Apparently James O’Keefe and his repugnant brand of “investigative” whatever was a little too tame for the right wing. Now they are paying for people to go to town halls and say shit like this woman, who is an operative for LaRouche PAC.
We also live in a world where a sixteen year old girl worried about climate change is the subject of an adult wishing he had a sniper rifle.
On to the links…
Revealed: The 20 Firms Behind a Third of All Carbon Emissions—You can worry about plastic straws all you want. These twenty firms are the reason why the planet is screwed.
A Champion of the Unplugged, Earth-Conscious Life, Wendell Berry is Still Ahead of Us—The world needs more Wendell Berry. This quote says it all, “the origin of climate change is human laziness.”
Record Debt and Inequality Gap? It’s Almost like 40 Years of Republican Tax Cuts Failed.—Can we finally put to bed the lie that is supply side economics? Arthur Laffer was wrong. His acolytes were wrong. Now, if the goal of Republican tax cuts was to wreck the economy, increase inequality, and hamstring the government…mission accomplished.
Five Radical Climate Policies That Most Americans Actually Like—It is not really that difficult to find a consensus on addressing climate change through proposals that the vast majority of people understand and would accept. I am sure that Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity would bloviate otherwise but they can run themselves with their millions of dollars to make themselves feel better while we move on to real solutions.
The Northeast US has a Carbon-Trading System. It is Boosting, not Hurting, State Economies.—This is a free market solution that should have right wingers slobbering, but since it does not allow fossil fuel companies to spew emissions at an unchallenged rate there is no way they can agree. Too bad.
The U.S. Southeast: A Hotspot For Uneconomic Fossil Power, Already Costs Consumers Millions—It is almost as if red states led by Republicans are trying to prove that they will follow bad policies for no other reason than…um…Fox News?
Trump’s Pledge to Save US Coal is Failing, Leaving Coal Country in Crisis—There was never a “war on coal” as understood by Republicans. The market moved against coal in such a way that made it fundamentally non-competitive before environmental concerns were figured in. Combine the two and it is a loser for just about everyone who does not have a vested interest in burning more coal.
Plastic Waste is Everywhere in Grocery Stores. Can They Cut Down?—Shopping for groceries is like shopping for plastic sometimes.
A Carbon-Neutral Burger? It’s not Impossible.—All right, if all we ate was an occasional grass fed, grass finished hamburger or steak there would not be any problem. However, people do not just eat red meat occasionally. It is a constant presence in their daily diet.
Here’s the Actual Impact of Cutting Down on Red Meat (and Everything Else)—Let’s just simplify this entire exercise. Reducing animal based food products—meat, eggs, dairy, whatever—is the single biggest dietary change you can make in terms of emissions reductions.
Planters on Brighton Boulevard Aren’t Just for Show, They’re Keeping Garbage Out of Waterways—This is just a really cool idea that seems like it would be easy to deploy in a lot of places.
In a Sign of Cleanup Success, Dolphins Are Living and Giving Birth in the Potomac—We can do better. We can restore ecosystems. We have to power.
How Interchangeable Parts Revolutionized the Way Things are Made—What seems obvious in hindsight was not so obvious at the time.
Posted in Linkage, Uncategorized
Tagged ALDI, bankruptcy, Brighton Boulevard, carbon dioxide, climate change, coal, Denver, dolphins, emissions, fossil fuels, grass fed, grass finished, grocery store, interchangeable parts, linkage, links, manufacturing, plastic, pollution, Potomac River, renewable energy, RGGI, single use, Walmart, Wendell Berry, Wyoming
It somehow ended up being more than halfway through November before I even realized that the time had passed. Maybe I was spending too much time looking at opening dates for ski hills and poring over the long range snow forecasts.
On to the links…
100% Global Renewable Electricity No Longer Flight Of Fancy, More Cost-Effective Than Current System—The economics have turned. Now all that remains to construct an energy system for the future is to amass the political will. Obviously that is something that is easier said than done.
Richest 1% Now Owns Half the World’s Wealth—Well, that is depressing. If you want to understand why politicians could care less about your desires as a voter or those of your community it is encapsulated in this statistic. You do not grease the wheels of power because you do not have nearly the money that the 1% possesses.
One of the World’s Largest Mining Companies is Ditching Coal—These mines will probably be sold and will probably still be operational for a time. The key fact to remember is that a giant, international company has decided that coal mines have no future and may become stranded assets sometime in the near future.
