Tag Archives: emissions

The Inherent Efficiency of an Electric Vehicle

“But you’re still using electricity from the grid!” drunk Uncle Carl says at the family gathering he is invited to once a year.  “And that electricity comes from coal.”

On the whole, the United States produces ~30% of its electricity from coal.  Some states make considerably less electricity from coal.  California makes almost no electricity from coal.  Idaho makes almost no electricity from coal.  You get the idea.

The thing is that even if my Nissan Leaf is using electricity from the grid it is still more efficient on a per mile basis versus almost any other car or truck on the road.  It is more efficient in terms of carbon emissions per mile and cost per mile in dollar terms.  Let’s see how that breaks down.

A gallon of gasoline, when burned, produces approximately 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.  In 2016 the fuel economy of new cars and trucks in the United States reached 24.7 miles per gallon.  Therefore, on a per mile basis the average new car in the United States emits 0.81 pounds of carbon dioxide.

A kilowatt hour of electricity has a carbon intensity of approximately 1 pound.  This figure obviously differs depending upon your utility, grid operator, locale, etc. but it works as an average for the United States.  Over the course of the last couple of weeks I have averages 4.2 miles per kWh in my Nissan Leaf, which is probably low since I have been forced to use the relatively inefficient resistive heater.  Therefore, my EV “emits” 0.24 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile driven.

For those needing a refresher in math, 0.24 is less than 0.81.  In fact, it is about 70% less.  Now, imagine you are charging your EV in Idaho where each kWh of electricity has a carbon intensity of 0.2 pounds.  That would be a decrease in carbon intensity of about 94%.  As the grid gets cleaner the miles driven by your EV get cleaner as a result.  Your regular old car with an internal combustion engine will still emit the same old carbon dioxide year after year.  In fact, it will likely emit more as it gets older and less efficient.  Just saying.

Furthermore, imagine I am charging my Nissan Leaf with electricity derived from the solar panels on my roof.  This represents a decrease in carbon intensity of 100%.  Talk about demand destruction.  Take that Uncle Carl!

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Friday Linkage 1/18/2019

This our hellish reality:

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Yes, Donald Trump presided over a cold fast food “feast” for the visiting Clemson Tigers football team that recently won the supposed national championship.  Imagine, for just a moment, the blood vessels that Sean Hannity would have blown had President Obama deigned to have a table full of fast food available for a visiting sports team.  Just imagine the outrage.  Just imagine…

At least Chicago’s Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea, is stepping up to show the Clemson Tigers what a real celebration should look like.

I have always wanted a “hamberder:”

hamberders.jpg

We cannot make this stuff up anymore.  The best response that I saw to all of this was someone saying that these pictures look like the scene where a time traveler realizes that she has messed things up royally.

On to the links…

Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?—The worst case scenario is what we are trying to avoid.  The question is by how much do we miss global catastrophe?

How Much can Forests Fight Climate Change?—The benefits of forests may be oversold by some, but what harm is there in trying to save the forests that we have and reforest the land that we have logged?

A Coal Baron’s Takeover of the EPA Is Nearly Complete—Robert Murray is the dime store villain of climate change.  He grabbed on to Donald Trump harder than anyone not named Vladimir Putin and made him his Manchurian candidate for coal.  It is the duty of Congress to see that America does not become a coal fired hellscape.

How Trump’s EPA is Letting Environmental Criminals Off the Hook, in One Chart—This is what “law and order” looks like under a lawless administration:

epa_enforcement_lowf2

Indiana Utility to Quit Coal and Cut CO2 90% within 10 Years—Even with Trump in office and the EPA doing everything it can to unwind regulations coal is in a death spiral.  This news comes from Indiana which gave us Mike Pence and “Mother.”

Fracked Shale Oil Wells Drying Up Faster than Predicted—This is a problem for oil and natural gas companies because their “proven reserves” are based on decline curves that may be too optimistic.

Air Travel is Surging. That’s a Huge Problem for the Climate.—Air travel is bad for the climate.  Period.

The Mortgage Industry isn’t Ready for a Foreclosure Crisis Created by Climate Change—Why do I have a feeling that Florida is going to be “ground zero” for the first foreclosure crisis caused by climate change?  I just envision empty and destroyed condos in Miami.

Iowa ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Banning Undercover Farm Investigations Ruled Unconstitutional—I am certain that this is not the last that we have heard on this issue, but it is a good sign that corporations will not be able to silence individuals.  Since the 1980s business has ruled and gotten every advantage possible codified by a compliant government.  I am hopeful that the pendulum is swinging back in favor of the rights of the individual.

Coming To America In 2019 — Compliance Cars Only—I do not know if the headline is quite true, but it does seem like the United States is an afterthought when it comes to electric vehicles save for Tesla.  Now, we are the land of big ass trucks with little purpose for being—this comes from the owner of a recently long term garaged Ford F-150—where EVs are seen as a “hippie thing”—this comes from someone who bought a used Nissan Leaf.

