Tag Archives: meat

Friday Linkage 5/29/2020

Just when you thought things could not go from bad to worse in 2020 the Minneapolis police came to the rescue to reignite the storm over police killings of men of color.  Oh, and the prototype for “Karen” really outdid herself with that show in Central Park.

How is it that it is acceptable for men to cosplay as insurgents, publicly threaten duly elected officials, and verbally threaten police officers all while armed with weapons similar to what is carried by uniformed members of the military with nary a summons while protesters—also exercising their Constitutionally protected right to freely assemble—are met with fully equipped riot police?  Oh wait, one group is mostly comprised of middle-aged white men and the other is comprised of a heterogeneous slice of non-Trump America.  Got it.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

US Lets Corporations Delay Paying Environmental Fines Amid Pandemic—In the final eight months of the most corrupt presidential administration in American history—yes, I am projecting how history with judge Donald Trump and the rest of his enablers—there will be a lot more actions like these.

What The Post-Pandemic World Needs Is A Solar Energy Revolution—How about we just subsidize every rooftop solar project in the United States?  Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people put to work installing clean, green solar electricity that will pay dividends for the next twenty five years.  That’s right, nothing like this will ever happen with the McConnell-Trump axis of corruption in Washington D.C.

Coronavirus Cost Colorado’s Solar Industry Thousands of Jobs, but There’s One Bright Spot—Bring in some stimulus subsidies and watch the jobs follow.  All that extra rooftop solar would just be a bonus.

The Climate Case for the Four-Day Work Week—Post-pandemic I hope that we reexamine the behaviors that we took for granted pre-pandemic.  Is this the death of commuting culture in the United States that has driven so much post-World War II development?

It’s Time to Have a Conversation About Smarter Meat Eating—It took coronavirus for us to finally consider the impact of our insatiable desire for meat.  It is killing the planet.  It is killing the workers who process the meat.  It is damaging our health.  Is there anything or anyone it is not harming.

The UK’s CO2 Emissions Dropped To A Hundred-Year Low During Lockdown—This image just blows my mind:

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Renewables Crushing Coal in the USA— Won 100 Days Already In 2020—The white space represents a day or days when the production of electricity via renewables was greater than the production of electricity via coal:

US-renewables-vs.-Coal-2019-vs.-2020-YTD-UCS-from-EIA-1-1024x281

Renewable Energy May be Switched Off as Demand Plummets—Think about phrases like “record low consumption.”  How do we carry forward some of these behavioral changes post-pandemic?

Nearly 85% Of Power Capacity Added In India In Q1 2020 Was From Solar & Wind—The problem in India is that there is still a lot of coal being burned alongside a lot of other industrial pollution.

US Wind Power Plants Show Little Decline With Age—Looks like even older wind turbines are still cranking out a lot of the electricity that they were rated for when new.  I guess this kills another old say about the deterioration of generating capacity over time.  How is that shale oil well doing in Year 2?

Will Floating Turbines Usher in a New Wave of Offshore Wind?—Imagine placing a wind farm offshore of the eastern seaboard of the United States with each turbine generating the equivalent of thousands of homes’ electricity demand.  This is major change.

Rooftop Solar & Grid-Scale Storage Move Forward In Hawai’i—Hawaii is our great laboratory for renewable energy.  Due to high prices, an isolated grid, and social pressure there is a chance that Hawaii will go 100% renewable in the near future.  What they learn on the islands are lessons that can be brought over to the mainland.

Xcel Exploring Renewable Natural Gas Options—If this is an economically viable solution, why could it not be scaled across the United States?

World’s Largest All-Electric Aircraft Set for First Flight—It’s a relatively small first step, but anything that can reduce air travel’s emissions is a step in the right direction.  Or we could just stop flying.

The Recycling Dilemma: Good Plastic, Bad Plastic?—The only good plastic is one that does not end up in the waste stream, recycling or otherwise.

Toxic Coast: Cleaning Up a Century of Industrial Waste in New Jersey—New Jersey has been the butt of toxic waste jokes for fifty years and, apparently, with good reason.

Grenfell Fears Prevent Timber Building Boom—Is it not ironic that a disastrous fire caused in part by petrochemical-based building cladding is causing delays in the construction of wood buildings?  Never mind study after study showing mass timber construction to have a fire-retardant effect inherent in its design.  Facts never got in the way of a good industry lobby.

