Tag Archives: Los Angeles Times

Friday Linkage 9/11/2015

Winter is coming. At least that is what my daughter thinks now that the air conditioning is off for the summer and the night time temperature is dropping into the 40s. She is constantly asking how many days it is until ski resorts in Colorado open. We might have created a monster here.

On to the links…

US Solar Capacity Now Exceeds 20 GW—Believe it. I am hoping to add my own little bit to this number before the close of the year with an approximately 5 kWh system on a west facing roof. Permits be damned.

Why Solar PV is Unstoppable – and Renewable Targets will Cost Little—Fossil fuels are looking over their shoulder at the ultimate killer app in solar. Once deployed it is cheap because the fuel is free and the lifespan is long because the technology is solid state.

The Default Move For US Oil Is Downward. Here’s Why—An interesting technical analysis of the recent drop in oil prices and why we may be looking at a new normal. I think this price drop is a temporary reprieve that gives our economy some breathing room to start making a real transition away from fossil fuels.

Kauai Utility Signs Deal with SolarCity on Energy System to Provide Power at Night—Hawaii has mad renewable energy potential, but the problem is that peak demand continues after the period of peak production crests. This pilot project aims to level out some of that disparity and pump clean power back into the grid after the sun goes down.

Colorado Invests $1.2M In Low-Income Community Solar Projects—One of the biggest and most poignant critiques of solar is that it is something reserved for people with a large degree of discretionary income. Community solar that is subsidized by some degree may be an answer to this critique.

India’s Installed Solar Power Capacity Tops 4 GW—I am kind of a solar junkie when it comes to news stories. I love hearing/reading about new milestones.

Delhi Eyes 2 GW Rooftop Solar Power Capacity By 2022—Remember, this is rooftop solar so it is going on top of existing buildings instead of taking up ground in greenfield or brownfield sites. What is the potential across the world for such an endeavor.

India’s Wind Energy Potential Upgraded To 302 GW—The interesting thing about this number is that slightly more than half is available in what is considered waste land.

How Australia’s Electricity Demand Is Slashed By Solar PV—Simply put when solar panels are producing the most power is when there is a spike in demand. Point of use solar power generation is knocking down the peak of demand.

From Icky Bugs to Good Grub: Why More People are Eating Insects—I think that I read one or two of these stories each year that claims the boom in eating insects is a year or so away. It feels a lot like nuclear fusion. It’s a ten years away and that was true ten years ago.

In Praise of Cheap Knives—I am always reminded of a woodworker I knew who collected beautiful tools in a manicured shop, but no one could ever recall him actually building anything.

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Friday Linkage 7/31/2015

The end of July. School is only a few weeks away for my daughter. Where did the summer go?

On to the links…

Farmworkers Score Big in New Tomato Deal—The Coalition of Immokalee Workers just got Ahold USA to sign up to its program. This is a big win. Pressure is working.

Battle of Solar Pits Rooftop Against Utility-Scale Systems—Why not both? Seriously, why is there a conflict between these two? Oh right, follow the money…

Hillary Clinton Pledges Half a Billion Solar Panels for US—This has to be one of the easiest policy wins of recent memory. Let’s see…clean, emission free power from the sun for the next twenty five years after the panel is installed. I am sure Ted Cruz is pissed about this.

Hillary Clinton Still Won’t Take a Position on the Keystone XL Pipeline—Why is this such a hard thing for her to disavow? Keystone XL is a loser on so many levels.

Wind Energy Provides Europe With 8% Of Its Electricity In 2014-8% is a good number. I would like to see more.

Large-Scale Solar Near Parity In World’s Three Biggest Markets—When power from emission free sources is at parity with fossil fuels even accounting for the loss of subsidies we will have reached a major turning point.

First Ever US Offshore Wind Farm Gets First “Steel In Water,” No Turning Back Now—This is exciting because offshore wind has such potential. It can deliver clean, emission free wind power to the heavily and densely populated eastern seaboard.

Rocky Mountain Resorts Race to Defend their Businesses Against Climate Change—Those beautiful powder days are threatened by climate change. Skiing in late March is threatened by climate change. Does anyone care about climate change?

