Tag Archives: fracking

Friday Linkage 9/18/2020

A person could not make this shit up, yet we find the President of the United States and his surrogates managing to stretch the boundaries of what we consider possible in this country.  The latest giant pile of dog doo that these people have stepped in is using clip art of Russian soldiers and aircraft in a fundraising advertisement.

I do not even know what to say anymore.  Well, I would like to say that it is imperitive that you get out to vote.  Vote early if you can.  Vote by mail if you must.  Just get out and vote so that we can end this national nightmare as soon as freaking possible.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

A Third of Americans Might Refuse a Covid-19 Vaccine. How Screwed are We?—We, as a country, have spent years, if not decades, coddling the feelings of the anti-vaccine community.  Now, when we need everyone to get on board there is going to be a huge pushback.

New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States—This is some truly scary reporting.

Oil Industry Surprised By Trump’s Extension Of Offshore Drilling Ban. The Only Question Is ‘Why?’—The “why” is always very easy with Trump.  Donnie Two Scoops is afraid that he is going to lose his bid for reelection because he is the worst president in the history of the United States and losing Florida or Georgia would spell doom.  So, he has made a deal so to speak.

OPEC Cuts 2020 Oil Demand Forecast, Trims 2021 Outlook on Pandemic Fallout—It seems like every few years we start to talk about peak oil in some respect.  Some years it is peak oil supply, which is the famous Hubbert’s Peak.  Lately, it has been peak oil demand.  Maybe the world is reaching satiation when it comes to black gold.

The End of Oil is Near, or Maybe Not—It is fanciful to talk about the end of oil, but maybe it is the beginning of the end. 

Oil Prices Stay Anemic As Fears Of Endless Covid Hit Demand Forecasts—If people are not commuting to work they are not buying gasoline for their cars.  The market is already oversupplied and there are big players with a lot of barrels out of production.

Why the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may Not be Drilled—There are just economic, political, and legal headwinds.  What oil company wouldn’t want to invest billions of dollars and years of effort to drill in a harsh environment for a commodity that may already be oversupplied?

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled—The plastic in your blue recycling bin was always going to end up as trash.  The process of rinsing and sorting was eco-theater brought to you by oil and gas companies, which profit from making plastic as oil and gas are the feedstocks.  The only solution is to use a lot less plastic.

Lego to Switch to Eco-Friendly Paper Bags in Its Packaging—It’s a small step, but it’s the right step.

Why Big Oil Cares So Much About Reducing Methane Gas Leaks—Oil is an international commodity and if the rest of the world decides to regulate methane leaks it will be in the oil companies’ best interests to control the leaks.  It’s called business.

Solar Power = 60% of New US Power Capacity in June—The future is blowing in the wind and shining with the sun.

A Red State Goes Green — Why Texas Is Adding So Much Solar—The same regulatory climate or lack thereof that enabled an oil industry to basically do what it wanted also enabled solar to build out like gangbusters.

Meet Perovskite, the Mystery Mineral That Could Transform Our Solar Energy Future—Cheaper and more efficient solar cells…do you want to be sitting on a coal plant right now?  Nope.

Germany: Plug-In Electric Car Sales Quadrupled In August 2020—Just over 13% market share for vehicles with a plug.

France: Plug-In Electric Car Sales More Than Tripled In Summer 2020—Approximately 10% market share for vehicles with a plug.  Sense a trend?

Sailing Makes a Comeback in Wind-Powered Car Carrier—Now imagine your EV being shipped on one of these bad boys.

Amazon Poaches Former Uber Manager to Grow its E-bike Delivery Team in New York City—The so-called “last mile” for deliveries is the hardest.  You can build all the fancy hubs and distribution centers that you want, but people do not live in orderly warehouses.  They live in cities and suburbs and rural areas.

Vinyl Record Sales Surpass CDs for the First Time Since the 1980s—I guess vinyl never was as dead as people made it out to be for like forty years.  Or, CDs are really dead.

Friday Linkage 9/4/2020

It’s the first furlough Friday of September.  With all of the post-derecho cleanup accomplished in our neighborhood it seemed like a good time to high tail it out of town.  We are on the way to visit family in Lincoln, Nebraska for the holiday weekend.  The hope is that I get to spend a couple of days on local trails.

The fact that it is September is really odd.  During this time of coronavirus it seems like time both flies and stands still.  Perhaps it is like Heisenberg’s cat that is both dead and alive.  The ‘rona time uncertainty principle?

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Welcome to the ‘Pyrocene,’ an Epoch of Runaway Fire—Everything is on fire will be the new mantra for six months or more out of the year for a lot of the planet.

Extreme Heat is Here, and It’s Deadly—It is hot out there and it is only going to get hotter.

Americans are Saving More than Just Money by Not Commuting—The problem in the United States is not car culture, but commuting culture.  People think nothing of driving insane amounts for jobs or houses or whatever.  What is the opportunity cost of all that commuting?   $12.50 an hour seems low.

