Tag Archives: investment

Friday Linkage 8/30/2019

It is my belief that the last couple of weeks represent the turning point in the Donald Trump era of American politics.  Between proclaiming himself to be the “chosen one,” blatantly violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution by promoting his janky resort as a host site for a future G7 summit, and in general being an incoherent gas bag this is where the vast majority of the American public realizes that our time in the dark valley is near an end.

Perhaps it is the same across the globe as Brazilians realize their current leader is a corrupt profiteer, as Italians wake up from their decades long dysfunction to recognize the threat posed by nationalists, and as the United Kingdom comes to grips with the political calculus of Boris Johnson’s coup via the Queen.

Nothing is complete nor can anything be taken for granted, but within the next eighteen months I believe that we can put down this ugly episode like the diseased dog that is has become.

On to the links…

We Now Have the Technology to Create a Grid of Cheap Fully Renewable Electricity—These are opinions being written for sites like Forbes, Marketwatch, and CNBC.  This is hardly the opinion of green eyed dreamers anymore.  The reality is that the future is possible and it is incumbent upon us to demand that it happen soon.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Issue Largest Clean Energy Procurement to Date; Aim to End Coal Use, Replace Oil—Hawaii, due to its remote island location, is the United States’ energy lab for the future.  When Hawaii goes 100% renewable it will provide the blueprint for the rest of the country and, by extension, the rest of the world.

Energy Lobbyists Changed Politicians’ Official Letters Supporting Gas Project—To get to the ideal future we are going to have to deal with the fact that legislators and regulators literally have fossil fuel lobbyists write the opinions on projects.  This is not politics.  This is corruption.

EPA Plans to Abandon Regulations on Methane Emissions, Reports Say—Industry is breaking with the Trump administration on this and other proposals because they realized that the backlash that is coming is going to be brutal.  It will be even more so due to the Trump administration’s brazen gutting of anything that even looks like it might be beneficial to the environment.  What incentive does a Democratic lead government have to help an industry that was so in bed with Trump?  None.  Furthermore, the logic the Trump administration is using to gut these regulations works in reverse so the change will be quick, fierce, and dramatic when change comes to the White House.

These Are the Cities That Should Be Worried the Most About Climate Change Disaster—Is it any surprise that Florida is at risk and not prepared?

Can Solar Panels Handle the Heat of a Warming World?—It is a valid question, but does it really matter in a world where we need to stop burning fossil fuels?

The $30 Billion Exodus: Foreign Oil Firms Bail on Canada—The “smart” money in the investment community is turning against oil and gas investments that are seen as vulnerable in a world where there is an emerging political consensus to keep the dirtiest fossil fuels in the ground.

Coal Sector Outlook Drops from ‘Stable’ to ‘Negative’: Moody’s—Despite the Trump administration’s best efforts, which is really about the same as your kid putting all his toys under the bed when he “cleans” his room, coal is seen as a loser by people who actually have to put their money where their mouth is.

Australian Thermal Coal Exporters Warned of Falling Demand from India—India was the great hope of the Australian coal industry, but a softening global economy will reduce demand.

Offshore Oil and Gas Rigs Leak More Greenhouse Gas than Expected—The story about fossil fuel emissions is much more complex than just what is released when these fuels are burned to produce energy.  At every stage of production and consumption there is a contribution to the emissions of potent greenhouse gases.

The Surprisingly Great Idea in Bernie Sanders’s Green New Deal: Electric School Buses—Why is this not a standalone idea for all potential Democratic presidential candidates?  The benefits are well established and this could serve as a seed for a wider adoption of electric commercial vehicles.

‘World’s First’ Solar-Powered Rail Line Opens in the UK—I actually believe that there is a short line railroad in Australia that beat the Brits to the punch, but who is counting amongst friends?

This New York Agency Cut Its Energy Usage By 40%, & So Can You—Now, imagine a world where we took the initiative to reduce our energy usage by 40%.  It’s not hard and the tools exist.   All that is lacking is will.

How Copenhagen Plans to Reach Carbon-Neutral Status in Just Six Years—I applaud just about everything that happens in Copenhagen, but what I really want to know more about is this place:

Crazy Bike Lanes.jpg

Betting the Farm on Drought—As a group, farmers may lean toward conservative politics and not be great believers in the science behind climate change.  However, the reality on the ground is forcing farmers across the world to figure out what adaptions must be made in a changing climate.

Getting Coral To Reproduce—Is there going to be a time when the default question about music to get animals into the mood does not involve the smooth baritone of the late Barry White?

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Friday Linkage 1/5/2018

It’s 2018 and it’s cold.  I am not just talking about the relationships in and out of the Trump White House either.