Subsidizing Coal, Nuclear Could Drive Customers Off-Grid—From the pages of the book of unintended consequences comes this little gem. By making grid power more expensive in order to subsidize dying power regimes the genius of Rick Perry’s Department of Energy could hasten the death spiral of the centralized grid.
New Study Shows What Would Happen If the US Went Vegan—It’s just a model, but it is interesting to see what the ramifications would be of such a conversion. I tend to think the more sustainable model would be a pseudo-vegetarian model with a focus on improved rangeland management, elimination of high fructose corn syrup production, and an emphasis on reduced food waste.
MidAmerican will Spend $1 billion ‘Repowering’ Oldest Wind Turbines—This seems like an amazing opportunity to take wind turbines that are already sited and have the infrastructure in place in an effort to get more power generated. How many fifteen to twenty year old wind farms are out there that could use a “repowering?”
Tesla Powers Up Nantucket With Grid Storage Installation—Tesla may be a Ponzi scheme masquerading as a next-generation solutions type of company but damn if these guys aren’t out there pushing boundaries. These are not PowerPoint presentations. These are on the ground solutions that are operational.
California may Use 50 Percent Renewable Electricity by 2020, a Decade Ahead of Schedule—I am really amazed by this development.
4 Ways Cities can Become Climate Heroes—Cities and other municipalities can become the agents of change in the era when leadership at the state and federal level is in the hands of climate deniers more inclined to line the pockets of coal barons and oil companies than worry about the health and safety of millions of people.
Denver Votes to Require Environment-Friendly ‘Green’ Roofs—Amidst all of the election analysis there was no coverage of this little gem unless you were reading the Denver Post or other regional newspapers. Now, “green roof” can mean plants but it can also mean solar energy. Given 300 days of sunshine per year why isn’t every roof on the Front Range a green roof?
One Bitcoin Transaction Takes More Energy than a Household uses in a Week—We tend to think of virtual anything as “free.” However, all of those cat videos, Jerry of the Day posts, and Bitcoins add up to some serious computer time that uses a lot of electricity.
Millennials Lose Taste for Dining Out, Get Blamed for Puzzling Restaurant Trend—We can blame millennials for a lot of things. Especially avocado toast and everything else they feel compelled to put avocados on. Avocados are not that great, so stop putting that vegetable snot in my sushi. However, can we lay the blame for this trend on crap chain restaurants. Does anyone really need to go to the Olive Garden or Chili’s?
Vail postpones Opening Day due to lack of snow—Well, fuck. Even the 1% who frequent this mountain are going to be impacted by climate change. It’s not too late to join Protect Our Winters kids.
Behold the Wonders of Rep. Louie Gohmert’s Conspiracy Chart—Louie Gohmert is one of the biggest no talent ass clowns in the history of American politics. This is peak Louie Gohmert:
Did he just sit back listening to Alex Jones on an endless loop and create a flowchart based on that stream of consciousness verbal vomit? This is what passes for representation in America in 2017.
Posted in Linkage, Uncategorized
Tagged 1%, Bitcoin, cities, climate change, coal, Colorado, Denver, green roof, linkage, links, Louie Gohmert, MidAmerican Energy, Nantucket, opening day, POW, Protect Our Winters, Rio Tinto Global, ski, stranded assets, Tesla, Vail, vegan, wealth, wind power
In this crazy, mixed up world where Donald Trump can claim that Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia to harm her own campaign as a means to explain his innocence we need to find solid footing more than ever. We need to find that tribe of people who connect with our beliefs and our passions in order to feel that we belong to this larger universe. You need to find your tribe.
What do you are about? What makes your heart sing? What makes you smile to get up in the morning and see the possible? Take stock of these things to find your tribe.
It is important to be part of something larger when engaging with your elected representatives because it gives your message staying power. If you correspond with them as a member of an organization that has individuals testifying or is providing lobbying materials on behalf of an issue it resonates. There is a reason why the AARP gets its message heard. When thousands of people call and tell their representatives that the issue is important to members of AARP that legislative agenda gets traction.
Consider the power we can wield. When Trump, goaded by the Utah congressional delegation and local state politicians including the governor, announced his intention to review more than a dozen monuments declared under several prior presidential administrations the outdoor community howled. Better yet progressive outdoor companies led by Patagonia and followed quickly by Arc’teryx, Polartec, and Peak Designs among others made it very clear that they would not participate in the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer convention that took place in Salt Lake City.
