Tag Archives: Germany

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:

Total-US-energy-usage-Pew

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.

Friday Linkage 1/10/2020

Although it looks like the Trump administration is backing down from an actual war with Iran as you would expect the schoolyard bully to do when presented with a combatant that is unwilling to gamely play along, it shocks me that we have a Republican president yet again selling a case for a war in the Middle East.

Is there something in the air at Fox News that makes these people so eager for war in the Middle East?

On to the links…

7 High-Impact Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions—Make 2020 the year that you make changes in your lifestyle that are climate positive in a large way.

Can We Live The Good Life With Less Energy?—The answer is an unequivocal yes.  However, the shocking thing to me is that we can really live a pretty good and modern life on a surprisingly lower amount of energy compared to what we are using today.

How We Cut Our Electricity Usage by 85%—I am not saying that everyone needs to go to this level of reduction, but it shows what is possible.

2,000 Gigawatts of Solar Power Needed for 100% Renewables—All right, now we have a number to work towards.

These Three European Countries Broke Major Renewables Records In 2019—Here is the punch line: Denmark at 50%, the United Kingdom at 26.5%, and Germany at 46%.  These are the percentages of power that are coming from truly renewable energy sources for 2019 in those countries.

Parking Has Eaten American Cities—This is when I knew we had a problem with parking in the United States.  At my place of work, your car will get more space than you are allocated in a cubicle.

How Ghent got Rid of Cars and Transformed the City in a Decade—If done properly, the reduction or elimination of cars from our urbanized landscape is effective and popular.  People really do not like cars save for the dream of convenience that is all but gone in modern circumstances.

It’s Time To Let Go Of Commuter Culture—No one is asking people to give up cars for the things that they enjoy, but commuter culture needs to die.  No one likes trudging along in gridlock.  No one.

National Trust to Plant 20 million Trees in UK Over Next Decade—Why not 20 million trees over the next two years?

‘Like sending bees to war’: The Deadly Truth Behind Your Almond-Milk Obsession—I want 2020 to be the year that we just sort of give up on milk and its plant-based replacements.  Except for oat milk.  That one seems to come without a lot of problems.  Probably because oats are just kind of awesome.

The Decade Lettuce Tried To Kill Us—Maybe it is time that we gave up on the vegetable that was once described as a fancy way to basically transport water from one place to another.

What is Private Equity, and Why is it Killing Everything You Love?—If you hear someone in an expensive suit say, “I’m from a private equity firm and we are here to help” it is the end times for your business.  The business model is predicated on making more money than is possible in traditional investing with no regard for anything else.

Smart Garbage Disposal Composts Your Food Scraps instead of Grinding Them Up—If this thing actually works, I want one.

Friday Linkage 10/4/2019

For the first time in forever…sorry, Frozen fans I was just thinking that for the first time in a long time it actually feels like fall.  Within the span of a single work week we have seen the temperatures drop from nearly ninety degrees to nearly freezing overnight.  Welcome to the Midwest during the shoulder season!

On to the links…

The Short List Of Climate Actions That Will Work—It is super easy to explain to people:

  1. Electrify everything
  2. Overbuild renewable energy generation
  3. Integrate electrical transmission across continents
  4. Build hydropower storage systems
  5. Plant a lot of trees
  6. Reform agriculture to capture carbon in the soil

And so on.  None of these actions is hard to grasp or hard to implement.  It just takes political will.

Solar, Wind Are Now Cheaper Than Coal In Most Of The World—The battle has been won.  To win the war we must keep pressing forward.

World’s Largest Wind Turbines to be Built off Yorkshire Coast—It is hard to grasp the scale.  A single turbine producing enough electricity to power 16,000 homes.  Wow.  This is why the UK is transitioning away from coal.

McCharge? Yes, McDonald’s Wants To Charge Your EV—One of the goals of any convenience type purchase—food, gasoline, coffee, etc.—is to increase the number of trips you make to the location.  The more trips a person makes increases the potential that the person will spend more money.  If you could spend thirty minutes on a DC fast charger at McDonald’s while wolfing down a Big Mac it might make you stop.

Volta’s EV Network Gives You 30 Minutes of Free Fast Charging—Think about this as an amenity that draws traffic.  If you have an EV and can get thirty minutes of high voltage charging would you be more likely to stop at that retail location over another?  Probably.

First Gas Station in America to Ditch Oil for 100% Electric Vehicle Charging Opens in Maryland—Someone had to be first.  However, given that EV charging does not require expensive underground storage tanks for a flammable liquid like traditional gas stations I have to imagine that the old model of gas stations is a dinosaur.

