Tag Archives: High Country News

Friday Linkage 8/23/2019

I came back from a week of being totally disconnected from the news media to find that Trump wanted to buy Greenland, Denmark said no, Trump huffed off like a fat little baby, and now he is claiming to be the “chosen one.”  Are we sure that we are not living in some kind of simulation where the programmers messed up the code in some way?

On to the links…

A Republican Firm Is Targeting EPA Staff Who Have Donated to Democrats—This is our world now.  Donald Trump and members of his corrupt administration can break laws with impunity while Republican thugs target career staffers of agencies they dislike.

One of the World’s Largest Banks Thinks the Writing is on the Wall for the Oil Industry—We can all hope that this is the case, but my fear is that even if the decline is irreversible it may take too long for the dinosaur business to roll over and die.  Hell, we live in a country where K-Mart and Sears are still holding on for some reason.

All the World’s Coal Power Plants in One Map—This is the map of opportunity for the energy transition.  Every circle on this map must be eliminated in the coming decade.

The Energy Transition is Underway: 10 Charts Tell the Story—The pathway is clear.  We need to figure out the methodology by which we accelerate the transition so that it is no too late for human civilization.

It’s Official: Wind Power Is Catching Up To Natural Gas—So, you can get clean power with no fuel cost variability for the same price as a power source that emits greenhouse gasses, requires drilling, and has price variability.  No wonder the smart money is betting on wind.

Old Wind Farm Has A Secret Weapon Up Its Turbine Towers—Repowering is a great opportunity.  The infrastructure is already in place.  As it details in the article you can get more total power from a fewer number of turbines while maintaining peak output capacity.  Where is the downside?

Onshore Wind In Europe Could Meet 100% Of Global Energy Needs—We are not at a point where people are trying to figure out how much of a buildout would be required to power the world 100% on renewable energy.  These are exciting times indeed.

Planting Trees Is Good. Eliminating Deforestation Is Better.—I have a radical idea: Why don’t we do both?

Is Grass-Fed Beef Really Better For The Planet? Here’s The Science—The moral of the story is that the issue is complicated and you need to know your farmer.  Buying grass fed beef from a multi-national meatpacking company is just perpetuating a system that got us into this mess in the first place.

Why did Coffee Cups and Soda Cups Get so Big?—I do not go the gas station very much anymore—thank you Nissan Leaf—but on trips I am always shocked by the size of the soda cups that people walk out of the store with.  And the kids!  I see small children carrying a 32 ounce soda of their own.  Who thinks that is a good idea?

Breckenridge gets Electric Buses, Encourages Visitors not to Rent Cars—My family usually skis in Breckenridge once or twice a year and I am really excited to see electric buses on the free city network.  It is amazing that people even bother driving around town in the winter when the bus is super easy to use.

Want to Go Plastic-Free? Start with One Thing.—Everyone should just try to do one thing different today.  The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, right?

Amazon Under Fire for New Packaging that Cannot be Recycled—This is why we just need to buy less stuff and buying less from Amazon is a great place to start.

What the Heck is PakTech?—Those little plastic snap rings for your craft beer are apparently hell in the recycling system.  A group of Minneapolis area breweries have banded together to become recycling sites for these things and are offering money off of beer for people who bring them in.  This is just excellent.

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Friday Linkage 4/5/2019

Now wind turbines cause cancer.  Okay, only Donald Trump believes that but he also said his father was born in Germany when in fact Fred Trump was born in New York.  You say tomato and Trump says Germany.

At least Chuck Grassley, the senior and most useless senator from Iowa, finally got off his lazy rear end to criticize something the president said.  Yes, Trump’s comments about wind turbines causing cancer are idiotic.

On to the links…

Trump’s Pick for Interior Dept. Continued Lobbying After Officially Vowing to Stop—Nothing can stop the corruption of the Trump Administration because it is corrupt at heart.  The entire act is an exercise to loot America.

Renewables ‘Have Won the Race’ against Coal and are Starting to Beat Natural Gas—It’s over with except for the accounting.

