Tag Archives: global warming

Friday Linkage 3/10/2017

There will be no Friday Linkage next week since I will be in Colorado enjoying all that Beaver Creek has to offer a low-rent skier like myself.

On to the links…

Iowa Sees Second Warmest February in 145 Years—Nothing to see here, right?

These Photos Show How the EPA Transformed America—Now that the fox is in charge of the hen house it is important to remember what America was like before the EPA and other agencies focused on cleaning our air and water.  No one wants to bring disco back and no one wants to bring 1960s style pollution back either.

Scientists Are Standing Up to Trump Because They’ve Always Stood Up to Bullshit—The right wing loves people to be active in politics as long as they agree with their narrow world view and, generally, assume positions that are free from a factual basis.  “But, Jesus said so in the Bible!”  Scientists and scholars are duty bound to resist this shit.

Yet Another Energy Company Bails On Canadian Tar Sands Oil — Is Koch Next?—Tar sands are too expensive to extract under the current market conditions, too dirty for most people to accept as a fuel source, and stuck in Canada.  So why exactly are people in the fossil fuel industry and the White House so hell bent on the Keystone XL pipeline?

California Just Hit an Incredible Solar Power Milestone—It was for just a moment, but California was producing some serious solar power in the middle of the day.

Colorado’s Solar Power Capacity Jumped 70 Percent in 2016—The best part for me is that even though Colorado added 70% more capacity its relative ranking compared to other states feel because it did not add enough capacity.  When you add 70% more capacity in one year and lose ground you know that something is happening that is going to be hard to stop.

Solar Now Cheapest Electricity Option On Average In 58 Emerging Economies—The new guard of electricity is here and it is based on the sun.  These countries have no incentive to build out a fossil fuel based grid because they have no capital investment tied to legacy systems.

Chinese Coal Draw-Down Gathers Pace—China is always the savior of some down-on-its-luck industry.  Guess what?  China does not want our coal anymore.

Coder Creates Ultimate Tesla Model S + Home Solar Data Visualization Tool—I cannot create the fuel for my truck at home, but I could create the fuel for a Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt at home.  The future seems to be happening right now.

America’s Television Graveyards—When the apocalypse comes in the next couple of years I imagine people will roam the shattered United States and happen upon one of these warehouses full of old CRTs.  It will be a gigantic metaphor for how we got into this mess.

General Mills Boosts Eco-Friendly Grain Kernza—What if we could replace a portion of destructive annual wheat production with perennial Kernza?  What is wide strips of Kernza were planted along streams to slow runoff and deter erosion?  Imagine the potential.

Climate Ecoforestry—Let’s look to restorative ecology to rebuild our planet’s lost resilience.

This Man is Cloning Old-Growth Redwoods and Planting them in Safe Places—Imagine efforts like this replicated on a larger, dare I say nationally mobilized scale, and imagine what we could achieve in a short period of time.  This requires no new technology or process.  It would simply require political will and capital.

You’re Using Recipes Wrong—I have this complaint with cookbooks and recipes because I feel like I am buying bespoke ingredients only to repeat effort time and time again.  Ugh.  An efficient kitchen in terms of time and money should be one of my 2017 goals.

Friday Linkage 1/13/2017

Did that circus sideshow…er, press conference actually occur on Wednesday morning?  Is this the beginning of the end for the American experiment?  Or is it the beginning of the end of the Republican Party?  We can always hope.

Furthermore, can someone please tell right wingers to stop making comparisons to Nazi Germany.  One, it is factually wrong on so many levels and right wingers have been getting it wrong for the better part of a decade.  Just because the official party name included the word “socialist” does not mean that the Nazis had anything to do with socialism.  Two, it cheapens the horrors committed by the Nazis and their allies.

On to the links…

All the Risks of Climate Change, in a Single Graph—Try and think some happy thoughts:

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States, Power Companies Lead in Cutting Carbon; Election Not Slowing Expected 2017 Progress—The Federal government may be screwed for the next several years, but paralysis at the national level will not stop progress by states and utilities.

