Tag Archives: honu

Friday Linkage 12/12/2014

Have you seen the storm bearing down on Northern California and the Pacific Northwest? Strange weather in that region, particularly California, reminds me of Marc Reisner’s thoughts on the instability of the region’s hydrology. Why would anyone choose to build so much infrastructure and plant so many people in an area with such instability? It’s beyond me.

On to the links…

Fate Of The Struggling Greater Sage Grouse Shaping Energy Development In U.S. West—The fight over the listing of the greater sage grouse is shaping up to be the spotted owl of the 21st century. If you do not think so take a look at what Congress is doing in the abomination of a spending bill winding its way through the halls of government.

After Steep Decline, Signs of Hope for World’s Sea Turtles—People just love sea turtles. It is good to see that this group of animals is showing some signs of population recovery due to the efforts of a lot of people worldwide. Keep on trucking little honus.

US Fuel Economy Average Down for the First Time in Four Years—Gas prices drop on the back off a precipitous oil price drop and people clamor for extra large SUVs and trucks. Ugh.

Our E-Waste Problem Is Ridiculous, and Gadget Makers Aren’t Helping—Increasingly, integrated electronics with small embedded components are harder and harder to recycle. What could once be pried off a board and reused or upgraded is not only recoverable through means like melting or acid leaching. It’s nasty stuff.

Narendra Modi, Favoring Growth in India, Pares Back Environmental Rules—Development seems to always win. In India it appears like the prevailing attitude is going to be “we’ll clean things up later.”

India’s Largest Power Generator Signs Deal For 375 MW Solar Power Plant—For every bad story coming out of India there are at least half a dozen highlighting the progress being made. I hope the trend of one step back for every five forward can continue for a while.

Softbank May Finance 10,000 MW Solar Power Capacity In Indian State—Development may be winning, but the development of clean power is moving forward at a pretty good pace as well.

Far More Americans Trust EPA Over Congress To Set Pollution Standards—Does anyone trust Congress to do anything?

As Coal Crashes, US Governors Push Wind Energy—As fewer and fewer people work in extractive industries like coal, whether that is due to increased mechanization or reduced demand, governors are forced to face the reality of green jobs expansion. Wind is good for the environment and good for the economy.

Grassroots Anti-Coal Movements to Watch—There is a burgeoning worldwide sentiment that coal is the fuel of the past and needs to be retired. No amount of astroturf pro-coal groups can compete with the growing calls for the end of coal.

US Sees Second-Largest Solar Installation Growth In Q3—Third quarter 2014 solar installations were up 41% over the same period of time in the prior year. If the same trend continues for the fourth quarter then it will result in a lot of solar.

Tweaking Thermostats In Boston Would Save Energy Equivalent To 17,000 Fewer Cars On The Road—There is a huge potential for energy savings in changing our behaviors and tweaking the settings of our energy using devices. Think about what we could save if everyone, nationwide, made a concerted effort to save energy. It would be amazing.

Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out—There was going to be a backlash against Vani Hari, but I wonder how much of it is centered on her premise of certain food additives being mysterious and potentially harmful. At the end of the day we need to be suspicious of anyone who stands to make money from fearmongering—as Vani Hari does with her books—but it does not mean she is wrong.

Hoping to Change the Industry, a Factory Farmer Opens His Barn Doors—This is an act of economic bravery not commonly seen among the farmers under the thumb of massive agribusiness corporations. It will be very interesting to see how the industry responds to Craig Watts’ bravery.

What is driving deforestation and what can you do about it?—What actions do you take that contribute to deforestation:


Friday Linkage 3/7/2014

Vacation is so close that I can almost taste it.  Which means that I am totally unproductive at work and I am trying to get creative with dinners so that there are no groceries left in the refrigerator over the course of the week we will not be home.

On to the links…

U.S. Lets 141 Trillion Calories Of Food Go To Waste Each Year—People might quibble with the math of 141 trillion calories, but regardless the number is going to be huge and it is a damn shame.  Wasted food in a country where millions of people go hungry is a moral crime.  Wasted food is also an ecological crime because of the resources used to produce food.

E.P.A. Set to Reveal Tough New Sulfur Emissions Rule—One of those boring, but very important stories.  Congress may not be able to act on any environmental protection legislation, but the President and his appointees do have agencies through which to act.  These rules will make the air cleaner, period.

How Europe Could Get 16 Percent Of Its Road Fuel From Garbage By 2030—Just imagine filling up with liquid fuel from garbage?  Or, you could just not make the waste in the first place.  Baby steps.

First Electric School Bus Hits The Road In California—Who does not remember the plume of black smoke coming from a school bus’ exhaust as a kid?  You never wanted to be behind one of those yellow smog machines back in the day.  Now there might not even be an exhaust pipe.  Sweet.

Solar Power Just Had Its Biggest Quarter Ever—Solar had a huge 2013, but I think when you look at the numbers you realize that wind got punched in the gut.

Hawaii Taps On-Bill Repayment Program for Clean Energy Financing and Job Creation—On-Bill Repayment (OBR) is a big deal because it is a financing vehicle for renewable energy at the consumer level.  Do not take this lightly.

Former Dolphin Trainer Speaks Out on the Horrors of Captivity—Is there any reason why, besides money, that we should keep healthy marine mammals in captivity?  All the evidence points to a system that is broken and harmful to the animals.

SeaWorld Has a New PR Nightmare: This Girl Who Was Bitten by a Dolphin—As if SeaWorld needed another blitz of bad PR, a girl was bitten or “mouthed” to use the politically correct animal captivity lingo.  Free these animals now.

Sea Turtles Are Endangered, But 42,000 Were Killed Legally Last Year—Just counting the legally captured sea turtles, it adds up to 42,000.  It’s probably a lot higher number when you count the illegally caught and by-catch deaths.  Ugh.

Idaho ‘Ag Gag’ Bill Signed Into Law By Gov. Otter—I cannot tell what the impact of these ag gag laws is going to be across the country.  I wonder if animal welfare activists will be motivated to push the envelope in hopes of using a court case to expose not just the cruelty but the machinations of industry to muzzle critics as well.

Deforestation of Kalimantan Rainforest – In Pictures—Remember, these forests were felled for palm oil plantations.  That’s it.

First Legally Sanctioned Grows of Hemp in Colorado—Legal grows of hemp will not get the attention that a line of people waiting for a bag of Bubba Kush, but it is a significant thing because it is another option for farmers to make money.  It is also a very versatile crop.

Soil as Carbon Storehouse: New Weapon in Climate Fight?—Soil has an amazing capacity to sequester carbon.  Degraded and marginal soils the world over are an amazing opportunity to improve the condition of the soil and help the climate.

Wendell Berry: A Strong Voice For Local Farming and the Land—Wendell Berry is a legend.  Anytime you get a chance to read or hear his thoughts on farming and sustainability you need to take the opportunity to listen.

EPA Moves To Block Massive Alaskan Gold And Copper Mine–The Pebble Mine in Alaska may not be dead quite yet, but with major investors pulling out and government regulators leery of the environmental cost the odds do not look good.  Then again, mines don’t make a lot of sense in a lot of places.

Sea Otters In Prince William Sound Back to Pre-Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Numbers—Finally, almost twenty five years after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster, sea otters are returning to their pre-spill levels in Prince William Sound.  So, naturally, the petro lobby will probably start the howls of drill baby drill at CPAC.

The GOP’s Unregulated Business-Climate Nirvana, in China—A friend of mine always used to say that a free market ideologue’s dream was a slum in Africa because there were no rules.  Maybe China is a better example because it is big business and its attendant government cronies run amok with no consideration for the wellbeing of the people or the environment.

Nothing Draws a Crowd Like a Honu

I am finally back from vacation on Kauai and I have a lot to talk about, but it is going to have to wait until I have time to sleep after a hellish day of travel—thank you American Airlines—and the joys of several inches of snow.  We’re still in a drought, so I will only complain about moisture a little bit.

One thing that is true about your time at the beach in Hawaii is that nothing draws a crowd quite like a green sea turtle or honu:


This fine specimen beached on the left side of the trombolo at Poipu Beach State Park on the south shore of Kauai.  Apparently, on the other side of the trombolo that very night a half dozen honus decided to come ashore to the delight of everyone waiting for the sunset.  Although we did not see any on our time in Poipu, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal is also known to beach itself near these very shores.

It’s amazing how excited people get about animals and nature without paying it a conscious thought, but if you asked many of these same people their views on conservation I bet the response would not be so excited.  Heck, I bet it would be hostile.

However, we have a need to be connected to nature that persists.  It’s why it is so important to preserve what we have left and recover what we can while we can.

Friday Linkage 4/20/2012

Here I am stuck in the rust belt of central Ohio with limited internet access, a lot of extended family, and a ten hour drive home staring me in the face.  Remind me again why I do these things?  Oh right, it’s a family thing.  Ugh!

On to the links…

Americans Link Weather Nastiness to Climate Change—Average Americans see the linkage between climate change and aberrant weather but asses like James Inhofe or Mitch McConnell fail to see the connection.  Wonder why?

Even John Boehner Should Like This Graphic—I think reality is setting in and the chorus of “drill baby, drill” or “drill here, drill now” or whatever the Koch brothers have schemed up this week is fizzling in the wake of falling gas prices and the fact that the U.S. is producing more fossil fuels than any time in recent history.  Check out the value of fossil fuel exports:

But we still need to subsidize Exxon Mobil right?

Electric Vehicle Charging Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the U.S.—The latest trope from the cadre of people who hate the idea of electric cars or anything that does reek of crude oil is that the power charging your EV is just as dirty as the diesel from their F-350.  Sorry Charlie, but for a broad swatch of America and the demographic most likely to adopt EVs this is just not true.  Next?