Here Is Why Electrification Of Medium/Heavy Trucks Is Important—Representing just 4% of vehicles these trucks are responsible for 9% of vehicle miles traveled and 26% of fuel gallons consumed:

Vehicle Population, VMT, and Fuel Use by Vehicle Class, 2017 Source energy.gov.png

Anheuser-Busch To Deploy 21 BYD Electric Trucks In California—The truck that is delivering those cases of Natty Light may now be an EV.

If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef—One change, half of our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.  Simple.

That Viral Study About Red Meat Left Out The Most Important Part—Climate change is the greatest risk to our collective health.  Ignoring its potential impacts when considering the climate change impacts of red meat production is like trying to quantify the opioid epidemic without looking at heroin use.

Amid Rising Demand for Beyond Meat Burgers, U.S. Farmers Can’t Solve This Supply Problem—It has not even been a complete growing season in North America since Beyond Meat went public and meat substitutes became a thing in the United States.

Germany Makes a National Commitment to Rescue Its Forests—There is a massive amount of climate change mitigation potential waiting to be exercised in rebuilding our stocks of forested lands.  As rain forests in South America and Indonesia burn as a result of bad policy it is more important than ever to rethink our relationship to the forests in our collective backyards.

Los Angeles, a City Known for Its Freeways, Is About to Plant a Shit Ton of Trees—I do not know if it is actually a “shit ton” of trees, but it is a start.  Now imagine communities across the United States and the world for that matter doing the same thing.  It is possible.

The Story of The Largest Private Land Donation In History and Creation of Patagonia National Park—Just take a few minutes out of your day and watch this video.  Also, imagine a world where the uber rich like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg spent money on truly bold conservation efforts.

What Would It Be Like to Live in an Era of Geoengineering?—Is it our fate to live on a planet where we have knowingly changed the natural systems to counteract our own collective stupidity?  God I hope not.

Friday Linkage 5/17/2019

The race for the Democratic nomination to face off against Donald Trump in 2020 is officially ridiculous.  Bill De Blasio?  Really?  As if we needed another egomaniacal New Yorker running for the White House when it is already occupied by the worst version of that sort.

As the temperatures increase here in Iowa we are preparing to be deluged with candidates at every county fair, sporting event, Pizza Ranch…whatever.  If you get three registered Democrats together on a Tuesday night you could probably book at least one presidential hopeful.

Thank god I do not watch commercial television anymore.

On to the links…

The Dark Reason so Many Millennials are Miserable and Broke—Minus some organizing for social causes, what good has social media brought us as a civilization?  I would argue it has done much more harm than good.  Who really gives a shit what someone you have never met on Instagram is doing?

Exxon Predicted 2019’s Ominous CO2 Milestone in 1982—Has there been a company more destructive to the planet than Exxon-Mobil?  These guys are behind every bad action regarding the climate since the dawn of time it seems.

The World Blows Over $5 Trillion a Year on Oil and Gas Subsidies—The next time your drunk Uncle Carl starts spouting off about the production tax credit or tax credits for residential solar arrays remind him about the subsidies that oil and gas companies utilize to distort the market.

The Hidden Subsidy of Fossil Fuels—The report above seems to have sent a lot of writers looking at the murky world of fossil fuel subsidies.  Happy hunting.

Future of Workers Uncertain as Third-Biggest US Coal Company Declares Bankruptcy—I will cut right to the punch line: workers will get screwed in this bankruptcy.  Workers get screwed every time.  Executives will get paid.  Heck, executives will likely get bonuses for some reason.  Workers will get screwed.

The Simple, Yet Elusive, Key To Fighting The Climate Crisis—Radical reforestation should be at the top of any agenda to stop the worst impacts of climate change.  What is the downside?  Extra trees?  Okay, I will take that downside risk.

Why Aren’t North Americans Buying Electric Cars?—I have an idea: it’s the dealers.  Seriously, have you ever been to a non-Tesla showroom to look at an EV?  Don’t do it because it is a horrifying experience.

Gas Car Sales ‘have already peaked and may never recover’ as Battery Prices Plunge—I can personally vouch that we likely bought our last internal combustion engine car in 2013.  My used Leaf has proven to be revelatory as a driving experience.  In a couple of years we will be looking to replace my wife’s Subaru Outback and the first choice will be an EV.

All Aboard the Electric Bus – Modern Public Transport Powered by Electricity is Coming Back—Buses are the humble players in the decarbonization game.  No one really thinks about the bus when compared with subways or light rail.  However, there is not quicker way to get carbon out of our transit than by replacing diesel buses with electric buses.

The Morning After: Germany Starts Testing its ‘Electric Highway’—This idea is simple, old school, and amazingly timely.

Toronto Restaurant Fights Waste By Chopping Menu Prices Till Food Is Gone—I just love this concept.

The Little Technology That Could—This is one those technologies that makes you ask, “Why is this not a requirement for every large building?”  The answer is that it costs more money up front and builders are looking to put up buildings in the cheapest manner possible.  Just look at the newly opened Hudson Yards in New York City.

