Tag Archives: linkage

Friday Linkage 4/19/2019

Easter is such a strange holiday in the United States.  It is, ostensibly, a religious holiday for Christians but it is also a non-denominational consumption opportunity.  There is nothing Christian about dying eggs, eating candy, and buying pastel colored crap.

And what is up with having a family dinner centered on ham for Easter?

On to the links…

A Shocking Discovery Shows Just How Far Wind Can Carry Microplastics—The planet is our wastebasket for plastic.  It is everywhere.

This Scientist Thinks She has the Key to Curb Climate Change: Super Plants—This may be our only hope and at the same time it may be our undoing.

Lack of Demand Hasn’t Stopped Trump from Opening Tons of Land to Oil and Gas Drilling—Fossil fuel interests are treating the Trump administration like the last orgy before everyone finds religion.  It does not matter what the oil and gas interests want, Trump will give it to them.

How a Single Sentence in a Colorado Bill Could Pump the Brakes on the Fracking Boom—Imagine governments being told to regulate rather than foster oil and gas development.  As if there was any other purpose to government besides making money for fossil fuel companies.

Global Economy Would Save up to $160 trillion by Shifting to Renewables, Electric Cars—Here is a punch line for everyone to remember: Invest a dollar in renewables, get seven in return.

California’s Solar Power Record Setting Season is Here—This chart is amazing:

generation.png

That is a whole lot of solar.  What surprises me is solar’s “shoulders” in terms of its ability to generate a lot of power.  It does not peak and decline.  It peaks and stays.  This is the future.

How Coal-Killing Solar Panels Can Help US Farmers—Let’s have a real discussion here.  Besides coal, who does not benefit from more deployment of solar?  This is why, even with the most rabid anti-renewable energy administration in the White House, people are still installing solar.  It just makes sense.

Republicans Push Anti-Wind Bills in Several States as Renewables Grow Increasingly Popular—This is your modern day Republican party fighting against stuff that a majority of people like because a small coterie of wealthy donors and a reactionary base are what fuels its policy decisions.

Plummeting Battery Prices to Make Electric Cars Cheaper than Gas Cars in 3 Years—Like solar before it, the cost of electrical vehicles is dropping by a lot.  Now parity with gas cars is three years away.

US Electric Car Registrations Doubled Between 2017 and 2018—Most of the increase was in California, but a doubling is still a big deal.  I think the bigger problem for states not named California is that dealers are reluctant to embrace electric vehicles.  Trust me, when I bought a used Nissan Leaf it was like pulling teeth at the dealership.

Amazon says it’s a Leader on Fighting Climate Change. 5,000 Employees Disagree.—No business that sends a single order of five things to your house in five boxes can be a leader on climate change.  Amazon is part of the problem, not the solution.

The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed—Hudson Yards is an architectural monstrosity that was constructed for the lowest price per square foot.  Even worse is that it was financed by the lies of the EB5 visa program.

Hormel Admits Natural Choice Meats Aren’t Very Natural—The term “natural” means jack shit nothing when it comes to food labeling.

A 30-year Harvard Study Reveals the 5 Simple Habits that May Prolong Your Life by 10 Years or More—Are we really shocked to learn that these habits will help us live longer?

Breckenridge Tourist Walking Dog Injured After 10 Minute Standoff With A Moose—I may get a chuckle out of the signs warning skiers about moose on the trails, but these giants are no laughing matter.

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Friday Linkage 4/12/2019

Yep, pretty much sums up the world we are living in nowadays:

1433ckCOMIC-who-acknowledges-climate-change.png

On to the links…

A Virtual Solar Power Plant for L.A.? ‘It Will Happen’—The idea is to turn a conglomeration of batteries into a virtual power bank that charges in the middle of the day, when solar power is at peak generating capacity, and save the power for the late afternoon/early evening, when electricity demand spikes as people return home.

U.S. Wind Capacity Grew 8% in 2018—These are not crazy growth numbers, but 8% growth in a country led by Donald Trump has to be considered a success.  Now imagine an environment with a rational president.  Whoa!