By July 2017, less than five months after the actions by the outdoor community, Outdoor Retailer announced it would be moving its convention to Denver. Numbers are hard to come by and notoriously unreliable, but most accounts attribute upwards of $45 million dollars in spending due to the presence of Outdoor Retailer. I do not care how right wing your politics run $45 million is a lot of money getting pumped into the local economy.
Why did this happen? Outdoor advocates and companies banded together in a coherent way to make it known they would not stand for the wonton giveaway of our public lands to moneyed interests. This is the power of our tribes.
This is something that the right wing has understood for years with organizations like the NRA. Very few members of the NRA actually espouse the virulent views of its leadership but they are counted among the faithful when it comes time to apply political pressure. We can apply the same level of political pressure on behalf of our causes.
Be active in your tribe. Be unforgiving in your defense of your tribe. Be passionate about your tribe.
If you happen to be one of those people so dispossessed and apathetic that there is nothing for which you would man the barricades may whatever god have mercy on your soul.
Posted in Eco-Activism, Uncategorized
Tagged #myPersonalParis, activism, Arc’teryx, Colorado, community, Convention, Denver, Find Your Tribe, organization, Outdoor Retailer, Patagonia, POW, Protect Our Winters, Salt Lake City, tools, Utah
Heading out on vacation in a few hours because nothing says relaxing like Orlando in August with your extended family. There is absolutely nothing quite like late summer Florida heat and humidity to really bring people together. At least there will be Dole Whip.
On to the links…
Utah Commission: Keep “Negro Bill Canyon” the Same—Between the zealots who cannot stop fighting the Civil War by idiotically flying what they assume is the flag of the Confederacy—when in truth it is bastardization of a battle flag flown by either the Army of Northern Virginia or the Army of Tennessee—to maintaining symbols of hate like this we will never grow as a nation.
How Midwestern Farmers Could Help Save the Gulf of Mexico—It will never happen with the current White House and most of the governors being Republicans, but there should be a national program to pay farmers to deploy cover crops. No single action would be better for the health of the Gulf of Mexico and our nation’s water quality. It is a proven solution.
How Fossil Fuel Money Made Climate Change Denial the Word of God—Be wary of the man who claims to be godly, but spends his time talking about earthly matters. It usually means that he is hiding an agenda and using a veneer of piety as a shield against criticism. As I tell people all the time, “I do not remember a single passage in the bible where Jesus talks about the rights of oil companies to drill on public lands.”
Americans Are Using Less Electricity Today Than A Decade Ago—The key caveat here is per capita. There are more people, but we are using less electricity per each person.
Thanks To Co-op, Small Iowa Town Goes Big On Solar—I went to a wedding this summer just outside of Kalona and the solar panels were all over the place. Ground mount arrays were at almost every farm that was not owned by an older order Amish or Mennonite family. If everyone could embrace solar like the customers of Farmers Electric Cooperative the world would be a better place.
Dirty Energy’s Quiet War on Solar Panels—They can try and stem the tide but solar panels will win in the end. The guys who put the panels on my house this week were booked solid with jobs for the rest of the summer and fall. Solar power is real and it is here.
To Solve ‘Duck Curve,’ Missouri Utility to Pay Bonus for West-Facing Solar Panels—It’s not just about south facing roofs anymore. As someone who has installed a west facing array—270 degree azimuth baby—I cannot wait to see how my peak production lines up with the duck curve.
Shell Oil CEO Stunner: ‘My Next Car will be Electric’—The worm has turned.
More New Yorkers Opting for Life in the Bike Lane—Bikes are amazing and can be a major component of the mobility solutions puzzle we, as a nation and species, are trying to solve. Seriously, if people are willing to bike in New York City you should be willing to bike in Cedar Rapids.
A Perfect Illustration of the Spatial Inefficiency of the Automobile—Remember, if you work in a cubicle your parking space is bigger than your office. What do we truly value?
Pedal Power: How Denver Bike Crews are Rescuing Food from Landfills One Ride at a Time—I love this business model. Collect scraps—for a fee—with a no-emissions bicycle and create wonderful compost to nourish the soil.
Here’s Proof the Average U.S. Household Isn’t the ‘Dumb Money’—I spent twenty one months in business school listening to the icons of “smart money” tell aspiring investment bankers how they were the masters of the universe and what not. The financial crisis in 2008 was a total nut punch to these guys, but it obviously did not make them humble.
Papa John’s has Made a Gluten-Free Pizza that Gluten-Intolerant Diners can’t Eat—Here is proof that the gluten free trend is not about people with celiac disease and more about marketing.
