Tag Archives: EDF

Friday Linkage 5/30/2014

This is going to be a short list of links because I am currently on a plane heading to Denver with my brother to spread my parents ashes near the Continental Divide. The upside to this depressing event is that I get to sample some great beers from Front Range brewers. More to come.

On to the links…

Obama to Unveil Rule to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions—With no action possible in Congress, the President will issue a new rule through the EPA under the Clean Air Act to, in essence, cut greenhouse gas emissions from coal fired power plants. Republicans will howl that this is an “imperial President,” but conveniently forget how much they liked the same kind of action under the second Bush. It’s called progress.

There is Still Hope for the Climate: Regional Cures for Planetary Fever—I do not know if I am so positive anymore, but some part of me hopes that we cobble together a patchwork of solutions that will avoid the absolute worst of climate change and leave it to our children to fix the mess. We suck as a species.

Wind Energy In 2013 Was Equivalent To Taking 20 Million Cars Off The Road—It’s amazing how much wind energy has been deployed in the United States. Now imagine if we could have a similar commitment to deploy residential solar at this level. Damn.

Ohio Is Poised To Be The First State To Roll Back Its Renewable Energy Standard—Just when you think you are making real progress, ass clowns like those in Ohio’s legislature, egged on by Republican a-hole Governor John Kasich, decided to gut the state’s RES. Progress be damned in the face of Koch money!

On the Road to Green Energy, Germany Detours on Dirty Coal—Following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, the German government pledged to get the country out of the business of generating power from nuclear sources. While laudable it does mean that the country is going to have to turn to coal to meet its commitment.

‘A Government Of Thugs’: How Canada Treats Environmental Journalists—Apparently, my view of Canadians being easy going was dead wrong when it comes to the government’s treatment of environmental journalists and activists. It’s an insidious thing for a government that claims to be transparent to act as an agent for private development, but it is the nature of our modern governments that this is the case. If you do not believe this to be true, just review the case of Tim DeChristopher.

Resiliency+: Distributed Generation and Microgrids Can Keep Lights On During the Next Storm—Every time there is a storm or major power disruption on the east coast of the United States this topic comes up because somewhere in the center of the problem was a microgrid powered by renewables that kept the lights on. Maybe it’s a trend now.

Turbines Popping Up on New York Roofs, Along With Questions of Efficiency—I guess that in order to attract trust fund hipsters a developer needs to include some sort of greenwashing for their project.

The Time My Mom Got Me A Tiger—It’s not what you think. This video talks about the problem of captive tigers being used for photo opportunities and the chance he got to “adopt” his tiger.

Strange Brews: The Genes of Craft Beer—I brew a lot of beer and the science of yeast really escapes me. It seems that it does not make a difference in some recipes and, yet, in others the difference is marked. What gives?

Chef Dan Barber on the Farm-to-Table Movement’s Next Steps—I don’t always agree with Dan Barber’s ideas about food as I find them to be difficult to scale in order to “feed the world” but nonetheless he is an important influence in how the system develops.

Solar Roadways: A Modest Proposal?—I love seeing this idea get press outside of the normal “green” outlets. One thing lost in the discussion about these panels is that it does not even have to be used on roads to be really effective. How many square feet of driveway, sidewalk, and parking lot exist in just the united states that could be covered with the material? Just saying.

Ford’s Customers Tested Its New Trucks for Two Years, and They Didn’t Even Know It—I am watching the development of the next generation Ford F-150 with a lot of interest. For one, I own an F-150 for work. Second, it’s the best selling vehicle in America so any technology deployed successfully on this platform will likely find itself adopted across a broad swath of vehicles. Of most interest is the new aluminum body, replacing traditional steel, that is purported to cut over 700 pounds off the weight of the truck in the interest of fuel economy. Interesting.

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Friday Linkage 4/11/2014

This week was such a bummer. The most recent apparent chupacabra turned out to be bogus. One day we will find this mythical beast nuzzling with a friendly sasquatch. Oh well.

On to the links…

Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit Their Highest Point In 800,000 Years—Welcome to the era where human behavior has altered the basic functioning of the planet.

Wind Power Provided 4.8% of U.S. Electricity in January—Damn, that’s a big number. Granted, I live in a state—Iowa—where wind power can be over one quarter of our power any given day and is growing with the addition of some big projects coming on line.

The Energy Haves and Have-Nots—What is the future of distributed solar? I do not know, but this seems to make the case that it will be the domain of the rich in sunny climes. Great.

Here’s Why the World Is Spending Less on Renewable Energy—The spending drop is not all bad news because the per megawatt cost is dropping so much that it was bound the exert some downward pressure on spending in the near term. Granted, it would be nice to see an increase in spending and a decrease in per megawatt cost delivering a double whammy of market penetration.

Five Pathways to Post-Capitalist ‘Renaissance’ by a Former Oil Man—I thought that there some excellent thoughts and ideas presented here about the imminent future.

Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards Under Attack Again by ALEC –ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, writes “model” legislation that Republican legislators nationwide introduce as bills with little or no modification. It’s just another right wing front for big money interests.

What Should Happen To Coal Ash Ponds?—The EPA estimates, remember that no one knows for sure, that there are over 600 coal ash ponds in the U.S. This is a silent danger lurking in a lot of communities in this country.

Thank You, Rio Tinto: British Mining Giant Divests From Pebble Mine—The Pebble Mine is a bad idea no matter how you look at it unless you are trying to make money off environmental destruction. Rio Tinto divesting from the project has to be considered a death knell for this project.

Electric Cars Growing 100% Every Year—The growth rate is great, but the key factoid to me is that you can buy 11 plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid cars for less than $30K. Why is $30K an important number? It’s less than the average price of a new car in the U.S.

The Capitalism of Catastrophe—I have my problem with the entire prepper or survivalist community. It’s no secret. It’s turned into an apocalypse industrial complex complete with tradeshows.

Another Cause of California’s Drought: Pot Farms—I would not say that the pot farms, illicit or otherwise, are a cause of the drought. However, the diversion of water for these operations is exacerbating the supply issue for sure.

Poachers Attack Beloved Elders of California, Its Redwoods—Some ass clowns want burl lumber and are cutting down ancient redwoods to get it. Really? This article does blame both meth tweakers and the Chinese, so it’s got that going for it.

Climate Change: The Hottest Thing in Science Fiction—Now let’s see the young adult blockbuster about a climate change refugee who must also deal with her coming of age in a brutal and foreign land. Kind of sounds good actually.

Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products—Basically, if you add extra sweeteners to honey it will no longer be considered honey.

How Food Marketers Made Butter the Enemy—Butter was an easy mark. The very name is synonymous with gluttony. Too bad natural fats are real food and in moderation not bad for us. Oh, and food marketers wanted to sell us vegetable oil shot with hydrogen which is killing us. God bless America. Or is that ‘Murica.

Friday Linkage 1/10/2014

You can call it a polar vortex.  You can call it some frigid ass Canadian air barreling across the Dakotas to freeze my rear end off.  But, there is not another way to slice the weather at the beginning of the week.  It was cold.

I was in the state of Minnesota 17 years earlier when cold cancelled schools statewide—but not classes at the University of Minnesota for which I am still bitter—and this time it felt colder.  Maybe that has something to do with shuffling two children in and out of the car in the cold.  Everything seems to take longer and feel worse when you are struggling with buckling a squirming two year old.

On to the links…

Silver Lining? Cold Snap Cripples Emerald Ash Borer Threat—This little invasive species is a real bad actor.  So, enduring a little cold that might kill a whole lot or larvae is a fair trade in my book.  Granted, the level of emerald ash borer death is determined by how cold it really got and for how long so Minnesota might come out pretty good while Iowa only gets a year reprieve.  Damn.

Soda-Can Furnaces Powered by Solar Energy Heat Denver Neighborhood—With a few soda cans and some simple materials a person can build an effective heater for the winter season.  For approximately $30?  Why aren’t we trying to develop a better model, using some more durable materials, for about $100?  Make it a challenge and get some smart people crack-a-lackin’.

A Symbol of the Range Returns Home—Bighorn sheep are again dotting the landscape.  Considering the success of wolves, mountain lions, and other species in returning to numbers in the wild I have a little hope that we have not irrevocably destroyed our natural heritage.

Number of Gray Whales seen Migrating South Doubles from a Year Ago—Whether it’s an increase in population or a change in migratory patterns, more gray whales are being spotted off the coast of California than in a long time.  Good for whale watchers I guess.

Can America’s Grasslands Be Saved?—The native grasslands that once covered a great portion of the U.S have been subject to the largest eco-cide in the history of our country.  Plowed under, built upon, drilled under, strip mined…you name it and the grasslands have endured it without a fraction of the protest that would have been shouted if these landscapes were dotted with redwoods.  It’s a shame.

Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States—For years watchers of the American west have wondered when the over reliance on the Colorado River would force western states to realize the razor thin thread upon which their viability hung.  Well, the payment is coming due.