Since it is so cold across much of the United States I am waiting for James Inhofe to give one of his patented rants about how winter disproves any science about global warming or climate change.  It will happen as surely as taxes, ridiculous tweets by Trump, and bad midseason television shows.

On to the links…

Ryan Zinke Taps almost $40,000 from Wildfire Preparedness Fund to Pay for a Helicopter Trip—Scandal and corruption have a name.  That name is Ryan Zinke and he is the head of the Department of the Interior.  The government is nothing but a slush fund for these kleptocrats to live high on the hog while the Donald tweets his latest brain fart.

Vehicles are Now America’s Biggest CO2 Source but EPA is Tearing up Regulations—Reducing our use of fossil fuels for transportation is the single biggest challenge facing us in the coming years.  However, it is one the easiest things for individuals to reduce given our profligate use of personal automobiles for transportation.

Norway Reaches Carbon Emissions Goal From Transportation 3 Years Early, Thanks To Tesla—The solutions to reduce our transportation emissions exist.  It is a question of political will and money.  Norway did it.

100% — Chinese City’s Record-Smashing 16,359 Electric Bus Fleet—Shenzen went all EV for its bus fleet.  Imagine if the major U.S. cities made this kind of commitment?  It would mean a huge buildout in charging infrastructure and demand for EV busses that would drive down the cost for smaller fleets.  It’s a virtuous circle of EV awesomeness.

Finance Institutions Are Making a Massive Investment in Solar—Is this where the worm turns?  Once financial institutions choose renewables over fossil fuels it will be increasingly difficult for the legacy energy regime to finance expansion in any economical manner which will be a death knell for the future of those fuels.  We can hope.

The Dutch Plan to Build an Artificial Island to Support the World’s Largest Wind Farm—The Dutch are not fooling around when it comes to wind.  30 GW of wind power is a huge amount.  How huge?  30 GW roughly equates to 30,000 MW of capacity.  In real terms that represents more than 4 times the wind power installed in the state of Iowa.

New York to Procure 800 MW of Offshore Wind in Next Two Years—After seeing what the Dutch are doing this does not seem like much, but any progress is progress.

Trump Holds Geothermal Card Up His Sleeve When Pitching “Energy Dominance”—What role does geothermal energy play in the future energy mix?  Like hydro, geothermal tends to be a forgotten player despite its benefits of being near baseload power and having a lot of unexplored potential.  The fact that the Trump administration has the near future in its hands—however tiny—makes me very nervous.

Nuclear Agency Has The Hots For Solar Energy Windows—I have the hots for solar windows.  Imagine every multistory building with a glass façade generating electricity because it was covered in transparent solar glass.  That is the future, man.

Takeout Creates a Lot of Trash. It Doesn’t Have To.—Normally, I do not patronize takeout.  Choosing to dine in or eat homecooked meals is my modus operandi.  However, this past week I brought some takeout beignets from the Lost Cajun in Breckenridge to our friend’s condo.  I can attest to the waste of takeout.

Tom Brady Is Drowning In His Own Pseudoscience—Like Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop, Tom Brady and his junk science doctor are peddling some serious bullshit.  Here is my two cents: If someone is giving you health advice and also selling an item to further that same advice take the time to question the veracity of every claim.  This includes the health advice from your doctor.  And Tom Brady.  Especially Tom Brady.

Friday Linkage 7/28/2017

I have been a little lax on posting some things lately and I have no excuse other than work, children, life in general…you get the idea.  My hope is to have an update on my upcoming solar photovoltaic system soon and some thoughts on other ways to really embrace a lower carbon life here in middle America.

On to the links…

Vail Resorts Promises to Eliminate Emissions, Waste and Offset Forest Impact by 2030—Welcome to the party Vail Resorts.

Trump Nominates Sam Clovis, a Dude Who Is Not a Scientist, to Be Department of Agriculture’s Top Scientist—This is what happens when you elect people who profess to hate government and expertise in general to run the government.  You get people who are unqualified for the job screwing up and then claiming afterwards, “I told you government does not work.  See?”

The Quieter Monument Battles to Watch—Donald Trump and Ryan Zinke’s assault on our national monuments is, to put it mildly, monumentally unpopular.  Remember, this is a man who can lose the popular vote  by nearly three million votes and claim with a straight face that he had the most lopsided electoral victory in history.  Nothing is beyond the pale for these people.

As Outdoor Retailer Show Packs up for Colorado, Industry Flexes Political Muscle in U.S. Land Fight—The people who love the outdoors are being heard.  The companies who make money off the people who love the outdoors are making their voices heard.  This is no small change and it represents a viable path forward to protect our access to public lands.

Are Renewables Set to Displace Natural Gas?—Europe and the U.S. are very different places, so extrapolating upon trends from on to the other is dangerous.  However, I wonder what will happen if natural gas experiences price spikes like it has in the past.  Will renewables rush to fill the void left by coal as the second choice when natural gas gets pricey?