Could You Live a Low Carbon Life? Meet the People Who Already Are—Reducing our carbon footprint does not mean going back to some stone age like existence.  It is about eliminating the most wasteful aspects of our modern life.

Metal Straws, Mason Jars, Bamboo Forks: Do You Have to Buy More Stuff to Go Zero Waste?—Be wary of anyone who tells you that in order to reduce your consumption you need to buy something first.  It’s a lie.  Just stop using the thing you want to stop using.

How Recreation Boosts the Economy—As the extraction economy of the western United States winds down the number one driver of economic activity will be outdoor recreation.

Friday Linkage 5/3/2019

A while ago I permanently deleted my Facebook account because I felt that the company was a blight on this planet.  Now, Facebook is trying to improve its image by partnering with fact checking organizations to conduct reviews of the news that it features.  Too bad Facebook chose to work with a partisan hack factory funded by the Koch Brothers.

Seriously, this is how Facebook thinks it is going to repair its image.  Good luck with that Zuck.

On to the links…

Iowa State Board Allows Sale of Electric Vehicle Energy by the Kilowatt-Hour—One of the impediments to more publicly available chargers and a reasonable scheme to charge for power is going to be removed in the state of Iowa.  Granted, our retrograde legislature that is a Fox News wet dream right now is going to charge fees on solar power and EVs because…reasons.

Renewables Set To Top Coal Power In The U.S.—The worm has turned.  It is now cheaper to build new solar and wind than it is to operate coal and some natural gas.  Imagine a world where the price of energy increases because of a global shock.  If people are already flocking to renewables what will that future look like?

Solar Power Doubled In Most American Cities In Last 6 Years—I believe it.  In my little slice of the world there were no visible solar systems on anyone’s roof a few years ago.  Now there are several within view of my driveway.  Every time I drive somewhere in town I notice a new system.  Bring it on.

$13.6B Record-Breaking Solar Park Rises from Dubai Desert—This project is just massive.

Japanese Utilities Turn Away from Coal Plans Amid Green Energy Boom—Where is all the coal going to go that Trump wants to dig?

RWE Abandons All Present & Future Coal Plans—It is not going to Germany.

‘Wonder Material’ Phosphorene Could Revolutionize Batteries—I have read about more so called wonder materials than I want to remember.  I am holding out hope that one of these pans out and we get lower cost batteries with excellent range.

New Type of Plastic is a Recycling Dream—Maybe the answer is less plastic as opposed to a better kind of plastic.  Sure, we need to use plastic in some use cases.

Want a Happy Commute? Researchers Point to Travel by Bicycle—It’s better than going by car, but I would not say that all of my days commuting via bicycle are happy.

‘It’s a groundswell’: The Farmers Fighting to Save the Earth’s Soil—We have the solutions.  We just need the will to implement the solutions on a broad scale.

The Case for Carbon Farming in California—What if we looked at the land we use for agriculture as a giant opportunity to capture carbon?  It is my contention that this would be a better paradigm for rural communities than the current economic model of industrial agriculture.

Why You Should Turn Your Lawn into a Meadow—Lawns are the worst.  This is why I have decided to just mow a lot less this summer.

The Surprising Science of Fighting Crime With…Trees—You mean to tell me that if people are not living in a brutalist landscape dominated by concrete and steel that people might actually act more civilized?  Wow, mind blown.  Or not.

Burger King Plans to Roll Out Impossible Whopper across the United States—Well that was quick.  It seems like only yesterday that this was just a test in the St. Louis metro.  Now it is going to be nationwide.

Mission Actually Impossible—People really like the Impossible Burger.  Now, the company just needs to be able to dramatically increase production without sacrificing quality or alienating customers.  I am scared that this is the moment when Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which is going public, are going to run into a lot of trouble.  Fingers crossed.

Friday Linkage 3/1/2019

It might be March, but I think that the ground dwelling rodent we trust to predict near term weather patterns is a liar.  We are going to be shivering, mostly metaphorically, through single digits temps during the day that plunge to below zero degrees Fahrenheit overnight.

Add to this the cycle of freezing rain, ice, and snow that has blanketed eastern Iowa and you get a recipe for surly people.  Seriously, we are just done with winter in this part of the country.

On to the links…

The David Bernhardt Scandal Tracker—You would think it would easy to follow Ryan Zinke and not appear to be a corrupt swamp creature.  Whoops.  This is the Trump Administration so one corrupt politician will always be followed by another corrupt politician.  It’s the only people left who have the stomach to serve under the man.

Synthetic Fibers Found at Bottom of Mariana Trench—Our plastic pollution has reached the most remote places on Earth.