U.S. Craft Beer Volume Production up 16% through 1st Half of 2015—People keep waiting for the crash in craft beer explosion, but it just looks like a lot of people cannot get enough of craft beer:

Mid-Year-Craft-Production-Volume-2015-BeerPulse

Pour some more IPAs folks!

America Is Not Getting Fatter Anymore—This is amazing to me. People are consuming a lot less soda and actually paying attention to their health in terms of obesity.

Looking Up: How Farming Changed my Perspective on Rain—When you make your living from the land you take a whole new perspective on a lot of different issues. Rain is life instead of inconvenience.

Friday Linkage 1/10/2014

You can call it a polar vortex.  You can call it some frigid ass Canadian air barreling across the Dakotas to freeze my rear end off.  But, there is not another way to slice the weather at the beginning of the week.  It was cold.

I was in the state of Minnesota 17 years earlier when cold cancelled schools statewide—but not classes at the University of Minnesota for which I am still bitter—and this time it felt colder.  Maybe that has something to do with shuffling two children in and out of the car in the cold.  Everything seems to take longer and feel worse when you are struggling with buckling a squirming two year old.

On to the links…

Silver Lining? Cold Snap Cripples Emerald Ash Borer Threat—This little invasive species is a real bad actor.  So, enduring a little cold that might kill a whole lot or larvae is a fair trade in my book.  Granted, the level of emerald ash borer death is determined by how cold it really got and for how long so Minnesota might come out pretty good while Iowa only gets a year reprieve.  Damn.

Soda-Can Furnaces Powered by Solar Energy Heat Denver Neighborhood—With a few soda cans and some simple materials a person can build an effective heater for the winter season.  For approximately $30?  Why aren’t we trying to develop a better model, using some more durable materials, for about $100?  Make it a challenge and get some smart people crack-a-lackin’.

A Symbol of the Range Returns Home—Bighorn sheep are again dotting the landscape.  Considering the success of wolves, mountain lions, and other species in returning to numbers in the wild I have a little hope that we have not irrevocably destroyed our natural heritage.

Number of Gray Whales seen Migrating South Doubles from a Year Ago—Whether it’s an increase in population or a change in migratory patterns, more gray whales are being spotted off the coast of California than in a long time.  Good for whale watchers I guess.

Can America’s Grasslands Be Saved?—The native grasslands that once covered a great portion of the U.S have been subject to the largest eco-cide in the history of our country.  Plowed under, built upon, drilled under, strip mined…you name it and the grasslands have endured it without a fraction of the protest that would have been shouted if these landscapes were dotted with redwoods.  It’s a shame.

Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States—For years watchers of the American west have wondered when the over reliance on the Colorado River would force western states to realize the razor thin thread upon which their viability hung.  Well, the payment is coming due.

Wind Power was Spain’s Top Source of Electricity in 2013—I am not suggesting that we copy much from Spain, but the development of wind power is pretty amazing.  Nationwide wind power provides over 21% of the electricity in Spain.  Damn.  Of course, I live in Iowa where we are nearing 30% of our electricity from wind so maybe I am not so jealous.

Australia has 2 Million Small-Scale Renewable Systems—Small scale renewables on Australian homes produce enough power to provide for the equivalent of Perth, Hobart, Darwin, and Canberra combined.  That is something I am jealous of because I feel that distributed generation is the future.  Despite what ALEC tries to do in the halls of Congress.

Renewable Energy to Thrive in 2014, Despite ALEC’s Aggressive Tactics—Like the Kochs, ALEC shows up everywhere there is something even remotely planet positive.  Oh, they are always in opposition to those planet positive developments.  Too bad that there influence seems to be waning at the precise time when they have become even more strident in pursuit of their right wing jihad.

Freighter Carrying Oil Derails, Burns In New Brunswick—Here is what an oil soaked future looks like…it’s not pretty.  What happens when a solar rooftop fails?  That’s right, nothing.  It just sits there like a discarded mirror.  What happens when a shipment of oil fails?  That’s right, it’s apocalyptic.

Honduras and the Dirty War Fueled by the West’s Drive for “Clean” Energy—  Palm oil, used in shelf stable foods and as a feedstock for biofuel, is going to turn out to be a bigger environmental boondoggle than ethanol derived from corn.  Mark my words.

