Tag Archives: io9.com

Friday Linkage 4/4/2014

I want to apologize for being “off the grid” the past few weeks. It’s amazing how many things can get in the way of writing about things you enjoy: vacation (yay!), health (ugh!), kids (yay or ugh depending upon the day), and just the general flotsam and jetsam of life.

I promise to get off the schneid and put some posts out here very soon.

On to the links…

Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come—There has been a lot of reporting on the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and it is important. Very important. Moral of this story is that we need to get ready for an angry Earth.

Minnesota’s Largest Ever Solar Project gets Tentative Regulator Approval—Man, if Minnesota can deploy $250M of solar projects through the state’s primary utility than I think that almost any state in the union should be capable of something similar. It’s not like anyone heads up to Minnesota for lots of sunny days.

Ground Broken At First Utility-Scale Solar Project On Tribal Land—The obituary for utility scale solar was being written a few weeks back after the opening of the Ivanpah facility, but there seems to be some life left in the concept.

Wind Reaches Its Highest Generation Level Ever In Texas, Heralding A Challenge To Natural Gas—Texas may suck at a lot of things, but the state does have a lot of wind. Some of which does not come from Rick Perry bloviating. The wind power coming from ERCOT passed the 10,000 megawatt mark recently.

The Artificial Leaf Is Here. Again.—Like nuclear fusion that does not obliterate cities, the artificial leaf is one of those holy grails of next generation power production. Maybe this time we are on the cusp of a revolution.

13 Unexpected Sources of Energy that Could Save the World—If you thought an artificial leaf was out there, just wait until you check out this list. What, no giant hamster wheels? Damn.

EVs, Plug-Ins Already Saving 45 Million Gallons of Fuel per Year in the U.S.—Even with a small fleet currently deployed there is a measurable impact. Think about what the numbers will look like as the technologies mature and proliferate.

Koch Brothers Quietly Seek To Ban New Mass Transit In Tennessee—It would not be a week without an article about the ass clown Kochs getting involved in a local issue. Do these guys like anything other than money and oil? Maybe chemicals and cutting down trees, but that is about it.

Plastic Soup Of Ocean Garbage Obscures Search For Malaysia Plane Debris—Basically, there is so much junk in the ocean that it impedes the ability of sensors to determine what is debris from a missing airplane and what is just crap. Great job human race.

Program Looks to Give Bees a Leg (or Six) Up—We need to do everything that we can to help pollinators because these little guys are so vital to our food production.

10 Edible Spring Weeds—Weeds get a bad rap because we have been conditioned by the chemical industry to view them as interlopers. Sorry, but these little plants can be a nutritious addition to your diet. Foraging anyone?

Selling Out Organic to Protect Five Factory Farms—Is anyone surprised that the USDA has the best interests of factory farms and industrial agriculture in mind when it operates? No one should be since this has been standard operating procedure for decades.

Behind the Scenes at Greens & Gills’ Aquaponic Farm in Chicago—Aquaponics is an interesting concept. I would love to see someone do a lifecycle analysis to determine how sustainable the model really is.

Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods—This may be one of life’s most important questions:


Thank you Washington Post.

These Sad Photos Show NYC Gentrification where Chain Stores replace Local Businesses—Really, does the world need another Subway or Verizon store?


Friday Linkage 2/28/2014

It’s the final day of February and it is cold.  Like polar vortex cold.  I know that global warming is actually global climate change and weather extremes are only going to get worse, but I am really looking forward to some warmer weather.  I’ll probably be complaining about the heat and drought in a few months.

On to the links…

Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade—It’s not all bad news all the time.  Maybe all the attention that is being given to children’s activity levels and food consumption is paying off in healthier children.

99 Percent of U.S. New Power Generation Added in January Came from Renewable Energy—The future is renewables and every month new numbers come out proving the point.  Sure, coal and other fossil fuels will play a role in our future energy plans but that role is increasingly marginalized.   Dig it.

Cape Wind Could be First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Operating by 2016—It looks like Cape Wind has secured the necessary financing and could become the first U.S. offshore wind farm in operation by 2016.  I will believe it when I see it because I do not think the legal wrangling and monkey wrenching by moneyed interests is done quite yet.

Colorado Becomes First State to Regulate Methane Emissions from Fracking—Colorado is the first, but it will not be the last.  The willy nilly expansion of fracking in the U.S. has caused a lot of people to reexamine their support of oil and gas drilling.