US Energy Analysis Sees Renewable Electricity Passing Coal by 2030—Granted, natural gas is still going to be getting burnt.  A lot, but there is hope that we can kill the coal beast.

Arab Gulf Firms Set their Sights on the Region’s Growing Appetite for Solar Power—Lots of sunshine…check.  Available land…check.  Urban populations…check.  When oil rich gulf states are realizing the potential you know the jig is up.

Costa Rica got 98 Percent of its Electricity from Renewables in 2016—Costa Rica uses a lot less electricity per capita than other nations, but 98% is a totally rad figure.  Yes, I used the adjective rad.

China Is Pumping Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Into New Renewable Energy Projects by 2020—While the U.S. led by an orangutan dithers on what to do about the next generation of energy, China is blowing everyone’s doors off by investing billions on top of billions into renewables.

Clean-Energy Jobs Boosting Colorado’s Economy—The key element of this report is not the jobs related to energy production like wind turbine mechanics or solar installers, but the jobs around things like energy efficiency.  There is hay to make in driving efficiency into all corners of our economy.

Arizona still a Force in Solar Power, despite Other States’ Gains—The economics must be good because Arizona politicians have definitely tried to kill solar power on a number of occasions.

Infinite Solar Power Technology Could Completely Change Our Future—Headlines like this remind me of old newsreels that proclaimed nuclear power was going to be so cheap that it would be “too inexpensive to meter.”  How did that work out?

The Bizarre and Inspiring Story of Iowa’s Fish Farmers—What if our fish came from aquaculture in the middle of the U.S. instead of dirty farms in South America or Southeast Asia?  What is that fish was raised on plant based meal instead of ground of fish meal?  What if…

Nine Easy Things You Can Do To Save the Ocean—Some of this is obvious, but repetition is not always a bad thing when you are trying to change people’s behavior.

Friday Linkage 4/3/2015

Are the recent pieces of legislation that codify discrimination based on supposed religious grounds the death rattle of the right wing? Yes, the bills passed in Indiana and Arkansas. Heck, the governor of Indiana signed the crap legislation and now has backpedaled like an all-pro defensive back. However, the national backlash is inspiring. The majority of Americans think that this type of legislation is wrong—moral, legal, or otherwise. Once your party is stuck supporting such a lunatic fringe what hope do you have of being nationally relevant over the long term?

On to the links…

EPA To Place Restrictions On The World’s Most Widely Used Herbicide—Glyphosate is nasty shit, but it is available almost without restriction. It probably causes cancer and it is over applied throughout the U.S. The EPA is finally starting to act.

New Cars Are More Efficient Than Ever, Beating Standards By A ‘Wide Margin’—The most recent targets for fuel efficiency are working as cars rolling off the assembly line are increasingly fuel efficient. In 2013, cars were getting 1.3 miles per gallon more than was required by law. Damn.

Has motorization in the US peaked?—Peak car or peak motorization is a concept that draws out some pretty partisan bickering. The auto culture is a big part of the identity of the U.S. yet there is an undercurrent developing that is rejecting that component.

Banks Losing Millions On Bad Energy Industry Loans—Energy project financing rarely makes the headlines because people’s heads hurt when talking about debt. However, this is a big deal because it will make it increasingly difficult for fossil fuel energy projects to receive bank backed funding.

SolarCity Reaches 5 GWh In One Day, Two Weeks After Smashing Past 4 GW–Progress. Plain and simple.

$100 Million For Solar PV Systems In Hawaii—I am waiting for the day when Hawaii is 100% clean energy. With an expensive electricity market and ideal conditions the worm may be turning for this to become a reality.

600 MW Perovskite Solar Cell Facility Slated For Turkey—Every day other countries are getting in on the solar bandwagon. Remember, each year this plant will be pumping out 600 MW of solar cells that will destroy demand for fossil fuels. Each and every year.

Beijing Puts Brakes on New Solar Panel Capacity—It was a low-key announcement but the overcapacity of solar cell manufacturing that has led to a supply gut and drastic price cuts has compelled the Chinese government to put a halt to further manufacturing capacity additions.