The Future is Rural: The Unexpected Consequence of Energy Descent—As energy becomes less dense and more diffuse—think distributed solar as opposed to giant coal plants—there will be a difficulty in maintaining our current urban paradigm.  The question is what level of urbanism can be supported.

You Can’t Take on Climate Change without Tackling Sprawl—Our built infrastructure encourages profligate energy use.

Twelve Empty Supertankers Reveal Truths About Today’s Oil Market—The global oil and refined petroleum products markets are extraordinarily complex.  However, a dozen empty supertankers roaming the oceans is a sign that something is broken.

Germany Ditches Fossil Fuels and Looks to Renewable Energy—2038 seems like a long way off, but I remember when Y2K seemed like the future.  What happens when the curve of retirements steepens as coal becomes even more uneconomic?  I can imagine a future where this deadline becomes 2035 or sooner.

New Study Suggests Buying These EVs Used Saves A Ton Of Money—The market is pushing these used electric vehicles to a fairly major level of depreciation over a short period of time meaning that a buyer can get a relatively lightly used EV for a fairly low price.  It’s what happened with my Nissan Leaf.

Heat your House with a Water Brake Windmill—I had never even heard of this technology.  Now I imagine that there is a case to be made for small scale water brake wind turbines providing thermal energy in colder climes.

‘Grandmother Effect’ Helps Explain Human Longevity—It takes a village, so to speak.

A Whale’s Afterlife—It amazes me how little we know about so many things.  When I was a kid there was a legend about the “elephants’ graveyard” somewhere in Africa.  The idea of that was so enticing to a young mind.

Four Troubling Ways Fast Food has Changed in 30 Years—Basically, there is a lot more fast food available and we eat a lot more fast food.  The consequences for our waistlines and planet are fairly predictable.

Friday Linkage 1/4/2019

It’s 2019 and the resolutions are flying.  People are flocking to the gym to exercise and stopping two days later because delayed onset muscle soreness kicks in.  Trust me, there will be very few people in the gym this weekend.

I have no idea what 2019 will bring, but I am hopeful that it is a better year than 2018.

On to the links…

The Case for “Conditional Optimism” on Climate Change—I want to be optimistic that we have reached an inflection point in the international mood regarding climate change and the world is ready to act.  It is hard to be optimistic in the United States when Donald Trump occupies the White House and Republicans control the Senate.

24 Million Jobs Could Be Created From Meeting Paris Climate Agreement Targets—Going green will create jobs.  This is the promise of a so-called Green New Deal.  Deploying wind turbines, installing solar panels, building mass transit, retrofitting buildings, and so on will put people to work.

Trump’s EPA Doesn’t Seem to Want to Punish Law-Breaking Polluters—It’s not just about the laws that get changed, but the laws that do not get enforced as well.

Trump’s U.S. Coal Consumption Is Less Than Obama’s—Sad.  So sad.

How Does Your State Make Electricity?—The graphs in this article are just great.  Take a look at Iowa’s transformation into a wind energy powerhouse:

Screenshot_2019-01-03 How Does Your State Make Electricity .png

Gotta’ do something about that remaining coal.

Ten Charts Show How the World is Progressing on Clean Energy—We are making progress.  We can make the transition to clean energy.  It just takes political will.

Renewables Set To Account For 38% Of German Electricity In 2018—Germany has been building renewable energy capacity like crazy and in some periods of 2018 renewables accounted for more than 43% of electricity.  The caveat is that the current pace of deployment will not get the country to its stated goal of 65% renewable energy by 2030, but that seems like critics trying to salve their wounds over good news for renewables.

Perovskite Solar Panels Edge Closer To Production As Prices Fall—The price per watt for solar panels has already fallen dramatically.  However, perovskite based panels promise to bring that price down even more.  Imagine a world of roofs covered in cheap solar panels sucking up the energy from the funky yellow sun.

Fulfilling the Potential of Biogas in Spain—Biogas is something that most discussions about renewable energy never discuss.  Maybe because it seems like sorcery or alchemy.  Maybe it’s because the process often involves animal waste.  I do not know.

Dakota Access Pipeline Developer Misses Year-End Deadline to Plant Trees—Is anyone surprised that Energy Transfer Partners has failed to meet its commitment for planting trees as a condition of building this pipeline?  Not me.  It is the standard operating procedure for these companies to promise many things and deliver on nothing.  Every tree not planted is another dollar into the pocketbook of the shareholders.

Native Shrubs and Why They’re Essential for Carbon Sequestration—Our landscaping lacks layers.  In the United States it is all about trees and turf grass.  It is a monoculture masquerading as a functioning landscape.

Where Government Is a Dirty Word, but Its Checks Pay the Bills—This is the problem with American politics right now.  Too many people believe the bile spewed about the government on Fox News, but fail to realize just how dependent that they are on the government.  It reminds me of the Tea Party clowns telling the government to keep their hands off of Medicare.