Enslaved at the Pump—So, you bought that Chevrolet Cruze with the Eco package because you wanted to save fuel and money…uh oh!  This graph is brutal:

At the end of the day, if you are already buying a fuel efficient vehicle, e.g. a Chevrolet Cruze, your money is better spent somewhere else if you are looking for an efficiency gain.

Rethinking Old Habits in Order to be Green—Efforts to save energy too often focus on refining old habits rather than reimagining them from the ground up, at least according to the RAND Corporation.  It’s easy to imagine replacing something with a greener alternative than it is to imagine life without that item.  That is natural human behavior, but it is not always the best path of action.  If I could just convince the city that mowing my lawn is an example of this folly…

Building a Better Flusher—Using potable water to flush toilets is pure folly.  Why not use the relatively clean water from our showers or laundry or the sky to do the same job?  Or, why not just stop using water to flush our “waste?”  I know, crazy ideas…

What’s for Dinner?  Jellyfish!—I already like green sea turtles, but looking at photos of a honu firing down some jellyfish for dinner makes me like the oddly graceful animals even more.  It is still one of my vacation highlights to have sent the better part of an hour off the coast of Maui bobbing lazily in the ocean with a pair of green sea turtles.

Fence Is Behind an Explosion of Life in a Wild Corner of Hawaii—I am total sucker for stories about Hawaii and the central Pacific.  It is my favorite place on Earth.  Hawaii is such an isolated chain of islands that it serves as an interesting laboratory for species revival, habitat restoration, etc.  It is also a test case for what happens when invasive species ruin an ecosystem.  Bit by bit, pieces of the natural landscape are being recovered from our collective stupidity.

Friday Linkage 2/3/2012

It’s one day past Groundhog Day and this winter is nothing like last year.  The little rodent may have seen his shadow portending more winter, but if it is anything like the last couple of months…bring it on!

And for once, I was prepared in terms of cars.  Damn it!  I would really like some cold weather and snow.  It makes sitting on the couch wrapped up under a blanket drinking a beer watching a movie seem okay.  When I can see grass it seems like I should be outside.  The paradox of good weather.  On to the links…

Green Sea Turtle Baby Boom–This is the kind of stuff that gives me hope.  My four year old daughter loves turtles–she calls them honu like the Hawaiians–and one of the my greatest travel thrills was snorkeling with turtles off of Maui.  I want her to have that experience and this gives my just a glimmer that it will be possible.

Over 50% of Gardeners in a Warmer Zone–Well, if anyone actually believed that climate change was not real witness the new hardiness zones released by the USDA.  At this rate I should wait to plant fruit trees in my yard on the off chance I get to plant citrus.

Coal on the Ropes–We can surely hope so.  No energy source is so awful as coal.  From mountain top removal to scumbag companies that kill their employees to the toxins that spew from coal fired smokestacks it is just the worst way to make electricity.  In the last week over 4,000 MW of coal capacity has been put on notice as having a short lifespan.  Hopefully, more news like this is to come.

India Green Energy Growth–Here is why I have hope for a green energy future.  India is witnessing explosive growth of its green energy sector because it is not so wedded to the infrastructure that demands centralized power plants like the U.S. and China.  Distributed renewables are the future!

Illinois Tops Nation in New Windpower Installations–I doubt we will see a lot of good news about U.S. windpower unless Congress can act on tax credits beyond 2012.  I also love seeing Iowa on these lists all the time.  Every time that I drive north toward Minneapolis to see friends and family it seems like more turbines are in place.

California is 5% Wind Powered–It may not seem like a lot when places like Iowa are over 20%, but California is big.  This represents a lot of windpower in the marketplace which is a good thing.

Will California be the Clean Car Capital of the World?–The new set of California clean car rules, if played out, could dramatically change the market for cleaner automobiles.  Why?  Because the California market would be so large, much like it is for conventional cars, that clean car innovations would naturally bleed into te rest of the U.S.

No More Pink Slime in a McDouble–Well, isn’t this lovely.  McDonald’s has announced that it will no longer be utilizing ammonium hydroxide in its meat products.  Way to go McD’s, you are no longer using a component of explosives in your burger patties.  Thanks.  Watch the Jamie Oliver bit at the bottom.  Sure, it’s  over the top but so is a tongue of pink slime.

Poultry Industry’s Latest Dirty Secret–This reminds me of the moment in Fast Food Nation when the meat company executive asks “There’s shit in the meat?”  Yep, and this is why.  I am getting closer and closer to veganism every day.

Are Soda Makers Really Greener?–Ask Pablo dives into the question and comes out with a reasoned answer.  I am avowed fan of my Sodastream and I know that it is a greener choice.

Turn Down the Heat with a Hot Water Bottle–It seems so quaint.  I used to wonder what these things were when I was a kid and saw them at my grandparents’ house.  This gets to the idea of heating the person more directly rather than warming the entire ambient environment.