Impossible Burger’s ‘Secret Sauce’ Highlights Challenges of Food Tech—Soy leghemoglobin may be an allergen, but I love the government’s concern. I also find it stunning that the FDA has acted so quickly when other problems in our food system are persistent and pernicious going on for years and decades without any government intervention. Do you think big meat is behind this? Oh yeah…
Posted in Linkage, Uncategorized
Tagged automobile, bike lanes, celiac, compost, cover crops, Denver, duck curve, dumb money, EV, Farmers Electric Cooperative, gluten, Impossible Burger, Iowa, Kalona, linkage, links, Maryland, Negro Bill Canyon, New York City, pizza, Shell Oil, smart money, solar power, soy leghemoglobin, spatial inefficiency
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?
Posted in Linkage, Uncategorized
Tagged axe throwing, beer, biogas, clean coal, climate change, coal, consumerism, dairy cows, Denver, documentary, giant hogweed, High Country News, investment, linkage, links, methane, millennials, minimalism, myth, Netflix, Outdoor Retailer, peak hipster, public lands, red tape, Sam Clovis, solar, Utah, Vail Resorts, vegan, What the Health
Man, it feels like fall around here right now. It is just about perfect for a summer in Iowa. Global warming be damned.
On to the links…
All of the World’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions in one Awesome Interactive Pie Chart—This pie chart is pretty freaking amazing.
Free the Snake: Restoring America’s Greatest Salmon River—If you have watched the documentary DamNation you need to watch this short about the Snake River.
Marijuana Growing Spikes Denver Electricity Demand—This might be the one downside to marijuana legalization in Denver. It’s not really sustainable to grow something inside under artificial lights. Maybe a new generation of growers using greenhouses instead of grow rooms can change the paradigm.
How The Oil Industry Got Two Regulators Fired For Doing Their Jobs—If you think that the government can actually regulate oil and gas companies you need to realize the power that these companies wield.
How Solar Power Is Learning To Share: The Rapid Growth Of Community Solar Gardens—Community solar is kicking ass. It will probably become a talking point for right wingers because the word community is too close to communism for their brains to handle. Too bad people like it a lot. Kind of like Obamacare.
White House Plans Rooftop Solar Panel Initiative for Inner-City Neighborhoods—Solar is generally something enjoyed and employed by the relatively well-off. Solar leasing changes this to a degree, but a lot of people are left out of the benefits. Here is an effort to change that dynamic.
Solar In New York State Grew 300% From 2011-2014—Think about that growth rate for a moment. Anything that grows that fast is amazing.
Billionaire On Way To Building Largest Wind Farm In North America… And It’s Not Warren Buffett—Philip Anschutz is a name you will be familiar with if you spend any time in Colorado or Wyoming. The billionaire is now building a pair of windfarms with the capacity to generate some 3,000 megawatts of clean power. The irony is that the facilities are located in Carbon County, Wyoming.
Kenya’s New Wind Farm Will Provide Nearly One Fifth Of The Country’s Power—Granted, Kenya’s electricity demands are nothing like the U.S. or other developed Western countries, but one-fifth of a nation’s power coming from the wind is pretty sweet.
Belize Going 100% Renewables As Part Of 10 Island Challenge—How come Belize can make this kind of commitment and we in the U.S. cannot make the same kind of effort?
Alaska’s on Fire and It May Make Climate Change Even Worse—Great. Alaska is on fire and the carbon release is going to make climate change worse. Awesome.
Walmart Website Riddled with Deceptive Made in USA Claims—Walmart lies. Big surprise.
Urban Farmers: Community Food Growing around the World – In Pictures—Urban farms, like community solar, are hot right now. But these gardeners have nothing on the urban farming of Cuba. I have seen these operations in person and some are truly impressive.
Posted in Linkage
Tagged Alaska, Belize, Clean Technica, Climate Progress, community solar, DamNation, Denver, electricity, Kenya, linkage, links, Made in U.S.A., marijuana, Philip Anschutz, photovoltaic, PV, renewable energy, Snake River, solar, The Cleanest Line, Think Progress, urban farm, Walmart, wildfire, wind, Wired, Wyoming
Amber ale is one of the founding styles of the craft beer movement in America—think about Fat Tire Amber Ale or Samuel Adams Boston Lager which shares a lot of traits with amber ales while being a lager—but it has gotten overshadowed in recent years with the explosion of IPAs and derivative pale ale styles.
Dry Dock cans an Amber Ale:
The beer may carry the title Amber Ale, but the brewers describe it as an extra special bitter (ESB). This may be a stylistic choice as most consumers see the word bitter in a beer and run the other way. While that is an unfair critique, this beer does have a muddled character.