Saudi Arabia To Build 6.2 Gigawatts Of Wind Capacity By 2028—Saudi Arabia is putting a lot of money into renewables.

DTE Energy Speeds up Closing of Coal-Fired Plants—This is why coal is dead.  Less cost, fewer emissions…the headlines sort of write themselves.

“Innovation”: the Latest GOP Smokescreen on Climate Change Policies—How do I know Republicans are blowing smoke about climate change?  Their lips are moving.  Normally it is “national security” that is used as a blanket defense/reasoning for whatever draconian policy they want to institute.

An Easy, Cost-Effective Way to Address Climate Change? Massive Reforestation.—No shit.  This should be point number one in any climate change mitigation plan.  Why?  It is so dead simple and the downside to planting a lot of trees is…what exactly?

Corn Pollution Kills Thousands of Americans a Year—So, we need to grow less corn.

As Mass Timber Takes Off, How Green Is This New Building Material?—This is where we get into trouble.  Instead of asking if mass timber is better than other methods we end up trying to evaluate its “green” credentials in a vacuum.

Amazon Accused of Abandoning 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goal—Corporations will only be held accountable as long as customers keep them so.  Otherwise, a decision will be made deep in a conference room somewhere that guts whatever environmental commitment has been made.

China wants to Ban Bitcoin Mining because it ‘Seriously Wasted Resources’—No truer paragraph has ever been written about Bitcoin:

In a typical Bitcoin mining operation, powerful banks of computers are dedicated to crunching out “blockchain” numbers that serve absolutely no purpose, but have value because people think they do.

Climate Change Could Make Duluth America’s Premier Destination—This is a little tongue in cheek, but the future is a scary place right now.

Forever Wild—If you have only skied major resorts tied to corporations like Vail Resorts it is likely that you have missed the spirit of skiing embodied by shaggier ski hills.  If only we could all capture a little of this magic.

Baby Boomers Commit the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ of Retirement Planning—Baby boomers are the worst.  Fight me.  Subsequent generations are going to be stuck cleaning up the mess of a generation that accomplished so little relative to what they were given.  Yet, we have to hear endless stories of their greatness.

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 3/29/2019

Spring is here.  Sure, Iowa may see a few more nights below freezing but for the most part it is on to planting and cleaning.  So much cleaning.  If only there was a way to KonMarie my yard work.

On to the links…

2 Years after Tax Bill’s Passage, Corporate Tax Revenue has Plummeted—Cue Republicans to tell us how we cannot afford Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the defense budget…oh wait, not the defense budget…because the deficits are a threat to our national security.

Recording Reveals Oil Executives Laughing About “Unprecedented Access” to Trump—It’s a pay for play day in the White House every day.

BP Lobbied Trump Administration to Roll Back Key US Climate Rules—Nothing like a foreign company getting cozy with our corrupt president to influence policy in favor of profits over protecting American citizens.  The Republican way…profits over people.

US Banks Pledged to Fund Renewable Energy, But They Still Spend Way More on Fossil Fuels—Banks are nothing more than the financial arm of the same many tentacled beast that also concerns fossil fuels.  It is one system that protects itself at all costs.

US Coal Generation Expected To Continue Steady Decline, Claims EIA—Trump cannot save coal.  He can bluster and bully all he wants but the economics and politics do not line up in such a way to make this a winnable fight.  Now, he will probably double down on claims that he is the most pro-coal president in history in a lame attempt to shore up support in rural areas.

It’s Cheaper to Replace Most Coal Plants with Renewables than Keep Them Open—This is why coal is in so much trouble.  For less money you can generate electricity that has none of coal’s baggage.  It’s like a death cross in finance.

