Tag Archives: linkage

Friday Linkage 1/11/2019

The “upside” of the partial federal government shutdown is that agencies run by Trumpian golems cannot work overtime to destroy our land, water, and air.  Trust me, if given the opportunity the EPA under Wheeler would like to redefine mercury as a dietary supplement and the BLM would like to put a fracking pad in every backyard.

On to the links…

How We can Combat Climate Change—The fact that opinion pieces like this are appearing in major American newspapers and other news outlets has me hopeful that this marks the point in time when we, collectively as a species, start to really tackle climate change.

2018 Was A “Fulcrum Year” For Renewable Energy In The US—We can hope that 2018 marked the point when renewable energy became the default choice for utilities and consumers.  Everything after is just math.

The EPA Hired GOP Oppo Firm Because It Was Sick of “Fake News”—You have to love modern Republicans under Trump.  Their world view is set and anything that does not conform to that world view is “fake news.”  Is 2020 going to be another bloodbath for the Republican party?

5% of US Coal Fleet Retired Last Year—Trump can bluster.  Trump can bellow.  Trump can hold all the rallies he wants wearing hard hearts, point to signs about how he “digs” coal, and soothe the audience with his slow jam about beautiful coal.  He cannot, however, stop the inevitable decline of the use of coal as a fuel for producing electricity.

More Coal Plants Shut Down in Trump’s First Two Years than in Obama’s Entire First Term—See, Trump is better than Obama.

Colorado could Save $2.5 Billion by Rapidly Shutting Down its Coal Power Plants—That is $2.5 billion dollars.  That is before accounting for things like externalities which currently do not figure into the economics of running a coal plant.

Texas’s Wind and Sunlight Complement Each Other Exceptionally Well. That’s Huge for its Grid.—The idea here is that Texas can get over the problem of intermittent renewable energy by deploying more renewable energy that happens to be complementary.

With Vineyard Wind, the U.S. Finally Goes Big on Offshore Wind Power—Offshore wind power can bring cheap, reliable green energy to the eastern seaboard of the United States.  At 6.5 cents per kWh this project is cost competitive with coal and natural gas today.  Furthermore, without the possibility of increases in fuel prices—just wait for the next natural gas price spike—these low prices are essentially locked in.

Why Solar Panels Should Go From Rooftops to Mountaintops—Maybe the answer is to deploy more solar wherever we can?

A Major Climate Treaty to Reduce Air Conditioning Emissions Just Went Into Force—Without the U.S.—These are the kinds of efforts that the U.S. needs to be supporting.  However, Trump hears the words treaty and assumes that the U.S. is “losing.”

Why Efforts to Make Buildings Greener Fail—I am beginning to think that any building that starts out with the promise of being “green” is just a temporary charade.

Dutch Eco Initiative Halves Energy Bills in First UK Homes—Even though so-called green building fail to meet their promise so often does not mean that there is not great potential to make our existing fleet of buildings so much more efficient.  Remember, every kWh saved is one less that we have to generate with renewables.  We can get to 100% renewable energy by deploying more sources and reducing our consumption.

Is Organic Food Over?—I feel like this headline is a decade late.  Organic has been coopted by big food and there is no looking back.  This gets to why knowing who the producer of your food is so important if you want to align your values with your consumption.

Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Ski Venue Set To Be Demolished—This move was planned before the Olympics, but the waste is just amazing.  The Olympics, as an event, should be killed.

Bar Soap is Making a Glorious Comeback—Millenials can’t kill bar soap because bar soap is the killer app of getting clean.  Leave your loofahs and shower gel at the door.

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Friday Linkage 1/4/2019

It’s 2019 and the resolutions are flying.  People are flocking to the gym to exercise and stopping two days later because delayed onset muscle soreness kicks in.  Trust me, there will be very few people in the gym this weekend.

I have no idea what 2019 will bring, but I am hopeful that it is a better year than 2018.

On to the links…

The Case for “Conditional Optimism” on Climate Change—I want to be optimistic that we have reached an inflection point in the international mood regarding climate change and the world is ready to act.  It is hard to be optimistic in the United States when Donald Trump occupies the White House and Republicans control the Senate.

24 Million Jobs Could Be Created From Meeting Paris Climate Agreement Targets—Going green will create jobs.  This is the promise of a so-called Green New Deal.  Deploying wind turbines, installing solar panels, building mass transit, retrofitting buildings, and so on will put people to work.