Wind Power was Spain’s Top Source of Electricity in 2013—I am not suggesting that we copy much from Spain, but the development of wind power is pretty amazing.  Nationwide wind power provides over 21% of the electricity in Spain.  Damn.  Of course, I live in Iowa where we are nearing 30% of our electricity from wind so maybe I am not so jealous.

Australia has 2 Million Small-Scale Renewable Systems—Small scale renewables on Australian homes produce enough power to provide for the equivalent of Perth, Hobart, Darwin, and Canberra combined.  That is something I am jealous of because I feel that distributed generation is the future.  Despite what ALEC tries to do in the halls of Congress.

Renewable Energy to Thrive in 2014, Despite ALEC’s Aggressive Tactics—Like the Kochs, ALEC shows up everywhere there is something even remotely planet positive.  Oh, they are always in opposition to those planet positive developments.  Too bad that there influence seems to be waning at the precise time when they have become even more strident in pursuit of their right wing jihad.

Freighter Carrying Oil Derails, Burns In New Brunswick—Here is what an oil soaked future looks like…it’s not pretty.  What happens when a solar rooftop fails?  That’s right, nothing.  It just sits there like a discarded mirror.  What happens when a shipment of oil fails?  That’s right, it’s apocalyptic.

Honduras and the Dirty War Fueled by the West’s Drive for “Clean” Energy—  Palm oil, used in shelf stable foods and as a feedstock for biofuel, is going to turn out to be a bigger environmental boondoggle than ethanol derived from corn.  Mark my words.

60 Minutes Hit Job On Clean Energy Ignores The Facts—Is 60 Minutes even credible anymore?  When I was a kid it was the news program of record on the weekend.  If something was on 60 Minutes it was the national conversation.  Now it seems like a junkyard of journalism and hackery.

Big Beef—This is an excellent look into the various ways that the beef industry has woven itself into our political system to guarantee certain privileges for their product.  It’s just a shame that their product is probably bad for our health, bad for the environment, and just plain gross when produced in industrial settings.  Good use of our tax dollars, though.

General Mills cuts GMOs from Cheerios—Anytime a food giant like General Mills makes a move like this it is a big deal whether in reality or perception.

GMO-Free Cheerios Are an Empty Gesture—Remember, there are two sides to every argument.

Friday Linkage 1/3/2014

Man, writing 2014 is a trip.  It happens every year, but the first few weeks of putting down a new year always throws me for a loop.  I digress.

On to the links…

California Installed More Rooftop Solar In 2013 Than Previous 30 Years Combined—What do you follow that up with?  Think about the acceleration of rooftop photovoltaics over the past couple of years.  Even better, think about what this means in cumulative terms as more PV arrays come on line in 2014.

Massive Minnesota Solar Project gets Legal Boost—It’s important to remember that solar is not just important in California.  In Minnesota, not exactly known for sunny days on end, solar is getting to be a big deal.

Fossil Fuel Industry and Koch Brothers Align to Kill Extension of Wind Energy Tax Credits—Anytime you read a story about some group opposed to renewables it always seems to come back around to the Koch Brothers.  Do these guys like anything besides money and Fox News?  Heck, they probably do not even like Fox News that much.  Just money.

We Want You for the Repair Resolution—Repairing things has become a lost art and skill in our modern society.  Devices become “obsolete” so quickly that replacement just seems like a better option.  It’s a pretty tired story, but committing to repair is maybe the greenest thing you could do in 2014.

World’s Smallest Laptop Adapter could Lead to More Efficient Electronics— How many laptops are out there sucking electricity right now through under-engineered power bricks?  Millions?  Tens of millions?  More?  Like inefficient cable boxes this is one of those unseen vampires of power.

The United Watershed States of America—I love alternative maps that do away with current political boundaries.  We are so wedded to the boundaries of states in our minds that it colors our decisions on issues that have absolutely no regard for where people in Washington D.C. though borders should be.

California Gripped By Driest Year Ever—Drought is just nasty because it is so persistent.  Granted, any historian of the American west will tell you that California is a state defined by extreme weather and natural events so to judge anything over a short period of time is just asking for trouble.  Nonetheless, I do not want to be someone counting on rain in the Golden State.

Hawaiian Garden Being Brought Back to Paradise—Hawaii is a strange place botanically.  A lot of the plants that we identify with the islands are non-native and/or invasive.  A vision of a pre-invasive species Hawaii is interesting.

The Easiest Way to Tell if You Have Healthy Soil—Sometimes we become too enamored with fancy tests.  Just open your eyes and nature may provide you the answers in a relatively easy to understand format.

Millions Of Acres Of Chinese Farmland Too Polluted To Grow Food—China’s list of problems keeps growing and many of them are self-inflicted.  The air is just awful.  The land is so polluted in some spots that it is no longer capable of growing food safely.  If there is a place headed for a nasty ecological crash, it has to be China.

