Tag Archives: herbicide

Friday Linkage 3/27/2020

Please stay safe out there.

If you do not have to go out, do not go out.

Wash your damn hands.

Hold your family members tight, call your parents, and remember what is important.

Also, turn off the news.  Listening to these people talk all day long is not doing anyone any favors right now.  Our collective mental health depends upon it.

On to the links…

‘Nature is taking back Venice’: Wildlife Returns to Tourist-Free City—Nature will find a way, right?  Your move Mr. Goldblum.

With Humans in Lockdown, Animals Flourish—I was so hoping that the drunken elephants story was true.

One Root Cause of Pandemics Few People Think About—The market’s desire for meat drives companies to throw caution to the wind and raise ever increasing numbers of animals within close proximity of one another where diseases can spread.  A quick hop, skip, and jump away to humans is all it takes to put us into the situation we find ourselves in today.

How Will The Coronavirus Affect Energy Use In America?—Will there be any long-term systematic changes or will things bounce back to pre-COVID-19 norms?

Why Rich People Use so Much More Energy—If there is one thing that COVID-19 is going to show us it is that the frivolous travel of the richest portion of the global population is unnecessary and indefensible.

Four Federal Policies Could Help Offshore Wind Jump Start Our Coronavirus Economic Recovery—Who wants to make a bet that rather than looking forward Donald Trump and his cronies in the U.S. Senate will propose policies that benefit fossil fuels?  Furthermore, these policy proposals will be framed as the path to get America out of the forthcoming recession.  Takers?

Big Wins Expected for Offshore Wind Over Next Decade—We can hope so.  Imagine thousands of megawatts of offshore wind just miles away from the large population of the eastern seaboard?

The $638 Billion Cost Of Keeping Coal Alive—If you are in charge of a utility that is building coal fired electrical capacity you are costing your ratepayers money.  This situation will only get worse as communities reject coal fired power plants because of pollution and climate change impacts.

Wyoming Coal Interests Funneled Money, Experts to Influence Colorado PUC Decision on Closing Parts of Pueblo Plant—Nothing like a lot of out of state money flooding in to influence an issue and still failing.  Wyoming has to try everything it can to keep coal viable because the state’s economy is so dependent upon coal mining.  Without coal Wyoming is West Virginia with better skiing.

Siemens Receives First Order For Battery-Powered Trains—The idea here is not to have the entire journey be conducted on battery power alone, but to use the battery as a bridge between electrified sections of track.

The Pros and Cons of Planting Trees to Address Global Warming—I understand the idea of balance in reporting, but do we really see a lot of downsides to planting a lot trees?  Furthermore, are those downsides really all that bad?

How will Tree Planting Help the UK meet its Climate Goals?—Mistakes will be made and the end result may not be as carbon “negative” as projected, but what is the real downside to trying if the right species of tree is planted in the right ecosystem?

A Vision for Agriculture—We know how to raise animals in a way that does not poison our air, land, and water.  It is not a question of knowledge, but one of will.

Dentists Under Pressure to Drill ‘Healthy Teeth’ for Profit, Former Insiders Allege—As if COVID-19 has not shown the flaws in America’s for profit health system perhaps you need a reminder why it is not a good idea to have private equity or hedge funds determining care plans.

Friday Linkage 7/12/2019

July really walloped us with heat and humidity this week in eastern Iowa.  After a wet and cool May and June, this month came in hot, humid, breezy, and dry.  It is just strange to be talking about high humidity and the soil drying out at the same time.  Yet, here we are.

On to the links…

The Most Important Thing You Can do Right Now to Fight Climate Change, According to Science—The best thing we can do is to keep hammering away at building consensus.

The Biggest Lie in Trump’s Environmental Speech Today—The fact that Ol’ Donnie Two Scoops felt the need to walk up to the podium and deliver a speech about his “environmental leadership” is, perhaps, the most appalling example of the man’s deranged ego run amok.

Tree Planting ‘Has Mind-Blowing Potential’ to Tackle Climate Crisis—Regardless of the degree to which this would be effective in combating climate change the question remains: What is the downside?  We have more forests?

Toilet Paper is Getting Less Sustainable, Researchers Warn—If your toilet paper is not recycled or tree free you are wiping your ass with carbon.  Until you clean up your triple ply, soft as angel wings toilet paper habit you are just destroying forests.

