Tag Archives: efficiency

Friday Linkage 5/19/2017

At what point do we begin to point the finger for this entire Donald Trump mess at the people who enabled him.  Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s Morning Joe is partially to blame for giving Donald Trump a national platform for free in exchange for ratings in the early days of the campaign.  The entire Republican establishment is on notice for allowing this charlatan in orange to assume the Oval Office because they felt that it would be beneficial for their agenda.  Paul Ryan and the rest of his elected Republican cronies need to get in line and get behind the real investigation into the Trump campaign’s connection.

Furthermore, the American people need to demand that all of our elected representatives act as the Constitutionally mandated check to Trump’s deranged ambition.  I am sure of the fact that Donald Trump feels he has the ultimate authority regardless of law and will do anything to facilitate this delusion.

On to the links…

Under Trump, Inconvenient Data that was Previously Public is Being Sidelined—You don’t think that people like Scott Pruitt are loving this action.  This is an administration and a Republican party that is allergic to facts in general and almost violently reactive to anything that even hints at an opposing viewpoint.  It’s like your drunk Uncle Carl who yells about the “lamestream media” is in charge of the country.

Why Trump Will Make the Wrong Decision on Paris—I do not think this really needed a long explanation.  Donald Trump is an under informed reactionary decision maker who loathes anyone with more expertise or knowledge on a topic than himself thus he is prone to making bone headed decisions.  Furthermore, he surrounds himself with family and sycophants utterly dependent upon his wealth thus the toadies are always telling him how great he is doing.  Is it any wonder we are doomed?

Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers.—Color me surprised, but I am not.  Chlorpyrifos is nasty stuff, but Trump’s corporate allies wanted it allowed so it was made so under the guise of…profits and screw everything else.  Only profits matter now.

The EPA Asked the Public which Rules to Scrap and Got Chewed Out—People like clean air and water.  People like it when toxins are not prevalent in their food.  People like health.  It must have been a real surprise to Trump’s denizens of death that people prefer to keep regulations that prevent profit seeking companies from polluting.

The Surprising Story of the Decline of Electricity use in American Households—It all comes down to LED lighting based on back of the envelope calculations.  Those are the same LEDs that talking heads like Sarah Palin derided as some liberal conspiracy.  Granted, most of those talking heads are nitwits who supported Trump.  And you thought those pictures of your high school fashion choices were embarrassing.

Three Reasons to Believe in China’s Renewable Energy Boom—China is all in on renewable energy because the leadership of that country believes it is critical to their staying in power.

By 2020, Every Chinese Coal Plant will be More Efficient than Every US Coal Plant—However, a coal plant still produces a lot more pollution than a solar panel.

Terawatts of Solar Power are Within our Reach—Solar power will soon reach a tipping point where it is like a large snowball going downhill picking up speed and gaining in size.  The victims of its destructive path will be old line fossil fuels and maybe your drunk Uncle Carl who hates hippies, Volkswagens, and solar panels.

New US Residential Solar Capacity Additions Drop 17% In First Quarter—So goes California…as California is responsible for almost 50% of residential solar installations the golden state has an outsize impact on the aggregate numbers for the U.S.  Other states saw smaller declines and it may be due to major installers pursuing more profitable installations over heady growth figures.

Coal and Natural Gas Are Foes, Not Natural Allies—This is the real inconvenient truth for Trump and his coal cronies.  Natural gas and coal compete directly with each other so any policy that favors both fuels—relaxed emissions targets, etc.—also favors the fuel that directly replaces coal.

Trump Coal Obsession Largely Irrelevant To Electric Utility CEOs—Those darned market forces just get in the way of a good campaign speech.

Stanford Study says Fossil-Fueled Cars will Vanish in 8 years as ‘Big Oil’ Collapses—I doubt it will happen in eight years, but I think there is a time in my lifetime when my truck will be a classic because of its fuel choice.