Overall, the beer lacks life. The malt body comes across flat, the hops are indistinguishable, and there is an unpleasant sour taste. Not tart like a true sour beer. More like something was spoiled. Not pleasant.
I find it fascinating that I really liked the beers I had in Dry Dock’s Aurora taproom, but I have so far found the beers from its production brewery to be lacking or stylistically something I find offensive. Yes, I am looking at you hefeweizens.
Whatever it was Dry Dock’s Amber Ale failed:
Posted in Beer
Tagged ABV, ale, amber ale, Aurora, Colorado, craft, Denver, Dry Dock Brewing Company, ESB, extra special bitter, Front Range, hops, IBU, IPA, lager, micro, pale ale
During my marathon tour of breweries in the Denver metro area—one day, six breweries, two visits to the Basic Kneads food trucks, and a wicked good falafel—I visited Dry Dock Brewing Co. in Aurora, Colorado. I came away with a good impression of the beer even though my stay at the taproom was relatively short for a variety of reasons, flagging endurance at the midpoint of the brewery marathon being the prime suspect.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Dry Dock’s beers in cans, so some of that golden liquid came home with me. First up is the Hefeweizen:
I am reluctant to say anything about a hefeweizen because I never have anything good to say. This beer came in a sampler, so considered it a sunk cost of getting the other three beers.
Here is the deal: hefeweizens are known for having prominent notes of banana. I loathe bananas. I can’t stand the smell, taste, texture, and almost sight of that ghastly fruit. It’s probably bordering on a phobia.
Hefeweizens taste like banana, clove, straw, and barnyard ass that has been left to stew for a few weeks in the mid-summer heat of a county fair. Nasty. Other people with opinions on beer that I trust do not come away with this impression at all, so I know that the problem lies with me.
I refuse to even offer a rating of a hefeweizen because I will be less than objective in my criteria. Your experience may vary.
Posted in Beer
Tagged ale, Aurora, banana, Basic Kneads, beer, clove, Colorado, craft, Denver, Dry Dock Brewing Company, hefeweizen, micro, straw, unfiltered
Upslope Brewing Company from Boulder, Colorado was a new name to me as I perusing the refrigerated cases at the liquor store in Steamboat Springs. My knowledge of Front Range breweries runs toward the Denver metro and ends about there and as a non-resident I am not too unhappy with that performance.
Started in 2008, Upslope Brewing has a year-round lineup consisting of five beers and a rotating lineup of special releases. One of the year-round beers is Craft Lager:
It’s a light lager with middling alcohol (4.8% ABV) and almost no bittering (15 IBU). When it’s cold it goes down easy and that is about all that you remember.
Utilizing a mild hops like Saaz for such a small amount of bittering leaves little aroma or non-bitter flavors to be exhibited. A light lager seems like a perfect blank canvas to experiment with some subtle flavors that might get lost in a beer with a more malt heavy body. I have seen this style used to showcase rose hips, ginger, peppercorns…the list goes on for a while. Some of these experiments were successful and others were less so. Some were even non-qualified disasters.
This beer was inoffensive to the point of being boring. It’s really no different than a hundred other lagers out there. If what you want was the bare minimum in beer flavor just pick the cheapest option out of the cooler and call it a day. This lack of any character is actually something that experts think is afflicting the German beer market. Sales of beer and consumption have fallen a lot recently. Experts peg the reason being the wide proliferation of a few similar styles of beer. Basically, beer is boring in Germany and consumers want something with a little excitement.
I was hoping that after a good experience with Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils that I would feel warm and fuzzy about lagers. It was just not to be:
As a note, Upslope Brewing Company has committed to donating 1% of the revenue from Craft Lager to Colorado Trout Unlimited through the 1% for Rivers Campaign. If you are into that sort of thing.
Posted in Beer
Tagged 1% for Rivers, 1% for Rivers Campaign, ABV, ale, Boulder, Colorado, Colorado Trout Unlimited, craft, Craft Lager, Denver, Front Range, hops, IBU, lager, Mama’s Little Yella Pils, micro, Oskar Blues, Saaz, Upslope Brewing Company
This is not some screed where I quote from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. For those of you who have not tortured yourself by actually attempting to read that magnum opus of conservative crap hole rhetoric, Colorado plays a major thematic role. Instead this is my thoughts about how Colorado seems to be moving toward a vision of what I think the United States will increasingly look like in the coming decades.
