Tag Archives: Ford

Friday Linkage 9/13/2019

On Friday the 13th I want to “pour one out” for a site that has gone dark.  Think Progress and its companion site Climate Progress were linked to frequently from my blog.  The reporting was always well done and backed up by copious well documented sources.  Editorial factionalism and a bitter unionization battle probably contributed to the demise of the site.  The same problems have plagued other “new media” operations as well over the years, but this is a lost nonetheless.

On to the links…

25 Books That Teach Kids To Care About The Environment—The children, they are the future right?  Well, we should be helping them to understand just how amazing, precious, and threatened this planet of our is in the modern age.

There’s a $218 Billion Design Problem Sitting in Your Fridge Right Now—You want to know the real reason why this will not change?  It’s the same reason that I cannot get parts for an appliance that is just a few years old or why a small part for a car costs hundreds of dollars.  The manufacturers of these products want to sell you a new product.

Why Industry is Going Green on the Quiet—This is a sign of the polarized times that we live in.  If a company can produce the same product using less destructive methods why does it need to be kept secret?  Probably because a reactionary slice of the population will react like their hair is on fire at the mere mention of environmental concern.

A Decade of Renewable Energy Investment, Led by Solar, Tops USD 2.5 Trillion—This gives you an idea about the potential scale of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables.  If you want to create jobs in the United States you would support renewables at every juncture.  Imagine trillions of dollars more being spent to deploy solar and wind across the United States.

30 Million Acres of Public Land in Alaska at Risk of Being Developed or Transferred—Your public lands are being sold off by the most corrupt and criminal presidential administration in the history of the United States.

Trump Campaign is Cashing in on the Alabama ‘Sharpie’ Controversy he Keeps Complaining About—Every time I think we have reached the height of Trump’s unique combination of stupidity and hubris I am surprised by a new event.  Remember, Trump totally did not change that map.  Trump totally does not know who drew the limp circle showing Alabama in Hurricane Dorian’s path.  However, you can totally “own the libs” by giving his slush fund…er, campaign $15 for a freaking Sharpie.  Get some Trump branded straws to complete you MAGA look for fall.

Department of Justice to investigate BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen—Remember, the right wing is all about states’ rights as long as those states’ rights are about unlimited access to firearms, restricting access to health care, gutting social programs, and in general making the world safe for rich people.  God forbid a state, which has the precedent to set its own emissions standards, would contradict the federal government.

Hydrogen Could Replace Coke In Steelmaking & Lower Carbon Emissions Dramatically—Steel production, like concrete, is a carbon nightmare.  However, steel is essential to modern civilization so any decrease in its carbon intensity is a win for the planet.

Pulling CO2 Out of the Air and Using it Could be a Trillion-Dollar Business—It is doubtful with Moscow Mitch in power that we will ever see a price put on carbon emissions in the United States.  However, what if we could create a market that placed a value on carbon dioxide.

Renewable Energy At Risk In Rural Electric Cooperative Tax Snafu—The Republican tax debacle of 2017 is the gift that keeps on giving.  So to speak.  This piece of garbage legislation that was rushed through because no one actually wanted the details to be public is creating messes just about everywhere.  Wasn’t this the signature legislative accomplishment of so-called policy wonk Paul Ryan’s speakership?

How Much Photovoltaics (PV) Would be Needed to Power the World Sustainably?—I like the thought exercise, but this is not about a single technology.  Freedom from fossil fuels will come as a result of deploying a portfolio of renewable energy technologies combined with greater efficiency.  It is not rocket science.

50 Years Ago a Nuclear Bomb was Detonated under the Western Slope to Release Natural Gas. Here’s how Poorly it Went.—This was someone’s bright idea.  Heck, it was probably the idea of a group of fairly smart people.

It’s Time We Treat Some Forests Like Crops—Let’s just make sure that we do not treat trees like corn or soybeans.  Those crops have been a disaster for Americans.

Invasion of the ‘Frankenbees’: The Danger of Building a Better Bee—What could possible go wrong?  It’s not like scientists have been wrong about making drastic changes to our environment before.