The Mysterious Story of the Battery Startup that Promised GM a 200-mile EV—This story is just fascinating and as it made the rounds over the break everyone said it should be used as a primer on startups.  I think it speaks to a lot of issues involving startups, mature industries, the government, etc.  Enjoy it.

Friday Linkage 9/28/2012

Where did September go?  The fall color is going to be early and short lived because of the drought that gripped much of the Midwest during the spring and summer.  So, no beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges to ease us into winter.

The Iowa Hawkeyes gakked all over themselves en route to a 2-2 non-conference record in football.  So, we have very little to look forward to as Big 10 play begins this weekend with a visit from the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  Who, by the way, are 4-0 on the season and riding a 2 game win streak against the hapless Hawks.  Ugh.

Ahhh, but the weather has been pitch perfect the past week.  Warm days and cool nights.  The fleece is getting broken out and hot chocolate has made its way back onto the daily treat menu.  There are few more guilty pleasures than sneaking an extra marshmallow into my daughter’s hot cocoa.  I am a bad man.

On to the links…

Chipotle in Hot Salsa over Farm Workers’ Rights—I lead off with this because there is no reason that Chipotle should not do the right thing.  If freakin’ McDonald’s can do the right thing and sign on to the Fair Food Program, Chipotle can do so as well.  It already cultivates the image of a “better than the rest” chain, but it’s appalling lack of action on behalf of farm workers obliterates that illusion.

Dispatch from Ohio, Land of Public Markets and Urban Farms–When I read stories about public markets across the U.S. it really gives me hope that the about to open Newbo City Market in downtown Cedar Rapids will develop into one of those cornerstone type establishments.

What Does History Say About the Costs and Benefits of Environmental Regulation?—Just think about how much misinformation about the cost of environmental regulation has been spewed in the current election cycle.  Now, think about the historical trend.  In essence, as the infographic from the Environmental Defense Fund shows, industry lies about the cost by a great deal:

What Cuts to National Parks would Mean—The looming threat of sequestration and the trend of declining funding for the national park system has been brutal and promises to be catastrophic.  Somehow, Republicans can find it in their moral compass to support boondoggle military procurements (see F-35, Littoral Combat Ship, Future Combat Systems, and others too numerous to mention) and big subsidies for big oil, but the national parks are a bridge too far:

Republicans Claims Wind Tax Credits too Expensive after Voting for Big Oil Subsidies—I guess for Big Oil it pays to have friends in the right places.  Especially when your friends are hypocrites.  There is no other label to apply to congressional Republicans except for hypocrites because these clowns continually beat the drum of fiscal responsibility yet constantly rain largesse on oil companies and defense contractors.

Offshore Wind Turbines Could Power Entire Eastern U.S.—That’s right, the eastern U.S. could be powered entirely by offshore wind.  Okay, so it would take 140,000 offshore wind turbines but once those are installed the power is essentially free.  No coal, no nuclear, no natural gas…oh wait, Republicans wouldn’t like that.

Europe Accounts for 70% of Global PV—Pretty self-explanatory.  Europe is leading the way in installing solar photovoltaic power.  It’s not just the sunny Mediterranean countries either.  Germany is the leader.

How to Reclaim Our Seed Culture—It is one thing to be able to coax healthy produce from our gardens and farms, but our resilience depends on the ability to save seeds from one season to the next.  Too many modern plants are designed to not pass on genetic information from one generation to the next because it makes us reliant on seed companies.  This is unacceptable.

The Farm Life Draws New Blood—The honest work of agriculture appears to be an option for new college graduates and others who view traditional corporate careers with a jaundiced eye.  The world would be a better place if more people actually saw the value in the work that grows our food.

Why do We Eat so Much Tuna—Basically, it does not taste much like fish.  In the U.S. we like to eat a lot of foods as long as they all taste like bland white meat.  Even our chicken does not taste like chicken.  It tastes like bland white meat.  It’s why I have never understood the aversion to tofu by most people.  If you eat a commercial broiler in the U.S. you might as well eat firm tofu because the taste and texture is about the same.

Your Dust Bunnies are Likely Toxic—Great, now the dust in my house is not only annoying but also potentially toxic.  I feel a little better about my situation because we avoid the nasty chemicals meant to help you dust and I am freak about wiping things down with a microfiber cloth.  Still…

Long Bike Rides are a Journey for the Mind—There is something to the rhythmic cadence of pedaling down a lonely road that refreshes and reinvigorates like nothing else.  I think this is what separates cyclists from non-cyclists.