Tag Archives: marijuana

Friday Linkage 9/14/2018

It’s been seventeen years since the attacks of September 11th.  It is amazing to believe that the students entering college this fall have no personal living memory of that day when it is so indelibly scarred on so many of our consciences.  Time marches on without regard to our humanity.

It is also amazing to think about the path we chose to follow as a country in the aftermath of September 11th.  The administration of George W. Bush, which seems like a gauzy dream during these days of Trump, got us into two wars from which we are not out of seventeen years later.  All for a total cost of more than $1.5 trillion and counting.

What could we have done with $1.5 trillion in the United States?  Remember, this money is gone and what it bought is used up, blown up, stolen, or just plain abandoned in the desert.  In essence, we have gotten nothing for our blood and treasure.

On to the links…

The Most Ambitious Climate Plan In History—In the coming years the battle lines will be drawn over a carbon tax.  All the other mechanisms, carrot and/or stick, will be shelved in favor of a simple carbon tax.  As they say on sports talk radio, book it.

U.S. Budget Deficit Widens to Fifth-Highest Ever, CBO Reports—Any time a Republican says “Tax cuts pay for themselves” please ask them for evidence to back up that claim that does not come from the Heritage Foundation.  It is not that the United States does not have enough money for a progressive agenda, it’s that America is being looted by the right wing for corporate interests.

Trump Administration Rushes To Lease Federal Lands—These bastards know that they are living on borrowed time, so they better get while the getting is good.  Teapot Dome scandal will have nothing on these grifters when the final accounting is complete.

The E.P.A.’s Review of Mercury Rules Could Remake Its Methods for Valuing Human Life and Health—In Trump’s America your life is worth less than a coal baron’s ability to make a lot of money.  There is no other reason to change this rule except to mollify the retrograde coal companies that are one of the last groups to actually like Donald Trump.

Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air—Oh wait, oil and gas bros also still like Donald Trump because his administration is doing yeoman’s work for them.

Scott Pruitt in Talks with Coal Company for his Next Job—Nothing says looking out for Americans’ interests quite like taking a job with the type of company you favored over the aforementioned Americans’ interests not three months after leaving office in a cloud of scandal.  Maybe they offered him a Trump mattress and some of that special lotion as a signing bonus?

Cover the U.S. In 89 Percent Trees, or Go Solar—Why not do both?  I love trees and I love solar.  Until every south and west facing roof is covered in solar panels we have not done enough.

California Commits To 100 Percent Clean Energy By 2045—It’s big and it’s bold.  Is it possible?  I don’t know, but watching California lead the pack will be interesting.  I would love to see Iowa go 100% wind powered and beat everyone to the punch.

For States That Have Already Met Their Renewable Energy Goals, A New Question: Now What?—If you do not think local and state elections matter then consider this possibility: states that have met their RPS could just stay put and do nothing more going into the future if there is no push from local constituencies.  Or, these same states could do more.  Your call.

Sony Vows to Use 100 Percent Renewable Electricity by 2040—If your state won’t commit to renewables maybe your favorite company can.  Heck, some of these companies have a carbon footprint of small countries.

How Solar Power Saved $6.7 Million on a Tuesday—It got really hot in the Northeast U.S.  However, solar power pushed peak demand pricing to later in the day when things cooled down by providing up to 20% of the electricity on the grid.  What did coal do for you today?

Coal-Dependent Utility Fights Efforts to Reveal Whether Power Plants are Cost-Efficient—These are the boring but important stories to watch.  State utility boards are the definition of boring government business.  That being said, these same utility boards hold hearings that can eviscerate the economic basis for continuing to use coal.

Largest Offshore Wind Farm Opens off England’s Coast—I have to imagine that offshore wind is a Republican nightmare.  It is wind power, so they hate it.  However, it is offshore so any protest about appearance or the environment would also argue against offshore oil and gas drilling.  What is someone bought and paid for by Exxon cash to do?

Coal-Killing Energy Storage Grows By 200% In US—The last thing coal has going for it is that it is baseload power.  It can be counted on to deliver power when it is scheduled to deliver power.  However, the intermittency of renewables can be mitigated with some measure of storage.