New Coal Power Projects Are In Decline Across The World—Every solar panel and wind turbine installed is another nail in the coffin of coal.  The march is on across the globe:

20190328_Coal_Power_Forbes.jpg

A Good Problem to Have—California has a problem.  California almost has too much renewable energy.  Okay, it really has a lot of renewable energy in the middle of the day:

March 23 renewables

We have now gotten to the point where we are trying to figure out how to reconfigure demand to match renewable energy production.

A Silver Lining to Sage Grouse Rollbacks?—States are where the action will have to be for the foreseeable future as Congress is riven with the division of Mitch McConnell.  However, great strides can be made at the state and local level.

High-Density EV Battery could Offer 600-mile Range on a Single Charge—This is a long way away from prime time, but imagine an EV with 600 miles of range.  My truck with a 36 gallon tank scratches that kind of range on highway trips.

Behold the Beefless ‘Impossible Whopper’—I love fine dining as much as anyone, but rolling out a product at a national fast food chain is scale like no other.  This is the kind of move that can make a product like the Impossible Burger as mainstream as any other food.

Inside the Race to Build the Burger of the Future—AOC is not coming for your burger.  However, there is a lot of effort to make your burger less bad for the environment.  Expect that little bit of nuance to be lost on the hosts of Fox News.

Friday Linkage 1/25/2019

The partial government shutdown is about to enter its sixth week.  It is already the longest such shutdown in the history of the United States.  It is also case study #1 of what happens when you elect people to run the government who have a professed hatred of the government providing any services whatsoever.

In some ways I feel that this shutdown is the fever dream of people like Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan.  Without a functioning government they can go on Fox News and tell everyone that America soldiers on.  Just wait until Sean Hannity starts a special on how the shutdown is proof positive that the federal government is unnecessary.

On to the links…

Why We Won’t Quit the Climate Fight—We will not quit in a fit of despair because to quit would be to admit defeat.  And defeat in this case is not an option.

Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization?—I believe that the idea of the Green New Deal has the possibility to be a Trojan horse for so many progressive ideas.  Clean energy, modernized mass transit, smart development, etc.

New Proposal Aims To Make Legacy FDR Works Project The Flagship Of A Green New Deal—The thing about the Green New Deal that excites me the most is that we can begin to execute many of the proposed ideas without a single new government agency or program.  Heck, some of it is still in place since the last New Deal.

72% of Americans are ‘Very Worried’ about Climate Change—People are worried.  People want solutions.

Idaho’s New Governor: ‘Climate change is real’—The worm has turned on climate change.  You cannot be a reasonable, notice I said reasonable, politician in the United States and not recognize the impact of climate change.

Why There’s No Bringing Coal Back—Here is another reason why coal is not coming back: Donald Trump.  The industry hitched its wagon to the man who will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.

The Trump Administration Keeps Taking Care of Big Oil—The Trump administration is making sure that Big Oil is taken care of at all times.

Zinke Leaves Unfinished Business at the Interior Department—The best that we can hope for is that in less than two years we can begin to unwind the damage done to the United States.  This sums up the course of action: “Many of the actions taken by the administration have been done through secretarial orders, internal memos and staffing decisions, many of which can be reversed on day one of a new administration.”

The Invisible Energy Bonanza: Creating Wealth Out Of Nothing—If we really wanted to we could save a proverbial buttload of baseload power just by focusing on not using so god damned much energy.  It is not rocket science.

Colorado Mandates Electric Vehicle Sales, State Dealers Association Angry—Do you know why the dealers are angry?  No service on electric vehicles.  No oil changes at regular intervals.  No fuel filters, air filters, spark plugs, timing belts, etc. to change.  No water pump to replace art 100K miles for the low, low price of $1K.  It’s pretty much rotate the tires, check the wiper blades, and send you on your way with an EV.

Of New Power Generation, How Much Is On The Roof? Quarterly Update — 2018 Q3—There are so many roofs without solar panels.  So much room to grow.