Oil Spill Shuts down 65 Miles of Mississippi River—I have lived all my life in states bordering the Mississippi River and for almost two decades I lived in a river town along the Mississippi River.  It’s a commercial waterway in every sense of the word, but the way that we treat the river is a tragedy.

How Ultra-Conservative Utah Became a Bastion of Environmental Activism—It’s a disservice to conservatives to lump them into a single bloc.  As if a religious or social conservative is also a fiscal conservative.  We tend to view the right as a monolithic bloc and the left as a patchwork coalition of interests.  As demographics shift and politics shatter, the right is looking more like the left every day.

Colorado Expects to Reap Tax Bonanza From Legal Marijuana Sales—Here’s something everyone can get behind.  The real story is not just about the new revenue being brought in, but the funds not being spent on enforcement of petty marijuana crimes.  If there was ever a win-win for states it is a legalization regimen like Colorado.

Giant Slaughterhouse Recalls Fancy Grass-Fed Beef After Processing “Diseased and Unsound Animals”—It’s not just the mystery meat in your Hot Pocket that got recalled, but high end grass fed beef as well.  If all slaughtering operations are centralized in massive facilities then we lose some resiliency in the system.  On a separate note, what is the nastiest Hot Pocket flavor?  Gotta’ be Spicy Beef Nacho.

Just How Much does it Cost Growers to Give us Cheap Bananas?—The high price of “cheap” food is something we should all be concerned about because it is not sustainable and it is not justifiable given the long term consequents to people or the environment.

Colorado Tumbleweed Explosion Creating Hazards and Headaches for Many—The stories about roadways being entirely covered and buildings getting lost in massive waves of tumbleweeds are amazing.  It’s like something out of stories from the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

California Endangered Species: Plastic Bags—There is the old school tumbleweeds clogging Colorado roadways and there is the modern tumbleweed—the t-shirt plastic bag.  When are we going to finally just give up on these wholesale?

Why the Plan to Dig a Canal Across Nicaragua Could Be a Very Bad Idea—The reemergence of a plan to build a canal across Nicaragua to supplant the Panama Canal is like some b-movie bad guy.  It’s a plan that will never completely die no matter how many dreams, reputations, careers, and lives are shattered by it.

Are Elevated Bicycle Highways the Future of Transportation?—I do not think that widespread adoption of elevated bicycle highways is going to be the future of transportation, but used in ways to make bicycling safer and more convenient in areas where cars rule it is a genuine solution.

Friday Linkage 2/21/2014

I am going to blame climate change of the schizophrenic February weather here in Iowa.  On Monday it snowed about four or five inches.  On Tuesday and Wednesday it was forty or almost fifty degrees.  On Thursday and into Friday we got a nice wallop of a winter storm.  I cannot wait to see what the future looks like if this is the present.

On to the links…

Saving an Endangered British Species: The Pub—It’s not the most important news story of the week, but it is the most poignant to me.  There is something deeply romantic about the “local.”  However, as time marches on and dollars get in the way the local pub is going to give way to malls and lofts.

Obama Directs EPA and DOT to Tighten Fuel Efficiency Standards for Heavy Trucks by 2016—This is one of those “boring but very important” stories that tends to get missed in all the headlines about containers being repurposed into student housing or another ten uses for mason jars.  As the article states, these trucks represent 7% of the vehicles on the road yet account for 25% of the transportation fuel consumed.

New York Scrubs Microbeads—Microbeads, those little balls of plastic in cosmetics and facial cleansers, are really bad for water.  Why?  Because the small little bits of plastic do not necessarily get filtered out and make their way into the food system.  All for cleaner, brighter skin.

Train Carrying Canadian Oil Derails In Western Pennsylvania—I am not in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline and I think that it would be best if tar sands oil were left in the ground.  However, if the oil is going to be transported to the U.S. should it not come over the border in a way that is safer than trains of flammable liquid rolling through our towns?

Here’s Why 50 Percent More Coal Plants Could Be Retiring Than Experts Previously Thought—Maybe it’s because coal basically sucks.  It pollutes.  It’s a big contributor to climate change.  Mining coal is a disaster.  Oh wait, and it does not make economic sense.  Okay.  Got it.

A Huge Solar Plant Opens, Facing Doubts About Its Future—The Ivanpah facility is amazing and according to the chattering class it will probably be the last of its kind built.  Still, 377 megawatts from the sun is amazing.

Water-Cleaning Technology Could Help Farmers—When you read through this article think about the technology that the company is using.  Not a single thing is brand new or needing to be worked on.  This is an application of existing technology to solve a current problem.  Pretty sweet.