Forget Tesla, It’s China’s E-Buses That Are Denting Oil Demand—China is all in on electric busses.  Personal EVs may get a lot of the press around the world but the humble electric bus may actually hold more of the secret to our climate salvation.  This is the critical point:

Buses matter more because of their size and constant use. For every 1,000 electric buses on the road, 500 barrels of diesel are displaced each day, BloombergNEF estimates. By comparison, 1,000 battery electric vehicles remove just 15 barrels of oil demand.

Missouri Greenlights Massive New Wind Power Transmission Project—To get wind energy from windy rural America to urban America we need more transmission lines.  It tells you everything that you need to know when red states will fight electricity transmission lines but go gangbusters for oil and gas pipelines.

Scientists Found Worrisome New Evidence About Roundup and Cancer—Remember, this is the pesticide that is sprayed indiscriminately on Roundup Ready crops like corn and soybeans.  If you live in a corn or soybean producing state you have been exposed.

Climate Change Is Already Reshaping How We Farm—Rural areas are on the front lines of climate change because so many of these areas depend on agriculture.  Farmers are already having to adapt to climate change whether politicians in Washington D.C. want to admit it or not.

Impossible Burger 2.0 Produces 89% Less Emissions than Beef—I have had the Impossible Burger 1.0 and it is a pretty damn good facsimile of an actual beef patty.  The 2.0 version is supposed to be an even closer facsimile.  Now imagine a world where we replace all meat hamburgers with Impossible Burgers.  What would that look like from an emissions reduction perspective?

Friday Linkage 3/15/2019

It’s Spring Break week…well, it will be.  This will be the last Friday Linkage until the end of the month so please try and make do without.  I promise I will be back.

On to the links…

The First Green Terawatt Was the Hardest—Consider that the first “green” terawatt of power came at the highest average cost.  The next terawatt or more will come at a price orders of magnitude lower because the highest price is today’s.  The prediction is that the next terawatt will be installed by 2023 at half the cost of the first.  So, a little more than a fourth the amount of time at half the cost.  That is change that I can believe in.

Trump’s Monument Review Was A Big Old Sham—Are we surprised that the process was really about allowing oil, gas, and uranium extraction interests get access to sealed off lands? No one else matters in this criminal administration.

Trump’s Climate Policies Face 6 Big Legal Battles this Year—Here is the thing I wonder about.  If Trump loses his bid for reelection in 2020, what happens to all of this stuff in January 2017 when a Democrat walks into the White House and reverses every executive action that the man took over four years?

Five Things a Democratic President Could Do By Declaring a National Emergency Over Climate Change—I would just love to watch Mitch McConnell clutch his pearls and cry about how decorum is gone from U.S. politics even though no one is more to blame for the degradation of politics in this country than he.

Republicans are the Real Threat to Hamburgers, not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—Are Republicans really this stupid?  No matter how genuine the policy proposal, Republicans—goaded by Fox News—will turn the discussion into an argument about something that is not even germane to the discussion.  It is the ultimate “hey, look, a squirrel” kind of distraction to keep people from talking about real change.

Trump said to Again Seek Deep Cuts in Renewable Energy Funding—Trump’s 2020 budget is dead on arrival in Congress.  It is now about the negotiations between the House and Senate as to what the budget will look like.

Cost of Adding New Wind, Solar Energy Continues to Fall in Minnesota—It’s not just cheap, but it is getting cheaper to build out renewables versus continue to operate coal plants.

Harnessing the Sun in Coal Country—Naming the two solar farms Hatfield and McCoy is a little hokey, but I love the juxtaposition of old mountain top removal coal mines being transitioned to solar photovoltaic farms.

Norway’s $1tn Wealth Fund to Divest from Oil and Gas Exploration—This is a little “pot calling the kettle black” as the wealth fund is driven by profits from North Sea oil and gas.  However, it is a positive step forward.

Renewables Generated a Record 65 Percent of Germany’s Electricity Last Week—Say what you will, but that is an impressive number.

Tiny Costa Rica Has a Green New Deal, Too. It Matters for the Whole Planet.—I want to know why the United States is getting beat to the punch by a small country like Costa Rica?  Why can’t we think big when it comes to addressing the problem presented by climate change?