Trump’s EPA Doesn’t Seem to Want to Punish Law-Breaking Polluters—It’s not just about the laws that get changed, but the laws that do not get enforced as well.

Trump’s U.S. Coal Consumption Is Less Than Obama’s—Sad.  So sad.

How Does Your State Make Electricity?—The graphs in this article are just great.  Take a look at Iowa’s transformation into a wind energy powerhouse:

Screenshot_2019-01-03 How Does Your State Make Electricity .png

Gotta’ do something about that remaining coal.

Ten Charts Show How the World is Progressing on Clean Energy—We are making progress.  We can make the transition to clean energy.  It just takes political will.

Renewables Set To Account For 38% Of German Electricity In 2018—Germany has been building renewable energy capacity like crazy and in some periods of 2018 renewables accounted for more than 43% of electricity.  The caveat is that the current pace of deployment will not get the country to its stated goal of 65% renewable energy by 2030, but that seems like critics trying to salve their wounds over good news for renewables.

Perovskite Solar Panels Edge Closer To Production As Prices Fall—The price per watt for solar panels has already fallen dramatically.  However, perovskite based panels promise to bring that price down even more.  Imagine a world of roofs covered in cheap solar panels sucking up the energy from the funky yellow sun.

Fulfilling the Potential of Biogas in Spain—Biogas is something that most discussions about renewable energy never discuss.  Maybe because it seems like sorcery or alchemy.  Maybe it’s because the process often involves animal waste.  I do not know.

Dakota Access Pipeline Developer Misses Year-End Deadline to Plant Trees—Is anyone surprised that Energy Transfer Partners has failed to meet its commitment for planting trees as a condition of building this pipeline?  Not me.  It is the standard operating procedure for these companies to promise many things and deliver on nothing.  Every tree not planted is another dollar into the pocketbook of the shareholders.

Native Shrubs and Why They’re Essential for Carbon Sequestration—Our landscaping lacks layers.  In the United States it is all about trees and turf grass.  It is a monoculture masquerading as a functioning landscape.

Where Government Is a Dirty Word, but Its Checks Pay the Bills—This is the problem with American politics right now.  Too many people believe the bile spewed about the government on Fox News, but fail to realize just how dependent that they are on the government.  It reminds me of the Tea Party clowns telling the government to keep their hands off of Medicare.

Friday Linkage 12/28/2018

No links this week.  I am hopefully enjoying blue bird days on the mountain in Colorado.  I hope that everyone is enjoying the holidays with their friends and family.

Friday Linkage 12/21/2018

Ryan Zinke is not the worst Interior Secretary in history.  That distinction belongs to Albert B. Fall who actually went to prison.  Ryan Zinke is just number two.

At least we now get to say that Ryan Zinke was the Secretary of the Interior in 2019.  Trying to look on the bright side of things.

On to the links…

Ryan Zinke’s Legal Troubles Are Far From Over—The modus operandi of the Trump administration is to get in, get corrupt, and hopefully get out before the posse comes to drag you out of your office.  However, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives in January there is sure to be some uncomfortable hearings with former cabinet officials.  Oh, and resigning does not get you out of investigations into breaking the law.

New Poll Shows Basically Everyone Likes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal—I hope that the Democratic leadership in Congress sees these poll numbers and takes the message to heart.  People like these ideas.  A politician can run on these ideas and win.

The Suburbs are the Spiritual Home of Overconsumption. But they also Hold the Key to a Better Future—I want this thesis to be true on so many levels.  I want to imagine a future where acres of boring suburban lawns are turned into kitchen gardens and food forests.  I want to imagine a time when all of our roofs are covered in solar panels and we glide gently by on bicycles.

Congress just Legalized Hemp. That’s Huge for the CBD Industry.—Think about that headline for a moment.  Congress just legalized hemp.  If you do not think that full legalization will happen soon you are not paying attention.

It’s Time to Stretch Out the U.S. Offshore Wind Pipeline—This is the next boom area in renewables.  As the pipeline for onshore wind matures into its slow growth cycle and solar does its thing, offshore wind will allow communities in places like the heavily populated eastern seaboard to get green power.

New Offshore Windfarms Push UK Renewables to Record—A third—yes, a third—of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources in the period from July through September.  Do you remember a time when critics of renewables said that these sources could never amount to anything more than a few percent?

Solar Power Achieved a New England Milestone on Chilly Thanksgiving—This is a geeky energy graph:

1721810_633549-SolarOnElectricGrid1-1024x668

The dusty rose colored space under the dashed line represents how solar power cut the peak off of the projected demand from the grid.  That is good stuff.