Fossil Fuel Demand Set To Peak In The 2020s—It should be our mission in life to see that this peak happens sooner than forecast and that demand declines at a precipitous rate thereafter.

Large Trucks are Biggest Culprits of Near-Road Air Pollution—This is just one of the many reasons why electrification of transportation should focus on commercial trucks and busses first.

By 2040, Most of the World Won’t Have Enough Water to Meet Demand Year-Round—If you do not things are going to get turbulent and violent in the coming decades just wait until the taps run dry in many parts of the world.  Do you still want to be watering a lawn in Utah?

How to Eat Well – and Save the Planet—Most of these ideas are not rocket science.  Eat less meat.  Avoid high fructose corn syrup.  It it’s processed, leave it on the shelf at the store.  And so on…

Fundraisers for Sick Restaurant Employees Represent the Failure of American Health Care—The other battle line in America, in addition to a carbon tax, is with regard to health care.  The right wing does not care that you cannot get health care.  The right wing wants you to get sick and die, but only after spending all of your assets to obtain some measure of care.  They want you to die with a single red cent left to your name.

More Older Americans Are Turning To Marijuana—If you have any doubts about the future of marijuana legalization in the United States imagine what the situation will be like when AARP and baby boomers get behind the trend?  Federal legalization is a fait accompli.

Airbus SeaWing Kite Sails To Cut Fuel Costs For Cargo Ships 20%Haven’t we seen this idea before?

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Friday Linkage 3/31/2017

It is starting to feel like spring in Iowa, which means it has rained for several of the past few days and the temps are holding to a balmy mid-40s range.  Joy.

Despite the less than stellar weather it is time to start thinking about warmer weather projects and the list is long this year.  I cannot wait to get my hands dirty again.

On to the links…

What If They Killed The Clean Power Plan & Nobody Cared?—This is the best case scenario for the next few years.  We can only hope that the cost curve keeps bending in renewable energy’s favor and that coal continues to die a long, slow death.

Top US Coal Boss Robert Murray: Trump ‘Can’t Bring Mining Jobs Back’—Donald Trump lied, no big surprise, because coal jobs are not coming back.  No one is going to reopen old mines in Appalachia and the mines in the western U.S. are all about big machines.

Clean Energy Employs More People than Fossil Fuels in Nearly Every U.S. State—Seems like the jobs argument is pretty simple.  Granted, Exxon Mobil does not give donations to its political cronies to promote solar jobs.

Do Environmental Regulations Reduce Employment? Not Really.—Facts do not matter to the current administration and its Russian stooges, so I imagine that a fact based argument about environmental regulations would be shouted down as fake news or some such bullshit.

Alaska Warms to Solar Power as Prices Fall and Benefits Grow—This is Alaska.  Other than Wyoming fewer states are more associated with fossil fuels than Alaska.  If Alaska goes solar what’s left?

As Energy Mix Becomes Cleaner, Minnesotans Paying Less for It—So a cleaner power grid is a cheaper power grid.  Okay, who wants to argue against cheaper and cleaner?

Tesla Solar in Hawaii is a Sign of Things to Come—The future is now.

Australian Rooftop Solar Installs Are Up 43% In 2017—Australia should be covered in solar panels.  The country is more sun baked than any I can think of outside of the Middle East.

Rescuing Los Angeles—I am beginning to think the future will look a lot like this small patch of Los Angeles.  As institutions are increasingly prevented from being effective by elected leaders beholden to deceitful special interests solutions to livability will be hyper-local and inherently DIY.

Solving Global Dietary Problems is a Bigger Challenge than Climate Change—Meat is bad for the climate.  There is little logical argument against this statement.  Also, western societies eat too much meat.  Again, there is little logical argument against this statement.

Cycling in Minnesota Creates Thousands of Jobs and Cuts Health-Care Spending—Basically, cycling is awesome.

5 Packaging Materials You Didn’t Know are Difficult to Recycle—How many of these packaging materials have you or I blindly thrown in the recycling bin?