Beverage Companies Embrace Recycling, Until It Costs Them—I live in a state with a longstanding bottle deposit law and every couple of years the beverage industry lines up to try for repeal.  That is how you know it must be working to some degree.  Anything that can unite companies that normally fight like cats and dogs must be some kind of good.

New Wyoming Coal Company Abandons Mines and Miners—Coal companies have always treated workers like crap.  It is now just getting more mainstream coverage.

First Major U.S. Insurance Company Moves Away from Coal—Boring but important notice: If you cannot get insurance a lot of projects cannot get financing.  Financing is the lifeblood of fossil fuel projects.

This Is Exactly Why Clean Coal Is A Joke—There can never be “clean coal.”  Just like there cannot be “safe crystal meth” or “healthy White Castle.”

A President, A Parasite And A National Energy Policy Gone Awry—It is amazing that people want clean air and clean water.  Oh wait, that is just basic knowledge about humans desires.

Cheap Clean Energy Makes New Natural Gas A Risky Bet Utility Regulators Should Avoid—This is an editorial written in Forbes, bot Mother Jones.

It’s Time to Expand the Electric Vehicle Tax Credit—Again, Forbes.  It is like these ideas are hitting the mainstream.

Why Blue Jeans are Going Green—It may seem like we live in a business casual and athleisure wear world, but blue jeans are still a core component of our fashion lives.  These pants also happen to be an ecological nightmare.

Herbicide Is What’s for Dinner—Commodity agricultural practices have led us down this path and it is not sustainable.

One-Fifth of Americans are Responsible for Half the Country’s Food-Based Emissions—It’s almost like the 80/20 rule for emissions.  It just goes to show that relatively small changes for a slice of the population can make a big difference in emissions.  Too bad these are also the same people who gobble up “MAGA” hats and loudly proclaim Trump the be the biblical Cryrus.

8 Charts on How Americans Use Air Conditioning—The air conditioning impacts are too damn high!  The fact that almost twenty percent of people set their thermostats below 70 degrees is mind blowing to me.

Clover is a Good Thing

“Are you going to do something about that clover?”

It was an offhand question from a neighbor which was asked while we watched our kids run around like mad people in the warm glow of an early autumn day when the temperature still allowed for shorts and sandals.

But, it forms the central line of thought about suburban lawns in most of the United States. Certain species of ornamental grass are good and everything else is an interloper. Even worse, there is a social pressure in some neighborhoods to maintain a certain type of grass in order to “keep up with the Joneses.” Whatever.

In my opinion this is one of the most destructive impulses in modern America. In order to keep a thick carpet of Kentucky bluegrass we will pour water on our lawns when a drought is ongoing. We will coat our landscape in chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides in order to maintain an artificial monoculture that can barely withstand the daily onslaught on children’s activities without looking threadbare. It is insane.

Which brings me back to the spreading patches of clover that I have nurtured in my lawn over the past couple of years. Dutch white clover is an amazing little plant that should not be wiped off the face of your landscape with an indiscriminate application of the latest miracle lawn chemical hawked by some guy in a Tyvek jumpsuit.

First, it fixes nitrogen in the soil. Like legumes and other “green manures” that people use in their vegetable gardens to put nitrogen back into the soil for healthy plants, clover can do this job for a lawn. So, instead of pouring bag after bag of synthetically derived fertilizer onto your lawn just let clover do the work of feeding your grass.

Second, it withstands close and repeated mowing. This means that it will survive and outcompete other non-grass plants that find it difficult to thrive when you keep lopping off the top portion of growth. It is amazing to see the kind of grass “mat” that is made when clover and turf intertwine. No crabgrass or lawn weeds seem able to penetrate the green fortress.

Third, in this era of climate change and weird weather clover will help the soil retain moisture, like a mulch, and it is relatively drought tolerant. If you are like me and you let your lawn go brown as the rainfall fails to appear, much to the chagrin of my sprinkler loving neighbors, patches of clover will maintain their green hue for a week or more after turf grasses start to go dormant.

About the only “downside” is that bees love the white flowers that rise from thick patches of clover. However, given the state of pollinators in the United States I think creating a little bit of bee friendly lawn is a good thing.

Sure, my lawn does not look like a golf course. But, who wants to maintain such an artificial environment steps away from their home on which their children play? Not this father.

Friday Linkage 8/29/2014

There are few good things to say about having your refrigerator stop working and losing a lot of food. If I look on the bright side I got to really clean the inside, disposed of some junk food that no one in my house needed to eat, and now have the opportunity to really think about what gets put back in. On second thought, maybe this should be a yearly thing.