New Federal Rule Could Create Horrifying ‘Bomb Trains’—In Trump’s America it is totally cool to move trainloads of natural gas through cities.  If a few cities are leveled it is just the price to pay for making fossil fuel companies rich.  Plus, he probably sees destroyed cities as just another development opportunity for the Trump Organization.

Solar and Wind Reach 67% of New Power Capacity Added Globally in 2019, while Fossil Fuels Slide to 25%–How do we get to 0% fossil fuels added in a given year?  Actually, the goal needs to be some negative rate.

The US South Could Save Money by Cleaning Up Its Power Grid—Yet, the southeastern United States will be held back by monopoly power and politicians in the pocket of those monopoly interests.

Trump Admin Weakens Obama-Era Rule to Limit Toxic Waste From Coal Plants—Day One of a Biden-Harris administration needs to begin with a formal process—which the Trump team has ignored to the peril of their rule changes’ lifespan—to reverse every asinine decision made over the previous four years.  The list is long so a lot of people better be ready to do some heavy lifting.

How a Plan to Save the Power System Disappeared—My guess is that if someone other than Bill Barr were to investigate the motives behind these moves there would be a lot of money changing hands in ways that would smell like corruption.  Look, the Trump clan and the associated grifters are motivated by money and what money brings them in terms of status.  It is everything to these people.

Severe Storms are Increasingly Leaving Us Without Power. Microgrids can Help.—After most of the region I live in lost power—some estimates were that in the day following the derecho 99% of Linn County was without grid supplied power—the importance of some base level of power in an emergency became clear.

North Dakota Blues: The Legacy of Fracking—The bust following the fracking boom is here.  The cleanup bill is going to come due and we, the citizens of the United States, are going to be left holding the bill because the companies that caused the damage will be long gone.

The 800-Lb Gorilla Between U.S. Shale Producers And A Big Comeback: Decline Rates—There will be no comeback.  The economics of the business just do not play.

Volkswagen ID.3 Pours Across Germany, Ireland, Norway, & Elsewhere—The ID.3 and its variants are a big deal.  Why?  Volkswagen knows how to make a lot of cars in serial production and work the “kinks” out of the process.  Reasonably priced EVs from a mass market manufacturer is just what the market ordered.  Which vehicle is more important across the globe: a BMW 3 series or a Toyota Corolla?

Norway In August – Over 70% EV Market Share And Heading Higher—Norway is not a big market and it has large incentives, but 70% share is big no matter what the market conditions.  Now Tesla’s Model 3 has a competitor in the VW ID.3—funny how they both use the numeral 3—so the share could go even higher.

Norway’s Largest Private Asset Manager Divests in Chevron, Exxon for Lobbying Against Climate Action—Norway makes my head hurt lately.  On one hand it is a country that is actively divesting from fossil fuels and buying lots of EVs.  On the other hand it is planning to drill in the arctic.

Can Planting Trees Make a City More Equitable?—Well, planting a tree is not going to make a place less livable.  So get out the shovels, drop those seedlings, and lets build out some urban forest cover.

How Jack’s Solar Garden Hopes To Transform Farming—For Good—This is just such a good idea.  Combine diversified agriculture with renewable energy to power the future.

What Coffee-Brewing Method Makes the Best-Tasting Cup?—As a long time Aeropress user I am glad to see this simple machine come out on top.  Trust me, when your coffee making device only requires hot water and a little muscle power you discover how lucky you are when the power goes out for days.  A lot of people were looking longingly at their pod type machines during the week post-derecho.

Friday Linkage 8/28/2020

Just when you think that the world has not gotten crazy enough, it goes out and decides to get all Myrtle Beach drunk on you.

Someone was joking about what would be the next disaster to befall us in 2020, but no one else really thought it was a joke.  If frogs started to fall from the sky it would not be very surprising.  Really, as long as we avoid the whole plague of boils thing I might consider us winning.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Can We Survive Extreme Heat?—Get ready.  It was already 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley.

Revealed: How the Gas Industry is Waging War Against Climate Action—The fossil fuel industry does not care about the future beyond the day when its latest earnings come in.  Everything else is subservient to making more money including the future of a habitable Earth for human beings.

Insurance Giant Suncorp to End Coverage and Finance for Oil and Gas Industry—Actuaries may be fairly boring, but when they decide it is no longer prudent to insure oil and gas projects you better pay attention.  Credit and coverage are the lifeblood of modern business models.  Without them nothing is scalable.

Oil Frackers Are Breaking Records Again – In Bankruptcy Court—Fracking is an industry that has done one thing really well…burn through cash.  It’s like they were trying to warm themselves by lighting dollar bills on fire.