Illinois Considers Legalizing Marijuana for a Fiscal Boost—This is the end of prohibition on marijuana in the United States.  Once the first state does it for economic reasons every other non-legalized state will follow.  It’s all about the Benjamins.

U.S. Craft Brewers Up 6% in Volume, 10% in Retail Dollars—Craft beer in the U.S. continues to grow at a rapid clip. However, I am worried about the long term prospects for so many breweries.

Rapidgrass Sings The I-70 Blues—If you have ever thought your ski vacation would begin soon after seeing the mountains poke through Front Range haze on I-76 you have not experienced the I-70 blues.

Friday Linkage 7/10/2015

Man, it feels like fall around here right now. It is just about perfect for a summer in Iowa. Global warming be damned.

On to the links…

All of the World’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions in one Awesome Interactive Pie Chart—This pie chart is pretty freaking amazing.

Free the Snake: Restoring America’s Greatest Salmon River—If you have watched the documentary DamNation you need to watch this short about the Snake River.

Marijuana Growing Spikes Denver Electricity Demand—This might be the one downside to marijuana legalization in Denver. It’s not really sustainable to grow something inside under artificial lights. Maybe a new generation of growers using greenhouses instead of grow rooms can change the paradigm.

How The Oil Industry Got Two Regulators Fired For Doing Their Jobs—If you think that the government can actually regulate oil and gas companies you need to realize the power that these companies wield.

How Solar Power Is Learning To Share: The Rapid Growth Of Community Solar Gardens—Community solar is kicking ass. It will probably become a talking point for right wingers because the word community is too close to communism for their brains to handle. Too bad people like it a lot. Kind of like Obamacare.

White House Plans Rooftop Solar Panel Initiative for Inner-City Neighborhoods—Solar is generally something enjoyed and employed by the relatively well-off. Solar leasing changes this to a degree, but a lot of people are left out of the benefits. Here is an effort to change that dynamic.

Solar In New York State Grew 300% From 2011-2014—Think about that growth rate for a moment. Anything that grows that fast is amazing.

Billionaire On Way To Building Largest Wind Farm In North America… And It’s Not Warren Buffett—Philip Anschutz is a name you will be familiar with if you spend any time in Colorado or Wyoming. The billionaire is now building a pair of windfarms with the capacity to generate some 3,000 megawatts of clean power. The irony is that the facilities are located in Carbon County, Wyoming.

Kenya’s New Wind Farm Will Provide Nearly One Fifth Of The Country’s Power—Granted, Kenya’s electricity demands are nothing like the U.S. or other developed Western countries, but one-fifth of a nation’s power coming from the wind is pretty sweet.

Belize Going 100% Renewables As Part Of 10 Island Challenge—How come Belize can make this kind of commitment and we in the U.S. cannot make the same kind of effort?

Alaska’s on Fire and It May Make Climate Change Even Worse—Great. Alaska is on fire and the carbon release is going to make climate change worse. Awesome.

Walmart Website Riddled with Deceptive Made in USA Claims—Walmart lies. Big surprise.

Urban Farmers: Community Food Growing around the World – In Pictures—Urban farms, like community solar, are hot right now. But these gardeners have nothing on the urban farming of Cuba. I have seen these operations in person and some are truly impressive.

Friday Linkage 7/3/2015

Damn, it’s July. Where did June go? That’s right, I spent the month trying to put as many miles on my bikes as possible and spending the rest of my time enjoying a few moments of clam between rain storms.

On to the links…

Americans Are Drinking Less Coffee Thanks to K-Cups—So, we are drinking less coffee but paying more for the privilege of brewing it a single cup at a time. How is this a good trade off?

The Surprising Environmental Reason Weed Should Be Legal—Marijuana should be legal nationwide because the war on drugs is a sham perpetuated by the prison industrial complex. It also appears that there is an environmental benefit to legalization.

Solar Power Per Capita & Wind Power Per Capita Leaders—Lichtenstein is the leader in per capita solar? Really?

Largest Solar Plant On Planet Earth — Solar Star — Comes Online—With all the hype about distributed solar—of which I am a big proponent—sometimes the scale of these utility projects gets lost. Solar Star in California has a rated capacity of 579 megawatts of funky yellow sun fueled electrical power.