Today’s Special: Grilled Salmon Laced With Plastic—Our love affair with plastic and our inability to deal with its waste is a great, unregulated public health experiment.

The Definitive Superfood Ranking—Can we just stop with the superfood nonsense?  Seriously, you can eat all the kale you want and you will still not be healthy.

Chicago’s New Tool Library Is Awesome, Exactly What It Sounds Like—I own a lot of tools—some bought and some acquired through family—but a lot of my tools just sit for extended periods of time.  This is true even though I use my tools a lot to build furniture and fix things.  For the average user my guess is that tools get used a couple of times at most.

mountainFLOW Launches Plant-Based Ski Wax—I want some.

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Friday Linkage 6/7/2019

Do we live in an alternate reality?  Watching Donald Trump and his family pretend to be royalty on a state visit to the United Kingdom was maybe one of the most disturbing things I have witnessed in recent memory.

It was not as bad as horrible laws passed to punish people based on archaic religious views that have no place in American government.  It was not as jarring as seeing pictures of asylum seekers being ripped from their children to satisfy the base desires of rabidly racist political base.  It was, however, disturbing on a different level.

Donald Trump believes, deep down in his little shriveled soul, that he is analogous to the Queen.  You can see it in his face when he poses with his children in formalwear that the entire corrupt brood feels as if they are American royalty.  Blue collar billionaire my ass.  Donald Trump is a dime store duke or ersatz earl.

On to the links…

The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less—I think this has less to do with overtly saving the planet and more to do with realigning our human existence.  What has our obsession with every increasing workloads in the name of economic growth done for us lately?  Who is happier?  Who is healthier?  Outside of a few billionaires reaping the benefits of our labors I would endeavor to say that almost no one is better off.

Donald Trump Is Sending Park Rangers to the Border to Help Enforce His Immigration Policies—What the f*ck?  Charles Blow in the New York Times pretty much nailed it when he wrote that every action by this administration is an effort to shore up the continued dominance of conservative white control.

Coal Plants Are a Dying Breed—Despite his best efforts or, maybe because of his best efforts given his track record of business failures, coal is dying.  Check out the chart:

blog_paris_goals_2020_2030.jpg

Now, every wind turbine and solar panel we can install is another kWh we take away from coal.

How California Became Far More Energy-Efficient than the Rest of the Country—This is why Donald Trump and his administration want to hamstring California’s legal right to set its own efficiency targets.  It works.  Less electricity demand means less need for coal.

We Electrified Everything (and So Can You)—This is the personal climate action plan that everyone needs to adopt:

  1. Electrify everything possible in your life
  2. Use as little of those electrified things as possible
  3. Produce as much electricity from your roof as possible

It sounds simple because it is.

Massachusetts Looks to Beef Up Commitment to Offshore Wind—The east coast of the United States is not a good place for onshore wind.  However, offshore wind could put a lot of renewable energy within close geographic proximity to millions of people.

Chile’s Cheap Power – Sign Of A Solar Future?—These prices for solar power are scary low.  Scary for coal and scary for natural gas.  I love the last line in the article: “And that means the future is electric, renewable and, best of all, cheap.”

Diving Gas Costs Spark Potential Rare Switch Away From Coal in Japan—Coal cannot survive in a world where other energy sources are cleaner and less expensive.

Ford Recycles 1.2 Billion Plastic Bottles a Year for Auto Parts—It is a proverbial drop in the bucket, but I wonder if there is an idea here to help create a real market for recycled plastics.  If there is a market for Kardashians there has to be a market for recycled plastics.

NREL Scientists have a Plan to Fight Ocean Plastic: Upcycle it into Something Valuable—Create a market and people will be all over recycling plastic.

Woman Collects 2.4 Tons of Trash on Nova Scotia Beaches in 1 year—If one person can collect more than 2 tons of trash in a year, what can we accompolish as a community dedicated to environmental restoration?

Lyft Offers Free EV Charging to Portland Drivers—I do not know if Uber and Lyft are in this for the long haul given their money losing business models, but this cannot do anything but help increase the adoption of EVs.  Furthermore, if more people are exposed to EVs that is a good thing.

A Pioneer of Battery-Powered Trains Now Wants a Nationwide Fleet of Them—Electrifying transportation is not just about personal automobiles.

The Preachers Getting Rich from Poor Americans—These sons of bitches still exist and are fleecing poor people out of their money.  If you are a pastor and you fly on a private jet you have failed to read and understand the gospel of Jesus.

Why You Want Oysters and a Salt Marsh between You and a Hurricane—Here’s an idea: why don’t we deploy these natural solutions to as many places as possible rather than blindly rebuilding communities in the paths of ever more destructive hurricanes.  It’s not like we can keep building castles in swamps until they stop sinking.

Students in the Philippines must Plant 10 Trees to Graduate—Reminds me of the part in Ecotopia where someone wanting to build a house needed to spend time planting and harvesting trees in order to obtain the building materials.  Would the world be a better place where we understood the origin of the things we consume?

Urban Forests are Dying. Baltimore Shows us How to Bring them Back.—We are urban creatures now.  We need to preserve and regenerate our urban forests.  It is not an impossible task.

Proof of Concept

As the sales numbers for the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf roll-in pundits and talking heads, most vociferously on the right wing of the American political culture, are raining down damnation.  Their argument is that low sales figures prove that vehicles with alternative powertrains are not economically viable.  Well, as gas prices go above $4 a gallon in parts of the U.S. some of that argument may erode.

At the end of 2011 7,761 Volts had been sold and 9,674 Leafs had been sold.   The talking heads are besides themselves.  General Motors is idling the production facility where the Volt is manufactured with about a 6 month supply on dealer’s lots.  Nissan is much tighter lipped about the Leaf and production plans, but a facility in the U.S. is planned to go online to produce the Leaf sometime in the near future.

These vehicles, however, cannot be seen in the same light as a normal production car like the Ford Focus or Chevrolet Cruze.  Each is a proof of concept.  It is one thing to make a concept car and it is quite another to coach build a few examples without the intent to ever mass produce.  Look at Tesla.  Sure, the Roadster is a unique and amazing electric vehicle but is essentially a coach built luxury car for a very small slice of the car buying market.  The Volt and the Leaf, regardless of price, were always intended to prove the idea that one could design and build an alternate drivetrain vehicle in a quantity that would actually move the needle.

The true test is when these vehicles move from the first generation to the second generation where leaps in capability generally occur.  Think about Apple’s products.  What was the leap like between the first generation iPhone and the subsequent iPhone 3 or 4?

As battery technology evolves or is pushed forward by some revolutionary technology what will the Volt 2.0 or Leaf 2.0 look like?  I tend to think the answer will be further range, better mileage or mileage equivalent, increasingly fewer compromises and a cost that is equivalent or less than today’s purchase price.

Furthermore, each of these vehicles needs to be seen as a test case in the underlying technologies that can be leveraged across a vehicle lineup.  The Volt and Leaf are both compact cars in size, but with an evolution the technologies can easily be scaled for CUV or midsize car.

What about the Toyota Prius?  At this point in that particular vehicles history no one can argue that it has not been a success.  It was the platform on which Toyota evolved its gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain and proved that an alternative powertrain vehicle could be sold in large numbers.  The vehicle has gone through three generations since 2000.  It has even spawned two new models carrying the Prius name—the V and the C.  In the U.S. sales have averaged about 140,000 per year in 2010-11.  But what about its first year in the U.S.?  In 2000 Toyota sold ~6,000 and ~16,000 in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

In the first year of each vehicle’s sales history, the Volt and Leaf outsold the first year of the Prius.  Why are we not comparing apples to apples when we talk about the relative success of these vehicles’ introductions to the market.

A bigger threat to the Volt, Leaf, and any other alternative drivetrain automobile is the continued evolution of the traditional internal combustion drivetrain.  The latest crop of compact cars are achieving 40 miles per gallon on the highway in the EPA test cycle, which is excellent.  Heck, Subaru is able to produce an Impreza with supposedly fuel sucking full-time all-wheel-drive that is rated at 36 miles per gallon.