60 Minutes Hit Job On Clean Energy Ignores The Facts—Is 60 Minutes even credible anymore?  When I was a kid it was the news program of record on the weekend.  If something was on 60 Minutes it was the national conversation.  Now it seems like a junkyard of journalism and hackery.

Big Beef—This is an excellent look into the various ways that the beef industry has woven itself into our political system to guarantee certain privileges for their product.  It’s just a shame that their product is probably bad for our health, bad for the environment, and just plain gross when produced in industrial settings.  Good use of our tax dollars, though.

General Mills cuts GMOs from Cheerios—Anytime a food giant like General Mills makes a move like this it is a big deal whether in reality or perception.

GMO-Free Cheerios Are an Empty Gesture—Remember, there are two sides to every argument.

Friday Linkage 10/18/2013

I am sorry that this is going to be a somewhat brief set of links, but I am in Florida on vacation and do not have access to computing resources.  This is not the fault of Florida, although I do love to blame the state for many things, but rather a conscious choice to keep the evils of work related email from ruining my time off.

On to the links…

Florida Panther Bolts from Holding Box into the Wild—Everything in Florida is not bad.  Here is a great picture of a panther, rescued as a kitten, being released into the wild:

pumarelease.jpg.0x545_q100_crop-scale

Photo is from the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Hawaiian Monk Seal’s Extraordinary Life Illustrates Conservation Challenges—Kamilo, a 6-month old Hawaiian monk seal, has already had a pretty eventful life.  Recently, the monk seal was relocated to Nihau after playfully nipping some swimmers off the shores of the Big Island.  These critically endangered marine mammals face so many challenges.

The Ambitious Restoration of an Undammed Western River—The slow restoration of the Elwha River in Washington is an amazing story of our capacity to right environmental wrongs.  The story is not complete and the restoration of the watershed has a long way to go, but the seeds are present.

The Secret to Resiliency: Neighbors—When facing a system that degrades into chaos, resiliency is going to be critical.  Too often, however, the systems we design to face chaos are engineered around a single point of failure—the individual.  If you rely on a single person—yourself—to maintain survival you are invariably going to fail.

SolarCity Expects to Install 80% More System in 2014 versus 2013—SolarCity released guidance for FY14 that showed it expects a pretty sporty increase in the number of systems it install in terms of year-over-year change.  This is wicked good because it is putting PV systems on roofs in a visible way that speeds adoption by other interested parties.

Putting Robots to Work in Solar Energy—Every day brings a story about how technology is bringing down the balance of system costs that have remained stubbornly high while panel costs have shrunk dramatically.  For large installations the answer might be robot labor to take care of the tedious tasks.

Norway’s Massive Government Pension Fund might be Invested in Renewables—If you want to talk about a game changer, look no further than Norway’s oil wealth fund or Government Pension Fund.   Currently, it stands at approximately $790B and it might be investing in renewables.  That much money being pumped into the sector would move the needle.

After Sparking Outrage In Detroit, Koch Brothers’ Tar Sands Waste Now Piling Up In Chicago—It looks like the Koch Brothers or their related companies are looking to move the mess of petcoke from the shores of Detroit to Chicago.  Apparently, property along the Calumet River may become home to this nasty crap.

250 Pasta Shapes You Should Know—Just 250?  I will get right on it:

Pasta Pasta

I might have to buy the poster from Pop Chart Labs.

Drought-Hardy Barley Could Save Your Beer—The world is heading toward a future that is hotter and drier, in general, which does not bode well for my beer habit.  Some scientists in Germany are trying to create drought tolerant barley that will allow future generations to enjoy some beer.

Drinking With Your Eyes: How Wine Labels Trick Us Into Buying—Damn marketers, make a label pretty and I want to buy it.  But what about those simple, artisan hipster labels?  Does that repulse me?

Cockroach Farms Multiplying in China—Why do I think that we are going to be reading stories in the not too distant future that talk about Chinese meat being raised on a diet of insect protein?  Granted, the story is about the use of cockroaches in the cosmetic industry and traditional Asian medicines.  I am just waiting for feed blocks to show up at a Smithfield plant comprised of compressed cockroach bodies.