San Diego Has Vast Solar Parking Lot Potential—What locale in the U.S. does not have a lot of solar parking lot potential?  Boston, ok.  New York City, ok.  Just about everyone else.

Renewables In Britain To Overtake Fossil Fuels By 2020—Remember when renewables were only capable of providing a sliver of power generation according to the experts?  Remember when the ceiling was probably ten percent of total power generation according to the experts?

74% Of India’s New Power Capacity Addition In 2018 Was Renewables—It would be better if it were 100%, but I will take it.

US Coal Retirements In 2019 To Hit At Least 6 Gigawatts—This has to be a kick in the gonads for Trump and his coal baron cabinet.

10 Ways Beer Drinking Will Change in 2019—This is the year that I think we will see some major closures in the craft beer space.  My prediction is that one or two of the mid-tier brewers will close or consolidate this year because growth has not kept pace with expansion.

A Bit of Meat, a Lot of Veg – the Flexitarian Diet to Feed 10bn—It is not like this idea is very new.

How To Make Sure Your Recycling Gets Recycled—You would not believe the stuff I see in my neighborhood recycling bins every Thursday.  Resin chairs, check.  All manner of oversized items, check.  This is why recycling does not work in the United States.

Friday Linkage 12/7/2018

France and Paris, in particular, are burning because of a protest movement that started off being about fuel taxes but has morphed into something more.  The anger seen in the streets was sparked by a tax but it represents a question about who the modern state serves.

As we have seen in the United States, time and time again, the state is designed to serve the interests of its most privileged citizens at the expense of everyone else.  Don’t believe me?  Look at tax cuts.  Most of the benefits go to the richest 1%.  Sure, those are the people that make the most money so it stands to reason that they would benefit the most.  However, in order to pay for these gifts to the rich everyone else is asked to take a cut in what the state may provide them.  Food stamps?  Sorry, gotta’ get Bezos his tax cut.  Pell grants?  Sorry, Zuckerberg needs to buy another house.

On to the links…

China Is Both the Best and Worst Hope for Clean Energy—This is the world we live in now as the U.S. has ceded leadership of any kind on global issues because of…reasons?  Europe is a mess which threatens to devolve into its preferred path toward fascism.  So, we are left looking to China.  This is problematic.

Almost Half Coal Power Plants Seen Unprofitable to Operate—Well, I can raise a solar panel or eight to that news.

Wall Street Cleans up on ‘Clean Coal’—What are the odds this scam program gets renewed?  I am guessing 100% because what Goldman Sachs wants, Goldman Sachs gets.

The Most Important Country for the Global Climate no one is Talking About—Deforestation is like the “eat your vegetables” of the climate change action plans.  Everyone likes to talk about coal, renewables, electric cars, etc. but the single biggest thing we could do today would be to stop deforestation.

This New NASA Mission Will Create an Unprecedented, 3D Map of Earth’s Forests—It is hard to save the trees if you do not know where the trees are located.

Video Games Consume More Electricity Than 25 Power Plants Can Produce—At what point do we realize that modern life is just one big energy suck?

THE BIG PICTURE: Wind Turbine Trends—Here is the punch line: Bigger and more powerful.  See for yourself:

bp_windturbinesize_december-2018.jpg

How the Food Industry Uses Big Tobacco Tactics to Manipulate the Public—Here’s a public service announcement: Most of the stuff in the grocery store with an ingredient list more than three items long is not good for you.

How the Indigenous Bison Bar was Appropriated—Big food is stealth.  It is incumbent upon you, the consumer, to be educated and make the right choice.

Altria in Talks to Buy Cannabis Company Cronos Group—This is the moment when you know that the legalization of cannabis in the United States is coming.  Altria would not put its money into a market if it thought that federal prohibition was long for this world.

NRA Cuts More Operating Costs—and Lavishes Executives With Perks—This is what collapse looks like.  An organization faced with dwindling resources lavishes its grandees with perks in a final orgy of greed.  This could not happen to a nicer bunch of a-holes.