You May Live Longer if You Bike to Work—Let us count all of the ways that bicycles rule.

New American Study Confirms: Physically Separated Bike Lanes are Crucial for Safety—Add this to the list of things that seem obvious but that someone felt a study was needed to confirm.  As someone who rides both types of bike lanes I can assure you that the protected and/or separated bike lanes are the better option for a cyclist.

Denver’s Bike-Friendly Plans Seem To Be Panning Out—People actually like biking to work and play.  It’s a proven fact.

No More Pay TV

I might start sounding like an ascetic here pretty soon. I’ve cut my beer consumption down to near zero. I’ve reduced household spending to such a level that my wife might start howling over the winter. Yes, I turn the heat down to 56 degrees at night. Yes, it’s chilly but everyone is under several layers of down, fleece, and flannel. Deal.

Now, I’ve cut the cord. More accurately I ripped the dish off my house and cancelled DirecTV. Why? Like the average DirecTV customer my bill was ~$105 per month and the television had become a huge time suck. A little wiped out at the end of the day? Just sit down, fire up the DVR, and watch three hours of television shows you really do not care about. Pretty soon it is 10:00 PM and you are off to bed. Rinse and repeat the next day.

Stop the insanity.

With the latest increase in my bill notice coming via email I called DirecTV and cut the cord. The customer service representative was surprisingly pliant when I asked to cancel. It was not the horror show of redirection that I expected. I suppose that they think you will just be back shortly.

Another payoff of cutting the cord was the reduction in energy usage. As Markos Moulitsas has shown in his excellent series of posts on saving energy at Daily Kos  , the energy requirements of entertainment devices are huge. Here is the breakdown:

Even though I upgraded to DirecTV’s latest and most efficient receiver over the summer, my DirecTV infrastructure sucks up 42 watts of continuous power draw, or just over 1 kWh per day—about seven percent of my daily total usage, for something that is on 3-4 hours a day. Cable boxes, particularly those with DVRs, are equally inefficient. When I cut the cord, the 365 kWh I shave off my annual consumption will save me (at my average $0.19 rate) about $70, and that’s before I even tally the savings in programming (which will be dramatic).

My DirecTV infrastructure is probably similar—two receivers with on being a DVR—so compared to my rolling monthly average electricity consumption I would be saving nearly one month’s worth of electricity per year by not having these devices plugged in. Damn. Start multiplying that kind of power consumption across all the people with multiple televisions and receivers. Pretty soon you are talking about some serious energy usage.

In the meantime I do not know how this is going to affect my television viewing. I will more than likely start picking up a lot more movies at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. I might even get a Netflix subscription. Maybe I will read a few more books instead of placing my brain on the end table and absorbing entertainment.

Is the Future Flat?

No, this is not some contrived musing about the “flatness” of our globalized world. Sorry, Mr. Friedman.

This is about the Philips SlimStyle LED light bulb. The light bulb is a really unique design in that it does away with the traditional globe or bulb shape that many LEDs attempt to mimic. See it in profile here:

LED Profile

The bulb is a 60 watt “equivalent,” which means it is supposed to put off the same number of lumens as a 60 watt incandescent, consuming 10.5 watts and the bulb is also dimmable. This was a key requirement as I am looking for bulbs to replace my last incandescent bulbs in a dining area fixture that is often dimmed. Mood lighting baby!

The shape of the bulb is critical to its performance. Generally speaking, LED bulbs use large and heavy aluminum heat sinks to dissipate the buildup of heat.   By flattening the bulb and spacing the individual LEDs this bulb is able to eliminate the heat sink. Pretty cool.

I picked up the bulb for less than $10 at a local Home Depot. Does anyone remember when LED bulbs were near $40? Seems like yesterday.

How does it perform? I was concerned that the flat shape would lead to a weird directional light output. Can you spot the flat LED?

Light Fixture Slim LED

Okay, it’s the one in front.