Friday Linkage 5/31/2013

Few things could make my week turn out much better, but noted conservative wing nut and all around bat shit crazy wingbat Michele Bachmann is not going to seek re-election to Congress in 2014.  Granted, the current scandal surrounding her failed Presidential campaign—who for a minute thought that someone so far out of the mainstream would have a prayer of winning?  Oh right, the Republicans—might have played a role, but she did not elaborate on her decision.  Still, it’s a good week.

If you want to remember some of her greatest hits, check out this list.

On to the links…

Solar Power’s Epic Price Drop Visualized—Dig it man, solar power is getting cheaper and cheaper every day.  There may be hope for a clean energy future.

Solar Industry Anxious over Defective Panels—It looks like the boom and bust in solar panel manufacturing is coming with a dark side.  Namely, cost cutting in the name of survival may be leading to sub-standard products being shipped out the door.

The Three Best Things Minnesota did for Solar—Who would have thought that Minnesota would be a leader in solar right now at the government level?  It’s not like people think of sunny Minnesota.  Maybe the state will be our Germany?

Kansas City to Install Solar Panels on 80 Municipal Buildings—The move is expected to save upwards of $40K per year for the city.  Such a move would not have made since with higher panel prices, but as the cost curve has bent downward it looks increasingly attractive.

Coal Making a Comeback in 2013—Ugh, I thought the coal demon was slinking back into the dark forever.  It looks like I was wrong.  Maybe some of the predictions over at WonkBlog will come true with regard to coal’s struggles continuing.

The CBO says We Need a Price on Carbon Emissions—If we cannot put a price on something, no one will put the cost in their models and it is models that rule the world now.  Trust me, if you can put it into an Excel spreadsheet it instantly becomes more believable to the MBAs of the world.

5 Reasons Why I Became a 1 Gallon Brewer—The idea of brewing batches of beer in smaller than 5 gallon increments is enticing, I would be one bummed out dude when I made something that I loved and had only a dozen or so bottles.  Bogus!

Dean Foods Completes Spin-off of WhiteWave Foods—I remember when Dean Foods’ purchase of WhiteWave was viewed as the death knell of organic because now the term was going to be abused by the big industrial food machine.  I do not know if the spin-off is a good thing because it means that organic is now big enough to be its own industrial machine.

Shuanghui Buying Smithfield Foods for About $4.72 Billion—You want to talk about a disaster waiting to happen.  China’s food system is a mess and now a Chinese company is buying a U.S. pork producer not known for its sterling food safety record.  The answer is to opt out of industrial meat completely.

16 Not-Quite Meatless Recipes—This is the way to do things if you want to opt out of the industrial meat game.  Use a little bit of meat to enhance a dish, but make vegetables and grains the center piece of the meal.  Mark Bittman’s approach to food is quickly becoming my favorite perspective.

Breeding Nutrition out of Our Food—Great, our food system is not only designed to produce crap but it looks like even the unprocessed foods have been bred to be less healthful than nature intended.  Is there any good news?

How I got Hooked on Weeds—and Why You Should Too—One answer to finding more nutritious food is to eat the things that have not been or cannot be bred for industrial farming.  Who is going to spend the time to genetically sequence dandelions or lamb’s quarter?

How to Find out Where Your Food Comes From without Waiting for Label Laws—The informed consumer is the powerful consumer.  Companies want you to be as ignorant of their practices as possible so that you make decisions based purely on information that they themselves provide.  Kind of sounds like the Catholic Church prior to the Reformation.  Trust us…

Illegal Monsanto GMO Wheat found in Oregon Field—Do these people have any control of what they are doing?  And to think they want less regulation and oversight.  Ok.

California Plan to Overhaul Water System to Cost $25B—Whenever I read about California’s water system and its problem I think about Cadillac Desert and Chinatown.  The history of that state is just interwoven with the story of water.  It’s still going on.

Microplastic Pollution Prevalent in Lakes, Too—It feels like we are quickly approaching a time when the prevalence of plastic in every step of our food chain will be a reality.  Great.

Friday Linkage 5/17/2013

 

Friday Linkage became Monday Linkage because I suck at life right now.

I have been really slow on getting posts up to the site.  I could blame going to Minneapolis for a funeral, being sick for a chunk of the week, a brutal work schedule, and a pending garage sale…but that would be whining. I do not want to sound like a conservative talk show host.