Amateur Scuba Divers Train to be “Ghost Net Busters”—Ghost nets are a big problem.  I am happy to see people taking the initiative to be part of the solution, but there needs to be some form of regulation that outlaws this kind of dumping.  Think like a deposit system.

Millennials are Killing Canned Tuna, but the Industry is Fighting Back—Dude, can we quit it with all the stuff millennials are supposed to be killing?  Baby boomers do not get blamed for all the stuff they killed, like the planet.

Friday Linkage 7/6/2018

I absolutely love the discussion about civility in national politics right now.  I love how people like Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or anyone else associated with the right wing can claim to hold any shred of credibility with regard to being civil when these are the same people who have given us the likes of Steve King, Louie Gohmert, and others.  Heck, they gave us Donald Trump who is literally the most vulgar person to hold the office of President of the United States in the history of the country.  Come at me with a different person, please.

We have truly entered the straight up Orwellian dystopia phase of the current political cycle.  Up is down, black is white, and Trump is right.  If you are not with the dear leader, regardless of where his policy position is that day, you are against the dear leader even if you have done nothing but maintain long held beliefs.  Just wait until they start burning books that do not have more space dedicated to pictures than words.

On to the links…

Scott Pruitt Asked Aides To Find His Wife A $200,000 Job—Scott Pruitt may be the most corrupt person in Washington D.C. since the administration of Warren G. Harding.

It’s Time for the Republican Congress to Impeach the EPA’s Scott Pruitt—This is not the opinion of a liberal mouthpiece.  It is coming from a business publication.  Here is the thing I wonder about.  When the administration changes how will Republicans react to the smallest of infractions by a Democratic administration?  What sort of faux outrage will people like Chuck Grassley manufacture after spending the prior four years closing their eyes, plugging their ears, and screaming “La, la, la!” while Trump and his cronies looted America?

This is how People Tried to Teach Scott Pruitt about Climate Science—Remember, this is the man in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.  You can’t teach Scott Pruitt because Scott Pruitt is bought and paid for by the oil and gas lobby.

Path to Zero Emissions Starts Out Easy, but Gets Steep—Does anyone really doubt that this is true?  However, we will not get to the innovation part unless we start on the easy stuff first.  If history is any guide to the future, however, advances in energy production will come along that moderate the steepness of the deployment curve.

Coal Power Plants Retiring Quickly During Trump Administration—It looks like we are already trying to get coal out of the picture.  Despite Trump’s best efforts—which have probably slowed down retirements but not stopped the trend—coal is not the way we will generate electricity in the future.  Maybe he really should try and bring back Blockbuster?  Or ToyRUs?

Solar Power Employs Twice As Many As Coal In US—For every coal mining job Trump claims he is trying to save, which is really code for him just trying to save coal barons’ paychecks at the expense of everyone else on the planet, he is endangering more solar jobs on the other side of the ledger.  This is a losing hand that he is playing to the bitter end.  Good luck with that Donny two scoops.

Electric Vehicles Alone Could Cause Peak Oil Demand within Decade—Peak oil used to be about Hubbert’s Peak and the decline of production based on economically producible reserves, but maybe the worm has turned and we will just demand to use less oil.  I like to think that I am contributing ever so slightly by biking into work several days a week.  Demand destruction is real.

Climate Change is Making it Harder to Revive Damaged Land—Just add this to the list of things that climate change is going to make harder for future generations.

Call to Turn Oil Rigs into Nature Reserves—Why don’t we just take every offshore rig at the end of its life and turn it into a combination artificial reef and offshore wind turbine?

UK Renewable Electricity Generation Tops 30%, Scotland Increases By 11%—The U.K. generated over 30% of its electricity in the third quarter via renewables.  Not for a day or a month, but an entire quarter.  In the same report it was noted that for the entirety of 2017 Scotland generated almost 70% of its electricity from renewable sources.  The future is now folks.

Battery-Backed Solar Power to Undercut Coal in China by 2028—So, once China figures out how to cut the price of solar with storage what is the market for energy going to look like?