As I spent more than a week in the Centennial State I began to formulate some thoughts. Here goes:
In terms of politics, the state is polarized. Outside of Denver metroplex that stretches to the north to include the liberal paradise of Boulder, the state is relatively conservative. However, population trends and other demographic forces do not favor the continued strong influence of constituencies outside of the more progressive Denver metroplex. Sure, conservatives and libertarians will make a lot of noise—witness the recent tomfoolery about secession in the northern part of the state—but those voices will increasingly lack electoral heft save for the most gerrymandered of districts. Don’t believe me? Look at Representative Steve King of Iowa. He’s the Republican douche who prattled on about immigrants being drug mules and what not. Real class act. Earlier this month he held a “rally” in his district and this was the turnout:
Oh yeah. So, while hateful views and rhetoric like the sewage being spilled from Rep. King’s mouth may play well of Fox News—which has a demographic problem itself as it’s average viewer is easily old enough to receive full Social Security benefits—it is increasingly not something most people want to hear. Remember, Steve King is from a district in a state that gave then-candidate Barack Obama his push to the national stage with a stunning caucus win and twice voted for the man to become President. This is also a state that has allowed gay marriage since 2009 and has not imploded in some biblical event. This is what the future looks like for the right if increasingly exclusionary voices are the only ones to get heard.
The state’s left leaning politics, combined with a libertarian bent towards personal liberty, have already pushed forward one of the most progressive agenda items in the United States…the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults. Imagine that the U.S. police and prison industrial complex were no longer calling the shots in support of a broken system that enriches those exact entities at the expense of the greater nation. Imagine a cessation to the incessant drug war that has consumed U.S. society for the better part of forty years. I saw this future in Colorado where an adult can walk into a shop and buy weed as if it were no more prohibited than alcohol. Amazing.
Colorado’s prominence in the pantheon of craft beer is unquestionable and I am an unabashed fan of many of the breweries that call the state home. More so these breweries represent a more local and human scale future to the production of the foodstuffs that we consume. For anyone who does not believe that smaller scale producers can survive in a broader industrial context I would point you to the thriving craft beer industry in general and those breweries in Colorado in particular. Why do I believe that these examples of small scale success bode well for other endeavors into more localized and human scale production that is better for our bodies, souls, and planet? It is harder to think of an industry with more entrenched giants than beer—the formerly big three of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors—who over time erected a gauntlet of barriers to entry in an effort to create a moat around the market for beer in the United States. Guess what? The only segment of the beer industry that is growing is craft beer and it has a long way to go.
The state is also dealing with the nasty effects of climate change in real time. While the impacts of climate change might be theoretical for other states it is already rearing its ugly head in Colorado. Drive through any national forest in the state and you will see acre upon acre of dead timber that was killed by a beetle normally held in check by cold winters and healthy trees. The increasingly warmer winters and unreliable snow are forcing the vibrant ski tourism industry to evaluate a future where there might not be so many days where people are willing to shell out big bucks for lift tickets. If you think that this is just about the high Rockies you would be mistaken. In Colorado Springs the community has dealt with massive wildfires, exacerbated by unreliable rainfall, and the subsequent problems of flooding when rains finally soak denuded hillsides. Many communities along the Front Range were devastated last year when 1,000 year floods—whatever that means in a climate change reality—inundated communities at the base of the mountains.
There are other things that I saw when I was driving that made me think maybe, just maybe there is hope in our future if Colorado is the guide. It’s not a comprehensive network and it bypasses some communities, but the efforts to bring light rail across the Denver area are laudable. Soon, a light rail extension will finally link the airport—which is in bumblefuck relative to downtown—and the city of Denver. It’s still a place ruled by the car, but stand still long enough and you will likely be mowed down by someone riding a bike.
Get a chance to drive around and you will start to notice solar panels everywhere. If you start at the airport there are fields of them near the road leading to the parking structures. From there you will see solar panels on top of houses and on commercial buildings. Heck, right off I-25 in the heart of deep red El Paso County—where they renamed the freeway the Ronald Reagan Highway or some such shit—there is a big array. Solar gardens sell out in no time flat and you see installer trucks driving all over the place.
I am rambling a bit, but I wanted to get these thoughts out there soon after my return from Colorado. What do you think?
Posted in Politics
Tagged Ayn Rand, beer, bikes, climate change, Colorado, craft, Denver, drought, food, forests, future, gay marriage, industry, Iowa, legal, local, marijuana, micro, progressive, PV, ski, solar, Steve King, tourism