Norway Plans to Drill for Oil in Untouched Arctic Areas—Does it seem like a bad idea to go drilling for oil in an inhospitable place of pristine nature during a time when oil prices are low with no indication that higher prices will return?

Nearly Half of Germany’s Electricity has Come from Wind and Solar this Year—If Germany can get to half can’t just about every other Western nation state do the same?  Hell, Iowa is on track to get 50% of its electricity from wind and this is no hippie paradise.

11% EV Market Share In Germany! Let The Disruption Begin!—I am sure that if I look hard enough I can find articles that state there is no possible way that EVs can gain more than 5% or share or 10% share.  Just like renewable energy before it, the better solution will find a way.

Transitioning to Renewable Energy Isn’t So Simple. Just Look at California.—California’s story is about so much more than just the availability of electricity.  It is about an ageing power distribution infrastructure that has been allowed to rot.  It is about bad development decisions that favored inefficient and expensive single family homes almost to a degree that is illogical.

Electric Trucks Are Coming. Where Should They Go?—My suggestion is heavily populate areas on the eastern seaboard where trucks do not have to travel as far compared with the rest of the country, but where the concentration of people creates a lot of exposure to pollutants.  Or, just send them everywhere.

What Contains 3 Times More Energy Than Gasoline, But Produces Zero CO2?—The hydrogen economy is like the villain in a teen slasher movie.  It just keeps coming back from the dead no matter how many times it is killed.  I swear by now we are well past the credits for the third or fourth sequel but here comes hydrogen again.

The Biblical Flood That Will Drown California—California is a place defined by natural disasters.  The crazy thing about this flood is that it occurred within the time when photographs could record the results.  This is not some part of the fossil record.  It is part of our modern history and it could happen again.

Hong Kong’s Terracotta Tile Army Marches to the Rescue for Coral—If this really works, what would it take to scale the idea across a lot of different areas with damaged reefs?  Like oyster reefs being constructed from discarded oyster shells that restaurants collect this seems like a no brainer.

Mobile Canning Is Saving That Local Beer You Love—Now, go out and buy a six pack of that beer from your local brewery.  If you do not that brewery may not be around much longer.  You do not want to be forced into drinking Keystone Light, do you?

The Pandemic Is No Match for the Pumpkin Spice Latte—Oh sweet Jesus, it has begun.

Friday Linkage 7/3/2020

Riddle me this, protestors in Aurora, Colorado were met with riot police when demanding justice for the death of Elijah McClain.  Their offense?  Playing the violin.  That’s it.  No violence, no looting, nothing.

In St. Louis it is apparently all right to be a cranky white couple brandishing firearms outside your home while protestors walk past.  How were the dealt with by the police?  Crickets.

Does anyone need a more clear example that the police in the United States are out of control?

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

House Democrats Laying Out New Roadmap for Cutting U.S. Greenhouse Gases—The Green New Deal is a dead letter, but its ideas can spur action along a number of different fronts.  We have the technology and the understanding to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions within our lifetimes.  Failure to do so is a dereliction of our duty to future generations.

Congressional Climate Crisis Action Plan Would Decarbonize U.S., Add $8 Trillion In Benefits By 2050—Another take on the potential plan coming from House Democrats.  Now you know and knowing is half the battle.  Thanks G.I. Joe.

Colorado Springs will Shut Down its Two Coal-Fired Plants by 2030. Now it’s Time for Xcel to Do the Same, Environmentalists Say.—2030 seems like a long way away, but it is less than a decade off.  My guess is that this closure can happen sooner if we really push for it to happen.  Plus, the Martin Drake power plant in Colorado Springs is an absolute eyesore.

Why the World’s Most Advanced Solar Plants Are Failing—The twenty four solar panels on top of my garage seem to be doing just fine day in and day out with no intervention from anyone.  The best answer is sometimes the simpler answer.

Inertia and the Unintended Consequences of More Renewable Power Deployment—Some interesting concepts here that might be an issue as we deploy every increasing amounts of renewable energy.

Chesapeake Energy, Fracking Pioneer, Files for Bankruptcy Owing $9bn—Chesapeake Energy may be the worst “bad actor” in the fracking industry, but it is hardly alone in its loose treatment of contracts and the fundamentals of business.  The idea is to make a profit.  These companies seem allergic to actually making money rather than just blowing through capital like Uber.

Chesapeake Energy Goes Bankrupt, Will It Spur The Industry To Police Its Own?—The short answer is no.  The long answer is that these companies have very little incentive to do anything of the sort because the government at all levels—local, state, and federal—backs them up.

$40 Oil Is The New Normal—If this is the new normal price then a lot of oil companies are going to have a hard time staying afloat.

Fuel Efficiency Rules Lead to Deadlier Car Accidents—This is the kind of hack statistical analysis that gets us into trouble.  Heavier cars are not necessarily safer.  Just take a look at what happens when a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is slammed into a 1959 Chevrolet Bel-Air.

