Tag Archives: fake news

Friday Linkage 8/2/2019

I say this a lot on this blog, but I have a hard time believing that it is already August.  My kids are three weeks away from going back to school, people are starting to talk about fall sports, and my mind starts to wander to thoughts of skiing.  Pretty soon the miles on the bike will start to decline and the trips to the weight room will increase.  Gotta’ get the knees ready for big days on the mountain.

On to the links…

Just 10% of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Cash ‘Could Pay for Green Transition’—When someone says that we cannot afford to transition to 100% clean energy what they are really saying is that we are choosing not to afford the transition.  There is more than enough money sloshing around in government and corporate coffers to make a renewable energy world possible.

A Wind Turbine Farm The Size Of Delaware Could Power The Entire United States—Take a look at the map and understand just how much or how little area we are talking about here:

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Now imagine we actually utilize the offshore wind resources.  Look at how much coastline there is to develop.  We can make this happen.

Low-Carbon Energy Makes Majority of UK Electricity for First Time—This is not a small island being powered by solar.  This is a large island with a post-industrial economy that got over 53% of its electricity in 2018 from low or no carbon power sources.

Coal’s Demise Quickens in Europe as Market Shift Idles Plants—If no one is lining up to buy the power then the plants will sit idle.  The market is working.

Ohio just Passed the Worst Energy Bill of the 21st Century—This is what you get with Republicans in control.  It is crony capitalism at its finest.  Private companies line their pocket with the public’s money with the consent of elected officials.

Angry about No Pay, Kentucky Miners Block Train Loaded with Coal—The coal industry does not care about the people in their employ.  These companies have never treated their employees with anything but contempt at best and deadly intent at worst.  As coal companies go bankrupt they will continue to use the legal and political system to destroy the land and line their pockets at the expense of the communities in which they operate.

Most EV Charging Infrastructure Is Wasted Due To Lack Of New Thinking—It is not that EV charging spots are not numerous enough considering that anyone with a garage or dedicated parking space probably has access to some level of charging.  It is that the charging infrastructure that exists today may not align with how we drive our EVs.

Minnesota Town Makes do Without being Connected to Power Grid—I know that a lot of us imagine living off the grid, but this is what the reality looks like.

Beyond Meat’s Competitor Impossible Foods Plans to Launch in Grocery Stores in September after getting FDA Approval—I am really looking forward to buying a sleeve of Impossible Burgers and throwing them on my own grill this fall.  What I really want to see is Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger selling sleeves of their plant based goodness at Costco.

Plant-Based Eggs Land their First Major Fast Food Deal—Slaughter houses get a bad rap because they are nasty places, but our eggs are also produced in some fairly brutal conditions.  First the plant based substitutes came for our hamburgers, now they are coming for our eggs.  I welcome the transition.

Can Chefs Learn to Love Cooking Without Fire?—Can we just stop our love affair with primal fire?  I get that something about the flame speaks to our lizard brain, but as someone who has cooked with electricity daily for the past twenty years there is no reason to rely on piping explosive gas into our homes to fuel our gastronomic adventures.

Why Republican Baby Boomers are More Likely to Share #fakenews on Facebook—I rag on Baby Boomers pretty hard, but until someone can show me how this generation has actually made the country a better place I am going to keep piling on.

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Friday Linkage 1/11/2019

The “upside” of the partial federal government shutdown is that agencies run by Trumpian golems cannot work overtime to destroy our land, water, and air.  Trust me, if given the opportunity the EPA under Wheeler would like to redefine mercury as a dietary supplement and the BLM would like to put a fracking pad in every backyard.

On to the links…

How We can Combat Climate Change—The fact that opinion pieces like this are appearing in major American newspapers and other news outlets has me hopeful that this marks the point in time when we, collectively as a species, start to really tackle climate change.

2018 Was A “Fulcrum Year” For Renewable Energy In The US—We can hope that 2018 marked the point when renewable energy became the default choice for utilities and consumers.  Everything after is just math.

The EPA Hired GOP Oppo Firm Because It Was Sick of “Fake News”—You have to love modern Republicans under Trump.  Their world view is set and anything that does not conform to that world view is “fake news.”  Is 2020 going to be another bloodbath for the Republican party?