Solar Power Fuels Savings, Consumer Loyalty and Competition Among Craft Brewers—You mean to tell me that people like it when their favorite beer makers also believe that the world is a better place with more solar power?  I would have never thought such a thing were possible.

The Dirty Little Secret Behind “Clean Energy” Wood Pellets—Do any biomass energy schemes ever work out as intended?  It always seems like the promise is predicated on a bunch of ifs.  If the forest is replanted or if the forest is not clear cut and so on.

The US has a 1.39 billion-pound surplus of cheese. Let’s try to visualize that.—I am stuck here thinking about what a 1.39 billion pound round of cheese would be like sitting on the mall in Washington D.C.:

Cheese_Stock__1_

Friday Linkage 6/15/2018

Like many people I will miss Anthony Bourdain’s perspective on the world.  Although he began his career as just a “food” writer he evolved into something much more without losing the common lens we share that is food.

However, at the end I just want everyone to take a moment and read the 1999 article that started it all.  Don’t order the fish on Mondays.

On to the links…

EPA Proposes Changes to How It Measures Costs and Benefits of Regulation—Let me give you an idea of how this is going to work in practice.  Pollution, despite being proven to cost lives, is not going to be regulated because it might cost a big business money and that would mean that Scott Pruitt would have less money for fancy lotion.

This Freaking Guy, Part Infinity—Speaking of lotion…

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Tapped Aide, Donors to Help Wife Land Job at Conservative Group—I am guessing that they Chick-fil-A franchise fell through.  Oh well, just use your position and influence to get your wife a cushy job on a think tank or PAC.

More and More Republicans are Turning on Scandal-Plagued Scott Pruitt—I do not care how weary no talent ass clowns like James Inhofe get because there is no action to get rid of the most ethically challenged cabinet secretary in modern history.

Why Trump Would Really, Really Rather not Fire Scott Pruitt—In Donald Trump’s mind Scott Pruitt is a “winner” and you do not fire winners unless they somehow manage to outshine the head cheese puff in the Oval Office.

Scott Pruitt Ate at the White House Mess So Often They Asked Him to Stop—The man is nothing more than a dime store grifter. He is the type of person who steals other people’s food from the refrigerator at work because he is too cheap to buy his own lunch.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Made at Least $82 Million in Outside Income Last Year While Serving in the White House—No one in this administration is serving the public in the traditional sense.  These people are using the trappings of public office to line their pockets.  Everything else is just secondary to looting America before America wises up.

DNC Quietly Adopts Ban On Fossil Fuel Company Donations—Everything is about messaging and perception.  Nonetheless, the messaging here is clear going forward.  Fossil fuels are the past and clean energy is the future.  If you want to be part of the future do not vote for anyone resembling a Republican.

FERC Commissioners Agree: No Grid Emergency Exists to Justify Coal, Nuclear Bailout—Trump’s plan to line coal barons’ pockets with our money is running into the reality that no one actually likes the plan.  Oh, and the emergency does not exist for them to use national security as an excuse.

Arizona Water Utility Chooses Solar Over Coal—This might be the final nail in the coffin for the notorious Navajo Generating Station, which is closer to retirement now than ever before.  The other issue here is that a water utility chose solar over coal, which is like your conservative Uncle Carl coming to Thanksgiving Dinner in a Nissan Leaf.

US Solar Tariffs Cost Billions In Cancelled Projects, But 2018 To Remain Flat In “Actually Good News”—The had cheese puff may be trying to strangle solar with tariffs, but the economics are strong with this one.

Uneconomic Coal Could Be Squeezed Out Of European Union Power Markets By 2030—Obviously a lot has to happen for this to actually occur and a little less than 12 years is a long time. However, check out Western Europe:

https___blogs-images_forbes_com_energyinnovation_files_2018_06_EU-coal-phase-out-dates

The big blue blob of Germany in the middle makes me concerned.

It’s so Cheap to Drive Electric Even Trump’s Administration Can’t Ignore It—Maybe Uncle Carl will be coming to Thanksgiving in a Nissan Leaf.