Coal Power Stations Disrupt Rainfall—As if we needed another reason to stop burning coal.

Scientists Capture Bacteria That Eat Pollution and Breathe Electricity—This sounds like something out of a comic book that gets repurposed by a super villain to defeat our intrepid heroes.

America’s Light Bulb Revolution—LEDs are amazing.  How anyone—looking at you Republicans—can be against using less electricity for lighting is beyond me.  Oh wait, Fox and Friends does not like LED lightbulbs because, uh, socialism?

The Backyard Mechanic Who is Taking on Tesla—Trust me, Tesla is painted in a bad light here for refusing to sell this guy repair parts but this is not different from a lot of other car companies.  You might be able to buy parts for more mainstream cars, but the prices are crazy compared to what the replacement parts actually cost.  Just spend some time with Porsche enthusiasts looking at repair parts online.

Why India is a World Leader in Waste Paper—As our trash gets sent around the world, it is important to think about the market forces that drive a country to literally buy something that we consider garbage of little to no value.

Friday Linkage 3/8/2019

Every week I think that world cannot get crazier and every week I am shocked to find that it may have actually gotten worse.

We now live in an America where layers upon layers of the President’s advisers, confidants, lawyers, and administration members are actually convicted of felonies and sentenced to jail time but Republican loyalists continue to defend the administration tooth and nail.

We now live in an America where a national news network is working hand in glove with a corrupt political party to sway Americans’ opinions on issues to favor billionaires despite these policies harming the vast majority of people in this country.

We now live in an America…just fill in the blank with the latest depravity.  When does this madness stop?

On to the links…

What Democrats and Republicans Drink on Mardi Gras—If your choice of beer in 2019 is Michelob Ultra than you are everything that is wrong with this world.

Republicans Warn That Liberals Are Coming for Your Burgers—It makes for a nice sound bite to rile up your Uncle Carl watching Fox News all day, but it is not true.  Today’s Republican Party is a joke.  It is a purely reactionary body of low level hucksters selling a vision of society that appeals to a narrow band of the American public.

To Revive Rural America, We Must Fix Our Broken Food System—When politicians talk about rural America or the farm economy they are really talking about policies that favor gigantic agribusiness at the expense of both farmers and food consumers.  Once you understand that paradigm everything in the farm bill begins to make sense.

Jay Inslee just Launched a Presidential Campaign that will be All About Climate Change—It is likely that Jay Inslee will fall short of the nomination.  Heck, with this many people running right now it is likely that a lot of people will fall short.  However, this is an important addition to the political conversation and I am glad that Jay Inslee has the courage to make it his issue.

Post-Hurricane Harvey, NASA Tried to Fly a Pollution-Spotting Plane over Houston. The EPA said No—In Trump’s America pollution is good for you because it is brought to you by oil and gas companies.  Of course they have the best interests of the public in mind.  Right?

Coal Burning Plants Aren’t Just Polluting the Air—They’re Poisoning Water—Exactly what is good about coal?

Banks around the World Opt to Offload Coal—Get used to hearing about the weighted average cost of capital for coal projects.  The higher the WACC goes the less likely it is for coal projects to get funded because they cannot deliver the necessary return on investment relative to their risk profile.  Banks getting out of the coal game drives the WACC higher.

Wyoming Legislature Extends Lifeline to Coal Power—This is what the free market looks like under modern day conservative leadership.  If something is uneconomical and bad for the environment it must get supported because the paymasters running oil, gas, and coal companies need to be kept in business at the expense of anything else.

Colorado Democrats’ High-Stakes Oil and Gas Bill Is Finally Here—Oil and gas companies have run roughshod over the people of Colorado for decade.  Fracking rigs come right up to residential neighborhoods.  Houses even end up exploding.  A changing state is the canary in the coal mine for oil and gas dominance of the American West.

An Illinois Bill Leans into the Most Contentious Part of the Green New Deal—Environmental justice is also social justice.  As the environment is degraded the people who will suffer the most are the ones who had the least responsibility for the degradation.