The Surprising Impact of Paper Receipts—This is one of those things that just surprises me.

The Era Of Easy Recycling May Be Coming To An End—We cannot just think that dumping our trash—which is what a lot of single stream recycling ends up becoming—into a blue bin magically makes it environmentally friendly.  This trash could have value, but Western civilization—to use Steve King’s vernacular—is too lazy to do a better job of sorting things.

What to Do With All Your Stuff That Doesn’t ‘Spark Joy’—It is not just about getting rid of your stuff, but getting rid of your stuff in a way that can allow others to benefit.

Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk—Dude, the United States produce way too much milk:

Screenshot_2019-01-17 Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk.png

Why do we produce so much milk if we are not drinking so much milk?

We Could End Factory Farming this Century—We can only hope.

No More War, Pestilence, & Poverty: How Renewable Energy Will Alter The Global Geopolitical Calculus—This is one of those hopeful ideas that you just hope come to pass.  Imagine a world where we stop fighting over resources.  Wow!

Short December Days Lead to Low Solar Output

 

December 21st was the shortest day of 2018.   Given the short days of December solar output is usually fairly dismal:

December 2018

A monthly total of ~157 kWh is roughly on par with the prior year’s production, so it is a trend that December basically sucks for solar.  At least it will get better in January as the days get longer!

On a related note, I am a few days away from signing on the dotted line for a used Nissan Leaf EV.  The next step is to contact the good people at Moxie Solar, the installers of my current solar array, to see about expanding my system.  In order to produce enough electricity for my anticipated driving I will need to install at least 8 290 watt panels but I would like to install anywhere from 12 to 14 290 watt panels.  We shall see what they say.

Until next time.

 

Friday Linkage 10/5/2018

A little light on the links this first week of October.  I think almost everyone has been glued to the circus that is the Trump administration.

On to the links…

Chuck Grassley Plans to Take Trump’s Federal Farm Bailout Cash, Calls it ‘Equal Treatment’—Nothing says fiscal responsibility like making sure you get your bailout cash from an unnecessary trade spat.  Where was Chuck Grassley when homeowners were taken advantage of by mortgage lenders in the mid-2000s?  Where was Chuck Grassley when people lost their homes to illegal foreclosures?  People in Iowa would elect the corpse of Chuck Grassley.

Trump’s Plan to Scrap Mercury Regulations Won’t Save Coal But It Will Cost Lives—This is America under Trump.  It is a hellscape of increased deadly emissions from ageing power plants propped up by government largesse to line the pockets of a few coal barons.

Trump Administration, EPA say Radiation is Good for You—It is getting downright Orwellian.

U.S. Power Producers’ Coal Consumption Falls to 35-year Low—Every new solar photovoltaic array and wind turbine that I see is another shovel of dirt on the grave of coal.  If we can weather the interminable Trump storm of the next couple of years we can truly put the United States on a clean power path.

Germany’s Coal Habit Proves Hard to Kick—Germany wanted to transition away from coal and to renewables.  The problem with this plan was that Germany also wanted to eliminate its reliance on nuclear energy as well.

Banks turn their Back on Coal amid Emissions Concerns—Modern commerce runs on credit.  If banks are unwilling to lend most schemes are incapable of operating at any scale.  This is bad for coal and good for the planet.

China to Add 259 GW of Coal Capacity, Satellite Imagery Shows—This is bad.

Our Fertilizer Is Killing Us. Here’s A Fix.—Synthetic fertilizer has allowed for billions of people to escape famine.  It is also one of the drivers of bad global impacts like dead zones.

More than 1 in 3 Americans Eat Fast Food on a Typical Day, and We Eat it All Day Long—Is our fast food consumption a cause of our modern problems or is it a symptom?  Do we eat fast food because our modern lives do not allow enough time or flexibility to eat actual food?  Or, do we eat fast food because it taps into some primordial desire for salt, sugar, and fat?  Either way, it is bad for us all.

14 Food Waste Facts That Might Change The Way You Cook, Shop, And Eat—I believe that in order to get our planet right, we need to first get our households right.  The first step to get our households right is to fix our kitchens.  Victory is in the kitchen.

Pertinent Lessons from Our Recent Past

A little off the beaten path for tourists in London is the Imperial War Museum.  It’s still a quick tube ride from the central part of the city and it is just a two stops away from the always tasty Borough Market.  Plus, depending on the line you take you will get to stop at the Elephant & Castle station.  I think that name is just smashing.

The museum has all the usual exhibits that glorify the British Empire—one quarter of the world’s landmass, one quarter of the world’s population, the sun never sets on the British Empire, etc.—through World War I and II with a small, yet quite impactful, exhibit on the Holocaust.  However, the part of the museum that I found most interesting dealt with the home front during World War II.

The home front usually gets short shrift in any analysis of a war effort.  World War II in Britain was a little different because the horrors of war made it across the English Channel in German raids on London and other cities.  Children were shipped to the countryside where it was deemed safer and Londoners huddled in shelters as bombs or rockets rained down.  With a stiff upper lip, so to speak, the nation kept calm and carried on.

My daughter and I probably spent close to an hour in the home front exhibition looking at the types of food that were available or not available and why or the measures taken by households to conserve materials in order to supply troops.  The impression that my ten year old daughter was left with was how little a house could make do with if it had to. Her seven year old brother, naturally, loved the display of World War I grenades.

As we face an uncertain climate in the coming decades and the attendant consequences of that climate change we may be forced into a situation where our everyday begins to resemble the home front during an armed global conflagration.

Victory is in the Kitchen

Victory is in the Kitchen

It is my belief that we can make some of the biggest impacts from the comfort of our homes and the center of our homes is the kitchen.  It is the place where my family spends the most time together and it is probably where I spend the most time teaching my children.  Some parents play catch or go on hikes, I teach my kids how to dice onions, mince garlic, deglaze pans, and build flavors.

Change starts at home.  The food we choose to make and eat forms the core of our value system as self-described environmentalists.  If you are not trying to be a better human in the kitchen you might as well stop sweating the other stuff.

Food: Don’t Waste It

Food Dont Waste It

In the United States it is estimated that 30 to 40% of food goes to waste.  Given the impact of agriculture on climate change this is unacceptable.  Furthermore, given that in this age of abundance when we are dealing with diseases of over consumption, e.g. obesity related illnesses, there are still millions of people that go hungry every day.

Make Do and Mend

Make Do and Mend

Repair is the forgotten action that we can take to conserve.  Almost everything, save for our homes and automobiles, is basically disposable in modern capitalist economies.  Even big ticket items like appliances are seen as disposable, which blows my mind.  Here’s the thing, repairing stuff has never been easier.  The internet is literally chock a block full of people posting repair instructions, wiring diagrams, parts lists, etc. that can help even the least handy of us repair many of the items we once viewed as disposable.

Can I do Without It?

Can I Do Without

Is there a better question to ask yourself about any purchase that you make?  The most environmentally conscious purchase is usually one that we do not make.  Sure, there are the obvious wins like replacing high usage light bulbs with the most efficient LED bulbs or replacing a fifteen year old refrigerator with a more efficient model.  However, many of the “green” purchases we make are just adding consumption to the system that is destroying our planet.  It may be made of organic cotton, but do you really need another t-shirt?

Self-Indulgence at This Time is Helping the Enemy

Self Indulgence

I just love how direct some of the messaging was during World War II.  This poster is basically saying, “Don’t be a dick, we’re fighting a war here.”  How many of our problems, with regard to climate change, could be solved if people were just somewhat less self-indulgent?  I will let you stew on that thought for now.

Friday Linkage 9/21/2018

It is just 46 days until the midterm election.  If the Keystone cops routine led by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley with regard to the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh is anything it is motivation to get another party in power as a check or balance to the Trumpian instincts of the Republican Party.

The midterms are not about impeachment.  The midterms are about rescuing a sense of common decency that is lost when people like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump control all the levers of power.

On to the links…

Why Growth Can’t Be Green—I do not know if I agree with the entirety of the thesis that growth cannot be green, but I do agree that we need to rethink our entire economic paradigm.  It is leading us to ruin.

Here’s A Radical New Plan To Tax Carbon And Give Everyone In America $2,237—A carbon tax is coming.  Once the basic mechanism is in place it will be the most powerful ecological and economic tool in the recent history of the United States.

Trump’s Methane Rule Rollback Burns the Natural Gas Bridge—Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.  Natural gas wells and pipelines that leak methane might as well be coal plants shooting dirty flue gas into the sky.

U.S. Cities, States, and Businesses can Nearly Hit the Paris Climate Goals–Without Trump—Action on a state, local, and corporate level can make a difference.  Our federal government may be an obtuse retrograde comedy of errors, but we can make progress in the interim in other locales.

Renewables = 43% of New Power Capacity in USA in 1st Half of 2018—I wish it were closer to 100%, but baby steps.

Utilities have a Problem: The Public Wants 100% Renewable Energy, and Quick—You would be hard pressed to find a more hide bound and conservative industry than utility companies.  These companies make banks and insurance companies look like early stage tech startups run by nineteen year olds living on Red Bull and Taco Bell.

Australia on Track to Miss Paris Climate Targets as Emissions Hit Record Highs—Just when I think we are doing the worst in the United States, Australia seems to jump out of the corner of the room and yell, “Look at me!”  Government instability, coal industry trying to run things, etc.