Seven Charts Show Why the IEA Thinks Coal Investment Has Already Peaked—Coal is in all kinds of death spirals right now.  The decline in investment is a long term impediment to their being any revival in coal’s fortunes.

“Clean Coal” Is A Political Myth, Says Coal Company Owner—Robert Murray is the gift that keeps on giving.  After John Oliver went after him using public statements and other records that were readily available he just keeps on opening his mouth.  Gotta’ love a rich man with no filter…oh wait, that is the clown we have in the White House.

Peeling Back the Red Tape to Go Solar—The run around and red tape dance has been the most frustrating part of getting my solar photovoltaic system installed on my roof.  Yet, I still have more hoops to jump through once the system is actually installed.  None of it is value added and all of it costs either money or time.  Ugh.

Straus Family Creamery Powered by Cow Gas—Why don’t we have a government program to install one of these systems at every dairy farm or other large livestock operation in the United States?

This Beautiful but Toxic Weed Could Make you go Blind—Giant hogweed is no joke.  I have friends with the burn scars from the sap to prove it.

Minimalism Is Just Another Boring Product Wealthy People Can Buy—I have always found it ironic that people buy books or attend seminars about minimalism.  Shouldn’t the idea be somewhat self-apparent with a little reflection?

Debunking What the Health, the Buzzy New Documentary that Wants You to be Vegan—Veganism has become the new snake oil for a lot of people.  It will not cure all that ails us and to pretend otherwise is to traffic in the same dreck that has gotten us into this mess.

Beer Sales are Down…Especially Among the Millennials—Millennials are trying to wreck everything.

A Cut Above: Two Axe-Throwing Venues Carve Out a Niche in Denver—Axe throwing venue?  Peak hipster?

Friday Linkage 7/11/2014

It’s off to Colorado for a week of being out of touch, visiting some new breweries, and generally trying to recharge to ol’ batteries. Thus, I will be out of pocket and not posting for more than a week but I should have some good stuff to share come the end of the month like a rundown of some really good beers made in Minnesota that I picked up during my trip over the fourth of July and whatever I end up discovering in the Centennial State.

On to the links…

Investment In Clean Energy At Highest Point Since 2012—Just some plain ol’ good news.

The Emerging Clean Energy Edge—Carl Pope, the former director of the Sierra Club, has a succinct piece on why clean energy has reached the tipping point where it can displace traditional fossil fuels without the need for subsidies. Dig it.

Renewable Energy Provided One-Third Of Germany’s Power In The First Half Of 2014—Don’t believe it is possible to see large scale usage and integration of renewables? Witness Germany getting one third of its power from renewables for an entire half of a year. Not a day. Not a holiday. Rather, an entire half year. Pretty impressive.

‘Singlet Fission’ can Increase Solar Cell Efficiency by as much as 30 Percent—I do not understand the science behind the breakthrough, but anything that can increase the efficiency of solar PV is a good thing.

Taking Oil Industry Cue, Environmentalists Drew Emissions Blueprint—I love that people are surprised by the environmental movement taking cues from the oil and gas lobby. Really? Those companies have been wildly successful in shaping public policy for the better part of a century. It’s about damn time.

Nine Iowa Counties see Million-Gallon Crude Oil Trains—My neck of the woods is not on the list, but these rolling firebombs waiting to happen are rumbling through a good portion of the state. It feels a little too close to home.

To Improve Accuracy, BBC Tells Its Reporters To Stop Giving Air Time To Climate Deniers—Finally, a news corporation takes a stand on giving climate deniers equal time. Why do people who are outnumbered at least 99 to 1 if not 999 to 1 get anywhere close to equal time on the air? Besides Fox News, the BBC’s practice should be standard for every other news outlet. Who cares what Rush says about your bias because he is a blowhard bought and paid for by the extreme right.

This Train Could Power A Fleet Of Electric Buses—Trying to wring out every last wasted kilowatt of electricity is a surer climate change mitigation strategy than any expansion of renewables in terms of immediate return on investment. Innovative solutions like this are going to be part of the future plan.

Californians Keep Up With Joneses’ Water Use—This is depressing. California is facing epic drought and its citizens are doing little if anything to conserve water on a personal level. Who needs a freakin’ green lawn in California? No one.

Protecting Parrotfish on the Path to a Caribbean Reef Revival—Reefs are complete ecosystems, so we need to ensure the vitality of all the creatures that inhabit them. The decline of parrotfish means that algae and other organisms colonize the coral and outcompete more traditional reef inhabitants.

Interior Commits to Bison Restoration, but Offers few Specifics—The North American bison is an amazing creature and its restoration from near extinction is also equally amazing. What is needed, as the Poppers postulate in their Buffalo Commons idea, is a wide scale reintroduction into the landscape of the American west that has been long dominated by cattle.