Can Anybody Save California?—The title is provocative, but the question is too simple.  The real question is can anyone save what California has become?  There is a future for the state if it can learn to live within its hydrological means, but history has shown that it is incapable or unwilling to even try.

Denmark Is About To Set Even More Ambitious Climate Goals Than All Of Europe—I wish more countries could be like Denmark.  It’s not just their stance on trying to mitigate climate change, but the country’s whole attitude in general.  If I could choose a country beside the U.S. to live in it would probably be Denmark.

How One Brown Student Shut Down The NRA—Sometimes all it takes to stop the giant is persistence and the courage to stand up.  There are few bullies bigger than the NRA.  In American politics they are the Christ Christie of special interests, but they can be taken down.

No, GMOs Won’t Harm Your Health—The fervor about the health impairment of GMOs reminds me of the anti-vaccine fears promoted by a misinformed population that could not be swayed from their opinion regardless of facts.  Of course, that also sounds like climate deniers who cling to faith as the sole reason to ignore science.

Butter and Whole Milk Linked to Lower Obesity Rates—Have we finally moved past the anti-fat crusade?

How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally With Just a Lemon—Cleaning the inside of a microwave is about the worst job in the kitchen because there does not seem to be a way to do it well.  I use a cup of vinegar in a way similar to the lemon in this article.

God’s 12 Biggest Dick Moves in the Old Testament—Speaking of faith, here is a decent list of the biggest ass clown moves God pulled in the Bible.  I always find it interesting when “New Testament” Christians tell me how God is all about love and what not.  If they read the Old Testament things might be a little different.  Then again, these people like to cherry pick what parts of the Bible they need to suit their prejudices.

The African Savannah Is Even More Beautiful From a Bird’s-Eye View—Nature is freakin’ amazing.  Sometimes we just need to sit back and be amazed by the beauty.

Friday Linkage 2/7/2014

Damn, February.  Pretty soon I will have to break out the garden porn and figure out what I want to grow this year.  I need to come up with a way to convince my wife to allow me to build a hop trellis on our property.  Homegrown hops in a house IPA…now that is an idea that I can get behind.

On to the links…

Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers—The farm bill is a big deal.  It’s policies shape our food system in fundamental and dramatic ways.  Overall, the bill continues the status quo in many ways but at least hemp is getting a little love.

E.P.A. Staff Struggling to Create Pollution Rule—This is a big deal.  The EPA, without any obstruction from Congress, can limit the amount of carbon pollution from power plants if the agency so chooses.

‘Out-Of-Control’ Rig In The Gulf Gushing Methane Freely Into The Atmosphere—When is the world going to realize that the people we have entrusted to extract oil and gas from the Earth’s crust do not have a clue what they are doing?  In the Gulf of Mexico an offshore rig run by Rowan Companies is spewing methane into the air.  These kinds of “spills” do not get the attention of a traditional oil spill because there is not goop coating cute birds.  Remember, methane is an uber potent greenhouse gas.

Federal Leasing Program A Giveaway To Big Coal—Basically, the U.S. government allows coal companies to lease huge tracts of land for coal extraction at prices far below what the market should bear.  Just another stealth subsidy for the energy sources that are killing the planet.

Up To 82,000 Tons Of Toxic Coal Ash Spilled Into North Carolina River From ‘Antiquated’ Storage Pit—Recently it was West Virginia, but it’s now North Carolina’s turn to be inundated with a byproduct of the coal mining industry.  Will these people stop before the entire world is polluted?

The Government’s Secret Research into Climate Change as a Security Risk—Republicans in Congress may deny the existence of consensus on climate change, but the U.S. security establishment thinks it is real enough to devote resources studying the potential impacts.

IEC Makes Case for Solar Power in Iowa—Iowa is not a hot bed of activity when it comes to solar energy.  In a state that gets over 25% of its electricity from wind turbines you can cut us a little slack for not being on the razor’s edge when it comes to photovoltaics.  Now the Iowa Environmental Council is making a push for just such a technology.  Sweet.

World’s Largest Solar Bridge Officially Launched—The Blackfriars railway bridge in London is now covered in solar photovoltaics.  Why aren’t we rushing to put panels on every place?  Plus, why do the British have all the cool names like Blackfriars?  It’s not fair.

Bernie Sanders: Should We Provide Welfare For Walmart?—The answer is no, but if you look at government policy the answer is much less clear because there are a lot of policies that are essentially welfare for WalMart.

About That Tainted Seafood In Texas—Is Texas just a hellish place where rules are meaningless, oilmen are immune from scrutiny, and everyone who is not a millionaire is screwed?  Pretty much.