Threat to Billions of Ash Trees by Deadly Beetle Could be Thwarted as Scientists Identify Protective Genes—This reminds me of people looking for genes to aid in the fight against chestnut blight in the United States.

A Pizzeria Owner Made Money Buying his Own $24 Pizzas from DoorDash for $16—You have to love “new money” business models.

Friday Linkage 5/8/2020

Where do we go from here?

If you are a Trumplican, it is time to reopen everything.  Consequences be damned!  The economy is worth more than any single life.

Isn’t it ironic that the political party that supposedly defends the sanctity of the life of innocents—at least until these lives are out of the womb and require any sort of assistance—is the same party telling people that there is an acceptable level of death in order to make sure the stock market rebounds.  If you thought the money changers were a bad sort these people are historically awful.

The election is just six months away and I cannot fathom how people could vote for Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell or Joni Ernst or any other member of the Republican death cult.  However, no matter what these people do there is a core of the American population that will not abandon them regardless of how bad things get.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

‘There’s a sense that celebrities are irrelevant’: Has Coronavirus Shattered Our Fame Obsession?—We can hope that people stop caring about Kardashians or, gasp, Trumps when this is all over.  Our obsession with celebrity is one of the things that got us into this mess.  When you elect a failed reality television star to lead your country expect the result to be like a failed reality television show.

Local: A Glimmer of Hope for a Post-Pandemic World—I think there is a blueprint here in hyper local craft beer.  These are brewers who sell almost exclusively through their taprooms to their immediate communities eschewing the rate race of commercial accounts and package beer.  Now apply that to a restaurant or a salon.  Imagine the city of the future is really just a series of mashed up little villages.

Need More Outdoor Public Space? Maybe Cities Already Have It.—Golf courses.  Never has so much land been allocated to such a small sliver of the population.  God help you if you consider closing a golf course as visor clad retirees will fill a meeting and yell about access.  As if they were toddling over on foot to play a round.

The Oil Execs on Trump’s “Opening the Country” Council Are Major GOP Donors—He really is the best president that money can buy because he does not care about anything else.  Except for Kentucky Fried Chicken.  The man loves fried chicken.

How Working From Home Will Impact Oil Demand Forever—Even if we do not stay at massive levels of working from home in the future, I have to believe that something structural has changed in our work culture that will allow us to break the daily commute cycle that drives so much demand for energy.

False Solutions to Climate Change: Transportation—If the current crisis has shown us anything it is that maybe there is a way forward where we just drive and fly less.  Fewer miles driven means fewer miles of roads are needed.  And the virtuous cycle continues.

London Looking to Increase Cycling Tenfold after the Coronavirus—The humble bicycle will be our salvation.

The US Wind Industry Installed over 1,800 Megawatts in First Quarter, but the Coronavirus Remains a Risk—Every clean, green megawatt is a good thing.  If we can keep our demand lower these wind megawatts will replace dirty coal megawatts.

Looming Coal and Nuclear Plant Closures Put ‘Just Transition’ Concept to the Test—We are getting to the point in the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables where we are forced to reckon with the economic/social impact of plant closures and the ripple effects through an energy economy.  This is a good problem to have to solve.

City of Houston Surprises: 100% Renewable Electricity — $65 Million in Savings in 7 Years—Houston, the beating heart of the American fossil fuel industry, is a surprisingly progressive place.  Of course, saving millions of dollars will turn even the crustiest wildcatter into a greenie.

Microplastics Found in Greater Quantities than Ever before on Seabed—We will be known as the plastic age when generations of the future dig up the layers of garbage we have left behind.

Bioplastics Developer Raises $133 Million in New Funding in Quest to Replace Single-Use Plastics—I have learned not to get my hopes up when it comes to bioplastic.  Most bioplastic innovations are just ways for the plastic industry to push more plastic into the waste stream at the expense of doing something truly beneficial.

Cutting U.S. Meat Consumption by Half would Reduce Dietary Emissions by 35% within Decade—As the public learns just how brutal the meat packing industry is in America in 2020 maybe we can stop blindly buying cellophane wrapped packages of steaks for the grill.  Each purchase perpetuates a system that debases humans, tortures animals, and is bad for the planet.

Your Perfect Green Lawn Is a Buzz Kill—As I sit here typing I can see a lawn care company applying chemicals to a neighbors lawn in a hopeless attempt to turn a crappy lawn into a green carpet.  The problem is that the underlying soil is junk, but my neighbor has no desire to put in the hard work to rejuvenate the soil.  He just wants to spray some chemicals and hope for the best.  The lawn care industry is only too happy to take his money.