On to the links…

2014 is Looking to be a 7,000 Megawatt Year for Windpower Capacity and Innovation—Bring it on!  The more windpower the better.

Utilities versus Rooftop Solar: What the Fight is Really About—What do utilities fear?  Competition and a loss of control over the means of production.  If that sounds like a return to some Marxist dogma of the 1960s it should because utilities are dinosaurs in terms of business model.

Four Charts On How America Can Do Much More To Tackle Climate Change—  Basically, we have the tools in the toolbox to do a lot more about devastating climate change yet we lack the political willpower to actually address the problem instead spending millions of dollars and countless hours on pointless repeals of Obamacare and investigations into non-existent scandals.

Young Americans Lead Trend to Less Driving—So, how do we follow up the trend of driving less with infrastructure developments that support it?  Our politicians are too stupid and hidebound to think about anything other than highways and roads.

A Powerful Use for Spoiled Food—Why is there not a digester at every major facility that handles spoiled food or other material that could be turned into energy?  This seems like one of those win-wins that we do not get to hear about very often.

Manure Foam Menace Still Haunting Livestock Operations—It sounds like something out of a midnight horror movie…exploding poop foam!  But, it’s not joke.  I love how the industry people are looking to heap antibiotics onto the problem rather than asking the question about the sanity of their broken business model.

First Major Hemp Crop in 60 Years Planted in Colorado—An overlooked effect of the referendum to legalize marijuana in the state of Colorado was that it opened the door for industrial hemp to be planted.  I do not think that hemp is the miracle plant that the hackey sack playing stoner in college tried to convince you it was, but it can be part of the portfolio of solutions.

Who Would Kill a Monk Seal?—I am a big fan of monk seals and other aquatic life, so it strikes me as strange why someone, native Hawaiian or otherwise, would kill a monk seal?   This seems like a case of mistaken guilt like the sea lions being harassed to preserve salmon runs.  The fish are not in decline because of natural predators, okay?

Study of Rare Hops Loving Butterfly gets Boost from Brewer—Beer is good for so much more than just drinking.  It helps the planet, man!

Farm Equipment that Runs on Oats—I am always reminded of post-apocalyptic fiction when I read about people using draft horses.  There is something bucolic and serene about draft animals for the person who is not working as a teamster on a daily basis.

You Absolutely Should not Get Backyard Chickens—This is the exact sentiment that has prevented me from getting backyard chickens even though it has been legal in my town for a couple of years and I have the perfect place for a chicken coop.  Sorry, I know that I would get too attached to the birds and would not be able to end their lives at an economic time.  Then again, if a hen were to provide years of eggs for little more than feed and water could I not offer that bird a comfortable retirement in return?

More Bike Lanes Boost Business—One day, maybe we will actually get to “Copenhagen-ize” our transport infrastructure and be able to bike freely across cities.  It’s a dream.

Why Federal Efforts to Ensure Clean Tap Water Fail to Reach Faucets Nationwide—The infrastructure in the U.S. is so messed up right now, I think this is just one story that could be repeated time and time again in locations nationwide.  How we can allow this situation to endure is beyond me?  Oh right, partisan politics…

Three Friends Make an Attempt to Live Below the Line—Almost since the invention of blogs, people have been documenting their attempts to live on food stamps or a $1 per day.  It’s not totally original, but these efforts do require some attention because of what it says about the inequity in our world and the razor thin margin that so many people live on.

Tasty, and Subversive, Too—World watch out.  Guerrilla gardeners are grafting bearing branches to your ornamental fruit trees.  The world quivers at the thought of some plums falling from the sky!

Life in America: 1983 versus 2013 Infographic—Some of the economic numbers blow my mind.  The median price of a home?  The estimated GDP?  Wow!  Check it out for yourself:

America1983ThenNowInfograph

Friday Linkage 4/26/2013

I hate Earth Day.  Not the actual day itself or the activities that people get involved in because anything that raises awareness is probably a good thing.  No such thing as bad publicity, right?

What I hate about Earth Day is that it begets Earth week or some company claims it is green by changing its logo for a few days and putting some preachy PSAs on the airwaves.  Big freakin’ deal.  Not to get too negative, but the problems we face are about more than recycling or changing a light bulb.  It’s about trying to reorient our way of life to something that is more sustainable.