Clean Energy Makes Up Record Share of UK Power with Coal-to-Biomass Conversions—The moral of the story is that coal is screwed. Renewables and cheap gas are pushing the dirtiest of fuels to the backburner. For good, hopefully.

Wind Replaces Coal, Geothermal Overtakes Gas As Major Sources Of Power Generation In New Zealand—Almost 80% of the energy produced in New Zealand is from clean sources. Coal and gas are both declining as renewables come on line that are cheap and clean.

Beijing’s Four Major Coal-Fired Power Plants Will Completely Shut Down—I do not know if it will make a difference in China’s notorious air quality, but the people of Beijing have agitated enough that officials have made the decision to close the four closest plants burning coal. It’s baby steps.

How Long Can Oceans Continue To Absorb Earth’s Excess Heat?—There is a growing scientific consensus that climate change’s impacts have been mitigated by the world’s oceans being able to absorb excess heat. Now there is a concern that this mitigation is reaching the end of the line. Uh oh.

Bayou Bonjour: Caernarvon Diversion Builds Land and Gives Birth to New Bayou—This an amazing story about the restorative power of letting nature do its thing. River deltas are some of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, yet these same ecosystems have the ability to be restored in short order if left alone.

Warming Winters Not Main Cause of Pine Beetle Outbreaks—This is interesting because for years the narrative in the American west has been that global warming has allowed the pine bark beetle to survive previously harsh winters and thus decimate forests. However, the real culprit may be forest thick with trees that would have been thinned out via other natural events that man has prevented. Ten o’clock rule anyone?

Florida’s Climate Denial Could Cause Catastrophic Recession-Florida and Rick Scott are the best. Essentially, so much property in Florida is insured by the federal government that if a major loss of value occurs due to a natural disaster—which will be made worse by the very climate change that Rick Scott denies is real—the U.S. economy may be pushed into a deep recession because of the cost.

Tips to Lower Your Carbon Footprint—Sometimes you just need to take a little action by yourself:

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Friday Linkage 2/6/2015

New York gets some snow and people freak out. Boston gets some snow and it is the first sign of the pending apocalypse. The upper Midwest gets some snow and a few planes get rerouted, school gets cancelled, and everyone goes sledding. Just saying.

On to the links…

Even If Your Kid Doesn’t Get Measles, It’s Gonna Cost You—Seriously people, we nearly eradicated measles as a threat to public health. Freakin’ Mississippi had a vaccination rate for measles that is over 99%. WTF is going on in California? Get your kids vaccinated. It is one of the home run success stories of modern medicine.

I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back—The Onion may be a false news site with a satirical bent, but the tone of this pretend letter to the editor is spot on when it comes to the attitude of most non-vaccinating parents. The reasoning is a mish mash of pseudo-science that would find itself at home on fringe message boards and late night talk radio. The problem is that ignorance is a threat to everyone’s health.

Some Farms Tried To Keep Their Abuse Secret. Then The Drones Arrived.—Ag gag laws are bad and corporate farms will stop at nothing to stop you from exposing their dirty laundry. They have even attempted to reverse long standing precedence regarding taking photographs from public property. We need to keep pounding away on these awful companies.

Solar & Wind = 53% Of New US Electricity Capacity In 2014—I am waiting for the day when this number is 100% and the retirement of fossil fuel plants increases, but more than half is encouraging. Bring on the sun and wind. I am getting high on that funky yellow sun.

FutureGen Dead Again: Obama Pulls Plug On ‘NeverGen’ Clean Coal Project—This boondoggle clean coal project is finally dead after two presidential administrations and zero real progress. Coal cannot be clean. Ever.

Latin America Solar Market Grew 370% In 2014—Granted, it’s from a small base. However, the growth is real and it is a great start. Developing countries are great places for solar and other distributed renewables to leapfrog the paradigm of centralized power production because the infrastructure was never built.

Algeria Doubling Renewable Energy Target, Now 25 GW By 2030—Algeria is not a country that comes up often when speaking about renewable development, but it is blessed with abundant sun and a relatively concentrated population. Seems like a winner to me.