How Renewables are Thriving in the US Thanks to State Policies—Government policy can advance the cause of renewables despite what right wingers might say:

CESA-Wind-and-Solar-infographic-FINAL_1-465x1024

Total Plans 500-800 MW Solar Power Capacity In Bolivia—Bolivia has not ever come up in the links before that I can remember. The French energy titan Total is putting some serious money into renewables in that country.

3 Out Of 4 New Solar Homes In NSW To Include Battery Storage—The more I read and the more I think about the topic the more that I come to the conclusion that Australia seems like the perfect laboratory for the distribution of massive amounts of residential solar.

The West Is Literally On Fire, And The Impacts Could Be Widespread—As the climate changes as a result of global warming we are going to have to deal with the massive impacts of wildfires in drought stricken regions.

Californians Getting Drought Message: Water Usage Plunges—The state still has not addressed some of the agricultural usage insanity—like growing alfalfa to feed to cows or to export—but the residents of the state seem to be getting the idea that el Nino will not rescue them from drought this time.

Mark Bittman Wants You to Know the Drought Isn’t Your Fault—The drought is not our fault, but our food choices may be making things worse. Given the water situation in California there is no logical reason why cows should be residents of that state. None.

Corn Syrup’s DC Attack on Sugar Could Hit Minnesota Beet Industry—Talk about some lobby-on-lobby crime. These two subsidized industries need to get of the government welfare.

Hawaii Just Became The First State To Ban Plastic Bags At Grocery Checkouts—A big thank you to the aloha state for banning the distribution of single use plastic bags. These things are the scourge of the earth.

Colorado Feels like the Future

This is not some screed where I quote from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. For those of you who have not tortured yourself by actually attempting to read that magnum opus of conservative crap hole rhetoric, Colorado plays a major thematic role. Instead this is my thoughts about how Colorado seems to be moving toward a vision of what I think the United States will increasingly look like in the coming decades.

As I spent more than a week in the Centennial State I began to formulate some thoughts. Here goes:

In terms of politics, the state is polarized. Outside of Denver metroplex that stretches to the north to include the liberal paradise of Boulder, the state is relatively conservative. However, population trends and other demographic forces do not favor the continued strong influence of constituencies outside of the more progressive Denver metroplex. Sure, conservatives and libertarians will make a lot of noise—witness the recent tomfoolery about secession in the northern part of the state—but those voices will increasingly lack electoral heft save for the most gerrymandered of districts. Don’t believe me? Look at Representative Steve King of Iowa. He’s the Republican douche who prattled on about immigrants being drug mules and what not. Real class act. Earlier this month he held a “rally” in his district and this was the turnout:

Steve-king-hate-rally-2

Oh yeah. So, while hateful views and rhetoric like the sewage being spilled from Rep. King’s mouth may play well of Fox News—which has a demographic problem itself as it’s average viewer is easily old enough to receive full Social Security benefits—it is increasingly not something most people want to hear. Remember, Steve King is from a district in a state that gave then-candidate Barack Obama his push to the national stage with a stunning caucus win and twice voted for the man to become President. This is also a state that has allowed gay marriage since 2009 and has not imploded in some biblical event. This is what the future looks like for the right if increasingly exclusionary voices are the only ones to get heard.

The state’s left leaning politics, combined with a libertarian bent towards personal liberty, have already pushed forward one of the most progressive agenda items in the United States…the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults. Imagine that the U.S. police and prison industrial complex were no longer calling the shots in support of a broken system that enriches those exact entities at the expense of the greater nation. Imagine a cessation to the incessant drug war that has consumed U.S. society for the better part of forty years. I saw this future in Colorado where an adult can walk into a shop and buy weed as if it were no more prohibited than alcohol. Amazing.