Scotland Hits Annual GHG Emissions Target Third Year Running—It is not all bad news out there.

How America’s Hunting Culture Shaped Masculinity, Environmentalism, and the NRA—America used to have a hunting culture.  It does not have a hunting culture that is broadly based anymore.

Are These ‘Biodegradable’ Water Balloons Really Biodegradable?—These bunch of balloons are the bane of my existence in the summer.  I think that my yard is basically mulched in multi-color rubber.

What Can we Do?—Despite how bad things might seem when you turn on the news, just take a breath, and realize that there is a lot that we can do as individuals and small communities to improve the world.  We have the tools.

Friday Linkage 5/25/2018

Free your Sundays.  As well as your Monday and Thursday nights.  Free yourself from the craven piss babies who are NFL owners and NFL “leadership” who have caved to the base elements of their fan base and Donald Trump.  Nothing says conscience of America quite like a thrice divorced, porn star spanking, man baby who likes to wrap himself in the viscera of patriotism despite his well-documented history of being physically incapable of serving in the military during the Vietnam War.

The entire issue around the anthem protests has been a dog whistle for extreme white wing.  Well compensated, majority African American males making a statement about well document injustice at the hands of police is just too much.

Well, this kowtowing to the Fox News and Alex Jones contingent of our society is too much.  I am done with the NFL.  Forever.

On to the links…

The Efficiency Myth—Along with trickle down economics I would love to forever banish the conservative edict that the private sector is always more efficient than the public sector.  It is not true.

EPA Bans CNN, AP from Covering Summit on Chemicals, ‘Forcibly’ Removes Reporter—This is what transparency and “draining the swamp” looks like under Donald Trump.  It is a government run with the singular goal of enriching the plutocrats and screwing over anyone else.

Park Service Releases Complete Climate Change Report—Climate change is real.  Human beings are the primary driver.  It is going to mess up a lot of stuff.  Despite what Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt want you to believe this is the reality.

Recreation is Redefining the Value of Western Public Lands—The value of the lands of the United States are not just measured in the amount of oil, gas, and minerals that can be extracted.  This runs counter to the narrative of clowns like Ryan Zinke, but the facts—oh those pesky facts—show a reality that people do enjoy these lands for the recreational value is available.

This Could Be A Clever Fix For The Biggest Climate Problem—Refrigeration and the energy use it requires is a big problem in any climate change mitigation scenario.  To combat climate change we need to reduce the energy needed to cool ourselves and our food.

Northeastern States Band Together, Develop a Unified EV Charge Network—Take a densely populated area, add an EV charging network that uses the same technology across the geographic area, and…BAM!…you have the recipe for increasing the adoption rate of EVs in the Northeastern United States.

A 100% Renewable Grid Isn’t Just Feasible, It’s Already Happening—At first they said that the grid could not handle 5% renewables and then it became 10%.  Every year that number has to get revised upward because the grid can handle it.

The Netherlands Announces Ban On Coal, Plans To Close 2 Power Plants By 2024—Every day there is at least some good news.

Lawns Are an Ecological Disaster—If there was one thing that I wish we would do en masse in the United States it would be to rip out the acres and acres of lawn that cover our landscape.  This is a landscape that provides little to no visual interest.  It provides little to no habitat for wildlife.  It is a suck for time, energy, and chemicals.  Most people do not actually like mowing the lawn.  Remind me again why we have lawns?

Harley-Davidson took its tax cut, closed a factory, and rewarded shareholders—This is what a $1.4 TRILLION tax cut gets you.  Harley Davidson may be in a lot of trouble as its core customers begin to age out of pretending to be bad ass biker guys.  That has not stopped the company from increasing its dividend and buying back stock.  It’s all about maximizing shareholder value and screwing over anyone who gets in the way of profiteering.

How Much Will West Coast Snowfall Decrease In The Next 80 Years?—If you love snow you are screwed:

BLOGS18APR-20-1