Most Of Hawaii’s Coral Recover From Mass Bleaching Event—There is hope that our ecosystems can recover from our stupidity, but the first step is allowing these ecosystems a breather. Instead we are doubling down on emissions and speeding toward ruin like a runaway train full of oil.

The Pro Dumpster Diver Who’s Making Thousands Off America’s Biggest Retailers—These stories always remind me about moving day in college. You could wait until the early evening and pick out some real treasures in the pile of stuff just tossed aside as students moved out of the dorms. Stereos, furniture, and more. We are a wasteful and stupid society.

The Wild Deer That Roam a Japanese City’s Streets—Why can’t our relationships with wildlife be more like this all over the world?

Sh*t the Candidates Say in Iowa: Debate Edition

This past Sunday evening Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst debated each other. The result can only be described as expected.

Braley attacked Ernst for being a tool of the Koch brothers and being in league with Ted Cruz when it comes to shutting down the government. Ernst accused Braley of suing his neighbors over errant chickens. When it comes to substance Joni Ernst does not bother with the policy stuff, she just accuses the other guy of being a lawyer. Remember, in the Republican worldview lawyers and judges are evil unless they are rendering judgments like the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby’s bogus religious exemption.

The real moment of clarity for voters in Iowa should have been when Ernst would not be put on record about the right amount for a minimum wage. She believes that it should be solely up to the states to decide what is the right minimum wage for their particular circumstance—something a state can already do if it wishes to be higher than the insufficient federal minimum wage. This is right wing code speak for not really supporting a minimum wage. Here it is in full:

“I do believe that is something that needs to be set by the states, because our Iowa cost of living is very low. Currently it is at $7.25 an hour, and I’m someone that worked the minimum wage way back when, when it was much lower. But the way we can combat this and do better for Iowa families is by growing our economy.”

Never mind the logical fallacy of comparing the absolute minimum wage from prior years to today’s minimum wage without factoring inflation. These people believe that those making $7.25 per hour are living high on the hog. In Iowa a worker would need to work at least 73 hours per week to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. Wow, that’s only a near doubling of an average 40 hour workweek. Maybe we can help Iowa families by not asking them to spend even more time away from their children and loved ones because they cannot afford to survive. Just saying.

Climate change is the other issue that is now being discussed in right wing code speak.  Ernst’s own words pretty much define the new line of reasoning:

“I do believe our climate is changing. But again, I’m not sure what the impact of man is upon that climate change.”

Acknowledge that every scientific fact points to a warming planet and subsequently weird climate, but simultaneously deny the link to human activities.  You know, because burning fossil fuels at insane rates has nothing to do with a changing planet.

But, the tried and true defense is to play dumb:

“I don’t know the science behind climate change. I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact, whether it’s man-made or not.”

Yep, these are the people who feel qualified to speak on issues like EPA regulation.  On one hand they are too ignorant of the science to make an informed argument, but on the other hand they feel strongly that the regulatory environment is too extreme.

At least Ernst is on record as supporting a woman’s right to access to contraception saying, “I do believe in a woman’s right to contraception.” Granted, she will probably find a way to walk that back when she gets in front of evangelicals.

It could actually be worse because I could live in northeastern Wisconsin and be worried that Glenn Grothman might be my next U.S. Representative. Check out what he has to say.

You Must Read—The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World

Fracking is either America’s economic savior or one step further along the staircase to ecological doom. In truth, it may be both things at the same time or neither depending upon who you ask and when you ask the question.

9781451692280There is no doubt, however, that fracking—the process by which hydraulic pressure is used to create numerous small fractures dispersing from a bore hole—is controversial. What Russell Gold attempts to do in The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World is clarify some of the misconceptions about the industry in general and put a face to a dynamic that seems to dominate the headlines.

First, fracking as a concept is not new. The technology to “frack” a well has existed almost as long as oil and gas men, make no mistake that this is a male dominated industry, have been drilling holes in the ground to extract dino juice. The actual mechanisms have changed dramatically, replacing explosives with high pressure water and sand.