Finland Approves 2029 Coal Ban For Energy Use—You go Finland.

This Is What Peak Car Looks Like—The financial argument is one thing.  What happens when cities decide that dedicating so much valuable space to personal automobiles is a waste?  The future is now.

Electrify Everything: Why our Thinking has to be as Flexible and Resilient as our Buildings—The key to resilience is flexibility.  What works in one place may not be the best use of resource is another place.  Solutions are tailorable to particular locations.

This Is How the Age of Plastics Began—Plastic is the trash that we have the hardest time dealing with and this is how the problem began.  If we need to decarbonize our society we must also work on ridding our products of plastic.

Recycling Is Broken—How we deal with our trash—which is really what recycling is at the end of the day—is coming for a reckoning now that we can no longer easily outsource the job to China and other developing economies.

Californians are Losing Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Recycling Deposits—As human beings we are not the most rational creatures when it comes to money despite what economists would like to tell us.  Sure, this money is spread out in small amounts across large numbers of people so the perceived loss is low.  However, this is still a lot of money left on the table.

Is This the Death Rattle of Mail-Order Meal Kits?—God I hope so.  These kits are like the worst habits of your local grocery store delivered to your doorstep.  So much plastic.

The Science Behind Why Hipsters Always End Up Looking the Same—Interesting.

Friday Linkage 3/1/2019

It might be March, but I think that the ground dwelling rodent we trust to predict near term weather patterns is a liar.  We are going to be shivering, mostly metaphorically, through single digits temps during the day that plunge to below zero degrees Fahrenheit overnight.

Add to this the cycle of freezing rain, ice, and snow that has blanketed eastern Iowa and you get a recipe for surly people.  Seriously, we are just done with winter in this part of the country.

On to the links…

The David Bernhardt Scandal Tracker—You would think it would easy to follow Ryan Zinke and not appear to be a corrupt swamp creature.  Whoops.  This is the Trump Administration so one corrupt politician will always be followed by another corrupt politician.  It’s the only people left who have the stomach to serve under the man.

Synthetic Fibers Found at Bottom of Mariana Trench—Our plastic pollution has reached the most remote places on Earth.

The Future is Rural: The Unexpected Consequence of Energy Descent—As energy becomes less dense and more diffuse—think distributed solar as opposed to giant coal plants—there will be a difficulty in maintaining our current urban paradigm.  The question is what level of urbanism can be supported.

You Can’t Take on Climate Change without Tackling Sprawl—Our built infrastructure encourages profligate energy use.

Twelve Empty Supertankers Reveal Truths About Today’s Oil Market—The global oil and refined petroleum products markets are extraordinarily complex.  However, a dozen empty supertankers roaming the oceans is a sign that something is broken.

Germany Ditches Fossil Fuels and Looks to Renewable Energy—2038 seems like a long way off, but I remember when Y2K seemed like the future.  What happens when the curve of retirements steepens as coal becomes even more uneconomic?  I can imagine a future where this deadline becomes 2035 or sooner.

New Study Suggests Buying These EVs Used Saves A Ton Of Money—The market is pushing these used electric vehicles to a fairly major level of depreciation over a short period of time meaning that a buyer can get a relatively lightly used EV for a fairly low price.  It’s what happened with my Nissan Leaf.

Heat your House with a Water Brake Windmill—I had never even heard of this technology.  Now I imagine that there is a case to be made for small scale water brake wind turbines providing thermal energy in colder climes.

‘Grandmother Effect’ Helps Explain Human Longevity—It takes a village, so to speak.

A Whale’s Afterlife—It amazes me how little we know about so many things.  When I was a kid there was a legend about the “elephants’ graveyard” somewhere in Africa.  The idea of that was so enticing to a young mind.

Four Troubling Ways Fast Food has Changed in 30 Years—Basically, there is a lot more fast food available and we eat a lot more fast food.  The consequences for our waistlines and planet are fairly predictable.