Colorado’s prominence in the pantheon of craft beer is unquestionable and I am an unabashed fan of many of the breweries that call the state home. More so these breweries represent a more local and human scale future to the production of the foodstuffs that we consume. For anyone who does not believe that smaller scale producers can survive in a broader industrial context I would point you to the thriving craft beer industry in general and those breweries in Colorado in particular. Why do I believe that these examples of small scale success bode well for other endeavors into more localized and human scale production that is better for our bodies, souls, and planet? It is harder to think of an industry with more entrenched giants than beer—the formerly big three of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors—who over time erected a gauntlet of barriers to entry in an effort to create a moat around the market for beer in the United States. Guess what? The only segment of the beer industry that is growing is craft beer and it has a long way to go.

The state is also dealing with the nasty effects of climate change in real time. While the impacts of climate change might be theoretical for other states it is already rearing its ugly head in Colorado. Drive through any national forest in the state and you will see acre upon acre of dead timber that was killed by a beetle normally held in check by cold winters and healthy trees. The increasingly warmer winters and unreliable snow are forcing the vibrant ski tourism industry to evaluate a future where there might not be so many days where people are willing to shell out big bucks for lift tickets. If you think that this is just about the high Rockies you would be mistaken. In Colorado Springs the community has dealt with massive wildfires, exacerbated by unreliable rainfall, and the subsequent problems of flooding when rains finally soak denuded hillsides. Many communities along the Front Range were devastated last year when 1,000 year floods—whatever that means in a climate change reality—inundated communities at the base of the mountains.

There are other things that I saw when I was driving that made me think maybe, just maybe there is hope in our future if Colorado is the guide. It’s not a comprehensive network and it bypasses some communities, but the efforts to bring light rail across the Denver area are laudable. Soon, a light rail extension will finally link the airport—which is in bumblefuck relative to downtown—and the city of Denver. It’s still a place ruled by the car, but stand still long enough and you will likely be mowed down by someone riding a bike.

Get a chance to drive around and you will start to notice solar panels everywhere. If you start at the airport there are fields of them near the road leading to the parking structures. From there you will see solar panels on top of houses and on commercial buildings. Heck, right off I-25 in the heart of deep red El Paso County—where they renamed the freeway the Ronald Reagan Highway or some such shit—there is a big array. Solar gardens sell out in no time flat and you see installer trucks driving all over the place.

I am rambling a bit, but I wanted to get these thoughts out there soon after my return from Colorado. What do you think?

You Must Read—Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution

Perhaps more important, the simple ancient cannabis plant provides, after industrial harvest, a residual feedstock for regional-based sustainable energy production that cuts out at once Monsanto, BP, and Middle East oil dictators. And it gets out Ring Around the Collar. [Page 105]

9781603585439I am unabashed fan of Doug Fine. I loved Farewell, My Subaru. I told you to read Too High To Fail. So, I am going back to the well one more time and asking that you spend a couple of hours reading his latest book Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution.

It feels like we are at an inflection point in the silly War on Drugs and the collateral damage that the over four decade long folly. You would think that after forty years of failed policy the answer would finally be do something different rather than more of the same. However, this is America and doing more of the same usually means that someone is making a lot of money off the failed status quo.

Led by Colorado and Washington, two states that boldly legalized recreational marijuana through ballot initiatives, the conversation is completely different surrounding all issues regarding the war on drugs. One of the long term casualties in this war was industrial hemp. Hemp is not psychoactive, but because of hyperventilating officials who thought that cartels would farm some Sour Diesel in with acres of hemp the crop remained illegal. Oh how some citizens voting have upended that apple cart.

Fields of hemp have been planted in Colorado. Kentucky is going forward with its own program that has the backing of current U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell—yes, that Mitch McConnell from the “repeal Obamacare because it is evil” camp—and his opponent in this fall’s upcoming mid-term election. If someone can find anything that a Republican and a Democrat can agree on these days it should be a cause for massive celebration.

The author shares my opinion of hemp aficionados who claim that the plant is a panacea for everything. Don’t you remember that person in college who had a bookshelf of odd little paperbacks that claimed hemp could take the place of every modern chemical, but it was forbidden because the big chemical companies were afraid of going out of business.  That image will endure because there are people out there still toeing that line. However, the reality is that there are a lot of smart and ambitious people in the U.S. and, especially, abroad who are putting their noses to the grindstone to build a modern hemp industry.