What Type of Environmentalist are You?—This little quiz made the rounds of the internet during this week. It’s a fun little diversion.

More And More Companies Are Buying Their Way Overseas To Get Lower Taxes—Do you want to know why we have a revenue problem in the U.S.? It’s because corporations keep making more money and keep paying less in taxes. ‘Nuff said.

The Real Preppers

Climate change is coming.  It’s not just that I believe our world will be fundamentally realigned because of human-caused climate change.  Businesses and investors are betting on climate change.

A while back I wrote about a book—Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming—where the global mad dash to acquire the rights to fertile land to grow food in a changed climate was on in the developing world.  Guess what?  That same trend is occurring in the developed world as well.

Let’s look at the state of Iowa.  Every year Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach conducts a farmland value survey.  It is a treasure trove of data.  Here is what the results look like through 2013:

Acre Price Farmland

The chart above shows the weighted average price for an acre of land across the state of Iowa.  It’s a fairly stunning graph.

There are several factors at play in determining the market value of a parcel of land.  One such factor in the U.S. is that historically low interest rates and equity market volatility have directed investors into tangible asset classes like land and gold.

It’s my belief, however, that investors are also counting on an ever increasing value of land in a hotter, drier world where soil fertility will be of immense value.  Why?  Using the University of Illinois’ farmdoc database I was able to compare land values against the prices of commodities from 1960 onward:

Baseline Change in Price

To compare the vastly different scales in price I made 1960 a base 100 year and calculated percentage change from the baseline for each of the items (Iowa Acre of Land, Corn, Soybeans, Wheat).  Plotting those data points shows a remarkable amount of correlation prior to 1990, minus the boom and bust associated with the farm crisis of the mid-1980s.

Just a quick mid-week thought exercise about the world around us.

Friday Linkage 1/18/2013

Friday turns into Saturday and all of a sudden it’s Sunday afternoon before you realize that you have failed to post the links.  Whoops.  Sorry about that.

On to the links…

In Rural Minnesota, a 70 Acre Lab for Sustainable Living–How many places like this exist throughout the United States?  Places where people are putting to the test all of the ideas and theories about how we can live in modernity without placing ever greater strain on the planet.

Will 2013 Continue 7 Year Trend of Decreasing Driving–Lost in the noise lately has been the continued trend of Americans driving less.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the graph:

miles-driven-CNP16OV-adjusted

Not only are Americans driving less, but if you listen to the car people at any auto show or in any trade rag and the primary concern is the waning love affair with the automobile.  Maybe there is hope for us yet.

Animals versus Automobiles–As someone who grew up in southeastern Minnesota, I was intimately familiar with the intersection of animals and automobiles.  Most notably, deer were a common hindrance to continued forward progress on the roads.  Wait a second, it’s an infographic:

animal-roadkill

Clean Energy Investment Fell 11% as Government Cut Subsidies–Okay, so for anyone who does not believe the production tax credit is vital to the continued growth of domestic renewable energy witness this story.  I take back that statement about their being hope for us yet.

Solar Could Meet all the World’s Electricity Needs by 2050 with 1% of Land–It will never happen, but can you imagine a world where we replaced all fossil fuel electricity generation with distributed solar?  Yeah, I cannot imagine that world either because it seems so wonderful.

Why the Government Should Pay Farmers to Plant Cover Crops–As if we did not know our domestic farm policy was crap, there seem to be so many sensible, low cost ideas out there to make things better that it seems even more stupid when you really think about things for a moment.  I suppose if the government promoted cover crops then Monsanto and company would sell a few bags less of GMo seeds.  Now I get the problem.

Beijing’s Air is so Bad…–This is just a story that begs for a series of jokes patterned on the old “Your mama is so” meme from the 1990s.  Oh yeah, I referenced the 1990s like it was sooooo long ago.  First, what the heck is in the air?  The Guardian took a stab at it:

Climate desk Beijing air pollution

Or, you could go the NPR route and wonder what it looks like from space

Black Carbon Larger Cause of Climate Change than Previosuly Thought–We do not know what we do not know until we really spend time researching the problem.  It’s too bad that scientists have to spend countless hours defending their work on climate science because a small percentage of people–hack scientists and quack politicians–have “doubts” about the integrity of their work.  How come no one every gets to question a Republican politician’s integrity when it comes to positions that they take on issues?  Like, what is their agenda exactly?

Sweet Sodas and Soft Drinks May Raise Your Risk for Depression–Basically, soda and soft drinks are just bad stuff.  There is no place in our diet for such beverages.  Just put down that one gallon soda from the corner conveinence store and grab a bottle of water.  Make sure it is not water in a disposable container.  Okay?