors.  Does it really matter why you are getting outside if you are still getting outside? I say that it does not.

The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science—I wonder if true eccentrics are gone from our lives forever in a world where everything is documented on Facebook or Instagram.  Long live the freaks.

Friday Linkage 1/13/2017

Did that circus sideshow…er, press conference actually occur on Wednesday morning?  Is this the beginning of the end for the American experiment?  Or is it the beginning of the end of the Republican Party?  We can always hope.

Furthermore, can someone please tell right wingers to stop making comparisons to Nazi Germany.  One, it is factually wrong on so many levels and right wingers have been getting it wrong for the better part of a decade.  Just because the official party name included the word “socialist” does not mean that the Nazis had anything to do with socialism.  Two, it cheapens the horrors committed by the Nazis and their allies.

On to the links…

All the Risks of Climate Change, in a Single Graph—Try and think some happy thoughts:

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States, Power Companies Lead in Cutting Carbon; Election Not Slowing Expected 2017 Progress—The Federal government may be screwed for the next several years, but paralysis at the national level will not stop progress by states and utilities.

US Energy Analysis Sees Renewable Electricity Passing Coal by 2030—Granted, natural gas is still going to be getting burnt.  A lot, but there is hope that we can kill the coal beast.

Arab Gulf Firms Set their Sights on the Region’s Growing Appetite for Solar Power—Lots of sunshine…check.  Available land…check.  Urban populations…check.  When oil rich gulf states are realizing the potential you know the jig is up.

Costa Rica got 98 Percent of its Electricity from Renewables in 2016—Costa Rica uses a lot less electricity per capita than other nations, but 98% is a totally rad figure.  Yes, I used the adjective rad.

China Is Pumping Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Into New Renewable Energy Projects by 2020—While the U.S. led by an orangutan dithers on what to do about the next generation of energy, China is blowing everyone’s doors off by investing billions on top of billions into renewables.

Clean-Energy Jobs Boosting Colorado’s Economy—The key element of this report is not the jobs related to energy production like wind turbine mechanics or solar installers, but the jobs around things like energy efficiency.  There is hay to make in driving efficiency into all corners of our economy.

Arizona still a Force in Solar Power, despite Other States’ Gains—The economics must be good because Arizona politicians have definitely tried to kill solar power on a number of occasions.

Infinite Solar Power Technology Could Completely Change Our Future—Headlines like this remind me of old newsreels that proclaimed nuclear power was going to be so cheap that it would be “too inexpensive to meter.”  How did that work out?

The Bizarre and Inspiring Story of Iowa’s Fish Farmers—What if our fish came from aquaculture in the middle of the U.S. instead of dirty farms in South America or Southeast Asia?  What is that fish was raised on plant based meal instead of ground of fish meal?  What if…

Nine Easy Things You Can Do To Save the Ocean—Some of this is obvious, but repetition is not always a bad thing when you are trying to change people’s behavior.

Friday Linkage 12/23/2016

This is it for 2016.  I would like to wish this year a gigantic f*ck you as it seemed like a real downer and I hold out hope that something in 2017 may redeem my faith in the United States.  Granted, this year was the moment when I saw the Chicago Cubs win the World Series which was something my father and grandfather never got to see.  Damn.

I sincerely hope that everyone enjoys the holiday season with their families.  Turn off the television, put down the phones, and spend a few minutes with the ones you love in pure analog bliss.

On to the links…

Skiing Is Not Important—Why don’t we lead off with a little philosophy.  It is totally true.  Skiing is not important in the “will I survive through the night” kind of way, but everyone should do it.  Or no one should do it.  I loved the following part of the article:

Mountain air, the smell of hot wax, the sound of cables on lift towers, laughing with friends, laughing at friends, testing your limits or just cruising and not testing anything at all, caring more about weather than you ever thought possible, sacrificing comfort, security, and relationships just to furrow fields of snowfall for no practical reason whatsoever.

Pretty much sums up the dream.

Winter Park Express Ski Train Adds Another Car to Meet Demand from Denver Union Station—You mean to say that people actually like and use mass transit when it goes to places people actually want to go?  Wow.

Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere—I hope the carbon bubble becomes a thing in 2017.  Like investors fleeing coal, the same thing could happen to other fossil fuels if demand falls just enough to begin initiating the death spiral.  In a world that demands constant growth from investments this is a most powerful market force.

There is No Reason to Ever Build Another Coal Plant in the United States—Granted, there are a lot of coal plants in operation now.  Those plants, however, will get more expensive to fuel as coal demand drops and harder to maintain as the industrial base surrounding them erodes.

Coal’s Big US Stronghold is Losing Steam, Even as Trump Aims for a Revival—I cannot wait to see if Trump spends what little political capital he has—losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes and entering office with the lowest favorability ratings in history do not make for a mandate—trying to revive coal as he promised on the campaign trail.  Now, he is a charlatan and a liar so he was probably just doing that to rile up people.

Solar is Top Source of New Capacity on the US Grid in 2016—This is demand destruction in process. Each solar panel or solar thermal facility represents another kilowatt of electricity that does not require a single gram of coal.

World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind—Solar, with no moving parts and silent panels sucking up the sun, is actually cheaper than wind in some places.  Think about that for a minute.

All the State Energy Legislation from 2016, in One Place—Over the coming years the states and, to a lesser degree, cities are going to be where the action takes place on renewable energy.

Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017—Since the federal government is in the hands of fossil fuel crony capitalists, we have to take the initiative to reduce our use of fossil fuels.  This article serves as a nice starting point to figure out where the low hanging fruit might be.  Suggestion: get out your bicycle and pedal.

On Isle Royale, Park Service Intervenes to Save Nature—I am fairly conflicted about this intervention.  After reading The New Wild I wonder if our conception of nature has an ecosystem in harmony is relevant anymore.

Newly discovered soil microbes may have helped eat methane after Porter Ranch natural gas leak—The gas leak near Porter Ranch in southern California was a freaking ecological disaster of some truly epic proportions.  However, it looks like nature may have found a way to ameliorate some of the damage.  Nature always finds a way.

USDA says Use-By Labels aren’t Really Needed on Foods—Now I do not feel so guilty about using hot sauce that was past its “expiration” date.