The hemp plant may not be the solution, but as I have said many times it can be a tool in the box for solving problems. Given the apparent fragility of our climate and our need to find alternatives to destructive modern practices don’t you think that we should gather every potential solution and put them to work? The answer is self-evident.

The other good point that I am glad is driven home is that hemp will not be easy. Sure, it grows like a weed but unlike corn or soybeans there is not a lot of institutional knowledge in the U.S. given that the plant has not been legal to cultivate since before World War II. Plus, seed varieties need to be matched to climate, geography, and intended industrial purpose to maximize the potential return.

The books reads a little bit like blog posts…er, dispatches that seem rushed to print rather than woven into a central narrative because I imagine there was a perceived time crunch to get the book into print. The landscape surrounding the reintroduction of industrial hemp in the United States is changing so rapidly that printing words on dead trees almost seems like a quaint exercise in the self-confidence of one’s own ability to project the future. The book is short—I read it on the outbound flight to Denver this weekend, which took a little more than 90 minutes—so the investment is minimal. Hemp, it’s the future.

Friday Linkage 4/11/2014

This week was such a bummer. The most recent apparent chupacabra turned out to be bogus. One day we will find this mythical beast nuzzling with a friendly sasquatch. Oh well.

On to the links…

Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit Their Highest Point In 800,000 Years—Welcome to the era where human behavior has altered the basic functioning of the planet.

Wind Power Provided 4.8% of U.S. Electricity in January—Damn, that’s a big number. Granted, I live in a state—Iowa—where wind power can be over one quarter of our power any given day and is growing with the addition of some big projects coming on line.

The Energy Haves and Have-Nots—What is the future of distributed solar? I do not know, but this seems to make the case that it will be the domain of the rich in sunny climes. Great.

Here’s Why the World Is Spending Less on Renewable Energy—The spending drop is not all bad news because the per megawatt cost is dropping so much that it was bound the exert some downward pressure on spending in the near term. Granted, it would be nice to see an increase in spending and a decrease in per megawatt cost delivering a double whammy of market penetration.

Five Pathways to Post-Capitalist ‘Renaissance’ by a Former Oil Man—I thought that there some excellent thoughts and ideas presented here about the imminent future.

Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards Under Attack Again by ALEC –ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, writes “model” legislation that Republican legislators nationwide introduce as bills with little or no modification. It’s just another right wing front for big money interests.

What Should Happen To Coal Ash Ponds?—The EPA estimates, remember that no one knows for sure, that there are over 600 coal ash ponds in the U.S. This is a silent danger lurking in a lot of communities in this country.

Thank You, Rio Tinto: British Mining Giant Divests From Pebble Mine—The Pebble Mine is a bad idea no matter how you look at it unless you are trying to make money off environmental destruction. Rio Tinto divesting from the project has to be considered a death knell for this project.

Electric Cars Growing 100% Every Year—The growth rate is great, but the key factoid to me is that you can buy 11 plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid cars for less than $30K. Why is $30K an important number? It’s less than the average price of a new car in the U.S.

The Capitalism of Catastrophe—I have my problem with the entire prepper or survivalist community. It’s no secret. It’s turned into an apocalypse industrial complex complete with tradeshows.

Another Cause of California’s Drought: Pot Farms—I would not say that the pot farms, illicit or otherwise, are a cause of the drought. However, the diversion of water for these operations is exacerbating the supply issue for sure.

Poachers Attack Beloved Elders of California, Its Redwoods—Some ass clowns want burl lumber and are cutting down ancient redwoods to get it. Really? This article does blame both meth tweakers and the Chinese, so it’s got that going for it.

Climate Change: The Hottest Thing in Science Fiction—Now let’s see the young adult blockbuster about a climate change refugee who must also deal with her coming of age in a brutal and foreign land. Kind of sounds good actually.

Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products—Basically, if you add extra sweeteners to honey it will no longer be considered honey.

How Food Marketers Made Butter the Enemy—Butter was an easy mark. The very name is synonymous with gluttony. Too bad natural fats are real food and in moderation not bad for us. Oh, and food marketers wanted to sell us vegetable oil shot with hydrogen which is killing us. God bless America. Or is that ‘Murica.