On to the links…

As Americans Pig Out, Bacon sees Sizzling Price Hikes—Supply and demand baby! It’s good to see that people have let go of their fat phobia and are embracing the tasty meat. Granted, a lot of people go too far in their bacon love. It can be sort of disturbing.

Why Are We So Fat? The Multimillion-Dollar Scientific Quest to Find Out—This issue seems to boggle scientists and there is a lot of contradictory information that exists. All of it appears to have been conducted in the best interests of science, but it has confused the issue mightily.

Norway Whale Catch Reaches Highest Number since 1993—This was a total WTF moment for me when I read the article. Japan gets a whole boatload, pun sort of intended, regarding its whaling program but Norway is out there killing just as many whales. That’s right, Norway, which is usually thought of as being a fairly progressive and with it country. WTF.

Renewable Energy Capacity Grows at Fastest Ever Pace—The International Energy Agency estimates that 22% of the world’s power comes from renewables, including hydropower. Greater than $250 billion, yep that’s a billion, was invested worldwide in 2013. As good as this news seems this pace of introduction will not be enough to meet climate goals. Boo!

Renewable Energy Accounts for 100 Percent of New US Electrical Generating Capacity in July—Of all the new electrical generating capability brought on line in July all of it, let me repeat all of it, was generated via renewable sources.

Soon, Europe Might Not Need Any New Power Plants—At its core the economic argument for small scale generation will be feasible without government subsidies and have a payback of approximately 6 years, which means that demand destruction will take off to such a degree that large centralized power plants will be an endangered species. Dig it.

Hawaii’s Largest Utility Announces Plan To Triple Rooftop Solar By 2030—I am always a little hesitant to believe anything HECO says because they tend to seem to be incompetent when it comes to renewables. Here’s to hoping.

Lawmakers, Homeowners Fight Rules Saying Solar Is Too Ugly To Install—Homeowners Associations (HOAs) blow my mind. People will talk about freedom and property rights all day long, but willingly submit to the whims of neighbors with nothing better to do on a beautiful day save for figuring out who is in violation of some silly rules. I am sorry sir, but those plants are not on the approved list.

New Bill Could Make Residential Solar In California A Lot Cheaper—It used to be the panel costs that drove the price of a solar PV system. Now, as the price of solar panels continues its downward trend, the balance of systems costs are stubbornly high. Some lawmakers are trying to rectify this issue with streamlined permitting.

How A New Group Is Helping Nonprofits In West Virginia Get Solar Panels For Just $1—This is a great story about a community coming together and making solar happen.

Weed Blaster shows Promise as Alternative to Herbicides—When RoundUp finally fails in its ability to control superweeds like pigweed then it will be time for another solution. Here is something that does not depend on the chemical regime of the past to save us from weeds.

Moving Back Home Together: Rarest Native Animals Find Haven on Tribal Lands—Through neglect and downright abandonment, tribal lands have been saved from a lot of the ravages of modern development including the plow. Now, these lands are a bright spot in the effort to reintroduce species of animals long gone from the landscape.

Powerful Photos of the World Feeling the Impact of Climate Change—Global climate change as a result of human behavior is real and its effects are visible today. Climate deniers may line their pockets with Koch money to slow down effective mitigation, but it will not help when the waters rise.

Friday Linkage 5/3/2013

It’s May.  My friends in Minneapolis and Colorado Springs are digging out from snow storms.  I am dealing with temperatures that have dropped almost forty degrees in the span of twenty four hours.  I love spring.

On to the links…

Heavy Use of Herbicide Roundup Could be Linked to Disease—Herbicides that contain glyphosate, like Roundup, are beginning to be shown to have links to a number of diseases in humans.  Really?  It took this long for people to figure out that the stuff was probably bad news for our health?

You Are a Chemical Guinea Pig for Big Business—It is ridiculous the lengths that our corporate owned government will go to protect the interests of big chemical companies over the health and wellness of its citizenry.  People may vote for politicians, but their bread is buttered by big business.

A Hike with Sally Jewell—Think about this for a moment as you watch this video: the Secretary of the Interior used to be the boss at REI.  Can you imagine saying anything like that when George W. Bush was president?  Just saying.

New Report Details How National Parks Are Threatened By Oil And Gas Drilling—Well, if there was ever an issue for the new Secretary of the Interior to take the lead on this would be it.  It’s shameful how oil and gas interests are allowed to despoil any and all land in the name of cheap energy as if that is the sole driving purpose of our time on this planet.  Ugh!