It would mean something if I saw a PSA that said eating meat is one of the most environmentally destructive choices that an individual makes in a day.  Too bad the beef and pork producers would be all over the network that airs that little tidbit.  Money talks and conscience walks.

On to the links…

Climate Activist Tim DeChristopher Released from Prison—Has there been a person more railroaded by the justice system than Tim DeChristopher?  If an oil company bid on leases and failed to pay no one would go to jail.  But because DeChristopher was unrepentant at trial the judge decided to put him away as an example.  An example of what?  How the system protects the interest of the oil companies over all others?  Pretty much accomplished that your honor.

13 Reasons to be Glad George W. Bush is not President Anymore—I wonder why the good folks at Think Progress stopped at thirteen.  This could have become one of those running memes, like Chuck Norris jokes, that evolves into entire websites.  I also think that they forgot to mention one critical reason I am glad W. is no longer president…we no longer have to hear the “leader of the free world” mispronounce the world nuclear.

What The House GOP Doesn’t Want You To Know About Wind Vs. Oil Tax Credits—Why we subsidize the most profitable industry in the history of the world is beyond me.  Sorry, I cannot figure it out.

Fast-Growing U.S. Solar Industry Now Employs Over 119,000—When does the realization that the solar economy is real hit people?  When someone in your neighborhood puts panels on their home?  When someone in your neighborhood is employed by a solar company?

Could an Artificial Leaf Power Your Car?—It sounds like the Holy Grail of biofuel—an organism that secretes the raw ingredients of biofuel—but researchers appear to be on the right track to developing or isolating organisms that do just that.

Electric Taxi Experiment to Begin in New York City—I cannot think of a more brutal proving ground for a vehicle than being a taxi in a major metropolitan area.  Okay, maybe being owned by a high school kid who is the only person with a license in their circle of friends is also a brutal proving ground.  The experiment may not be totally successful, but the lessons learned will be invaluable.

Europe’s Carbon Market is Sputtering as Prices Dive—I think the drive to establish complicated markets to trade carbon is a dead movement.  It’s much easier to tax carbon at the fuel level and let the economics work themselves out without complicated schemes.  Plus, given the insanity in securities markets I have no faith in the same people to do anything good with carbon markets.  Trust Goldman Sachs?  Sure…

Confused Koala Discovers His Home has been Cut Down—The pictures in this article just made me really sad because this little guy seems to be emoting.  Why do we still allow clear cutting when it has been established that healthy forest ecosystems can be maintained with selective logging?  It seems insane.

Giant Animal Invasions—What is it about Florida and invasive species?  If there is some nasty invasive species, chances are that will be prevalent in Florida or start in Florida or be Florida’s state creature.  That state really is Satan’s hemorrhoid.

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Make a Comeback—Here was a fish that people thought was extinct that is making a comeback.  If we are to preserve our natural world, humans need to take an active role in actually restoring what we have destroyed.  A passive approach will not work.

Colorado Program gets Dirty Autos Off the Road—This seems like a great program that could be replicated nationwide.  Granted, here in a state that gets snow and, therefore, uses salt on the roads rust tends to claim vehicles before they become rolling relics of a different era.

Natural Gas Use in Long Haul Trucks Expected to Rise—This is a great example of an appropriate technology being used in a targeted way.  It’s insane to think about recapitalizing all private automobiles and fueling stations to a new paradigm, but commercial trucks can make the conversion because the routes are more constrained, the purchasers more concentrated, and the economic imperative more immediate.

Chris Bianco Talks Pizza and His New Place in Tucson—Chris Bianco is the man!  I have been to his pizzeria in Phoenix once—it was worth the wait—and enjoyed every pie that we ordered.  Now with a sandwhich shop and outlet in Tucson his reach can be extended.  Purveyors of great food should get lauded every chance we get.

The New Modern Garden: Edibles, Chickens, and Creativity—It’s so awesome to see gardens moving beyond the sterile, tilled rows of my childhood.  There is something intrinsically beautiful about these gardens that embrace organic lines and chaotic structures.  Plus, chickens are kind of cool.