Here is what the bulb looks like naked and on:

Naked Slim LED

 

Friday Linkage 4/18/2014

I thought that it was going to be a breakthrough week. The temperature was going to warm up and the sand would be cleared from the streets. Instead, it rained all day on Sunday and almost snowed later in the week. Nice start to spring.

On to the links…

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fell 3.4 Percent In 2012, Says EPA—It’s good news, undercut by the fact that GHG will probably rise in 2013. Ugh.

Climate Efforts Falling Short, U.N. Panel Says—Basically, we are heading blindly into the worst case scenarios for climate change. Joy.

Solar Installation Industry Grows 45 Percent in 2013—Is there bad news about solar anywhere lately? Sure, a few companies are going to fall by the way side and Darrel Issa will probably try and talk about Solyndra but the industry is moving and shaking all the time.

Department Of Defense Undertakes Largest Solar Project To Date—The DoD is going crazy for solar. I have been to several military installations where south facing roofs are covered in solar panels and tracking arrays populate barren no-man’s lands between access roads. Just drive down I-25 near the Air Force Academy and you can see this in full effect. This is your tax dollars at work. In a good way.

World Wind Power Poised to Bounce Back after Slowing in 2013—Wind power worldwide can now power the equivalent of the European Union. Awesome. What is even cooler is that by 2015 Iowa will generate the equivalent of 33% of its power from the wind. We rule.

Ikea is Investing in First Wind Farm in U.S.—If every company put as much thought into sustainability as IKEA the world would be a better place. Of course, IKEA still sells furniture that is essentially disposable so it is not completely off the hook. Love that lingonberry jelly though.

The Denver Post’s ‘Energy And Environment’ Section Is Produced By The Oil And Gas Industry—I post links to the Denver Post a lot, so it is critical that people know where some of the information in that paper is coming from. Campaigns like this are just a joke.

Born-in-Boulder Wild Oats Brand to Re-launch in Walmart Stores—I am not a fan of WalMart. No matter what it does it will still be a planet and soul killing retail behemoth that should go the way of the dinosaur and Woolworth’s. However, anything that puts organic products in reach of more people is a good thing. Unless it is an organic Cheeto.

Small Seed Supply Remains Large Hurdle for Legal Hemp Farming—As more states outright legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana and by extension hemp there is going to have to be some federal action to clear up the muddied waters. Why can’t we farm hemp nationwide?

Minnesota’s Wild Turkeys: A Wildlife Success Story—It’s hard for me to believe that there was a time when wild turkeys were not all over the place. I grew up in southeastern Minnesota in the 1990s and we saw those creepy birds all the time. Heck, on my drive home in suburban Cedar Rapids there is a flock of fifteen or so wild turkeys. Still, it’s a good story.

Invasive Lionfish On The Decline In Jamaica After National Campaign To Save Reefs—I’ve never had a lionfish, but I would eat one if it was on the menu. I am glad to see that our voracious appetite for seafood has had at least one positive effect on the marine environment. Now, if we could only figure out a way to get people to crave Asian carp.

Paying Farmers to Welcome Birds—Farmers are an often overlooked ally in attempts to restore habitat. As a group farmers own a lot of land. Although it is a cliché, farmers also have a connection to the land that most non-farmers would not understand.

How to Make A Refrigerator More Efficient in Five Steps—It’s easy and with Earth Day quickly approaching it’s the least you can do. Okay, the least you can do is sign onto some silly Facebook page about Earth Day. At least making your refrigerator more efficient could actually help.

You Must Read—The World We Made: Alex McKay’s Story from 2050

I have always thought labeling something as a “thought exercise” was a convenient way to describe a book where the technical writing components were lacking relative to an interesting viewpoint.  It was something that got thrown around a lot when I was a graduate student in history for books that had obviously begun their lives as dissertations and read as such.

9780714863610Jonathon Porritt’s The World We Made: Alex McKay’s Story from 2050 is a thought exercise that manages to be technically competent without losing its core theme of hope for the future of our planet.