Pakistan Turns Unemployed Workers into Tree Planters—Why can’t we do this in the United States?  Hire people in rural communities to plant trees in burnt over areas.  It’s jobs and climate change mitigation all in one.

Tyson and Nestle Join the Faux Meat Fray

There was a time when meat free alternatives to hamburgers were buried in the bottom shelf of the freezer case of most grocery stores.  Names like Boca and Morningstar Farms were familiar to people trying to avoid animal flesh in their diet while still being able to attend backyard cookouts.

My oh my, have the times changed.  The meat free hamburger patties from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat—the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger respectively—have become the “hot” food items.  Maybe not quite Popeye’s Chicken sandwich territory but popular nonetheless.  Heck, the Burger King near my place of employment has a banner advertising the availability of the Impossible Whopper.  Who would have thought that possible just a few short years ago?

Naturally, as food startups have conducted an insurgency with regard to meat free alternatives the big food companies have not been ignorant or complacent when it comes to the category.  On a recent trip to the grocery store I came across two new entries:

IMG_20191214_171643

Raised and Rooted is Tyson Foods brand that is going after the meat free market.  Sweet Earth Foods was an independent company making meat free that was acquired in 2017 by food giant Nestle USA.  Yes, the Raised and Rooted patties were on sale for $3.  Gotta’ love HyVee’s manager’s specials.

I could spend a lot of time going over the ingredients and what not.  Suffice it to say, these are fairly standard “next generation” meat free hamburger patties that eschew black beans and soy for pea protein and coconut oil.

The two patties look fairly different before getting placed on the grill:

IMG_20191214_171601

I apologize for not getting some after grilling photos for educational purposes, but dinner was coming together at the same time and the kids were hungry.  Sometimes life just takes over.

Surprisingly, the Raised and Rooted patty was pretty good.  It was good in a fast food innocuous meat kind of way.  The kind of patty that provides enough of a base for some serious condiments.  The patty had enough texture and bite without being overly dense.  This is probably the greatest trick for any fake meat hamburger patty to master as traditional hamburger patties have a strange mixture of crumbly meat and patty integrity.

I am also thankful that the Raised and Rooted patty did not try and emulate any “bleed” from the cooked burger.  I feel that this is the most hyped and unnecessary component of the Impossible Burger.  I do not need a patty to leak a puddle of ersatz meat juice as long as it tastes good.

The Awesome Burger from Sweet Earth Foods was wrong in all the ways that Boca Burgers of the past were guilty.  It cooked down to a dense, somewhat dry puck of protein with a strangely vegetal aftertaste.  This the kind of patty that someone tries once and is done for life.  Come to think of it, the patty exhibited many of the same sins that a frozen pizza from the same company possessed.  It is not enough in this day and age to be just a plant based alternative.  It has to be plant based and good.

Friday Linkage 11/22/2019

This week one of the true giants of craft brewing announced a sale to a multi-national beverage conglomerate.  Fort Collins based New Belgium Brewery–the people behind Fat Tire Amber Ale–sold out to the group behind Kirin. This is the fourth largest craft brewery in the United States and the eleventh largest brewery overall.  Middle craft beer is dead. Support your small local brewery. Like today.

On to the links…

Keystone Spill Has Affected Nearly 10x More Land Than Was Estimated–Every time that someone brings up an argument in favor of an oil pipeline, especially the Keystone XL pipeline, just link to this article.  There is no such thing as a perfectly safe and secure oil or gas pipeline. The only perfectly safe and secure oil or gas pipeline is one that is not built.

See How Good the World Could be in 2040—If We Act on Climate Solutions Now–Lost in a lot of the pessimism about climate change specifically and the state of the world in general is that a future dystopia is not the only path available to use if we act.  Sure, right wing fanatics would have you believe that accelerationism–which is really just a pet theory for apocalypse nuts–is driving the world to the end times but they are wrong.

How Much Energy do We Really Need?–This is the kind of question that we need to be asking because it cuts at the very heart of the perpetual growth arguments of modern economic theory.  If we do not need to grow in perpetuity than we will need less energy than forecast in the future.