Impossible Foods Begins Selling its Meatless Sausage to Restaurants Nationwide—People are already concerned about the treatment of animals in industrial operations, the conditions for workers in meat processing facilities, and the general environmental harm that the entire supply chain for animal based protein is causing.  Now you can eliminate all of that with one change.  The future is a crazy place.

New Study Finds Microplastics in Fruits and Vegetables—Future generations will probably call us the “plastic people” for our infatuation with a material that does not degrade and infests every aspect of our lives.  Or we will just be known as the most ignorant epoch of humans.

CSAs for the 1 Percent—Now for something that no one asked for.

On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare—This opinion piece has been getting a lot of play on the Internet over the past few days and I think it is something that we all should read.  I do not necessarily agree with all or even most of the points, but there is something salient about the issue with alarmism.  I just do not know if we are concerned enough, in general, as opposed to small sub-sections of the population being over concerned.

More Companies Want to be “Carbon Neutral.” What Does That Mean?—Once Starbucks has co-opted something you know it is just a branding play.

Friday Linkage 6/5/2020

Are we living in the moment when the United States descends into a version of a dictatorship?  The signs seem to be pointing to yes, but there are several things that make me stop and wonder.

The most prominent of those thoughts is that Donald Trump is the worst person you would want to pin your hopes on.  He is literally the definition of a coward and a bully, which is a bad combination for any potential strong man.

Furthermore, his base of support is quite narrow.  In order to win the election in 2016 he needed to fool the American people long enough to thread the most narrow of needle eyes to make it possible.  None of this will be true in 2020.

My great hope is that this period of time will pass like the tumultuous late-1960s and we will emerge as a better nation.  Plus, we won’t end up with Nixon as president again.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Who Killed Berta Cáceres? Behind the Brutal Murder of an Environment Crusader—It is dangerous to stand up for the health of the planet.  Moneyed interest will literally murder you if you get in the way of the making an extra percentage point on an investment.

The Trump Presidency Is the Worst Ever for Public Lands—Knowing Donald Trump he would likely consider this a feather in his cap.  At least he was number one in something.

Trump EPA Curbs State Power to Reject Fossil Fuel Projects—Trump loves state’s rights when it favors his little pet projects, but state’s rights are a bad thing when it gets in the way of his presidency being the worst for the nation in history.

Air Pollution in China Back to Pre-Covid Levels and Europe May Follow—There went the only good thing to come out of coronavirus.

The Coal Bailout Everybody Is Talking About—There is absolutely nothing more indicative of the corruption and rot at the heart of America’s utility companies than forcing consumers to pay more money for coal fired electricity.

EU’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Continue to Fall as Coal Ditched—Every coal plant that gets shut down is a victory for the planet.  After every coal plant is shut down we move on to shutting down every natural gas plant.  It’s war and we will win.

UK Electricity Coal Free for First Month Ever—It starts with a month and then it becomes a quarter.  Pretty soon you will be talking about coal free years in the United Kingdom.

UK Coalmines Operator Hargreaves Services to End Mining Next Month—After a certain point there will be an accelerating death spiral for coal as supporting companies and mines can no longer make the business an economically viable going concern.  Each additional business that exits the space makes it less economically viable in general accelerating the closures.

Chemists Identify Toxic Chemicals in Fracking Wastewater—Over two hundred different chemical compounds are in fracking wastewater and it is being disposed of in a myriad of ways.   You know, like reinjecting it into the ground.  What could go wrong?

Clear Skies Are a Cover-Up for India’s Fossil Fuel Expansion—The fossil fuel industry will not a let a good crisis go to waste.  We must keep the pressure on to stop the use of these planet killing fuels.

EVs are a Rare Bright Spot in a Pandemic-Struck European Car Market—People may not be buying cars in general, but people are buying EVs specifically.

Empire State Building Slashes Carbon Emissions By 40% With Energy Saving Upgrades—Efficiency is not as sexy as things like floating wind turbines or electric vehicles, but it is the quickest and most cost-effective way to reduce emissions in the near term.  The most environmentally friendly kilowatt is the one you never need to generate.

Planting Invasive Species Could Make Our Carbon Problem Worse—Plant the right tree in the right spot is the mantra of foresters everywhere.  Just indiscriminately planting trees or other plants, for the matters, will not help anyone in the long term.

Americans Still Aren’t Cooking Much from Scratch—Even coronavirus cannot change the long term behavioral trend toward less cooking.  That is a damn shame.

Your Organic Meat Might Not Actually Be Organic—“Big meat” will lie to you about the nature of the food you are going to eat.  “Big meat” will work behind the scenes to fix prices while telling you how they are good for the consumer.  “Big meat” will literally kill their employees and tell you that this is the price to pay for abundant food.  Wrong.

The 160-Year-Old Reason You’re Obsessed with Your Lawn—Ugh, lawns.  If we could just give up lawns and golf America would be a much better place.