Second, the concerns are legitimate. To get at most shale gas the bore hole needs to pass through the strata of rock that many aquifers reside. To ensure that this underground water is not contaminated by escaping gas the well needs to be “cemented.” If you remember the Deepwater Horizon disaster and a score of other incidents where wells have failed miserably you will understand that this process if riddled with potential errors. In the race to pull gas out of the ground as fast as possible or get wells drilled before lease terms lapsed, frackers have regularly failed to follow the industry’s best practices and regulators have not held their feet to the fire in order to drive better behavior. While some people were getting rich and our homes were cheaper to heat a lot of holes got put into the ground that will impact our environment for generations to come.

Third, the change wrought by the expansion of natural gas supplies in the United States is somewhat uncharted territory. The U.S. was supposed to both consume more natural gas and produce less as the twenty-first century progressed, yet the opposite happened. Efficiency and production shifts away from natural gas flat lined domestic demand while domestic production soared. Between shale gas and unconventional oil the U.S. is producing more fossil fuels than it has in many decades, which is dramatically reshaping the economy in ways that may not be sustainable.

Lastly, the story of fracking is one about personalities. No single person dominates the story in The Boom more than Aubrey McClendon, the deposed founder of Chesapeake Energy Corporation. Chesapeake was one of the single biggest proponents of fracking and natural gas from the outset of the boom. Its fortunes were made and lost on the backs on the price of natural gas and the markets, which may or may not have been manipulated by people close to McClendon.

Toward the end of the book there is an interesting side bar about the odd marriage of McClendon and Carl Pope, who at the time of the story was the Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Perhaps in exchange for promoting natural gas as a bridge fuel to wean the world off of coal McClendon became one of the Sierra Club’s largest donors. Talk about an odd couple. When Michael Brune took over as executive director the decision was made to cut ties with McClendon at great cost to the Sierra Club’s coffers.

Gold’s book is a breezy, not overly technical, account of how an obscure process to extend the life of oil and gas wells turned out to fundamentally alter the conversation about energy in America. Given how dependent our lifestyle and economy is on hydrocarbons sucked from the ground there can be few stories more central to the history of modern America.

Friday Linkage 9/5/2014

Big changes. The reason I have been somewhat radio silent the past couple of weeks is that I have been “reordering” my life. Nothing major like getting divorced or a death in the family—too much of that in recent years for my tastes. Rather, I decided of my own volition to make some adjustments in my approach to life for happiness and health reasons. I will get to the details later.

On to the links…

22.6% Of Homes Use Solar In South Australia—Damn, imagine if sunny states in the U.S. like California, Arizona, or Colorado approached a number like this? One can always dream.

Solar Makers Set for Record 2014 Shipments on Strong Demand—Why do I foresee a near term future where every headline is about a record with regard to solar?

Propane Made with Renewable Process for the First Time—This is kind of cool. Drop in biofuels are sort of the holy grail of the industry.

Communities Going into Power Business to Cut Cost, Carbon Footprint—Local control means that the communities can decide the path forward for their power generation. If left to private power companies it would be dirty coal. All the time.

Shell Submits a Plan for New Exploration of Alaskan Arctic Oil—After a disastrous initial campaign highlighted by the beaching of its massive drilling rig, Shell is back to try and drill in the artic again. Nothing has changed and this will more than likely end in ecological disaster.

Does Antarctic Sea Ice Growth Negate Climate Change? Scientists Say No—When are people, in general, and climate deniers, in specific, going to realize that it is global climate change brought about by a globally warmer climate. Some places will get wetter while others get drier. Some places will get colder while others get warmer. The dominant theme however is that the climate is going to get weird.

Seeing Discolored Lawns, California Businesses Apply Dab of Green—No matter what happens to the climate at least the invisible hand of the market has figured out a way for you to have a nice green lawn in the worst drought.

Why Coal Is (Still) Worse Than Fracking and Cow Burps—This is an interesting take on the compounds responsible for climate change. Read it and let me know what you think.

Sweden Now Recycles a Staggering 99 Percent of its Garbage—Damn. Regardless of how the Swedes got to this point, it is impressive.

Inside the Rainbow Factory Where Crayola Crayons Are Made—Factory tours are cool. Crayola Crayon factory tours are even cooler.