Cost of Solar Heading for Parity with Coal and Gas—What happens when it is cheaper to install solar than it is to deploy coal or natural gas power generation options?  We will find out soon:

cost-of-solar-power-graph-1980-2012_jpg_644x0_q100_crop-smart

70 Percent Of New Global Power Capacity Added Through 2030 Will be Renewable—Basically, every time someone revisits a study on renewable energy the outlook is brighter.  It’s like the baseline needs to be redrawn every year because of fundamental changes to the assumptions in the model.  No wonder government policy seems so slow to respond.

In Two-Way Charging, Electric Cars Begin to Earn Money From the Grid—This sounds like one of those concepts from the mid-2000s when discussion about the “smart grid” were all the rage and then the buzz just died out when reality intruded.  However, actually starting to deploy these type of technologies is a step forward.  Electric vehicles can be much more than a clean transportation option.

A New Solar Dish Delivers Low-Cost Electricity Along With Fresh Water—I love seeing inventions like this that solve multiple problems efficiently.  Access to electricity and fresh water is a problem for millions and millions of people, if not billions.  A deployable solution to both of those problems is a silver bullet in some ways.

Why Your Supermarket Only Sells 5 Kinds of Apples—Go to the grocery store sometime and look at the apple selection.  It blows.  Now, it has gotten better here in eastern Iowa recently with the widespread availability of Honeycrisp, SweetTango, Zestar, and some other University of Minnesota varieties.  In other parts of the country, not so much.

When One Man’s Game Is Also a Marauding Pest—Feral pigs are bad news.  As an invasive species it does not appear that there is any natural limit on this particular nasty animal’s range.  Most of the attention has been spent on feral pigs in Texas, but I know of dairy farmers in Wisconsin who deal with the damage all the time.  On the bright side, feral pig can be tasty when slow roasted or smoked.

How Trees Play Role in Smog Production—My love of trees is well known.  The folks at Peck’s in Cedar Rapids just wait every spring to show me what new trees might be perfect for my yard—I am thinking some semi-dwarf apple trees this year—and my wife wonders if we will be living in a mini-forest when all the trees in the yard mature.  Is there anything about trees that is not great?

Behold…the Power of Vinegar

I refuse to use toxic petro chemicals on my lawn and garden.  Why?  It’s like conducting chemical warfare close to home.

But what is a guy to do when he has pulled a weed in the garden a dozen times and each time the weed comes back stronger.  These are the weeds that taunt you with deep roots that threaten to break and spread their virulence even further afield.  These are the weeds that grow spikes or secrete chemicals to attack the skin of the person attempting a cultural control.

It would be so easy to reach into modern chemistry’s basket of nasty and pull out a spray bottle of some cousin of Agent Orange.

Plain old white vinegar is the answer.  Sure, you could use some artisanal vinegar distilled from the tears of fairies but I am going to my trusty gallon jug of distilled white vinegar that costs less than $2 at the grocery store.  Pour some in a spray bottle and apply liberally to your favorite weeds.

I do not know what the concentration of the vinegar I used was, but I am assuming it is pretty average because it’s just normal household vinegar.  Higher or lower concentrations may have differing results.

Here is what the offending weed looked like a few days after the last time I pulled it:

By the next day it was already wilting under the power of vinegar:

By the fourth…well, it’s a tough weed but this is a foregone conclusion:

One downside is that perennial weeds may regrow as vinegar does not damage the root system of the weed.  However, repeated application and proper mulching should banish the weed without too much continued effort.

Apparently, you can also mix in some common dish soap to increase the effectiveness of the vinegar herbicide.  This is something that I will try in the future, but I am happy with the performance of straight vinegar in killing weeds.

All of this can be accomplished using a non-toxic item in almost everyone’s pantry.  Why exactly do we need the quiver of toxic unpronounceables?

Friday Linkage 2/10/2012

The Republican presidential primary is the gift that keeps on giving.  It’s must see television every night.  The dynamic has gone from Mitt “Corporations are people too my friend” Romney versus Newt “$500k credit line at Tiffany’s” Gingrich to a contest of Mitt “I am the 0.0001%” Romney versus Rick “Please do not Google me” Santorum.