Steep Emissions Reductions Targets Won’t Drive Up Power Bills, Modelling Shows—We can do right by the planet and it will not cost us an arm or a leg.  Or both.

EIA Report Says Coal Still King on State-by-State Basis—Despite all the progress made in reducing coal’s role in electricity generation, it is still the dominant form of electricity generation in most states.  More work to be done folks.

“Golden Sandwich” Photoelectrode Harvests 85% Of Sunlight—Wow.  Just wow.  How can we find money to deploy into making this a commercially viable product?  Imagine my smallish 4.69 kWh solar array suddenly being able to produce over 20 kWh in the same area. Talk about repowering.

This Breakthrough in a Type of Photosynthesis could Provide the World with Unlimited Energy—This reminds me of 1950s newsreels that promised nuclear energy would produce electricity that was too cheap to meter.

Bombardier Revives the Battery-Powered Train—For the short haul train routes between urban locales doesn’t using this type of train make more sense than stringing high power lines all over the place?

Tenfold Improvement in Liquid Batteries mean Electric Car Refuelling could Take Minutes—Liquid or flow batteries have been touted as an alternative to lithium ion batteries for a long time.  The energy density has always been too low to make the debate serious.  Maybe times they are a changing.

What Bison in South Dakota can Teach us about Fighting Climate Change—More effective rangelands policy could help the world sequester carbon in soils, improve water quality, and produce animal protein at the same time.  Now, the impediment would be that we would probably have to get rid of the cows and sheep on rangelands.

Frisco Leads Water Efficiency Charge, Reduces Municipal Consumption by 30 Percent—Drought will become the new normal for much of the American west.  However, our profligate use of water continues unabated.  This does mean that we have a long way to go with efficiency as a way of reducing our demand on precious water resources.

Why Fashion Brands Destroy Billions’ Worth of Their Own Merchandise Every Year—What a freaking waste.

20 Habits of Frugal People—There is an intersection of frugal people and environmentalists that is not really discussed.  Frugal people, generally, are not big consumers and environmentalists should also not be big consumers because of consumption’s ecological footprint.  The best part is that being frugal is a cheap way to be an environmentalist.

You Must Read—The Parent’s Guide to Climate Revolution

Are you a parent, about to become a parent, or even thinking about having a child in the near future?  Good.  Be prepared to be scared shitless on a daily, if not more frequent basis, as only being a person responsible for the existence of another human being can make you.

9781608684816.jpgSaying that “you must read” Mary DeMocker’s The Parent’s Guide to Climate Revolution is a little misleading.  This is not a book you read cover to cover and take back to the library.  DeMocker admits as much:

Or you might adopt the fortune cookie method—keep the book nearby and, whenever you have a few minutes, crack it open and see what you get.  Most chapters are short enough to fit into the average bathroom breaks parents with young children allow themselves. [xxvi]

This is not a book with a powerful narrative streak built through successive chapters that concludes with a powerful final passage.  We know what the powerful narrative is before we even pick up the book because we are worried that our actions today will create a planet that is unlivable in the future.  The very fate of humanity rests in our hands.

The book is laid out into 100 chapters or fortune cookie moments if you will under broad headings like “Raise Empowered Kids” and “Build a Fossil-Free Future.”  I would quibble it should be a fossil fuel free future because I still want to see fossils at the Field Museum, but I digress.

What were the pieces that I liked best:

  1. Get Clear on Why There is Hope—There is hope. We often forget to message this fact when we are discussing the state of the world with regards to climate change, Donald Trump, Nebraska Cornhusker football…you know, things that seem so dauntingly horrible that nothing will matter. Well, our kids pick up on that vibe and it is our duty to make sure that we convey hope.

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  1. Plant Trees!—Trees are amazing. You will find no bigger advocate of trees as a solution to a lot of problems than me. Planting a tree with your kids is one of those teaching moments that keeps on teaching well after the planting.  Through the seasons and as the tree grows your child will be amazed, as they should be, by what the tree they helped plant does.

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  1. Be the 3.5 Percent—Apparently, non-violent movements become successful when approximately 3.5 percent of the population or more is involved. All right, let’s get 3.5 percent signed up.

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  1. Let Kids Play with Knives—I would like to amend this to also say let kids play with saws and shovels and hammers and what not. We have created a generation or two of children that have little experience with actually making things from bare components as opposed to pre-selected bits with tidy instructions. See what they can do with some potatoes and onions or a few scrap pieces of wood in the garage.

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  1. Tame Your Tongue—This one is the hardest for me because in a time when crass political language dominates the only method of communication that seems to break through is to out nasty the nasty. However, we are better served not behaving in such a way and it is my hope that I can follow this advice.

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I could have picked a lot more of the one hundred fortune cookie moments, but you get the idea.  You will pick the book up and key in on different moments.   That is the purpose of the book.