5% of US Coal Fleet Retired Last Year—Trump can bluster.  Trump can bellow.  Trump can hold all the rallies he wants wearing hard hearts, point to signs about how he “digs” coal, and soothe the audience with his slow jam about beautiful coal.  He cannot, however, stop the inevitable decline of the use of coal as a fuel for producing electricity.

More Coal Plants Shut Down in Trump’s First Two Years than in Obama’s Entire First Term—See, Trump is better than Obama.

Colorado could Save $2.5 Billion by Rapidly Shutting Down its Coal Power Plants—That is $2.5 billion dollars.  That is before accounting for things like externalities which currently do not figure into the economics of running a coal plant.

Texas’s Wind and Sunlight Complement Each Other Exceptionally Well. That’s Huge for its Grid.—The idea here is that Texas can get over the problem of intermittent renewable energy by deploying more renewable energy that happens to be complementary.

With Vineyard Wind, the U.S. Finally Goes Big on Offshore Wind Power—Offshore wind power can bring cheap, reliable green energy to the eastern seaboard of the United States.  At 6.5 cents per kWh this project is cost competitive with coal and natural gas today.  Furthermore, without the possibility of increases in fuel prices—just wait for the next natural gas price spike—these low prices are essentially locked in.

Why Solar Panels Should Go From Rooftops to Mountaintops—Maybe the answer is to deploy more solar wherever we can?

A Major Climate Treaty to Reduce Air Conditioning Emissions Just Went Into Force—Without the U.S.—These are the kinds of efforts that the U.S. needs to be supporting.  However, Trump hears the words treaty and assumes that the U.S. is “losing.”

Why Efforts to Make Buildings Greener Fail—I am beginning to think that any building that starts out with the promise of being “green” is just a temporary charade.

Dutch Eco Initiative Halves Energy Bills in First UK Homes—Even though so-called green building fail to meet their promise so often does not mean that there is not great potential to make our existing fleet of buildings so much more efficient.  Remember, every kWh saved is one less that we have to generate with renewables.  We can get to 100% renewable energy by deploying more sources and reducing our consumption.

Is Organic Food Over?—I feel like this headline is a decade late.  Organic has been coopted by big food and there is no looking back.  This gets to why knowing who the producer of your food is so important if you want to align your values with your consumption.

Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Ski Venue Set To Be Demolished—This move was planned before the Olympics, but the waste is just amazing.  The Olympics, as an event, should be killed.

Bar Soap is Making a Glorious Comeback—Millenials can’t kill bar soap because bar soap is the killer app of getting clean.  Leave your loofahs and shower gel at the door.

Friday Linkage 5/12/2017

Is this how it ends?  With a complicit Congress, an ineffective opposition party, and an egomaniac in the White House do we end up miles down the road to tyranny in just a few years?  Or does America pull its collective head out of its ass and do something about the ridiculous state of affairs?

Considering how well things went during the prelude to the Civil War I do not have the highest hopes for a peaceful decade.  Maybe Dwayne Johnson really will be our next president.  Or Michelle Obama.

On to the links…

EPA Dismisses 5 Scientists from Key Review Panel—Let me guess what the industry panel members are going to recommend…regulation bad…oil and gas good…EPA bad…emissions are good for you…money is even better…and so on.  Your government is owned by fossil fuels and Russians.

Here’s How Easy It Is to Get Trump Officials to Click on a Fake Link in Email—I imagined that it would be as easy as saying “Click here to support Bill O’Reilly against all those evil women.”

Watch Anderson Cooper Roll His Eyes at Kellyanne Conway As She Tries to Defend Trump—And the Oscar goes to Anderson Cooper:

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A New Book Ranks the Top 100 Solutions to Climate Change. The Results are Surprising.—Maybe the solutions are within our grasp.  Drawdown is on my reading list at the library.  I just happen to be about ten people back in the queue.

Remorseless Coal Baron Gets Out Of Prison, Has Twitter Meltdown Over Mine Disaster—Do you notice a trend with Donald Trump and other narcissists like Don Blankenship?  In their mind’s eye he or she is never wrong.  Even when convicted in a court of law and sent to prison he is going back to the well that he did nothing wrong.