How to Cut U.S. Carbon Pollution by Nearly 40 Percent in 10 Years–Common sense and simple solutions to accelerate the climate change solution are available.  The problem is that a portion of this country’s politicians have no incentive whatsoever to embrace anything other than reactionary politics.  This is how we got a place where a conservative solution to health care coverage became the right wing’s bugaboo. We are doomed as long as these people are given any agency.

A Carbon Tax Won’t Kill the Economy–When someone at Forbes writes this article you have to wonder if the worm has turned.  It could also be that even the people at Forbes realize that America is relatively undertaxed and a carbon tax would go a long way to addressing destructive behaviors.  Somewhere Grover Norquist is hiding under his bedsheets and crying.

Two of America’s Biggest Coal Plants Closed this Month–This is why we keep pounding away at the problem by increasing efficiency, installing solar panels, and fighting for the true costs of fossil fuels to be included in the price of extraction.  Even with a president in the pocket of coal barons the ancient fuel is dying. Here is the damning paragraph from the article:

Together, the two retirements equal all the emission reductions from coal plant shut-downs in 2015, a record year when 15 GW of mostly smaller and older units were shuttered, reports Scientific American. Last year, 14 GW were mothballed. In 2020, more are on the way, including Kentucky’s Paradise plant.

The Paradise plant in Kentucky represents 1.15 GW of coal fired capacity.  It’s closure and another TVA asset in the region will save customers over $300M.  That is economics, bro!

5 Things to Know about Fighting Climate Change by Planting Trees–Here is the thing that gets me about this debate: the argument is that planting trees is not as good as some people make it out to be.  Okay, but that does not mean it is not beneficial. Just because the upside potential is lower than advertised does not mean that it ceases to be a worthwhile endeavour.  What is the downside?

When Residents Support Solar—Just ‘Not in My Backyard’–This is the worst.  Supposed liberals and supporters of green energy who just want to put energy production somewhere else.  Take responsibility for your consumption.

EasyJet Flights are Now Carbon Neutral–Carbon offsets are kind of the crack cocaine of the climate mitigation movement.  Easy to consume and oh so addictive. “See, we are carbon neutral,” a company can say without really addressing the underlying environmentally destructive behaviors that drive their business.

This Man Wants to Convince America Beef is Healthier than Meatless Burgers–This is also a man who worked for years to convince the American public that smoking was not a public heath crisis.  This is the same kind of man who will tell you industrial pollution is actually good for you. This is the same kind of man who will sell his soul for a few extra dollars in his bank.  This is the kind of man who needs to rot in hell.

There Are 2,000 Untested Chemicals in Packaged Foods — and It’s Legal–In some dark basement somewhere Richard Berman is swimming in his ill gotten gains like an oily Scrooge McDuck wondering if he should contact the packaged food industry to begin a campaign of telling us that untested chemicals in our food are really good for us.  Or, we could just avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store.

Los Angeles Places Largest Single Electric Bus Order In US History — 130 BYD K7M Buses–I am really waiting for the day when orders like this are just commonplace.  Or when orders of a much larger magnitude are what we report about. Still, progress.

Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Program Offers Valuable Vehicle-to-Grid Lesson–When electric buses are idle those big batteries can be part of the solution in shifting the mismatch between the supply of renewable energy and the demand for electricity.

Thermal Camera Reveals Efficiency Gap Between EV And ICE–About this time of year I wished I had a little bit of that wasted energy for heating my Nissan Leaf.

The U.S. Natural Gas Boom Is Fueling A Global Plastics Boom–Cheap natural gas equals cheap plastic.

Fast Shipping isn’t Great for the Environment— 7 Ways to Cut the Carbon Footprint on your Amazon Deliveries–Until Amazon is rocking a fleet of Rivian electric delivery trucks you are stuck with getting stuffed shipped the old fashioned way–heavily carbon intensive.  The advice is really simple: ship it together and ship it slowly. Or just stop buying stuff online.

Pertinent Lessons from Our Recent Past

A little off the beaten path for tourists in London is the Imperial War Museum.  It’s still a quick tube ride from the central part of the city and it is just a two stops away from the always tasty Borough Market.  Plus, depending on the line you take you will get to stop at the Elephant & Castle station.  I think that name is just smashing.

The museum has all the usual exhibits that glorify the British Empire—one quarter of the world’s landmass, one quarter of the world’s population, the sun never sets on the British Empire, etc.—through World War I and II with a small, yet quite impactful, exhibit on the Holocaust.  However, the part of the museum that I found most interesting dealt with the home front during World War II.