Next-gen EV Charger Adds 62 miles of Range in Three Minutes—This is the missing link for a lot of people unwilling to adopt an electric vehicle.  Now imagine plugging you EV in, going to get a latte, and coming out to another couple hundred miles in range.

Can Cross-Laminated Timber Save the World?—Probably not save the world, but it would be a lot better if we built more things out of wood as opposed to steel and concrete.

Australia Cuts 80% of Plastic Bag Use in 3 Short Months—This just shows that if you cut things off at the source big changes follow.

Our Lock-and-Leave Culture: The Rise of Self-Storage and Clinging to Stuff We Hardly Use—I hate mini storage with a passion.  It is one thing if you are storing stuff because of a move to a far away location or as a temporary solution, but if you are renting one of these off-site closets to store whatever then the problem is you.

The Spare Button Represents all the Ways We Fail to be Good Consumers—The saddest thing to me is that we think of ourselves as consumers first and foremost.  Not humans, but consumers.

Friday Linkage 12/14/2018

If you needed another reason to be thankful that Democrats whooped Republicans’ asses in the midterm elections look no further than Iowa’s own Steve King.  During a recent hearing with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, King managed to claim the throne of “biggest asshat in Congress” by actually demanding the names of approximately 1,000 people who worked on the company’s search algorithms.  Yep, a sitting member of Congress just asked a private company for the names and social media profiles of 1,000 employees to check for bias.

Now, I ask Steve King or any of his cronies what law has been broken to make this demand even the least bit tenable?  I will hang up and wait for the answer.

On to the links…

The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change Isn’t a Technology—It is not just about preserving the forests that remain.  We need to institute a broad effort to regenerate the forests that we have lost.

The EU Could Halve Emissions By 2030 By Acting In Just Three Key Sectors—Cutting carbon emissions is not rocket science.  It is actually a lot like supply chain planning.  You identify the big movers in your supply chain and act accordingly.  If something is responsible for 2% of your supply chain cost you will not spend as much time and effort on it as something that is responsible for 25% of your supply chain cost.

Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections—Thanks to the utter ass beating that Republicans took in the midterm election the worst impulses of the Trump regime will be checked.  The latest bad idea to come from the worst presidential administration in U.S. history is just further proof that getting 2020 right is critical.

Getting Interior to Respond to Your FOIA Requests Just Got a Lot Harder—Absolutely nothing says corruption like making it harder for the public to know what is happening within your department.  Ryan Zinke is a corrupt public official.

New House Science Committee Chair to Climate Scientists: We’ve Got Your Back Again—At least there will be one venue in Washington D.C. where science is actually trusted.

Is Nuclear Energy the Key to Saving the Planet?—I do not know what to do with nuclear energy.  Yes, it is carbon free electricity.  However, the legacy of uranium mining in the West is not pretty and the waste is a real problem.

U.S. Coal-Fired Plants Depend on Maintenance Projects as Market Toughens—The economics do not favor coal and the current political climate is making many of the projects toxic.  When Donald Trump is no longer in office who will coal barons go to hat in hand?

Twin Cities’ Metro Transit plans to shift bus fleet to all-electric—Combine electric buses with bus rapid transit and you have an electrified way to move a lot of people without having to spend the time and money to deploy light rail or other infrastructure heavy projects.  If less people are driving for various reasons why not utilize the roads that we have already built?

Good News: Bitcoin is Becoming Worthless—Bitcoin is probably going to be remembered like those Tamagotchi things that seemed to be everywhere for a hot minute and then got lost in junk drawers across America.

From Freecycling to Fairphones: 24 Ways to Lead an Anti-Capitalist Life in a Capitalist World—I do not know if it is anti-capitalist or just a little less consumer focused.  Either way these are not bad ideas to spend a little less time worried about shopping during the holiday season.

The Golden Age of Rich People Not Paying Their Taxes—The pendulum has swung so far in favor the rich that you have to wonder if Donald Trump is the supernova before the inevitable fading.

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 11/30/2018

I feel that this article on CNBC.com just about nails the past two years:

Donald Trump’s all-GOP government in Washington ends a two-year run as it began, by struggling to govern at all.

The president who vowed to make America great again has rattled financial markets, reduced farm exports and raised manufacturing costs with his tariff policies. As growth slows, he blames the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates and threatens General Motors for closing plants.

The president who promised law and order, having previously fired the FBI director, fired his attorney general over the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia investigation. The acting attorney general has been openly hostile to the probe.