The idea is simple: we remade the world in a sustainable way by 2050.

It is a hopeful idea.  Instead of the world crashing into some apocalyptic miasma, people and their leaders got off their collective asses to make positive change for the planet writ large.  The theme being that if it is good for the planet it is fundamentally good for the people who live on the planet.  Stunning stuff, but pretty much basic thought for people who want to move beyond measuring everything’s value in dollars and cents.

The organization of the book is broken into sections that deal with a certain topic—e.g. solar proliferation, travel, etc.—in bite size or quick read chunks.  This is not a book you need to sit down and devote massive amounts of attention.  I sat down and read through a few sections at a time in between my children fighting over which Legos were each other’s.  Is winter over yet?

Some of the book reads a little Pollyanna-esque in that it imagines a world where we all sort of come to the same conclusion about sustainability at the same time.  And act accordingly.  I tend to think that the world will come to this conclusion, but it will occur much more rapidly in certain places and may never reach other places due to a variety of factors.

On the continuum of hope for the future, The World We Made is on the far end of optimistic with a movie like Mad Max being at the other end.  I tend to think that the future looks a lot more like the one portrayed in The World Made by Hand, but I am hopeful that we can craft a future that is a little less bleak.

In some ways, I wished that this book read more like Max Brooks’ World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.  That is to say I wish it were more like a first-person narrative tour through a remade world and less a catalog like the old Worldchanging encyclopedia that every Eco-conscious person I know has on their bookshelf.

Nonetheless, I think that The World We Made is useful for making a person consider what the future could be like without losing hope.  Pick it up at your local library—because buying a copy for ~$40 seems a little steep—and dream about a planet where sustainability is the metric we use to determine utility and solar panels proliferate.

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 12/27/2013

I hope that everyone had a great holiday season with family and friends.  It’s hard to believe that in only a few days it will be 2014.  I hope that the new year brings great things.

On to the links…

This Graph Shows why Solar Power will Rule the World–One power source to rule them all:

price-of-solar-power-graph-11.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scale

Renewable Energy Comprised Total U.S. Power Generation Gains in November–Renewables are on a roll and it looks like November was a great month.

Renewable Energy is Now the Source of 40% of Scotland’s Electricity–40 percent!  Damn!

New Efficiency Rules For Cable Boxes Could Save Enough Energy To Power 700,000 Homes Per Year–It is amazing how something as innocuous as a cable box could suck up so much electricity.  It makes me wonder how many other things are out there that we could change to make a major impact.

The Iconic Climate Photos of 2013–It’s the end of the year, so now we can start with the reviews of the year that is about to pass.

13 Reasons Marijuana had the Best Year Every–Maybe we are finally moving to a period of time where the War on Drugs is a thing of the past.  We can hope.

Artificial Sweeteners found in Lake Erie–The hits keep coming for artificial sweeteners.  First, it turns out the chemicals are probably bad for us in dietary terms.  Now, it appears that the chemicals are finding their way into our waterways.  Great.

Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Found At Fracking Sites Linked To Cancer, Infertility–Well, if artificial sweeteners are bad the chemicals used in fracking are even worse.

EV Drivers Beware, ALEC is Coming for Your Solar Power–Do the people behind ALEC just sit around coming up with things to go after?  These clowns do not like anything that might be planet positive.

Conservative Groups Spend up to $1 Billion Fighting Action on Climate Change–Will history look back on the conservative movement of the last decade or so and judge them to be one of the biggest groups of assholes ever?

China Face $176 Billion Bill to Clean Up the Air–China’s air is bad.  It’s probably the worst in the world and it is going to crimp economic growth.  The estimates to remediate this pollution are mind boggling.

They’re Back! Chesapeake Oysters Return to Menus–Efforts to clean the waters of Chesapeake Bay are herculean.  The bounce back of the local oyster population is a nice success story.