The home front usually gets short shrift in any analysis of a war effort.  World War II in Britain was a little different because the horrors of war made it across the English Channel in German raids on London and other cities.  Children were shipped to the countryside where it was deemed safer and Londoners huddled in shelters as bombs or rockets rained down.  With a stiff upper lip, so to speak, the nation kept calm and carried on.

My daughter and I probably spent close to an hour in the home front exhibition looking at the types of food that were available or not available and why or the measures taken by households to conserve materials in order to supply troops.  The impression that my ten year old daughter was left with was how little a house could make do with if it had to. Her seven year old brother, naturally, loved the display of World War I grenades.

As we face an uncertain climate in the coming decades and the attendant consequences of that climate change we may be forced into a situation where our everyday begins to resemble the home front during an armed global conflagration.

Victory is in the Kitchen

Victory is in the Kitchen

It is my belief that we can make some of the biggest impacts from the comfort of our homes and the center of our homes is the kitchen.  It is the place where my family spends the most time together and it is probably where I spend the most time teaching my children.  Some parents play catch or go on hikes, I teach my kids how to dice onions, mince garlic, deglaze pans, and build flavors.

Change starts at home.  The food we choose to make and eat forms the core of our value system as self-described environmentalists.  If you are not trying to be a better human in the kitchen you might as well stop sweating the other stuff.

Food: Don’t Waste It

Food Dont Waste It

In the United States it is estimated that 30 to 40% of food goes to waste.  Given the impact of agriculture on climate change this is unacceptable.  Furthermore, given that in this age of abundance when we are dealing with diseases of over consumption, e.g. obesity related illnesses, there are still millions of people that go hungry every day.

Make Do and Mend

Make Do and Mend

Repair is the forgotten action that we can take to conserve.  Almost everything, save for our homes and automobiles, is basically disposable in modern capitalist economies.  Even big ticket items like appliances are seen as disposable, which blows my mind.  Here’s the thing, repairing stuff has never been easier.  The internet is literally chock a block full of people posting repair instructions, wiring diagrams, parts lists, etc. that can help even the least handy of us repair many of the items we once viewed as disposable.

Can I do Without It?

Can I Do Without

Is there a better question to ask yourself about any purchase that you make?  The most environmentally conscious purchase is usually one that we do not make.  Sure, there are the obvious wins like replacing high usage light bulbs with the most efficient LED bulbs or replacing a fifteen year old refrigerator with a more efficient model.  However, many of the “green” purchases we make are just adding consumption to the system that is destroying our planet.  It may be made of organic cotton, but do you really need another t-shirt?

Self-Indulgence at This Time is Helping the Enemy

Self Indulgence

I just love how direct some of the messaging was during World War II.  This poster is basically saying, “Don’t be a dick, we’re fighting a war here.”  How many of our problems, with regard to climate change, could be solved if people were just somewhat less self-indulgent?  I will let you stew on that thought for now.

Friday Linkage 9/28/2018

Some weeks feel like we are living through an episode of the Twilight Zone.  I keep waiting for Rod Serling to introduce the day’s episode.  Don’t believe me?  Think about what happened this week:

  • Cleveland Browns win a game for the first time in over 630 days
  • Trump’s performance art speech at the UN General Assembly
  • Brett Kavanaugh’s increasingly bizarre path to confirmation
  • Buffalo Bills stomping on the Minnesota Vikings
  • Cats and dogs sleeping together, sorry that was Ghostbusters

On to the links…

Rising Seas Could Cause a Mass Migration of Americans Seeking Higher Ground—If you want to imagine a dystopia imagine millions of people forced to move because climate change and its impacts make communities unlivable.  Imagine wide swaths of the eastern seaboard rendered a climate change wasteland and those people moving inland.

Fear Climate Change — and Our Response to It—Humans are not rational creatures, so any model that assumes rational behavior is bound to end in failure.  We are not rational about climate change.

Carbon Emissions Could Be Costing the US 8 Times What Trump’s EPA Estimates—When the government in Washington D.C. is somewhat rational again we need to make sure that the figures used for estimates of climate change and its impacts are properly accounted for in any and all models.

Toxic Red Tide Could Fuel a Blue Win in Florida—Rick Scott represents some of the worst trends in American politics.  He is a scammer who takes no responsibility for his shenanigans and then tries to blame everyone else for his own behavior.  He has made the environment in Florida worse by being in the pocket of developers and big sugar.  Hopefully this is the grifter’s last con.