Growing Insects: Farmers Can Help to Bring Back Pollinators—As bad as things seem in this world, there are steps that everyone can take to make improvements.  The ability of farmers to improve the situation is overlooked by a lot of people because we tend to paint the entire occupation with a broad brush.

Michael Pollan Explains What’s Wrong With the Paleo Diet—Take a minute and enjoy the musings of our modern day food sage, Michael Pollan, as he dissects the problems associated with the faddish Paleo diet.

Sugar Linked to Heart Disease Deaths in National Study—In the United States we eat too much sugar and it is killing us.  It is not just diabetes, however, as a new national study finds it may be a culprit behind deaths resulting from heart disease.

Giant Boulders Plow Through Italian Farmhouse & Vineyard—Sometimes we forget the everyday power of nature.  These pictures are kind of amazing.

Friday Linkage 1/24/2014

What kind of world do we live in where a notorious ass hat like Glenn Beck actually postulates that his rhetoric may have had a role in creating the divisive environment we operate in today?  Really?  Next thing you know Pat Robertson will apologize for being a nasty old man.  Probably not.

On to the links…

U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will Be Costly—Isn’t this the sort of logic that our parents tried to beat into our heads as children?  If you just do a little bit early on and continue with that effort things will be easier later.  What do we do?  Procrastinate.

India Almost Doubled Its Solar Power in 2013 With Big Plans For More—Renewables are a big hit in the developing world because there is no longstanding infrastructure to compete with.  It’s the same reason why wireless technology took off in the developing world so fast compared with the developed world.

Kenya to Get 50% of Electricity from Solar by 2016—Damn, I am impressed by this.

U.S. Offshore Wind Farm, Made in Europe—I think this is less a story about the backers of Cape Wind going with a European company and more about the lack of a coherent U.S. policy hindering domestic companies from making necessary investments to be competitive.  I do not know if offshore wind has a long term future, but it cannot hurt to try and nurture the industry.  Hell, the government is still trying to get “clean coal” off the ground.

China Exports Pollution to U.S., Study Finds—Now for the bad news.  It looks like the pollution that makes China a hellhole is coming over the Pacific to make the air in the U.S. worse.  Ass clowns.

Chicken From China? Why You Should Be Worried—I worry about anything that comes from a country with no safeguards when it comes to food safety.  You can show me the laws that are notionally enforcing food safety, but when no one actually follows those rules and no one enforces the laws until it becomes a scandal you can guarantee that I want to know if my chicken comes from China.  This is why food labelling is critically important.

Humans Become Unwilling Test Subjects in West Virginia Chemical Spill—The spill in West Virginia has once again highlighted the gaping holes in our regulatory regime.  We are the test subjects for American business.  The sooner we realize that fact the better off that everyone will be.

Seventy Years Is Enough: It’s Time to Put the Draize Test Out of Its Misery—Have we not moved beyond a state of affairs where it is considered acceptable to mistreat animals for no scientific reason?

Drugs, Death, Neglect: Behind the Scenes at Animal Planet—I don’t really understand these “wildlife” shows.  I was never a fan of Steve Irwin and the current crop of hillbilly wildlife encounters seems a little wrong.  Apparently, it’s all a big sham and Animal Planet should really change their name to Animal Torture.

Americans are Fitter, yet Fatter.  Why?—It appears that Americans work out a lot and are concerned about their overall health, yet we continue to see obesity rates rise.  It could be definitional, in that people getting “sufficient exercise” according to guidelines are not actually getting enough, or it could be that no matter how much we exercise our diet will hold us back.

The Standard American Diet in 3 Simple Charts—Do you want to know why we are fat?  Our diet sucks.

Portland Apartment Development Busts Bike Parking Record—This is great and all, but until I see a multi-level parking structure dedicated to bicycles like I saw outside of the main train station in Amsterdam I am going to remain somewhat unimpressed.

Driver Unaware of Cyclist Stuck in Windshield—Maybe more bicycling is not a good thing.  How does a person not realize that he struck a cyclist and that said cyclist is currently stuck in his windshield?

Meet the Beer Brewing Monks of Massachusetts—Trappist monks have been legendary brewers of beer for centuries, but that tradition is something that mainly stays in Europe.  Now, a group of monks in Massachusetts is bringing the tradition stateside.

Pongo The Baby Orangutan Had A Great First Year Of Life—Now for a little lightness.  Pongo, an orangutan at the Zoo Atlanta, is one year old.  He is a cute little dude.  I absolutely love the picture of his yawn: