Tag Archives: corn

Friday Linkage 7/26/2019

The heat and humidity finally broke here in eastern Iowa this week and we got to open the windows.  Okay, we opened the windows in our house but it seems like everyone else still has their air conditioning running full blast.  Naturally, this includes my neighbors who run their air conditioning even when it is sixty degrees outside.  It must be an ice box inside that house.

These are the same neighbors who complain about their high electricity bill.  So it also makes sense that these same neighbors would install a hot tub.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, says high electricity costs quite like a hot tub.

On to the links…

American Green—If there is one thing that I wish people would do it is that they stop obsessing—in terms of both time and money—about the lawns surrounding their homes.  Who cares if a stray dandelion shows up or some clover has established itself?  Who cares it some spots start to brown out when the mercury hits 90 degrees?

New York Just Passed the Most Ambitious Climate Target in the Country—There is no climate leadership at the federal level, so it falls to cities and states to move things forward.  Luckily, the states most likely to move forward also happen to be home to a lot of people and a lot of economic activity.

Refinery Explosions Raise New Warnings About Deadly Chemical—If a Tesla or other electric vehicle catches fire there is sure to be a whole raft of coverage.  If a normal ICE car bursts into flames or an oil refinery explodes there is little coverage.  Never mind the potential of a truly catastrophic incident at an oil refinery.

It’s Just Good Business: Even Red States Are Dumping Coal for Solar—I think that this needs to be the response for anyone who gets asked a question about solar power.  It’s just good business.

Waste Only: How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World—Plastic is bad.  It may be a necessary evil in some applications, but limiting the use of plastics is the ultimate goal.

Cigarette Butts are the Most Pervasive Man-Made Pollutant—My late father, a former smoker who quit in his thirties, hated cigarette butts with a passion and had a more hot burning hate for the people who threw their cigarette butts about with abandon.  His whole theory was that cigarettes with filters should be banned, all cigarettes should be called coffin nails, and the package should say “Smoke More, Die Younger.”

10 Ways the Bicycle Moved Us Forward—The bicycle is a humble solution to a lot of problems.  As we design ever more complex solutions to our problems we need to remember that easier solutions exist.

In Madrid, a Car Ban Proves Stronger Than Partisan Politics—I know it will come as a shock to most right wing reactionaries, especially the ones on Fox News who want to cover themselves in a cologne called Fossil Fuel Funk, but people actually like living in places where cars are not valued over people.  Remember, in most modern offices your car will be allotted more space in the parking lot than you will be inside the building.

How ‘Corn Sweat’ Makes Summer Days More Humid—If you live in Iowa during the summer you understand this phenomenon all too well.  The humid haze that rises from the endless fields of tall corn in July and August is like an oppressive ghost moving through the landscape.  Maybe I spend too much time cycling along these same fields in the heat.

Dunkin’ Adds Beyond Meat’s Sausage to its Menu, Starting in New York—Are we turning the corner into a world where renewable energy is the cheapest source of electricity, people actually care about the climate, and non-meat alternatives are commonplace?  I sure know that non-meat alternatives seem to be everywhere.

Can You Taste the Difference Between Plant-Based Meat and Beef? Burger King Sweden is Betting No.—This is what the people behind calling plant protein “meat” in Arkansas are worried about.  Okay, their actually being funded by a locally powerful meat industry to take this fight on but their paymasters fear this outcome.

Has Wine Gone Bad?—When reading Napa at Last Light by James Conaway I was struck by some critiques of wineries for the total lack of environmental consideration.  The gist was basically that if anyone actually knew just how much of a bad actor the wine industry was in California it would cripple the industry’s marketing efforts.

The Budweiser Beer Empire was Built on Debt. Now it’s Racing to Pay it Off—Geez, I cannot imagine how building an empire through acquisitions fueled by debt could ever go wrong?

Friday Linkage 4/12/2019

Yep, pretty much sums up the world we are living in nowadays:

1433ckCOMIC-who-acknowledges-climate-change.png

On to the links…

A Virtual Solar Power Plant for L.A.? ‘It Will Happen’—The idea is to turn a conglomeration of batteries into a virtual power bank that charges in the middle of the day, when solar power is at peak generating capacity, and save the power for the late afternoon/early evening, when electricity demand spikes as people return home.

U.S. Wind Capacity Grew 8% in 2018—These are not crazy growth numbers, but 8% growth in a country led by Donald Trump has to be considered a success.  Now imagine an environment with a rational president.  Whoa!

Saudi Arabia To Build 6.2 Gigawatts Of Wind Capacity By 2028—Saudi Arabia is putting a lot of money into renewables.

DTE Energy Speeds up Closing of Coal-Fired Plants—This is why coal is dead.  Less cost, fewer emissions…the headlines sort of write themselves.

“Innovation”: the Latest GOP Smokescreen on Climate Change Policies—How do I know Republicans are blowing smoke about climate change?  Their lips are moving.  Normally it is “national security” that is used as a blanket defense/reasoning for whatever draconian policy they want to institute.

An Easy, Cost-Effective Way to Address Climate Change? Massive Reforestation.—No shit.  This should be point number one in any climate change mitigation plan.  Why?  It is so dead simple and the downside to planting a lot of trees is…what exactly?

Corn Pollution Kills Thousands of Americans a Year—So, we need to grow less corn.

As Mass Timber Takes Off, How Green Is This New Building Material?—This is where we get into trouble.  Instead of asking if mass timber is better than other methods we end up trying to evaluate its “green” credentials in a vacuum.

Amazon Accused of Abandoning 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goal—Corporations will only be held accountable as long as customers keep them so.  Otherwise, a decision will be made deep in a conference room somewhere that guts whatever environmental commitment has been made.

China wants to Ban Bitcoin Mining because it ‘Seriously Wasted Resources’—No truer paragraph has ever been written about Bitcoin:

In a typical Bitcoin mining operation, powerful banks of computers are dedicated to crunching out “blockchain” numbers that serve absolutely no purpose, but have value because people think they do.

Climate Change Could Make Duluth America’s Premier Destination—This is a little tongue in cheek, but the future is a scary place right now.

Forever Wild—If you have only skied major resorts tied to corporations like Vail Resorts it is likely that you have missed the spirit of skiing embodied by shaggier ski hills.  If only we could all capture a little of this magic.

Baby Boomers Commit the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ of Retirement Planning—Baby boomers are the worst.  Fight me.  Subsequent generations are going to be stuck cleaning up the mess of a generation that accomplished so little relative to what they were given.  Yet, we have to hear endless stories of their greatness.

Friday Linkage 8/21/2015

It got unseasonably cool here in eastern Iowa this week. Like, mid-50s at night and no more than mid-70s during the day. I am sure that we will pay for this comfortable weather with a slap of hot and humid in the coming weeks, but it was a nice preview of the cool fall weather to come.

On to the links…

How The EPA Plans To Cut Methane Emissions From Oil And Gas Wells—This falls into the “boring, but important” category of news. The EPA is proposing new regulations on methane emissions, which is important because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and a lot of methane is released at gas drilling sites.

Four Powerhouse Bills to Help California get to 50 Percent Renewable Energy—In a lot of economic and policy circles the saying goes “As goes California…” because the size of California determines a lot of what happens in the rest of the country. If California could really get to 50% renewable energy it would be a major change.

World Needs 53GW Of Solar PV Installed Per Year To Address Climate Change—If that is the number, how do we get to 53 GW per year? I know that this is more of a thought exercise than anything else, but in order to beat the worst of climate change we are going to need addressable goals.

Coal Mining Sector Running Out of Time, says Citigroup—I am not going to start playing the funeral dirge just yet, but when major financiers and banks are pulling out of coal and being public about the shift the winds of change are blowing.

90 Years of U.S. Fuel Economy Data Shows the Power of Incentives, Dangers of Stagnation—This is a pretty compelling chart:

UMTRI-90-years-MPG-data.png.650x0_q70_crop-smart

Why did we have such a lull in the 90s and early-2000s? Oh right, SUVs and a right wing that encouraged nothing but “drill, baby drill.” Thanks.

How Much Of California’s Drought Was Caused By Climate Change? Scientists Now Have The Answer.—California is bound to go through periodic droughts, but it looks like the current drought cycle is being exacerbated by climate change.

How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa—This is just a fascinating read. The author placed GPS chips into fake elephant tusks to track where illicit ivory made its way across the globe.

The Pork Industry is Full of this Drug You’ve Never Heard Of—Ractopamine, besides sounding like the name of a plague in a spy movie, is bad stuff. Most of the rest of the world has not deemed meat raised with this drug safe for human consumption, but in the good ol’ USA it’s what’s for dinner.

How the Midwest’s Corn Farms Are Cooking the Planet—Industrial corn production is turning out to be one of the more environmentally damaging agricultural pursuits of the modern age. Maybe it is time we start looking at a different paradigm.

The American Lawn Is Now The Largest Single ‘Crop’ In The U.S.—If corn is bad, lawns are downright insane. At least there is something that comes out of a corn field. A lawn is just a green carpet that requires more maintenance than wall-to-wall white shag carpeting.

What Happens When Your Cash Crop Goes Bust: The Fall and Rise of Zimbabwe’s Coffee Economy—A really good write up about what happened to Zimbabwe’s gourmet coffee economy following the seizing of farms by the Mugabe dictatorship.

An Artist Proves There’s Enough Sugar In Your Soda to Create a Lollipop—Would you drink a lollipop? Probably not, but you are doing the equivalent every time you drink a Coke.

Friday Linkage 5/15/2015

Where did May go? I know that I have a similar sentiment a lot of months, but May really got to the halfway mark pretty fast without me noticing. Here is to hoping that summer can be a slower and lazier season than spring has been thus far.

On to the links…

Iowa Landowner Claims he was Offered Prostitute by Oil Pipeline Rep—This story is getting a lot of play here in eastern Iowa as the debate over a proposed Bakken oil pipeline is really heating up. If anyone is surprised that an oil company would act like this does not know oil companies. Seriously, read about oil company hospitality suites in the 1980s.

Renewables = 84% of New Electricity Generation Capacity in 1st Quarter of 2015—Yes, 84% of the electrical generation capability added in the first quarter of 2015 in the United States came from renewables. For the first time utility scale solar tipped over 1% of the total U.S. generation capacity. Dig it.

Tesla’s Powerwall Home Battery is already Sold Out through 2016—If you wanted to get a Powerwall home battery you are out of luck until sometime after we choose a new president.

MIT Report: Today’s Solar Panels Fine For Tomorrow’s Needs—We have the technical tools right now to supply the world with clean and green power from the sun. Any further efficiencies will only make the economics better in the long term.

Coal Investments are Increasingly Risky, says Bank of America—The real war on coal is occurring between coal companies and the investment community, which sees the industry as an increasingly riskier place to put their money to use. This is truly the death knell because modern corporations run on debt and financing. It is the lifeblood of large scale economic activity.

Oil And Gas Wells Are Leaking Huge Amounts Of Methane, And It’s Costing Taxpayers Millions—Basically, oil and gas exploration companies are allowing a lot of methane to leak out of wells drilled on public lands. Remember that these are the same oil and gas companies that pay lower than market rates for the right to drill on public lands. What a scam.

In Wyoming, Taking A Photo Of A Polluted Stream Could Land You In Jail—Like “ag gag” laws this law is just waiting for court case to blow open the cozy relationship between lawmakers, polluters, and the chilling effect such a relationships have on free speech. Isn’t it amazing how right wingers love the second amendment, talk about freedom constantly, and are the first in line to trample any freedom that does not involve a firearm?

Is Corn Ethanol Breaking The Law?—Uh oh. Inevitably, farm state lawmakers will pass a correction to this little piece of legislation that will remove the illegality.

Buh-Bye, Corn Ethanol: Joule Makes The Same Thing From Recycled CO2—I would love to fill my truck on ethanol derived in this manner.

First Large-Scale Hemp Processing Plant begins in Colorado—One of the overlooked part of the marijuana legalization in Colorado was the concurrent legalization of industrial hemp. Hemp will not be an instant agricultural miracle, but it could become part of a broader portfolio of options for farmers.

Who Controls California’s Water?—The story is a little more complex than Chinatown makes it out to be, but the problems can be traced to policies that can be changed. Maybe.

Monsanto Bets $45 Billion on a Pesticide-Soaked Future—You can buy organic all day long, but the big companies pushing pesticides and herbicides are betting big on a future where we continue to soak our fields in their deadly chemicals. Who do you think will win?

Sri Lanka First Nation to Protect all Mangrove Forests—Mangrove forests are those great unsung ecosystems. Threatened, like swamps, because they seem like a hindrance to development but the value is not realized until the ecosystem is gone.

M&Ms Candy Maker says, “Don’t eat too many”—Sugar is the equivalent of a drug. It’s addictive and it causes health problems. Now, the pushers are telling consumers that it is a bad idea to eat too much of their own product.

The Brutal Reality of Life in China’s Most Polluted Cities—You do not need to spend $10 and see the new Mad Max movie to witness what a scarred hellscape would be like in the future because China has done all the work for you without the explosions or insane cars.

What is this Stuff: Organic Valley Grassmilk

I was at New Pi picking up some lunch—the cashew on a hot tin roof sandwich may be the downfall of my 2015 budget—and had to pick up some milk. For some reason, the milk section was fairly well picked over or containers had been removed for a date issue or cleaning or whatever. I stumbled upon this:

IMG_0200

Grassmilk? The container pretty much says it all: 100% grass fed, no grain, non-homogenized, no GMO, no synthetic hormones, no anti-biotics, etc.

Organic Valley, hailing from the small town of La Farge, WI, is a well-known entity in my refrigerator. Lately, I have been buying milk from a more local dairy—Hansen’s Dairy in Hudson, IA—but the concept of grass fed milk enticed me.

Cows were never meant to eat large quantities of grain and, damn it, every video I see of cows on pasture make the animals seem happy as all get out to be “frolicking” in the sun.

I generally do not think of Organic Valley as being “local.” However, some of their producers are very close. Some are in towns like Kalona, Cascade, Fairbank, and Hazelton. I think that I used to pass the farm in Hazelton on my way to southeastern Minnesota to see family. Heck, the headquarters of Organic Valley in La Farge is only a 162 miles from where I live. That is pretty local in the grand scheme of things.

It’s a winner in my book because cows were meant to live on pasture. Being corn fed is not a good thing.

Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils

I have been harsh to lagers lately. Most of the lagers I try leave my palette with an off taste that is not quite burnt. It’s not musty or soapy either. It’s just an odd flavor that makes me want to pour the beer out and grab the nearest pale ale.

Since I was such a fan and consumer of Dale’s Pale Ale while in Colorado I brought home some Mama’s Little Yella Pils:

Little Yella Pils

What is this liquid masquerading as a lager? It has none of the bad traits I associate with the breed. It, dare I say, drinks smooth like my favorite ales. What alchemy have the brewers at Oskar Blues conducted to create such a monster?

First off, this beer is true to style meaning that it does not employ the use of so-called “adjuncts” like corn and rice. Say what you want about corn and rice in beer, but the traditional recipes used in Europe do not call for the ingredients. These beers also do not use a lot of the ingredients modern American brewers are using to craft stunning beers—yes, I am looking at you Surly Coffee Bender.