Trump Admin to Move $260M from Cancer Research, HIV/AIDS and Other Programs for Migrant Child-Custody Costs—You just know that Donny Two Scoops will brag about this on the campaign trail when e is trying to gin up what is left of his Alt Right supporters and closeted racist Republicans who cannot stand to see a brown person.

China Bumps up Renewable Energy Target to Reduce Reliance on Coal—China is trying to kick the coal habit.

Renewables in UK Energy Mix Hit All-time High—The mix actually was not super favorable to renewables as onshore wind suffered from lower wind speeds and hydro suffered from reduced rainfall.  Imagine what this will look like when the wind blows and the rain falls.

A Hail Mary Attempt to Save the West’s Largest Coal Plant Has Failed—This particular coal plant closing is a big deal.  The coal industrial complex has always viewed this plant as one of its redoubts.  It is now closing in 2019 after the latest attempt to keep operating beyond that date failed.  Yes, the local economy is going to need help because of the loss of jobs.  Yes, this is an unalloyed good in the fight to kick the coal habit.

Texas Coal Plant Announces Plans to Shut Down—The market is speaking and even in deep red Texas money still talks.  According to the article, this represents the fifth announced closure of a coal plant in Texas this year.

As Coal Stalls, Wyoming Considers New Environmental Clean-Up Rules—When Wyoming comes to the realization that trusting coal companies to pay for clean-up costs is unrealistic you know that coal is in trouble.

New Jersey Makes Way For 1.1 Gigawatt Offshore Wind—Usually, people are making fun of New Jersey for being corrupt or downright awful.  Go New Jersey!

How a New Zinc-Air Battery Could Transform the Grid—Cheaper batteries are the next hurdle for the clean energy revolution.  It is already cheap to generate power from sun and wind.  Now we need to be able to store some of that bounty for times when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow.

Fast Charger Infrastructure In Iowa Limited By State Law & Utility Rules—This is why people hate utility companies.  The double speak is amazing.  Saying people do not understand billing by kilowatt hours is the most asinine thing yet because most, if not all, utility companies send out bills calculated via kilowatt hours.  It’s a fairly well understood metric.

No, Avoiding Meat and Dairy is Not ‘Elitist’—Here’s the thing, most of the world already avoids meat and dairy because it is too expensive.  Only in the West, particularly in North America, do we consider a meat or dairy free diet to be elitist.  Then again we live in a country where a man with his name plastered on buildings and a private plane was called the “blue collar billionaire.”

9 Times Mister Rogers said Exactly the Right Thing—Appreciate Mister Rogers as the antithesis of our current predicament.

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 7/4/2014

For several days it has been nothing but chain saws, chipper shredders, and other power tools ringing out as people clean up from the nasty storm on Monday. The derecho left a pretty nasty wake of landscape destruction. If there was one good thing that came out of the storm it was that one of my trees I was going to have to stake to straighten is now leaning the right way. I will take what I can get given the general destruction.

On to the links…

Not Eating Meat Can Cut Your Food-Related Carbon Emissions Almost In Half—There is nothing new with regards to this study finding except that it draws some attention to the fact that our appetite for meat is destructive. If you had to make one lifestyle change tomorrow that would benefit the planet it should be stopping the consumption of meat.

China’s Hurdle to Fast Action on Climate Change—No matter what we do in the U.S., if developing countries like China and India do not act on climate change goals then the efforts we make will be too little, too late.

The Secret to Richer, Carbon-Capturing Soil? Treat Your Microbes Well—The world of microbes, regardless of the location, are an amazing wealth of scientific discovery right now. The impacts of these discoveries is impacting our health and our planet.

California Ranchers Tackle the Climate Crisis One Pasture at a Time—Meat can be part of our food system if it is raised in a way that benefits the planet. So, animals should be allowed to live on wide open pastures that are maintained as opposed to living in CAFOs. Simple.

Shrimp’s New Path to the Plate—It’s amazing how much shrimp we eat in the U.S. If we expect to keep eating shrimp it is going to have to come from farms raising captive stock.

A New Wind Turbine Generates Back The Energy It Takes To Build It In Just 6 Months—A bugaboo of the right is the claim that a wind turbine never produces more energy than it takes to manufacture. Guess what? That is wrong.

How Energy Efficiency Is Hitting It Big With The High Tech Industry—Applying the principals of data mining and analysis to efficient efforts can only yield better results in terms of reducing energy usage per dollar expended.

Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.?—In the U.S. there is an unspoken agreement in polite society that poverty is not something to be discussed. However, the growing inequity in our society is making it necessary to have a conversation about why some people get so much and so many get so little.

Natural Resources Worth More than$40 Trillion Must be Accounted For—Do you know why companies that drill, mine, and burn fossil fuels are able to make so much money? It’s because they do not have to account for the externalities like damage to the natural resources of the world. If you can put a price on something, you can make lasting change.

Creeping Up on Unsuspecting Shores: The Great Lakes, in a Welcome Turnaround—The Great Lakes are an amazing asset in the United States and Canada. So much freshwater is locked up in these bodies of water that it is criminal we do not manage them better. The news the past couple of years has been pretty bad, but here is a little good news. Yay!

Ocean’s Nasty Plastic Garbage is Disappearing: What’s Going On?—Our understanding of the oceans is so poor. We pour trash and chemicals into the waters without a single thought to the health of the oceans. And we are surprised that we do not know what is going on? Wow, we are dumber than I thought.

After the Trees Disappear—The impacts from the emerald ash borer are going to be far reaching and permanent. Many of our forested landscapes will look considerably different once the ash trees are gone.

Drug Lord’s Rogue Hippos Taking over Colombia—Okay, the title is a little hyperbolic but the story is interesting anyway. It looks like one of Pablo Escobar’s legacies is going to be an invasive population of hippos. Strange.

You Must Read—Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business

Processed foods are an easy target for lovers of food. Processed foods contain lots of salt, sugar, and fat—so succinctly described in a prior You Must Read entry—and are generally nutritionally worthless given the calorie load. However, as we turn our eyes toward making food from scratch we uncover that almost every ingredient we can get our hands on is touched by some vestige of this gigantic soul sucking menagerie known as the modern American food system.

Although the United States has no living memory of epidemic food shortages—the closest being the Depression, but those are much more endemic examples—our food system has been shaped in the past half century or so to pump out calories, regardless of the environmental, economic, or public health consequences.

9781451645811The meat we eat is no different. In Christopher Leonard’s Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business Tyson Foods and its principals are used as the lens through which to witness the transformation of the three major meat products: chicken, pork, and beef.

Don Tyson, the son of the founder of what would become Tyson Foods, may have gotten his start with chickens in Arkansas but his company—through growth and acquisition—is now the single largest player in bringing meat to the supermarkets of America. As consumers we rarely think about the meat we buy because it is not branded and labelled like the foods in the middle aisles. We do not go to the store specifically to buy IBP sirloin like we might Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. This is further obfuscated by the fact that the butcher counter appears to be a place where carcasses are brought in from a local slaughterhouse and broken down into saleable components. This could not be further from the truth. After reading this book I spent some time really scanning the meat in the refrigerated cases and the butcher counter. Imagine my surprise to see big boxes emblazoned with IBP—a subsidiary of Tyson Foods—being brought from the back. Don’t even think about the chicken patty you ate from the drive-through on the way home from work.

There was a time when the country was scared of this type of consolidation. Think about the changes after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published. How is it any different now? One giant firm is able to almost single handedly control the price of chicken, pork, and beef in the United States through a series of internal levers. Don’t believe the hyperbole? Tyson Foods has been found guilty in the past of violating the fairly toothless Packers and Stockyards Act. In 2004 the company was found guilty of manipulating the price of cattle, assessed damages of $1.28 billion, and managed to wiggle free when the U.S. Court of Appeals voided the decision. So, even when the company is caught and convicted it does not matter because an Uncle Sam that is bought and paid for will step up to the place for Tyson Foods.

Anti-trust lawsuits are essentially useless anymore because big business is so entwined with the regulators and prosecutors assigned to bring such cases forward. What lawyer in the Justice Department is going to anger every major corporation in America, thus narrowing post-public service job offers from prominent DC law firms, by bringing a case against the meat cartel? What functionary in the USDA is going to spend a career hunting one of these big game targets when it is just easier to accept a job in industry after leaving civil service? The answer is…no one. Combined with the power and agency given to these corporations by the money given to political campaigns—remember, it’s really just speech according to the Supreme Court—elected officials are even worse.