It’s a parade of clowns on Fox News every night as the candidates and supporters contort themselves to an ever greater degree in order to curry favor with the various extreme elements of the modern day conservative movement.  Granted, Rick “No really, please do not Google me” Santorum does not have to change his positions to be radical because he is already a whack job.  The latest nugget is his warning about the tyranny of environmentalism.  Really?  Coming from someone who wants to legislate the nature of people’s sex lives there is little credibility on the nature of tyranny.

On to the links…

Ron Paul is an Ass—I did not want Ron Paul to think that I forgot about him in describing the circus that is the presidential primary season.  However, I felt that his particular variety of ass bagness required his own link.  Calling for the elimination of federal public lands is a new one for this scion of the high school libertarian movement.  Too bad the ideas that sound so cool too affluent right wing bobbleheads just do not make any sense to anyone else with half a brain.

American Corporations are Asses Too—In 2011, the U.S. corporate effective tax rate, please note the difference between statutory and effective tax rates before the flames of right wing indignation begin, reached its lowest point in 40 years.  How low?  12.1 percent on average.  Yep, highly profitable American corporations pay an effective tax rate lower than anyone I know.  How do you like them apples?

Imagine a World without Oil—It sounds like a lyric in John Lennon’s syrupy “Imagine.”  But, it’s an infographic:

European Windpower Grew 11% in 2011—Maybe we will get to that world without oil and avoid all of the apocalyptic scenarios.  Currently, wind power has the capacity to provide about 6.3% of the EU’s electricity and that capacity is growing.  Why anyone would view this trend as anything other than a roaring success is beyond me.

Americans Gaining Independence as Top Producer—And then I am brought right back down to Earth by the news that the U.S. is producing more fossil fuels than ever led by the emergence of new natural gas supplies.  Where we were told four years ago that the country was going to have to import liquefied natural gas now there are plans to export the same product.  It makes me wonder how much these people really know.  But, what are the true costs of these fuels?

Is California’s Solar Gold Rush Destined to Fail—Uh oh!  Are we seeing another bubble developing, this time with it being clean energy from the sun.  Many in the cleantech business are warning that an expiration of government support and a weak economy are looming as a one two punch that could KO their business models.  Exxon would love nothing more.

Terry Thompson and the Zanesville Zoo Massacre—This story was depressing when the first bits of news started to come out of Ohio, but upon further review it seems even worse.  The scary part about this story is that the trade in exotic animals is so pervasive and unregulated.  Here are animals disappearing from the wild because of a panoply of reasons yet there seems to be a large population under private control in homes across the United States.

CREE LEDs Are Not Just More Efficiency, They Are Better—Every day seems to bring a report about the improved performance, increased efficiency, or reduced cost of LED lights, which are the next wave of technology to supplant the incandescent, halogen, and CFL bulbs of our past.  CREE is leading the innovation, but others like Soraa are also pushing the boundaries of what is considered possible.

A Texas Developer Reimagines the American Subdivision—The whole concept of SOL Austin is pretty sweet.  Smaller homes that are smart and livable.  Taking advantage of an overlooked parcel of land within city limits rather than mindlessly expanding outward.  Damn…

Exploding Hog Barns—Do you need another reason to swear off industrial meat?  How about the phenomenon of exploding hog confinement operations because the manure lagoons develop a gas trapping foam crust.  At least the University of Minnesota is researching solutions…oh wait, the solution is to not perpetuate this flawed food production regime.

The Frog of War–When presented with evidence that your product is nasty and could mess up the ecosystems of the world the corporate overlords have two choices: attempt to remedy the solution through research or attack the person making science based evaluations.  Which one do you think the maker of these nasty chemicals chose?   One guess.

Sugar May be Bad, but is the Alternative Worse—If you thought that companies that make dangerous herbicides and pesticides fight dirty, wait until you see the fight that sugar and sweetener makers are going to put up as the pressure mounts on their products.  In the U.S. we eat too much sugar, we’re too fat, and we’re suffering from a crisis of diabetes but the sugar and sweetener makers will hear none of it.  Clowns.

You Can’t Eat an Uppercut—The Edible Education series on UC Berkeley’s YouTube channel is great.  I just finished watching one of the final lectures with Van Jones as a guest and it made me remember that at the core anger is only so good at accomplishing goals.  As he said so simply, you can’t eat an uppercut.  Just search on Edible Education and the lecture series will pop up.  It’s real good.

Lawn Reform—It’s not too early to think about spring and the landscaping that comes with the change in seasons.  The seed, bulb, and plant catalogs have started arriving.  Perhaps this is the year I really go gangbusters and replace a good chunk of my lawn with something better.