Second, the hop bill consists solely of Saaz hops. This is a very traditional hop for pilsners and seems more in place in this style as opposed to more common American craft beer hops like Cascade, Centennial, or Willamette. A pilsner lager is normally an easy drinking beer—hence the use of this style as the backbone of American light lagers that are meant to be consumed in units measured by 24 cans—so a potent hop really interferes.

The end result is a “smaller” beer that begs to be quaffed. I came home from a three hour long hike with my daughter and enjoyed a beer on the patio as the sun was setting. It fit the moment perfectly.

This all kind of surprised me because Oskar Blues is known for being on the more aggressive side of craft brewing. It’s not Stone Ruination aggressive by any means, but several of their beers are pushing higher alcohol and/or bitterness levels. This is not a brewery known for making session beers. Heck, the main line beer—Dale’s Pale Ale—clocks in at 65 IBU.

It’s a malty, not too hoppy easy drinking beer from a brewery better known for trying to knock your socks off:

Purchase 3 Mug Rating

Friday Linkage 5/9/2014

Climate change is apparently here now that an official report has said so.  If you have looked out your window the past few years you knew this to be true, but now at least it is official.  What that means for climate action?  Probably nothing because, you know, Benghazi.

On to the links…

How We Became China’s Grocery Store and Wine Cellar—I always kind of wondered where all the animals raised and slaughtered in the state of Iowa went.  Now I know.

Stanford to Purge $18 Billion Endowment of Coal Stock—In many ways this is just a symbolic gesture that will not have a great deal of impact on either the endowment at Stanford or the coal companies in question.  However, it does not bode well that an increasing number of larger and larger institutional investors are questioning their commitment to coal companies.  Once the market turns…

The Top Ten Global Warming ‘Skeptic’ Arguments Answered—There is nothing more frustrating than trying to talk about global warming and climate change with a “skeptic” who spent the last evening watching Sean Hannity spread more misinformation about whatever the Koch’s have paid him to spew.  At least you can be better prepared for the counter arguments next time.

How Climate Change Is Making America’s Favorite Crop More Vulnerable—Well, if climate change gets much worse we might have trouble feeding ourselves let alone the more than one billion people in China.

A Coffee Crop Withers—In Central and South America a fungus is wiping out coffee crops left and right.  Rust or la roya is spreading, exacerbated by farming practices and climate change.  The good news is that the genetics of the coffee plant are relatively understudied so there might be a wild cultivar that possesses some resistance.

Beyond Honeybees: Now Wild Bees and Butterflies May Be in Trouble—You can see this in Iowa where the population of butterflies is dramatically lower in recent years due to a massive change in the landscape, primarily the systematic destruction of plants that butterflies feed on like milkweed.

This Island Is The First In The World To Be Powered Fully By Wind And Water—Islands, like my favorite Hawaiian islands, make great laboratories for renewable energy because the electrical grids are generally isolated, electricity costs are high, and the potential damage from imported fuel is catastrophic.  The smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands is going to be fully renewable soon.

Hawaii’s Largest Utility Ordered To Help Customers Install More Rooftop Solar—Speaking of Hawaii, HECO—Oahu’s electrical utility and the state’s largest—has been a constant thorn in the side of anyone wanting to deploy residential solar.  Roadblocks are common, excuses are many, and the goal posts for approval seem to move all the time.  The Public Utilities Commission is finally getting some sack and demanding action on HECO’s part.

How Some Simple Changes To Building Codes Could Revolutionize The Electric Car Market—Building codes are not something that many people think about because it is a confusing and arcane world of legalese, but these guidelines have a major impact on how and what gets built in the U.S.

At Chernobyl, Hints of Nature’s Adaptation—Chernobyl and the surrounding area affected by the meltdown of the nuclear reactor is an amazing test site for nature’s ability to adapt to massive change.  I am not saying that this is a test tube for the future under climate change, but it is interesting to think about.

Wolf Found in Iowa—Granted, the wolf was shot and killed but this animal’s recovery is pretty amazing.