With a Letter a Day, West Virginian Tried to Remind Coal Executive of his Role in 29 Deaths—Don Blankenship was complicit in the conditions that directly led to the death of 29 people.  He does not care nor did he ever care about actual human beings in his employ as long as the coal kept coming out of the mountains and the profits kept flowing to bank accounts.

California’s Drought May Be Over, But Its Water Troubles Aren’t—Judging long term climatic conditions based on a single season is a bad idea.  Climate scientists, hydrologists, and anyone with half a brain has always said that but as California “exits” the recent drought it needs saying even more.

California Set an Ambitious Goal for Fighting Global Warming. Now Comes the Hard Part—The goals are ambitious.  We have to hope that California can be the model for the rest of the states because there will be no guidance from the capital.

Could Trump Dismantle the American West?—Why don’t we just come out and say that Donald Trump is bad for America?  Who stands to benefit from anything that has happened in Washington D.C. recently?  Jared Kushner maybe.

The First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Just Shut Down a Diesel Plant—It’s not a huge victory, but every dirty power generation source that we can shut down is a victory.  In the age of Trump and Pruitt I will take what I can get.

Iceland’s “Thor” Volcano Power Plant can Generate 10X More Energy than Oil or Gas Wells—Geothermal is the odd cousin who comes to your wedding who turns out to be a pretty cool guy that makes the weekend all the more fun.  This geothermal plant is the rock star cousin who owns the weekend.

Germany Breaks A Solar Record — Gets 85% Of Electricity From Renewables—These headlines are a little misleading, but generating this much renewable energy for this large an economy is a big deal.

Arrogance of Space—People ask me why I think bikes are such a great way to get around.  If I had to pick one photo to illustrate many of the reasons it would be this:

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Imagine what our infrastructure costs would look like if we were managing a world of cyclists instead of a world of single occupancy automobiles.  Believe it!

Dan Barber on the Future of Food—Dan Barber can get a little preachy, but so can Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain but I still listen to what they have to say about food.  Dan Barber is no different.  His thoughts on food matter because he is an influencer of chefs and what not the world over.

Everyone is a Shill Nowadays

Instagram is my little curated slice of the Internet.  It is filled with post after post of people living and recreating in the mountains.  It is essentially the life I would like to lead if I did not have things like a mortgage, children, and a general sense of long term fiscal responsibility.  Yes, I am so basic in that respect but basic pays the bills.

Instagram is also a cesspool of shills.  It seems like everyone is shilling for someone or something.  I find Mikaela Shiffrin to be an amazing athlete and my nine-year-old daughter is infatuated with her skiing exploits, but I know that she is shilling for Barila or Vail Resorts when she posts on Instagram.

Loki the Wolf Dog is shilling for Toyota or whoever else is sponsoring the latest adventure.

Heck, even hippies in vans are shilling for potato chips.

All is not lost because we can peer through the marketing noise for the message we truly care about.  I am genuinely curious about the results from World Cup ski races and my daughter hangs on every post Mikaela Shiffrin makes but the occasional Barila blast is not going to change my pasta buying habits.  I enjoy watching Loki the Wolf Dog tear down some backcountry slopes in the San Juan Mountains but I am not going to test drive a new Tacoma.

Once we recognize that everyone online is shilling for someone or something we take the power away from the marketers.

Oral Histories are All the Rage and Need to Stop

I blame Bill Simmons and Grantland for many things including the current trend of smug, middle-aged, white men from New England telling everyone with whom they cross paths that their opinion is the most real and relevant.  This is the exact mentality that allowed a flaccid cantaloupe to get himself elected president and move us one step closer to the literal apocalypse.

However, the thing that Grantland championed and that gets under my skin the most is the oral history.  What is an oral history?  Basically, take source material interviews and vomit the content all over the page as if that were “real” journalism.  It is the equivalent of a millennial dragging themselves out of bed on a Sunday to eat brunch with his bros.  It is lazy and useless.

Grantland would publish long, even for that site which is amazing because every article had to start with some blatant New England bro talk about the Patriots, Red Sox, or Celtics being the representative pinnacle of something, oral histories.  Somewhere along the way everyone thought this was the Popeye’s chicken of modern web journalism and jumped on the bandwagon.  Miss the Little Nicky reference?  Your loss.