Farmers and ranchers are stuck in the untenable situation of trying to remain independent of a system that has been changed to render the independent farmer and rancher obsolete. Rather it’s a system that turns them into indentured servants and sharecroppers. If allowed Tyson Foods would like to “chickenize” the entire production of meat. This is a system where Tyson owns the chickens and every aspect of production save for the low margin and risky job of raising the animals. In essence, Tyson Foods has outsourced the worst part of their business and shuffled the capital intensive raising of animals to an increasingly indebted farmer who has little or no control over their own fate.

The state of affairs regarding the consolidation of the meat industry and, therefore, where the power resides is best summed up by Leonard’s statement in the final sentence of the book referring to farmers raising livestock in America today:

Tyson is waiting to take their call, and ready to shape their future. [Page 319]

I suppose the easiest answer to the problem is to just stop eating meat at all. Maybe those vegan activists were on to something when I was in college. Heck, we eat too much meat in this country anyway.

Short of going vegan there is only one solution: remove yourself from the marketplace. Don’t eat at fast food restaurants because the meat is sure to come from Tyson Foods or one of its equally odiferous nominal competitors. If you want to eat meat source it as directly from the livestock producer as possible. It seems like this is the solution to a lot of problems related to food production in the United States, but that is because the market is fatally flawed and skewed toward major corporations. The price we pay in the grocery store goes up, yet the price paid to the farmer goes down. Who pockets the delta? Companies like Tyson Foods.

Friday Linkage 3/14/2014

A note to everyone, I am going to be out of touch and offline for the next week and a half.  It’s not really a vacation unless you totally unplug and I am going to park my smartphone at home before I leave.

On to the links…

Use of Public Transit in U.S. Reaches Highest Level Since 1956—This report made a lot of headlines when it was released, but most reporters failed to mention how abysmal our mass transit ridership numbers were to begin with.

Turning Food Waste Into Fuel Takes Gumption And Trillions Of Bacteria—Why aren’t we turning all of our biological waste into energy and/or compost?  It seems like a no brainer.

U.S. Homeowners, Especially Republicans, Want To Be Able To Choose Clean Energy—People want the ability to have renewable energy.  It’s not an issue with the end user.  It’s an issue with the people who want to control the means of production.  And you thought Marxist political theory was dead along with the Soviet Union.

California Set Back-To-Back Solar Records Last Week—Not only do people really want renewables, but in some places in the U.S. it’s really taking off.

These Mad Scientists Want to Replace Solar Panels With Potted Plants—I always thought potato clocks were cool, but moss producing electricity is even cooler.  Now I can imagine green roofs putting out electricity.

Spraying Toxic Coal Ash Is A Cheap And Popular Way To De-Ice Roads—This just really bums me out because I have no idea if my town in Iowa uses coal ash.  My emails and letters to the city have gone unanswered.  I can take solace that I do not live in Muscatine, which is confirmed in the article as using the coal ash to clear roads of ice.

Meat Makes the Planet Thirsty—If it was not already apparent, eating meat is just about the most environmentally destructive thing that we do on a daily basis.  Given how much meat we eat in the U.S. it’s probably the worst thing we do on a collective basis.

The Fat Drug—It’s interesting that the same effect antibiotics have on livestock, in terms of promoting growth, may also be something that affects humans.

Poll Suggests Americans Think Sugar Is A Bigger Health Threat Than Marijuana—Sugar is a bad thing.  In small amounts it is sweet and delectable.  In the amounts modern Americans consume it might as well be a mainline of nasty into your veins.

The Japanese Can’t Stop Eating Endangered Sea Mammals—I used to have a lot of respect and interest in Japan, but the more I learn the more I lose both respect and interest.

Momentum Building for Deforestation-Free Palm Oil—Palm oil is a dirty business.  I avoid the product with a religious zeal and advocate that anyone else do the same.  It’s not that the product itself is bad.  It’s that everything involved in its production is bad.  Plus, I love orangutans.

Wish You Could Fertilize Crops with Pee? Urine Luck—My dilute with water and pour it on the base of a tree approach is not really scalable, but I am hoping that more people being to see urine going down the toilet as a wasted resource.

Spending 15 Minutes With a Great White Shark on a Boat Deck—It’s always interesting to get a look into the lives of researchers.  Spending some time on the deck with a great white shark is something I am going to leave to more brave souls.  I have an irrational fear of sharks.

So You Think You Want to Open a Brewery—This is a question I get a lot from friends and family who know I am not the most happy person at my job.  Why don’t you quit and start a brewery?  Other than I believe the field is full of excellent brewers already and the market looks saturated, the job is not always about the beer.