The president who insisted Mexico would finance a border wall now wants American taxpayers to pay as a condition of keeping their government open. Congress doesn’t intend to build the wall, so the government could shut down next week.

Thus completes the chaotic circle of governance by Trump and the GOP Congress: fanciful promises, contradictory priorities, presidential provocations that Republicans won’t rein in. Voters responded this month by handing the House to Democrats.

Obamacare survived. The better, cheaper Republican alternative never existed.

The infrastructure plan Trump promised business and blue-collar supporters has not materialized. GOP congressional leaders prefer to spend on tax cuts.

Republicans delivered tax cuts, but not as advertised. Proceeds profited the wealthy far more than the middle class and ballooned the budget deficit, with no evidence of giving the economy more than a short-term stimulative boost.

Trump’s abandonment of the fight against climate change has not revived the coal industry, which keeps closing unprofitable facilities. The president answers his own government’s warnings about the climate by saying he doesn’t believe them.

Republican congressional leaders want cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to shrink government, reduce deficits and relieve pressure for tax hikes. Trump vows to protect those popular benefits.

Tough executive branch oversight, which preoccupied Obama-era Republicans, vanished when their party won the White House. Lawmakers who talked of prosecuting Hillary Clinton skipped past Ivanka Trump’s use of personal email for government business.

Unlike Obama, Trump has supplied a steady stream of genuine scandal. Cabinet members and senior presidential aides have departed under ethical clouds, while Trump’s former national security advisor and campaign chairman confessed to felonies.

Unprecedented turnover and turmoil hinder White House operations. Trump has filled just over half the administration jobs important enough to require Senate confirmation.

How Republicans attempted to retain power in this fall’s elections exposed the chasm between their policies and public sentiment. Most voters believe the GOP tax cut has not made them better off, so Trump promised a new one.

Republicans who earlier favored repeal ran as defenders of a principal Obamacare achievement — guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. Trump accused Democrats, rather than his own party, of threatening Medicare.

On Election Day, Americans issued their verdict. They cast 9 million more votes for Democrats than Republicans in House races, the largest margin in midterm election history.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

On to the links…

Trump’s Latest Talking Points on Climate Change Will Make Your Brain Hurt So Bad—This is what happens when a minority of the American people elect a coddled man child with the intellectual capacity of a fifth grader throwing a temper tantrum about chicken nuggets.

The White House Talking Points About the National Climate Assessment Are Demonstrably False—There has to be a special place in hell for Sarah Huckabee Sanders who has spent her time in the Trump Administration glibly lying her way to a position as a commentator on Fox News.

Solar Energy Beats Coal On Critical Infrastructure Resilience—Remember when Rick Perry was going to save coal and nuclear plants by using an obscure national security rationale?  Looks like renewables are good for a resilient grid after all.

US Could Meet Paris Emissions Pledge with ‘Natural Climate Solutions’—Restoration and better management of our natural resources could go a long way in helping us mitigate the worst effects of climate change.  These are not exotic technological solutions waiting for discovery.

Climate Change: Report says ‘Cut Lamb and Beef’—No surprise here, but the evidence is getting to be as damning as that against smoking.  Eating beef and lamb is bad for the environment.  It’s just a question of how bad.

Massive 14-Year Oil Spill Ordered To Be Cleaned As Leaks Continue—It is appalling that this has taken fourteen years and over 150 million gallons of oil to finally come to this solution.

Colorado Joins California Low Emission Vehicle Program In Rebuke To Trump—Our federal government is hamstrung by the fact that the Senate is controlled by a minority of Americans.  However, the states with the most population and dynamic economies can move forward with climate sensible policies.

FedEx is Getting 1,000 More Electric Delivery Vans—FedEx has over 60,000 trucks so 1,000 is not a sea change, but it is a start.

Meanwhile In China, The Electric Mobility Revolution Is In Full Swing—There is a lot to dislike or even loathe about China—Muslim “reeducation” camps in the western part of the country for example—but the command driven economy is really moving forward on electric mobility.

The Case Against Cruises—Apparently, cruises are a disaster for the environment and the communities in which these mega ships port.  I always liked the line about cruises being the penultimate example of “premium medicore.”

Lettuce is Stupid and You Shouldn’t be Eating it Now Anyway—Lettuce is just a refrigerated water delivery vehicle.  Salads are a waste.  Never mind that eating lettuce is about the most likely way to get food poisoning anymore.