Here is the rub: the format is lazy.  Journalism is about crafting a story.  Oral history is about keeping it real and unvarnished thus no editing.  Editing is the essence of good story telling.  Sit in on a creative writing workshop the first time that pretentious guy from down the hall gets told that his story needs to be tightened up.  It’s the right critique and it will make the story better, but he is an artist and his twelve hundred page manuscript about the family dynamics of eighteenth century herring fishermen will not be abridged by philistines.

In an era of fake news and alternative facts editing is critical.  If “journalists” just puke out interview text with no editing or commentary we might as well read the comments section of your favorite blog.  Isn’t that the ultimate evolution of an oral history?

Heck the format has even wormed its way into actual book length manuscripts.  Nothing says good times like reading two hundred pages of unedited interviews between multiple people switching at random.

Please do not feed the oral history beast.

Friday Linkage 12/16/2016

Is Donald Trump just trolling America now with his picks?  The Scott Pruitt choice was bad, but Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy is just ridiculous.  Rick Perry literally does not know what the Department of Energy does.  Most of the people claiming he will do a good job talk about his coming from an oil and gas state.  Never mind that oil and gas exploitation falls under other federal agencies and the Department of Energy actually spends most of its time and budget on nuclear responsibilities.  Maybe we will get a return of George W. Bush’s interesting pronunciation of nuclear.

On to the links…

Full Levelized Cost of Electricity In the United States by County—This is an amazing interactive map that lets you play with assumptions about cost, tax incentives, etc. to see at what the lowest LCOE of various electricity generation methods would be by county.  I am surprised that nuclear is able to be competitive in any of these scenarios.

If Trump Wants to Dismantle Obama’s EPA Rules, Here are all the Obstacles He’ll Face—Given the makeup of the cabinet and its glaring lack of experience in public service, I cannot wait to see them whine, moan, and bitch that government does not operate like their personal business fiefdoms.  No shit Sherlock, there is a reason that government does not work like a private business…it’s not a private business.

Solar Capacity has Increased 99% since Last Quarter—Maybe the best thing I have heard in a while: “The industry is booming, and President Trump will be hard-pressed to stop it.”

White House Releases Strategy for Deep Decarbonization by 2050—Save this document because we are about to spend four years without such vision.  We are far more likely to see reports about how we can make America great again by being big league and classy and yuge.

The End of the Commonwealth—The gilded age has returned and the crony capitalists have swept into power.  Populism was co-opted to allow for a takeover by wealthy elites.  The “blue collar billionaire” who criticized his opponent for giving speeches to Goldman Sachs has tapped former employees of the bank for key positions and even nominated the CEO of the most reviled oil company to be Secretary of State.  Our government is at the service of a very few very rich people.

Without These Ads, There Wouldn’t be Money in Fake News—The dictum “follow the money” has always been true.  Without the ability to garner revenue from clicks, fake news would be a gnat’s ass.

Renewables Produce 56% Of Denmark’s Domestic Electricity—The U.S. is unlikely to be leading a lot in this area for the next few years, so we need to take solace in the world making progress.

Solar Panels have been Benefiting the Climate ‘since 2011’—The carbon debt has been paid.

Your Hobby Is Action, Not Accumulation—I used to be so guilty of this when it came to books.  I read a lot, but I still acquired books like crazy.  It became more about a good looking library as opposed to actually reading and accumulating knowledge.  At what point do the things we own begin to own us?

I Love Meat. But these New “Bleeding” Veggie Burgers Convinced Me to Give it up for Good.—These burgers are only available in limited markets right now, but I cannot wait to try them once availability increases to more markets.  Now, if they could tackle the whole veggie bacon thing we would be cooking so to speak.

Homeopathic “Drugs” Will Have to Carry Disclaimers That They Are Bunk—Finally.  Homeopathic drugs are just ridiculous.  It’s like the snake oil salesmen of yesteryear were allowed to continue peddling patent medications without any repurcussions.

First Industrial Hemp Seeds Certified by Colorado Department of Agriculture—The “Green Rush” hype in Colorado has focused on the recreational smoking aspect of marijuana legalization, but there has been a steady increase in the interest of farmers and industry to exploit industrial—e.g. non-psychoactive—hemp as an alternative crop.

Degrowth Is Punk as F*ck—Maybe this is the answer.