The Misunderstood Funeral Tech That’s Illegal in 30 States—The burial industrial complex in the United States is a racket.  It is expensive and bad for the environment.  My wish is to be composted at the end.

Friday Linkage 5/15/2020

Mid-May and I am wondering if there is a light at the end of tunnel for this entire COVID-19 situation.

If I listen to Donald Trump or Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds it sounds like we have already beaten the virus.  Yet, everyone seems pretty afraid to just go back to normal.  And rightfully so because this is still a bad situation.

I hope that in a few months we come out into the sunlight, blinking a little bit, and wonder what the heck we just went through while we sort through the self-inflicted wreckage of our own collective hubris.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

America’s Meat Shortage is More Serious than your Missing Hamburgers—Our food system is designed for maximum efficiency in producing profit for multi-national corporations.  It is not designed to produce the best quality food nor is it designed to protect the safety of its employees or its consumers.  When you depend on a system that prizes efficient production of profit above all else you get “shit in the meat” so to speak.

Trump Dismantles Environmental Protections under Cover of Coronavirus—The coronavirus profiteers have lined up at Trump’s hotels to get in good with the most corrupt president in the history of the United States.  These same profiteers realize that this might be the twilight of their influence as broader macro changes are threatening their primacy.

If We Don’t Take Climate Seriously After COVID-19, We’ll Deserve the Consequences—Let’s get some adults in the room and figure out solutions.

India’s Carbon Emissions Fall for First Time in Four Decades—I guess it is good news.  Too bad it took a global pandemic and horrible recession.

Wind & Solar = 11% Of Electricity Generation In January & February In USA—There was a time when renewables were thought to be limited to less than 5% of the total market.  Now we see greater than 10% market share for non-hydro renewables.  I wonder what the numbers will look like in March and April as our collective power down due to coronavirus ripples through electricity markets.

U.S. Drillers Cut Oil & Gas Rigs to Historic Low—Shale oil was on the ropes before COVID-19 and now it appears like the industry is basically pulling up stakes to wait for better times.

Environmentalists Worry Colorado will See a Surge of Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells as Industry Tanks—These companies will find a way to weasel out of any obligations by declaring bankruptcy or just having legislatures change laws.  Have no fear, you will be paying to clean up their mess for decades.

Minnesota’s Great River Energy Closing Coal Plant, Switching to Two-Thirds Wind Power—Another one bites the dust.

These Dirty Power Plants Cost Billions and Only Operate in Summer. Can They be Replaced?—So-called peaker plants should be the next wave of cancelled fossil fuel electrical plants targeted for closure.  These are expensive and inefficient power producers.  Demand shifting, energy storage, and greater efficiency will drive them out of business.

Location Selected for Operations Base which will Serve ‘World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm’—These offshore wind farms in the UK are crazy big.  Millions of homes powered by offshore wind.  It feels like the future is here already.

Future Energy: Zero-Carbon Heating—In the drive to cut our reliance on fossil fuels the need to electrify our home heating is paramount to success.  Thankfully, technologies exist today that will allow us to get most of the benefits without a breakthrough.

Gas Stoves can Generate Unsafe Levels of Indoor Air Pollution—Who thought it was a good idea to have an unsealed natural gas powered flame just burning in a kitchen?  We no longer accept open flames in our furnaces or water heaters, so why is this accepted as a feature of homes?

Plastic Recycling is Broken. Why Does Big Plastic Want Cities to Get $1 Billion to Fix It?—You cannot fix plastic recycling because there is no such thing as plastic recycling.  All that collection in blue and green bins is just another waste stream that makes us feel virtuous.

Florida Beachgoers Left Behind 13,000 Pounds of Trash Last Week on This Beach—Thanks for wrecking everything Florida.

Why You Should Start Squirting a Little Bit of Dish Soap Down the Drain—I one of those zealots who cleans their sink daily after dinner is put away because I cannot stand a dirty sink.  Just clean up after yourselves.

These Insects Are Not ‘Murder Hornets’ So Please Stop Killing Them—2020 has brought us a lot of bad shit, but murder hornets?  Now it just feels like the world is fucking with us for fun.

Friday Linkage 5/1/2020

I cannot say if April was the longest month I have every endured or if it was the shortest month.

Most days felt like the day before it.

However, not commuting to work has its own joys.

Everyone is starting to go a little stir crazy in the house, but I do not share the governor of Iowa’s opinion that it is time to start reopening.  I fear that we are staring a flare up of cases across the state.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Iceland Ends Its Minke Whale Hunt—At least there is one bit of good news out there.

The Novel Frugality—Every time there is a major downturn in economic fortunes there is a rush to discuss how Americans will become more frugal.  When the economy snaps back there is a rush to buy another flat screen television because one just cannot survive with a sixty inch model when seventy inches is so much better.

How Pepsi and Coke make Millions Bottling Tap Water, as Residents Face Shutoffs—In America if an individual commits an offense it is criminal.  However, if a company commits an offense there is suspension of enforcement because corporations have become more valuable than people.

Donald Trump Is Exploiting the Coronavirus Pandemic to Sell Campaign Swag—I am waiting for the claim that a red MAGA hat will keep you safe from the coronavirus.  I am sure that Sean Hannity and Alex Jones would be all over promoting this for a cut of the proceeds.  Granted, Donnie Two Scoops is not someone who likes to share profits with anyone.

Full Steam Ahead—My guess is that oil and gas companies are staring at the next nine months as the last gasp of a pliant administration.  Once the worst president in American history returns full-time to Mar a Lago for tacky brunches and sub-standard rounds of golf there will be less inclination in Washington D.C. to just let oil and gas companies do whatever they want.

For Oil and Its Dependents, It’s Code Blue—There has never been an event with demand destruction this severe this quickly.  Oil tankers are literally floating off the coast of the United States with no place to unload oil.  Texas—Texas!—just recommended a 20% reduction in oil production.  This is uncharted territory.

Plastics Industry Requests $1 Billion Bailout From Fed—This is just what we need.  More plastic to be dumped into landfills.  And we get to pay for it with tax dollars.

How Coronavirus Has Changed the Way We Think About Disposable Plastics—Without proof the plastic industry and its retail partners have been pushing the story that disposable plastic items are safer, in terms of coronavirus exposure, than other forms of packaging including paper and reusable.

Empire State Blows Past Offshore Wind Limit With 1,000 (More) MW—Offshore wind is where the action is going to be for the next decade or so as established renewables like onshore wind, residential solar, and utility scale solar complete build outs.

Britain Breaks Record for Coal-Free Power Generation—The transformation in the graphic below is just amazing:

UK Carbon Intensity

Sweden Shuts Down Its Last Coal Plant Two Years Early—The hits just keep on coming for coal.

LA’s Mountains Make Another Case For Electric Cars—Clear skies and long forgotten views remind us that the problem is with how much driving and flying we do.  If there is anything good to come out of the current crisis it is that people will realize just how bad daily driving is for the planet.  The proof is in the views.

Paris Has a Plan to Keep Cars Out After Lockdown—We will take back our cityscapes from automobiles and return the common space to actual people.  It will not happen overnight and it will not happen everywhere, but the future is one where people matter more than automobiles.

Permian Basin Methane Emissions Found to Be More Than 2x Previous Estimates—As if you needed another reason to figure out how to eliminate fossil fuels from your daily life.  It is not just the burning of these fuels that is a problem, but the entire chain of production from well to exhaust.

Are Gas Furnaces and Boilers the New Diesel Cars?—In the hunt to electrify everything—because as this article states electricity is the only fuel that can be produced cleanly—our homes will be the great challenge.  If you think automobile ownership cycles are long, just get a load of how long people keep a furnace.

The Pandemic Will Change American Retail Forever—American retail needed to change.  Our development pattern for the last fifty years or so has been ever more retail.  Even as we built multiple times more retail per capita than any other country there was a thirst to build ever more.  Now is the time to reconfigure and repurpose.

Scientists Agree: Coffee Naps Are Better Than Coffee or Naps Alone—I am down with coffee naps.  This might be my new isolation routine.

Friday Linkage 3/6/2020

I looked up and realized it was March already.  Wow.

Mike Bloomberg just spent half-a-billion dollars to win American Samoa outright, get schooled by Elizabeth Warren, and drop out after Super Tuesday.  What would you have done with 500 million dollars?  Probably not what he just did.

On to the links…

Calling Out the Super Polluters—Just 100 industrial sites in the U.S. account for approximately one third of toxic emissions.  This list should serve as the priority list for closure.

This Is An Unprecedented Drop In Oil Demand—Coronavirus is the cause, but the effect has been startling.  Oil demand is way down.  Satellites are showing images of pollution being way down in China because factories and power plants are not running.  The question is what will the demand be when things return to “normal.”

Your Plastic Addiction Is Bankrolling Big Oil—As demand drops, oil and gas producers are going to have to find ways to remain profitable.  Making plastic is one of those ways.  Reducing our demand for plastic could do just as much as using less oil to drive our cars for the environment.

Peak Permian Oil Production May Arrive Much Sooner Than Expected—Oil and gas production in the United States is defined by boom and bust cycles.  We have been in one of the longest “booms” in recent memory, but just as the stock market has sown recently there is a lot of unease about the past decade.

Will U.S. Coal Power Plant Retirements Slow Down?—It is almost a given that coal retirements will slow down in the coming years.  One, fewer plants will be available to be closed.  Two, those that remain are the most entrenched whether that is politically or economically.  We just need to keep pushing the deployment of renewables and killing coal.

Wind has Become the ‘Most-Used’ Source of Renewable Electricity Generation in the US—That statement is true if you consider hydropower to be renewable, which some people do not because of its reliance on dams.  Regardless, wind is killing it.

Florida Approves Largest Community Solar Program In The US—These projects are a great way for people to help drive the renewable energy transition if they cannot put solar panels on their own homes.  The fact that this is occurring in Florida surprises me considering how retrograde that state has become in the past few years.

Los Angeles Orders 155 Electric Buses: Largest In U.S.—Buses are the humble workhorses of public transportation.  However, I believe that an electrified bus system can be the catalyst for greener transportation.  A municipality can deploy electric buses as existing platforms wear out due to use without a wholesale overhaul of their fleet.  Each electric bus is like a rolling symbol of demand destruction.

What a Green New Deal Would Look Like in Every State—It’s a little light on the details, but the idea is that the solutions are not the same for all states.  What is right for West Virginia is not the same as Iowa and that is a good thing.  Let each region and state figure out the best way forward.

The Rise of Cloud Computing has had a Smaller Climate Impact than Feared—I still think people need to quit Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter but at least the feared energy use increase did not happen.

Greggs Profits Still on a Roll with a Boom in its Vegan Snacks—I do not get Greggs.  As an American in London last summer it seemed like one of those odd “junk foods” that people from the country love but no one else really understands.  Apparently, even vegans crave a sausage roll.

A Trump-Elevated Skeptic has Been Ordering Interior Scientists to Muddy Department Climate Reports—This is the best government money can buy for fossil fuel companies.

Taxpayers Are Likely on the Hook for Eric Trump’s Trip to His Dad’s European Resorts—Just your weekly dose of Trump family corruption.  These people are an extended clan of grifters and con artists.

Friday Linkage 1/24/2020

Evangelicals who support Donald Trump may welcome the end times—their assumption being that during the end times their beliefs will be rewarded at the expense of others—but watching him stumble through the throngs of the global elite in Davos is just sad.

Do you remember the time when Fox News lost its collective shit that President Obama wore a tan suit to a briefing?  Do you remember the time that the same network again lost its collective shit when President Obama saluted with a disposable coffee cup?  Yeah, I remember all of that and it makes me wonder why they are not losing their collective shit over the degradation of America’s world standing under Donald Trump.

No one respects us anymore.  We are tolerated because of economic size and military might.  It’s like the rich kid who gets invited to a party because he can buy beer.

On to the links…

Homeland Security Listed These Climate Activists as ‘Extremists’ Alongside Mass Killers—We live in a time where people protesting oil and gas projects are treated with more scrutiny than people who advocate for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

Energy Companies Have a Great Friend At Trump’s Interior Department: Their Former Lobbyist—The Trump administration is the best government that petro-dollars can buy.  If there is one thing a different president could do in January 2021 it is to make life a little harder for oil and gas companies.

Interior Attorney gave False Information to Congress about Contact with Koch Foundation—Need advice?  Of course you would reach out to the Koch Brothers.  Sorry, you would reach out the Koch Brother.  What could the possible conflict of interest be in this case?

How Much Energy Does The US Consume & Where Does It Come From?—In order to decarbonize our economy we need to know where we use energy and where that energy comes from.  This is a guide:


Carbon Offsets Work. But are They an Excuse for Big Companies?—Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, it is an excuse for companies.  However, it is better than doing nothing.

Wind & Solar Power Will Dominate 2020 In US, Despite Trump—It’s cheaper and there are no greenhouse gas emissions.  Yep, that is pretty much a winning formula.

America’s Radioactive Secret—Fracking produces wastewater that is laced with radioactive material.  This is yet another reason to decarbonize.

Germany to Phase out Coal by 2038—2038 seems like a long way away, but I remember partying like it’s 1999 so maybe it is not so far away.  Maybe developments turn this into a 2035 goal or a 2032 goal.

Agrovoltaics Could Help Calm Fears About Renewables For Iowa Farmers—I do not believe that Iowa farmers have any issues or fears about renewables.  How do I know?  Spend any time driving in eastern Iowa and you will see solar arrays on a lot of farms.  Head south of where I live into Washington County and you will see solar arrays just about everywhere.

The JX Ranch—There is a place for ranching and grazing in our ecosystems.  It just takes care and patience to ensure that the practice can restore and sustain the land.  It can be done.

Modified Plants to Curb Climate Change—I get the idea, but this has unintended consequences written all over it.

China Announces Major Phaseout of Single-Use Plastics—I will believe this when I see it happen on the ground in China.  Official laws and announcements are one thing in China as the reality on the ground is often quite different.

Plastic Bags Have Lobbyists. They’re Winning.—The plastic industry is the same as the fossil fuel industry.  Where do you think the raw material for plastic comes from?  Oil and gas.  In fact, the production of feedstocks for industries other than liquid fuel is what drives the profitability of oil and gas refiners.  Without these additional revenue streams the business case for refining liquid fuels would look quite different.

How We Reduced the Environmental Impact of (Almost) Everything We Buy—No one wants to say it, but the best thing you can do for the environment is nothing.  Just stop buying stuff.  If you have to buy something, buy it used.  It is amazing how environmentalism and frugality intersect.

World’s Consumption of Materials Hits Record 100bn Tons a Year—Just stop buying stuff.

The Carbon Footprint of Dinner: How ‘Green’ are Fish Sticks?—The climate impacts of processing are something that we all need to be aware of in this climate crisis time period.  It is silly to truck salad greens thousands of miles and it might be silly to process food into items that only resemble food.

California has Been Passing Tough Animal Welfare Laws. A Court Just Handed the State a Big Victory.—Remember, Republicans only like local control if it favors allowing people to own machine guns and tell you what to do with your own body.  Otherwise, big business should get to make the decisions based on Republican logic.

Spending a Lot On Books? This Browser Extension Tells You if They’re Available at Your Local Library—This browser extension is absolute genius.  Install it.  Use it.

The Financial Math Behind Decarbonization

What if I told you that for the price of a base model Tesla Model 3—good luck actually finding one—you could decarbonize your household?

What if I told you that this is not a thought exercise but an examination of steps already taken?

Are you ready?

The price for base Tesla Model 3 is ~$35,000.  That is the price assuming that you can actually purchase the so-called “standard range” model and before any applicable tax credits.  For the purposes of this discussion I am going to leave tax credits aside for the time being.  So, we are working with a starting price of $35,000.

For that price you get an electric vehicle that has to draw power from the grid, which depending upon your locale and power company may support coal fired electricity.  It may also support fracking for natural gas or the nuclear power energy, assuming any of that industry remains in your region.

What else could you do with that $35,000?

Over the course of the past two and half years I have installed solar photovoltaic panels on my roof in two phases.  Why two phases?  Initially, my power company would only allow my roof mounted solar photovoltaic array to exceed my annual consumption—based on average expected production—by ~10% or so.  Considering how little electricity my household used in comparison to the average this worked out to a system of 4.64 kWh.  This initial phase cost me ~$11,000 before tax credits at the state and federal level.

In the past month I added ~62% more capacity to my existing solar photovoltaic array at a cost of ~$7,500.  In the past year I added an electric vehicle to the mix, which has upped my household consumption, in addition to a few winter months in 2019 where my prior panels were covered under deep snow curtailing production.  We also forgot to turn off a garage heater, which ran up the electric bill in February.  All told these changes goosed our consumption just enough to allow me to install an additional eight panels on my roof.

As it stands right now the photovoltaic array on my roof has a nameplate capacity of 7.52 kWh.  This was complete at a total cost of ~$18,500 before any tax credits.  Remember, we are leaving tax credits aside for the moment.  Assuming my household usage patterns hold—including one electric vehicle—this system will produce more than 100% of my household’s electricity requirements for the year.  The estimated excess production should allow me to replace my natural gas water heater with an electric air source heat pump model further reducing my household requirements for fossil fuels.  With the water heater replaced in the next year my household will only use natural gas for the forced air furnace in the colder months.  Trust me, I am looking at options to replace that as well.

What about the electric vehicle?  This is where the power of the market and a realistic assessment of one’s needs come into play.

A Tesla Model 3 is a fine automobile.  Dollar for dollar, it may be the best vehicle on the market right now when one considers its relative performance and environmental bona fides.  However, it still costs $35,000.

In January of this year I purchased a used Nissan Leaf for ~$11,500.  The Leaf had ~33K miles on the odometer, but the battery was in great condition being that the 2015 and later model years utilized an updated architecture that corrected some of the prior model years’ most glaring problems.  A purchase price of more than eleven thousand dollars might sound like a lot, but this was a car that retailed for more than $30,000 when new.  Losing two thirds of car’s value without high mileage is crazy town.  Or, good for the person who can take advantage.

If one can live with a lesser range, one can take advantage of the market punishing these older EVs for not being up to Tesla’s newer standards.  If one drives in town, for the most part, there is no disadvantage.  In almost a year of daily driving I have had just one instance of the range “guess-o-meter” dropping below ten miles remaining and I have never experienced the indignity of “turtle mode.”

How does this all add up?  Total cost for me to purchase an EV to replace all of my daily driver miles and enough solar photovoltaic capacity to power me entire household, including EV electricity requirements, was less than $30,000 before any tax incentives.  Compared to a $35K Tesla Model 3 I would say that I ended up in a better place.  Five thousand or so dollars better, mind you.

This is not to diminish the decision of someone purchasing a Tesla or any other EV.  Rather, it is to illustrate that there is an alternative path to decarbonization that is neither as expensive as portrayed by many and without any appreciable downsides.

The future is now.